Tommy's PregnancyHub

Getting involved in the pregnancy - for dads and partners

Here’s more information about what’s happening at each stage of your partner’s pregnancy and how you can support them.

Getting involved in the pregnancy: the first 3 months

In the first 3 months, your partner is likely to start having pregnancy symptoms. Find out what to expect and how you can support them to have a healthy pregnancy. 

Pregnancy dates

Pregnancy is dated from the first day of your partner’s last period. This date is about 2 weeks before they actually got pregnant. 

The first sign of pregnancy is usually a missed period. So you and your partner may not be aware of the pregnancy for the first few weeks. Some women and birthing people may have very light vaginal bleeding (spotting) when the fertilised egg embeds into the wall of the womb.   

Pregnancy is divided into 3 trimesters. The first 3 months are called the first trimester.

Pregnancy symptoms in the first trimester

Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy can cause physical and emotional changes in your partner. But every pregnancy is different. Your partner may have a lot of symptoms, or they may not have many at all.   

A common symptom of pregnancy is morning sickness, which can start at about 4-7 weeks. Despite the name, it can happen at any time of the day or night.  

You could help your partner work out what triggers their sickness – for example, a particular food, smell or time of day. Eating small, frequent meals and drinking plenty of water can help. There’s also some evidence that foods and drinks containing ginger can help but they should check with a pharmacist before taking any supplements.  

If the sickness is severe or doesn’t get better, encourage your partner to speak to their midwife or GP. 

Other symptoms during the first 3 months can include: 

  • feeling tired – help them to eat well and get plenty of rest. Gentle exercise can help too
  • getting upset easily – encourage them to share their feelings with you and ask for help if they need it
  • sore breasts
  • needing to pass urine more often than usual – it’s still important to drink plenty of fluids so that their urine is a pale, clear colour
  • changes in taste and smell.

What you can do

There are lots of things you can do to get involved in the pregnancy and support your partner in the first few weeks.

Read our week-by-week guide to the first 3 months of pregnancy

Getting involved in the pregnancy: months 4 to 6

Months 4 to 6 are called the second trimester. The pregnancy might start to feel more real now that your partner’s baby bump is becoming more noticeable. Your baby will start to hear and move, giving you the chance to bond with them.   

Pregnancy symptoms in the second trimester

The sickness of the first trimester should start to pass now. But the second trimester can bring its own set of symptoms.              

  • A higher sex drive – Your partner’s sex drive may go up and down. Having sex is safe unless a doctor or midwife has advised your partner not to.
  • Backache – Gentle exercise can help. Help them avoid lifting anything heavy and give them a cushion to support their back when they’re sitting down.
  • Headaches – These are common but if they’re very bad, your partner should see their GP. It’s safe to take paracetamol for a short time but they should not take codeine or ibuprofen unless a doctor has told them to.
  • Tiredness – Encourage them to rest when they can.
  • Pain in the hips or pelvis – Sleeping with a pillow between their knees may help.
  • Constipation – Hormone changes can mean your partner finds it difficult and uncomfortable to poo. Eating lots of fibre, drinking plenty of water and gentle exercise can help.
  • Cramp – This is usually in the legs or feet. Firmly rubbing the muscle or pulling the toes up towards the ankle may help to ease cramp.
  • Feeling faint – Get your partner to sit down or lie on their side until they feel better.
  • Swelling in the hands and feet – Make sure your partner doesn’t stand up for long periods and help them put their feet up when they’re resting.

Your partner may not get all of these symptoms but contact the midwife if either of you are worried about any of them. You can also use our pregnancy symptom checker.

Bonding with your baby

You can start to bond with your baby now that they’re starting to hear and move around in the womb. Talking and singing to them will mean they get to know your voice. Towards the end of this trimester, you may be able to feel your baby moving if you put a hand on your partner’s bump. 

Read our week-by-week guide to the second trimester

Supporting your partner

You can support your partner to have a healthy pregnancy by:

  • taking on any physical tasks that they find uncomfortable, such as lifting heavy items 
  • helping them to sit with their feet raised if they have swollen feet 
  • encouraging them to report any changes in the baby’s movements to the midwife straight away 
  • encouraging them to see their GP or midwife if they’re worried about any symptoms or the baby.

Getting involved in the pregnancy: the last 3 months before birth

The last 3 months of pregnancy are called the third trimester. It won’t be long until you get to meet your baby. 

Pregnancy symptoms in the third trimester

During this last trimester, your partner’s bump will get bigger and the baby will continue to move around a lot. Mums and birthing parents at this stage may:      

  • get breathless easily
  • find it difficult to sleep ‒ it’s safest for them to sleep on their side
  • generally feel more uncomfortable
  • get Braxton Hicks, which feel like a tightening in the stomach area ‒ they’re perfectly normal but not everyone gets them. 

Contact the midwife if you or your partner are worried about any pregnancy symptoms. You can also use our pregnancy symptom checker.

Supporting your partner

You can help your partner feel more comfortable by helping them find time to rest and taking on any physical work or heavy lifting. You may also want to:

Read our week-by-week guide to the third trimester.         

NHS. You and your pregnancy at 1 to 3 weeks. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/week-by-week/1-to-12/1-2-3-weeks/ (Page last reviewed: 12 October 2021. Next review due: 12 October 2024)

NHS. Signs and symptoms of pregnancy. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/trying-for-a-baby/signs-and-symptoms-of-pregnancy/ (Page last reviewed: 8 October 2019. Next review due: 8 October 2022)
 
NICE (2021) Nausea/vomiting in pregnancy. NICE Clinical Knowledge Summary. National Institute for health and care excellence https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/nausea-vomiting-in-pregnancy/ 
 
NHS. You and your baby at 15 weeks pregnant. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/week-by-week/13-to-27/15-weeks/ (Page last reviewed: 13 October 2021. Next review due: 13 October 2024)

NHS. You and your baby at 19 weeks pregnant. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/week-by-week/13-to-27/19-weeks/ (Page last reviewed: 13 October 2021. Next review due: 13 October 2024)

NHS. You and your baby at 13 weeks pregnant. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/week-by-week/13-to-27/13-weeks/ (Page last reviewed: 13 October 2021. Next review due: 13 October 2024)

NHS. You and your baby at 15 weeks pregnant. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/week-by-week/13-to-27/15-weeks/ (Page last reviewed: 13 October 2021. Next review due: 13 October 2024)
 
NHS. You and your baby at 18 weeks pregnant. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/week-by-week/13-to-27/18-weeks/ (Page last reviewed: 13 October 2021. Next review due: 13 October 2024)
 
NHS. You and your baby at 19 weeks pregnant. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/week-by-week/13-to-27/19-weeks/ (Page last reviewed: 13 October 2021. Next review due: 13 October 2024)

NHS. Common health problems in pregnancy. www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/common-health-problems/ (Page last reviewed: 8 March 2021. Next review due: 8 March 2024)
 
BUMPS (2018) Treating constipation during pregnancy. Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/Medicine--pregnancy/Treating-constipation-during-pregnancy/ 
 
Tidy C (2021) Common Side Effects of Pregnancy. Patient https://patient.info/pregnancy/common-problems-in-pregnancy-leaflet 

NHS. Sex in pregnancy. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/sex/ (Page last reviewed: 16 March 2021. Next review due: 16 March 2024)
  
NHS. Pelvic pain in pregnancy. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/pelvic-pain/ (Page last reviewed: 1 August 2019. Next review due: 1 August 2022)

NHS. You and your baby at 25 weeks pregnant. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/week-by-week/13-to-27/25-weeks/ (Page last reviewed: 13 October 2021. Next review due: 13/10/2024)

NHS. You and your baby at 29 weeks pregnant. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/week-by-week/28-to-40-plus/29-weeks/ (Page last reviewed: 13 October 2021. Next review due: 13 October 2024)

NHS. You and your baby at 30 weeks pregnant. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/week-by-week/28-to-40-plus/30-weeks/ (Page last reviewed: 13 October 2021. Next review due: 13 October 2021)

NHS. You and your baby at 36 weeks pregnant. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/week-by-week/28-to-40-plus/36-weeks/ (Page last reviewed: 13 October 2021. Next review due: 13 October 2021)

Review dates
Reviewed: 16 June 2022 | Next review: 16 June 2025