Managing the mood swings, morning sickness and the rest
By week 13 you will be beginning to understand that pregnancy is as baffling as it is beautiful, even if your partner has spent a fair few weeks feeling the full effects of morning sickness.
But as you move towards the second trimester of pregnancy some of the less desirable hormonal “side effects” will begin to ease. In fact, around this time your partner may begin to feel that even as her belly swells she is at last regaining some of her equilibrium.
Is it time, yet?
Week 13 means it is also time, or near to the time, when you are likely to share news of the burgeoning new life with the world. This is exciting but it can also be daunting and pressured, particularly given the complexities of modern day families and workplaces.
Don’t be unduly fazed though, as long as you talk about it and agree on the time and method by which you will deliver this news, you can be sure you’ll be making it as easy as possible for yourselves. And with your support, your partner can help negotiate all of this even with the challenges presented by her sometimes wildly fluctuating pregnancy hormones.
Some exciting news for her, and some exciting news for you
Some men even report that around week 13 their partners begin to feel energised and, wait for it, sexy again, as they stride into the second trimester. Although this might seem mysterious it is a consequence of hormone activity settling down somewhat.
Additionally, you may find that the pregnancy becomes both more real and more exciting: your other half may begin to “show”, while your womb-swaddled child may make its presence known too by upping its activity, including kicking its feet for the first time (although this “quickening” won’t be felt by you until around 16 to 24 weeks).
Not a honeymoon for everyone
All the above said, it is important to remember that week 13 does not herald the beginning of a pregnancy “honeymoon” for everyone.
As such it is simply no good telling the mum-to-be that she should be feeling less moody at this stage or that, heaven forbid, she should be beginning to feel sexy again. Although pregnancy has certain common characteristics, it is not the same experience for all women – babies are not a recipe – so if your partner feels like she is down in the dumps, uncontrollably hormonal or simply uncomfortable carrying the extra weight, that is how she is feeling. Just like new babies, not all mothers-to-be are going to act in accordance with the manual.
Checking in with baby
At week 13 it is likely that your baby will weigh around 25g. Its sex will be determined by now: ovaries or testes will have developed internally while the external genitals will be beginning to take shape. However, not everything will be completely clear to the human eye, so don’t expect the ultrasound to be divulging any secrets you can share with friends and family – knowing the baby’s gender is another three to seven weeks away!
Additionally, your baby’s little hands will be beginning to explore its mouth while it will be beginning to develop a sleeping routine (long may it continue!).
As parents-to-be, hitting the week 13 mark you will also have to, if you have not done so already, consider whether you wish to book a test to check for any possible complications or conditions associated with the in utero infant.
It can be a real boon to your partner’s state of mind, particularly bearing in mind the hourly cocktail of hormones she is subject to, if you fully engage with the issues at stake. This means that you may wish to research the test for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes available on the NHS from weeks 10-14 of pregnancy. This test combines an ultrasound scan with a blood test and is used to calculate the risk of the child being born with Down’s syndrome, or Edwards’ or Patau’s syndromes.
It may be anxiety-making but remember that by engaging with the issues together, you can reaffirm your bond while ensuring that you minimise the burden for each other. You can help steady the waters.
Other ways to help mum (to be)
Although hormones might be taxing on your patience and your own moods, it is important to remember that heightened hormonal states are a natural part of pregnancy.
The best partnerships are founded on mutual support and an ability to hold each other’s emotional needs through the most difficult times. Be patient as pregnancy hormones work their whims on your partners vulnerabilities and volatilities and you will all, including your new child, reap the rewards.
From a dad’s perspective, do your best to hold, nurture and treasure your partner during her fluctuating moods. If you can be strong and steadfast during this period you will all benefit – in fact, studies show that women who have patient and understanding partners during pregnancy are at reduced risk of postpartum mental health issues. You might feel a little more harassed than usual, but when you consider that new life is growing within your partner, it helps put things in perspective.
But don’t worry, you do not need to be a rock either! Accept your limitations and your irritations as natural. And keep talking, to both your wife and your friends. By being open and realistic you can help ensure that you stay well and, as a consequence, are there for your partner when she needs you, particularly as you reach the stage where you are ready to begin sharing your big news with family and friends.
Practically, you can show your support by helping in as many areas of life as possible. Whether this means taking care of administration, doing the laundry, washing the dishes or giving your partner that lie-in she craves. Also, it is an opportunity for you develop your skills as a masseur and short order chef!
We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: keep talking to your partner. This means telling her how you feel and being receptive to her words. For example, if she wishes to discuss birthing plans or ideas for redecoration, make the time. Also, make sure that you don’t make any unilateral decisions to inform anyone of the impending arrival – this can breach trust and may even play unnecessary havoc with hormones. Instead, make every move in unison and plan how and when you are going to share your news.
Good luck, and let us join in the congratulations!