Advice for Those Married to Pregnant People


Ever been married to a pregnant person? I have. Still am, as a matter of fact. Married to her, that is, not that she’s still pregnant. I remember some of the pregnant life vividly, and one moment always stands out when I think back to those times a couple decades ago. But first let me tell you about an article I just read.

What Not to Say to a Pregnant Person

I found this enlightening article about the things pregnant women hear from friends, family and complete strangers. Here are some excerpts:

Size –”Did you swallow a watermelon,” ‎”You can’t birth a toddler,” “You sure it isn’t twins?” and “Wow! You’re HUGE! Have you got a litter in there??”

Age (looking young) – “I had an old woman in Kroger ask me ‘Do your parents know you are pregnant?’ Totally serious. My fingers were too swollen to wear my wedding bands, so she just assumed I was an unwed teenage mother in need of a pre-birth intervention.”

Age (looking old) – “I was 37 yrs. old and dressed in what I thought was a pretty cute maternity outfit. When I went to the register to pay for my items, the clerk asked me if I was purchasing the items for my grandson. Ugh!”

Family – “My grandmother: ‘I carried my babies like a basketball all in front, I didn’t get big all over like you.’”

Free Medical Advice – “I had a teenage girl at Wendy’s refuse to sell me a Diet Coke, and then proceed to lecture me on the dangers of diet soda and pregnancy.”

Paid Medical Advice – “The worst was when a nurse in my Dr.’s office told me that I had to be lying about exclusively breastfeeding my daughter because there was no way I could be pregnant again if I had.”

Pretty bad, right? I’ve got all of them beat.

What Not to Say to the Pregnant Person You’re Married To

Our son was born 22 years ago, and our daughter 2 years after that. I remember when my wife went into labor that first time as if it were yesterday. She woke me at 1:00 in the morning and told me her water broke. Having paid attention during our birthing classes, I knew to ask how far apart the contractions were. She said they were far apart, so I confidently, although sleepily, told her “I’ll be a lot more use to you if I get some more rest. Wake me when they are closer together.” I proceeded then to go back to sleep.

And she let me.

You might be thinking, “Tim, you should be thankful you’re still married, let alone that you went on to have another kid.” I agree, although I don’t think it’s really a matter of Liz overlooking that extremely poor sleep-addled decision I made that night. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a true blessing in my life, as are both our kids. But my thankfulness for her and them is that, despite the fact that all four of us have made our share of poor decisions over the years, God has blessed us into being one of the best families I know. I think I know how he did it too, at least in part.

It’s What You Say after the Pregnancy

Except for falling asleep on her as she went into labor that first time, I found it pretty easy to do the supportive things for Liz when she was pregnant with both our kids. Whatever she needed, I was on it. And, as you might have guessed, by the time she was nearing the end of her pregnancy with Jenna I had also learned not to go back to sleep when delivery was imminent.

But it’s after the kids were born that the real support began. A baby in the womb is fed and carried and grows. Once outside, it takes more effort to nurture them: feeding, changing, bathing, cuddling, dressing. All these things and more take a ton more effort.

So what is it you say to them after the child is born?

You say “Yes.”

That’s what you say: Yes.

Yes, I’ll change the diaper.

Yes, I’ll cook dinner.

Yes, I’ll run to the store.

Yes, I’ll come home early from work today.

Yes, I’ll _____________.

Because the Bible says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” and “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” (Ephesians 5:25 and Colossians 3:19.)

Is “No” ever an acceptable response? Sure, at times, but if you ever say “No” in a situation where “Yes” is called for, if you ever say “No” harshly, if you ever say “No” in order to keep yourself for yourself instead of giving yourself up for your wife, then – as soon as possible – change it to “Yes”.

That’s what you say.


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42 Responses to Advice for Those Married to Pregnant People

  1. Preach it! AMEN!
    (This post has brought out my Baptist roots.)

    I’ve been blessed with a husband who, like you, always tries to say “Yes” as much as possible. He even taught me how to change my first diaper!

    As for your wife letting you get your sleep — that was really wise! Labor is long. A well rested spouse is MUCH more helpful.

    It’s always fun to read birth stories. Thanks for sharing these precious memories.

    • Tim says:

      “A well rested spouse is MUCH more helpful.” That’s what I was thinking! But I have found that not everyone agrees with us, Adriana, more’s the pity.

  2. Aimee Byrd says:

    Someone recently posted a video on my Facebook page of 2 Dutch guys who had a midwife hook them up to an electronic device that simulates the contractions of labor–for two hours. Even though I’m not convinced that they experienced the full pain, after having gone through it 3 times myself w/out drugs—I mean, only 2 hours?, there was no nausea, no crazy hormones, no actual passing of another human being through your own body–they did end the experience with a whole new appreciation of motherhood. I would share the video, but there is some bad language.

    • Tim says:

      I’m not convinced they experienced the full range either, Aimee, but I bet they got more insight than most guys have! As to only two hours of labor, a friend of ours was in labor only four hours for her first child, two for her second, and 30 minutes for her third. That last one was born in the taxi on the way to the hospital. At least that’s the way their family lore tells it!

    • Oh Aimee! I am SO searching that!
      (Thanks for the heads up about language, I won’t play it with my kids in the room.)

  3. Robert Martin says:

    During labor for our first daughter, I was doing EXACTLY what I was supposed to… massaging my wife’s back, helping her with soothing touches, etc… She hauled off and decked me, shouting “Stop touching me”.

    I said, Yes, dear.

    During labor for our second daughter, having been up until 2 AM, I was again, helping my wife through labor with her breathing exercises after just having a cup of coffee. She grabbed me by the shirt front and said, “Either stop breathing or get a mint!”

    I said, Yes, dear.

    Married for 17 years, planning on MANY more….

    • Tim says:

      “Yes, dear.”

      Well timed words in season, Robert!

      • Robert Martin says:

        Survival instinct, Tim. 😉

        But seriously… I think it is too easy in our society to take that individualistic road and forget that our calling as believers is to model Christ, being self-sacrificing in all our relationships.

        • Tim says:

          Agreed. When I first posted this at Nick’s old blog, one young man – not a father, not even married – called me to task. He said I was giving in to indulging wives when what they need, and even what they want according to him, is to be told no and have boundaries put on them. This guy went so far as to write a post on his own blog all about how I was getting it wrong. I felt for his future wife, but also have hopes he’ll grow out of this phase!

  4. Jeannie says:

    Great post! While I think most of the young dads today are doing an awesome job, this is great advice you’re giving to the prospective ones.

    The day after we came home with our first baby, my husband willingly went to the drugstore and bought me some, uh, feminine products. Now that’s love. It also reminded me of an episode of an old TV show, “Rhoda.” Rhoda is sick & her husband asks if she needs anything at the store. She says “Yeah, but … I hate to ask you.” He says, “No problem, I can get THAT stuff!” “OK,” she says, “A People magazine.”

  5. Lesley says:

    Well, Amen to all this. As much as I LOVE your advice to married men (forwarding to Jonathan) I can very much relate to dumb comments people make during pregnancy. They have already started for me. On the very same day I’ve had someone tell me I’m SO TINY for being 18 weeks along and another person say I’m “REALLYYYYYY showing” for 18 weeks. I feel like commenting on their nose/lip/feet size just to make a point.

    • Tim says:

      Allow me to offer a few suggestions then, Lesley:

      “Interesting outfit. No, nothing in particular. Just … interesting.”
      “How long have you had that lisp?” (Only works with someone who doesn’t have a lisp.)
      “I’ve never noticed before that your left ear is so much larger than your right.”

      Just a little public service from me to you.

  6. Mary Anne says:

    No babies here (and now the question is academic for me) but from what I’ve observed about pregnant co-workers and friends:

    Do NOT invade a pregnant woman’s space. A baby bump does not equal permission to fondle, And yes, that goes for everyone—men, women, children, aliens. Hands off. It always surprises how many people do this who should really know better. See also: stay if you’re sick, because Mom and Baby don’t need your germs.

    And a word of wisdom from Mike Warnke: “Do not get between a pregnant sister and the bathroom, because she will HURT you! She’ll pray for you later . . .”

    As for the guy who sounded off about wives needing boundaries—SUTH to him. My response would be, “There are eight ways to kill a man with his own foot. Let me show you one.”

    Fighting the good fight to keep world idiocy at a minimum,

    • Tim says:

      Love your words of advice, MA, and the added bit from Warnke.

      Also, I think you show great restraint in only showing one of those ways to the guy who needs the SUTH. I know many people who couldn’t stop until they’d demonstrated all eight.

      • Mary Anne says:

        Well . . . “It is appointed unto a man ONCE to die, and then the Judgement.” 😉 After you’ve killed someone with his own foot once, the rest is just gravy.


        • Jeannie says:

          I had to Google SUTH. Okay, now I get it. Google also asked me if I meant “south.” Then I saw a link below that saying, “What state is suth of Georgia?” Answer: Flrida (?)

          Google is like Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole.

        • Tim says:

          Jeannie, I tend to agree with Humpty Dumpty when he told Alice, “When I use a word, … it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

          “And why not?” I might add.

        • Adriana says:

          SUTH is a new one for me too, Jeannie. If it wasn’t for Urban Dictionary, I would be lost half the time. That website is a real education, let me tell you! 😉

        • Tim says:

          SUTH is a FUP (frequently used phrase) at the Republic of Pemberley, almost always used in the larger acronym ENASUTH – Edmund Needs A Slap Upside The Head. Because, of course, he acted like a complete dolt mooning over Mary Crawford when the incomparable Fanny Price was there all along.

        • Adriana says:

          Tim — I just laughed so loud, I woke up the baby!!!
          But it’s OK. She was due to wake soon. 😀

          I’ve GOT to get over to The Republic of Pemberley soon. You talk about it all the time. I expect to love it.

  7. Your stories made me laugh, but I love the points you’ve made about marriage and what it means to love your spouse in a self-sacrificing way. Beautiful.

  8. nmcdonal says:

    You know, you wrote this article when I WAS married to a pregnant woman…Thanks for being discrete. The advice paid off.

  9. I did ask a woman here in Malawi if it was twins…she said no. I said, “well, then–SOON?” She roared with laughter. Funny how cultures are different, but I’m pretty sure talking about her huge size was a compliment.

  10. Thanks for reposting this. I tweeted it. Btw, do you have a Twitter handle?

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, Rachel. I appreciate so much that you liked this well enough to pass it along.

      I don’t have a twitter account, but if I did what should my handle be?

      Just a few possibilities!

  11. Laura Droege says:

    May I add one word of advice to new dads and dads-to-be? If your wife appears depressed, complains about being depressed, has EXTREME mood swings, or otherwise seems mentally “off”, take it seriously. She may be having postpartum depression or some other mental issues, and those are a big deal. Talk to the doctor. Educate yourself on mental health/illness. Don’t let people at church (or elsewhere) dismiss any concerns you have and tell you certain things are normal when your gut says it isn’t. (Speaking from experience here: some people hurt when they try to help.) Get her the help she needs. And for crying out loud, if she needs antidepressants or other meds and can’t breastfeed because of that, don’t berate her for it or make her feel like a breastfeeding failure/failure as a female because she needs medication. My husband was extremely supportive when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder during my 1st pregnancy (at 29 weeks) but I know not all men are. Okay, off my soap box now.

    Great post, as always, Tim. You make excellent points about being self-sacrificing and loving. And, hey, I let my husband sleep during part of my 2nd labor, after the epidural kicked in. I needed him to be alert and rested later, after the birth when he had to take care of our older daughter. 🙂

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