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What I Wanted to Hear From My Husband When I Was Pregnant

What's the best thing to tell your wife when she's pregnant? A dozen women share the one thing they wanted to hear.

Pregnancy is a profound event. As she carries a child in her womb, a woman’s body drastically changes. She will gain wait. Her feet may swell and her back may ache. She will likely experience morning sickness, mood swings, and weird cravings for everything from pickles to popcorn slathered in peanut butter. Certain smells might make her wretch.

It is a beautiful time in life. But it is also one that comes with a lot of self-consciousness and frustration. It’s essential for soon-to-be fathers to provide support. But what kind of support is best? What’s the right thing to say? Even the most well-meaning of husbands struggle. The fact is: what a husband does and, more importantly, what he says, needs to be considerate, effective, and helpful to the women they love. To provide a bit of guidance, we spoke to a variety of women who revealed what they actually wanted to hear when they were pregnant and why. Consider their responses and act accordingly.

1. “You don’t look beautiful. You are beautiful.”

“Look, I appreciate the honest approach. But, during pregnancy, there are very few days when a woman honestly even considers the word ‘beautiful’. I know I don’t look beautiful. I definitely don’t feel beautiful. So, don’t bullshit me. I didn’t want my husband to go out of his way to tell me I looked like a bloated heifer, most days. But — and maybe this is just me — the word ‘look’ has a very literal meaning. It’s hard to believe the sincerity when you’ve got a visible line of pelvis sweat on your maternity jeans, ya know? Instead, some degree of ‘You are beautiful’ would be perfect. At least that’s more all-encompassing and believable.” – Hallie, 37, Kansas

2.You got this.”

“Because there were so many times when I felt like I didn’t. I don’t think guys understand how much we don’t know what we’re doing – especially if it’s our first pregnancy. I remember being pregnant with our first son, and just being terrified every single day that I was going to do something wrong. Looking back, I’m sure I did. My husband was great, but it would’ve helped my confidence drastically to just hear him — just him, no one else — say that I knew what I was doing. I would have believed it.” – Aubrey, 38, Ohio

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3. “I washed your favorite robe.”

“When I was pregnant, I had this fuzzy, fluffy robe that I wore all the time. It went through hell. And I was the one who always washed and took care of it. Being pregnant made me remember all of the times my mom would wash my favorite towel or blanket, and hand it to me fresh and warm out of the drier. It’s a small thing, but that would’ve been so, so wonderful with the robe. It’s a small, specific gesture, so there’s no way my husband could’ve known unless I told him. And, truthfully, I probably didn’t even think of it until after our daughter was born. But, looking back, that would’ve been such a cozy treat, especially on those rough days.” – Mary, 35, Connecticut

4. “You don’t have to tell me what’s wrong.”

“When you’re pregnant, a lot is wrong. You could be hungry. You could feel disgusting. You could be doubting your ability as a mother. That’s why asking, ‘What’s wrong?’ is such a loaded question. Because there’s not a simple answer. And putting me on the spot to define one is a lot of pressure. My husband is a fixer, so he constantly tried to make things better by solving problems. ‘Oh, you’re hungry? I’ll get you food.’ ‘You’re cold? Here are some warm socks.’ Instead of that pressure, just accept that, sometimes, pregnancy blows. If it’s a solvable problem, awesome. If not, just lie in the trenches with me until it passes.” – Angela, 36, Pennsylvania

5. “I’ll get you food right now.”

“When a pregnant woman says she’s hungry, she means immediately. “Hangry” goes to Incredible Hulk level danger the longer the pregnancy is. When I would tell my husband that I was hungry – especially if we were driving somewhere – I imagined a 5-10 minute window in which I would be fed. Not always the case. Sometimes he would get distracted, or try to find a place we both liked (…ahem…that he liked…), and I’d feel hungry and helpless. Food is second only to oxygen when it comes to being pregnant. So, make it happen as quickly as possible. You wouldn’t like me when I’m hangry.” – Theresa, 42, New York

6. “I’m not drinking tonight.”

“Pregnant women can’t drink. Or, shouldn’t, I guess. Not even a glass of wine with friends. So, it was always isolating to go to a party, or out to eat with friends, and be the only one who couldn’t indulge. My husband never got, like, blackout drunk, but he would always join in the social drinking…while I just sat there with a glass of water. It wasn’t a big deal, just one of those things that would’ve been pleasantly supportive, ya know? Sort of a ‘We’re in this together. Once it’s over, we’ll toast together.’” – Tia, 33, Colorado

7. “I know, it’s the pregnancy.”

“Pregnancy is almost an out-of-body experience. So, I would’ve loved to hear my husband say something that showed it was almost me and him against the craziness, instead of me against the craziness while he acted like collateral damage. We’re not ourselves when we’re pregnant. We can become hormonal monsters. Anyone who says differently is in denial. But, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a worthwhile sacrifice on the path to parenthood. Having my husband be a little more acknowledging of that fact could’ve added some much needed levity to a lot of situations in which I found myself acting like The Exorcist because my hormones were so crazy.” – Heather, 40, Massachusetts

8. “You must be exhausted.”

“Yes. I fucking am! Thank you for noticing. Sometimes we just want to be acknowledged for the amount of work that pregnancy really is. It’s a lot of work – physically, mentally, and emotionally. So to hear my husband validate the fact that I’m barely staying on my feet is huge. Husbands do a lot of work during a pregnancy. But, it’s participation trophy-level work. Wives are in the game, taking the hits, pushing the boundaries of the human body, and getting beat to hell from the inside and the outside. A pat on the back is nice, but the recognition of the grueling aspects of lugging around a baby for nine months shouldn’t go unnoticed.” – Kirsten, 34, Ohio

9. “I’m excited.”

“Sometimes, I wondered. I honestly did. My husband seemed everything but excited during our first pregnancy. Scared. Inconvenienced. Annoyed. Just a lot of things that contributed to anxiety and stress. I would ask him, ‘Are you excited to become a dad?’ And he would assure me he was. But, sometimes it felt like he was just saying it, ya know? I would’ve loved to hear it – unprompted – a lot more, just to show me that we were on the same page, and moving forward together.” – Rebecca, 39, Michigan

10. “You need all the sleep you can get.”

“To be clear, my boyfriend never made me feel lazy or anything like that because I was sleeping a lot during our pregnancy. But, he didn’t not make me feel lazy, either, if that makes sense. I definitely imposed that feeling on myself, so it would’ve been reassuring to hear him say something like, ‘Of course you’re not lazy. You and the baby need to rest as much as possible!’ I would get really down on myself on those days when I couldn’t get out of bed, for whatever reason. A little reassurance here and there would’ve gone a long way.” – Addie, 37, California

11. “I can’t imagine…”

“Swollen feet. Having to pee every ten minutes. Cravings for the most disgusting food combinations. Any of it. I really don’t think husbands – at least not my husband – could imagine any of it. Pregnancy is nine month exercise in ridiculousness. Everything from bodily functions to clothing choices is just completely absurd. At some point, hearing my husband say that he ‘couldn’t imagine’ what I was going through would’ve made me feel…sane. Like, ‘Right? This isn’t normal, is it? I’m glad you can appreciate that.’ It would’ve been very validating on those days when I felt like I was a complete freak for having to use the Target bathroom three times in one trip, or eating a jar of dill pickles dipped in cheese.” – Lisa, 43, California

12. “I’m sorry”

“Some days, I wanted to strangle my husband for getting me pregnant. I’m joking, of course. Especially during labor, when the pain was just unimaginable, I would think, ‘You did this to me!’ And, to be fair, I’m sure I screamed that out at some point, and he did say, ‘I’m sorry.’ It’s not a serious request – just more of a nod to the fact that women go through a lot. The image of my husband on his knees, groveling for forgiveness while I’m twisting the collar of his shirt is making me laugh now, so I imagine it would’ve helped ease the tension in the delivery room, too.” – Erin, 39, Ohio