11/02/2010 13:52 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Ask Joanne - How Can I Help My Wife?

What's your question about life as a parent? Send it in to our life coach Joanne Mallon at this address for some practical advice. Say if you'd like your name changed.

Chris asks:

I am a first time father with a wife in an enviable job. I cannot work at present due to my disability and health. My wife is into her 21st week and in pain but since the scans are fine our midwife and doctor have taken a view of 'these things happen'. Since I only have about 2 hours a day with my wife after her long commute and work she is so exhausted I can only cook, try and relax her then the day ends. She is extra tense as she has not felt the baby therefore feels a bit detached. I think she should be doing something but the time is so little.


Here's our life coach's reply:

Dear Chris

It sounds like a frustrating situation for both of you. Your wife is in pain and the medical profession is doing that maddening thing of shrugging their shoulders and not helping much. Your wife should start to feel the baby moving very soon (for a first time pregnancy this happens around 20-ish weeks), and this will probably make a big difference to how she feels. Feeling the baby move somehow joins the dots and makes expectant mums realise that yes - there really is a person in there.

If she is also the main breadwinner, she may be concerned about what effect the baby will have on her career.

As to what you can do, I suggest

  • Make a point of being extra kind to each other
  • Remember that hormones and adjusting to the pregnancy will make a difference to how your wife behaves right now, so do give her plenty of space and allow for this. She's on the brink of a major life change, which can be stressful.
  • People with high-powered jobs sometimes find it challenging to give up control, especially when the person in control hasn't even been born yet. So this is an extra mental shift to make, as well as all the physical changes. Encourage her to talk about her hopes and fears.
  • Make the most of your time as a couple. You're in the last phase of only having each other to focus on.
  • Plan to do something special at the weekend. Your wife may be quite busy during the week, so create some quality time at the weekends. Be led by her and what she wants to do. Many women experience an energy surge in the middle section of pregnancy, whilst others feel more tired and need to rest.

You sound like quite a sensitive sort of person, which can only bode well for the future. Many men don't feel that a new baby is at all real to them until it's actually born. And once the baby is born, there is much more practical stuff that you can do to help, which will bring you together as a family unit.

Good luck with the rest of the pregnancy and birth

best wishes


More practical parenting advice here in the Ask Joanne section

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Do you have any tips for Chris? Have you found yourself in a similar situation? How did you cope? Leave your comments below.