Pregnancy is often a time centered around the birthing mama. Right from the beginning, you and baby start to bond as baby grows inside you. You are instantly so connected to your tiny being and, if you are like me, eager for your spouse to join in and feel equally as excited about this new little life that will soon be joining you.
I know that in the beginning it was challenging for my husband to prepare and bond with N while she was still in my belly. He described it as being too abstract, especially in the early weeks and months when I wasn’t showing and he hadn’t yet felt her kicks. Luckily, there are a lot of great ways that you can get your partner involved in the pregnancy from the beginning such as making a registry together, doing a Jack and Jill shower, having him accompany you to appointments, ultrasounds and more.
In my opinion, those are all very important, yet don’t always allow for a lot of uninterrupted time for bonding and natural conversation to happen between you two as partners in raising this new baby.
In order to include your partner in preparing for baby, I want to take some time to inspire you to plan some special date nights with each other that will promote conversation and connection between you two as future parents. Not only are these a great way to spend time but are also super effective ways to prepare for baby.
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This is an awesome way for dad to get in on the baby preparations and for you two to bond in the process. Cooking with your partner will allow the two of you to prepare for baby together in a relaxed and fun way. It is a chunk of time spent uninterrupted by technology or the hectic stress of life, and the result is a freezer full of delicious and healthy meals ready to eat when the baby comes. This is something that my husband and I have recently started doing together. While I have sworn by meal prepping for years, since we have had our baby my husband can now really appreciate all of the time and money it saves us by doing this. I am here to tell you not to wait to get in on this amazing time saving activity! Time will be your most valuable resource once your baby comes. Before your baby arrives is really the best time to do some bulk cooking to prepare your home. With a toddler of our own, getting out of the house for a date night is hard and we have a ton of fun using this as a scheduled date night, and I know you will have a lot of fun too.
That being said, schedule this and treat it like a real date! Of course some preparation is necessary, you’ll need to have all of your ingredients on hand, clear kitchen counters and an empty dishwasher also doesn’t hurt. But light some candles, put on some nice background music and enjoy this time together. Whether you are seasoned cooks or beginners, you’re bound to have some laughs and you can feel good that your end product is going to be a life saver in the weeks after baby arrives.
Chopping veggies and bagging food is the perfect mindless activity to do together and will result in a lot of meaningful and organic conversation. Sitting down face to face to “talk” about labor, what your new roles as parents will be like, what you’re scared of, and what your strengths are can feel awkward for even the most open couples. I always find that with an activity to keep our hands and eyes busy, Patrick and I often have our best and most productive emotional discussions.
To make this process accessible to cooks at all skill levels, I highly recommend using the Complete Freezer Meal Bundle from New Leaf Wellness to guide you. Within this bundle, there are recipe groups with pre-made grocery lists to prep up to 30 meals at once. While the Complete Bundle is the best value at $29.99, maybe you aren’t ready to completely commit to the meal prep idea. In that case get one of her smaller bundles like the Whole Food Crockpot Freezer Meals Cookbook for only $9.99. Think of it as the price of your date. I assure you that this is a resource you will use again and again. Patrick and I just completed her 19 meal Whole Food plan a week ago and are loving the ease of pulling out dinners to be dumped in the crock pot along with the delicious results. Did I mention we completed the 19 meals in just a little over 3 hours?! That’s how easy it is to be super stocked before baby. Consider using a grocery delivery service to make the date night go even smoother, you can use her grocery list to add everything to an order and know you will have every ingredient necessary to complete a ton of meals at once.
For even more information and tips about meal prepping for baby, you can read my article about freezer meal prep before baby arrives here.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, it can be difficult for dad or your partner to bond with baby before they arrive. Unlike the birthing mother, they just don’t have that same immediate connection as you. One idea that I absolutely love to help get dad excited about the baby’s birth is going out shopping for an item to put the baby’s footprints on in the hospital. It can be something that is meaningful to him, a future gift for your baby, or even a framed quote or photo that includes space for the baby’s prints. This is all about dad so let him be as creative as he wants and try your best to let the decision be entirely his own.
Unfortunately, this is not something that we did with N, but I can’t wait to do this with our future children. Music and guitars are very special and important to Patrick, and we are planning to purchase a ukulele or guitar for our future children (like we did for N on her first birthday) before their births and have their footprints done on the back while they are newborns. Cole and Trina did do this with L, and I think it was such a great idea. Cole, a baseball player and fan, brought a brand-new baseball to the hospital and now they have this special keepsake with L’s footprint on it. This is something that they will have forever and even something to pass on to L as she grows up and maybe one day starts a family of her own.
Let this be a whole special day out. If you aren’t sure where to start, have a meal together at a favorite spot and brainstorm together. Consider dad’s hobbies, likes, and interests. If you’re still stuck consider a favorite lyric, poem, or quote that you can get printed on a canvas and go select a beautiful frame together. This activity should be planned for a whole afternoon and evening so that it can feel fun and spontaneous. This will be a memorable activity that includes just the two of you, and the result is something you will cherish forever.
Related article: Dad's Guide to a New Baby: From a Real Dad
You should aim to be completely packed and ready to go to the hospital by week 35 because you just never know what is going to happen, even in the most low-risk pregnancy. That being said, this job doesn’t have to completely fall on you! Consider making an activity out of packing together. There are some items like snacks, drinks, and comfy clothes that you will need to purchase and this is something you can do together. Patrick and I went out shopping for these items during my early labor. We were both so giddy with excitement about the coming baby we had such a great time doing these mundane errands. While I’m not saying you should necessarily wait that long to buy your snacks and drinks, plan a time when you guys can do this together. It is another chance for some fun bonding and a way for dad to feel more involved in the process. These kinds of action items will help the labor and birth feel less abstract to him and if he is involved in the decisions (even if it is just what kind of trail mix to buy) he is going to feel more connected to the whole birth process.
I know that when I am packing for a trip, it is always nice to have some company. This also falls into the same line of thinking as the meal prepping. When an activity is in front of you, like folding clothes or putting your things into bags, you may be more likely to have meaningful conversation about how you are both feeling about the upcoming birth. It can be as simple as putting the phones away while you fold clothing for the hospital bags, even if he is just sitting on the bed being present with you in the moment together. This is an excellent time to bond and enjoy a “date” while completing a necessary task.
Read more about packing the perfect hospital bag and ways to prep your house (another great list of things to do together) by heading here.
When you are starting to prepare for birth and breastfeeding, it can seem like a monumental task especially with the list of recommended books you get from friends and family. If you aren’t a reader, or maybe your partner isn’t, you’ll both still want to be armed with information so you can both feel prepared. Having a movie night in is a great way to accomplish this task. Grab your favorite drink, some popcorn and a cozy blanket and watch either a breastfeeding course or a birth course. Not only will this result in both of you being informed and prepared in around an hour, but will also lead to some valuable discussion. Whenever I would read, I always felt like I was telling my husband all this information, which became tiring. Instead, by watching together, I felt like we were both informed.
My favorite birth class for couples is Hilary’s Online Prenatal Course for Couples. She includes a variety of thought-provoking and important discussion questions after every chapter which really set this apart from other classes and the runtime is really manageable while still covering everything you need to be prepared for the third trimester, labor, delivery, and beyond. Preparing as a couple is key to success in parenting, and by using her framework your discussions and connections will be much more meaningful. This class will make you feel informed, prepared and connected as a couple. Patrick and I really took the time to take our prenatal “homework” seriously, and I know that this helped us succeed and strengthened our partnership for N’s arrival. It was so much easier during labor and delivery for me to know that my husband also knew my wishes and could advocate on my behalf when I couldn’t.
My favorite breastfeeding course is Simply Breastfeeding. It was made by Cindy and Jana, two registered nurses and Lactation Consultants. After breastfeeding for over 16 months, I can tell you for certain, having my husband be informed on breastfeeding basics, the benefits, and how he could help was paramount to my success. Breastfeeding is challenging in the beginning but I promise it’s so worth it. This course is awesome because it comes with a free intro breastfeeding course so you can sample their style before deciding whether or not to purchase.
Each of these courses cost roughly the same as a night out at a movie theater ($40 for Simply Breastfeeding and $99 for Hilary’s Prenatal Course for Couples). But unlike a Hollywood movie, these courses will provide you with valuable information and will be a resource you can watch again and again after baby arrives or when you are pregnant with another child.
If this sounds like something you're interested in, check out my post comparing four online childbirth classes to decide which one is best for you.
Throughout pregnancy it can feel really good to get moving, even if that is just a short walk at a local park, a stroll around town, or a slightly more vigorous walk. Why not make a date out of it? A 20 to 30 minute walk can actually be energizing during those days when you are completely exhausted, and I know when I was in my third trimester, sitting for too long actually caused more discomfort than getting up and taking short walking breaks. Walks are a great time to be totally present with one another. Try a game of rose, thorn, bud while you’re walking. This is a game Patrick and I were introduced to in our prenatal group that we still do at least once a week. It goes like this:
This game always sparks great conversation between us, and will let you get a glimpse into your partner’s world and mind. Having a shared space in nature can also make for a great visualization during labor if you are interested in that . Patrick and I chose a place that was meaningful to both of us where we frequently went on ‘walking dates’ and during labor, Patrick described it to me to help me try to displace myself mentally. For more information about visualization, relaxation and a positive mindset towards birth, check out Hypnobubs Online Hypnobirthing Course.
Whenever I try to learn more about baby’s development in utero, I seem to always come across the study on how babies would recognize the specific soap opera theme song that their mom watched while they were in utero, which is super fascinating. Based on this, especially in the third trimester, I encourage you to have your husband or partner talk to your belly, sing songs and read to your belly. It might feel silly but encourage it because it’s the beginning of their relationship together.
One fun way to really start this activity is to go explore the kid’s section of a book shop and have each parent pick out a board book that will be their special book they read. Some great ideas for him are Daddy Hugs, Hop on Pop, or I Love You, Daddy. For mom, try Mommy Hugs, The Runaway Bunny or I Love You, Mommy. Another super sweet book that is bound to get you excited for the birth day is On the Night you were Born.
Now you have six great date ideas to help you and your partner bond during pregnancy. Each one has a unique way of including your partner in the journey and preparation from literally packing the bag and prepping the house, to understanding where you are both at emotionally.
For even more concrete ways to bond as a couple and prepare for baby together, check out the Nesting Planner. You’ll find an entire section with over 25+ worksheets dedicated to preparing the team.
Don’t forget to enroll in our FREE Bump Smart email series, you’ll receive a weekly email tailored to your point in pregnancy to help you stay on track and be completely prepared when baby arrives.
Have some other great date ideas for the expecting couple? Leave a comment below, I would love to hear your ideas.
For more advice and tips read, How to Prepare your Relationship for Life with a Baby. Here you will find 9 things to discuss and do before your baby comes. This will ensure that you are on the same page and ready to tackle parenthood as a team.