When a woman is going though fertility investigations, pregnancy monitoring or the loss of a pregnancy, so much of the care and attention is aimed towards her. This is absolutely correct, however this can leave her partner feeling left out. It is so important to include the woman’s partner whether that person is male or female, in all aspects of their care. Couple focused care should be the goal.
Most fertility investigations are aimed at the female partner hoping to conceive. They may be blood tests on certain cycle days, vaginal scans and invasive procedures to assess fallopian tubes. For some partners this is out of their comfort zone and not something they have come across before. However if the partner is able to attend the initial consultation and time is taken to explain the process, he/she will feel included and be able to understand what will be happening. This in turn will allow them to be fully included and be supportive to their partner throughout the process. Discussions about a plan of care should involve both partners; they can make joint decisions, whether this is about having IVF, freezing embryos or stopping treatment. Fertility clinics who offer IVF have a counsellor available to all couples.
Pregnancy and pregnancy loss
Most women who are pregnant will worry, maybe about feeling too sick, or not feeling enough pregnancy symptoms. What will others think of them being pregnant, their age, the birth, or growing their bump. However it is very normal to feel some anxiety and wonder how the pregnancy will progress. Partner support is vital and it is important to share any concerns as well as the progress milestones and exciting aspects like the baby moving.
It can be stressful if a couple have received a worrying result or are waiting for test results. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember everything you have been told. Having both partners present will allow more information to be retained, and provide mutual support. Time to think and process information together is important too. Nurses and midwives will always be happy to offer further information and support at these times, and never mind repeating information.
If miscarriage happens, it is so important to include a woman’s partner. It should be remembered that they have also lost their baby. Whilst the physical process happens to the woman, her partner may feel shocked by witnessing the process and frightened for her health. During the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, partners were not always able to be present in hospitals. This was very distressing for everyone. Partners can feel their grief in a different way but be just as emotionally affected. Partners may feel they have to be strong and in turn hide their feelings. They may be quiet and not know what to say, the woman might think they don’t care or don’t want to talk about the loss. If they see their partner cry when the baby is mentioned, they just don’t want to make her more upset by talking about it. It is so important to keep the communication channels open and to encourage couples to share their feelings and remember their baby when they are ready.
A couple may know each other well but certainly aren’t psychic! Being there for each other is so important, listening and talking about things when they are ready.
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