Be Proactive and Prepare for the Ways in which Pregnancy May Impact Your Marriage
After the initial euphoria of becoming pregnant wears off, a backlash of emotion on the part of both partners can stress even the most solid marriages. While it is perfectly normal to expect that some marital patterns will change after pregnancy, it is vital that couples work through any significant emotional and communication challenges prior to the arrival of a new baby.
Both men and women become susceptible to feeling unprepared for the changes that come with a new baby. For women, hormonal changes can contribute to fears about not being an adequate mother or that a partner may leave after the birth of a baby. Other potential negative consequences are a possible loss of interest in sex, and an increase in the incidence of depression or anxiety. With a newly pregnant spouse, men can be more prone to worry about financial and work-related pressures, and also can be vulnerable to depression and anxiety disorders.
Complicating matters is that the breakdown in communication that happens when both partners are stressed often happens gradually. More arguments start to creep into the relationship, and eventually it is apparent that a couple is experiencing intimacy and communication problems induced by a cycle of negativity and increased acrimony directed at their partner.
How to Approach Restoring Harmony and Communications
As is often the case, success in a relationship begins with self-care. Since women clearly bear the brunt of the physical aspects of pregnancy, they are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of avoiding exercise and eating poorly. Simple measures (for both partners) that are critical to maintain include:
- Exercise (adapted to pregnancy) and exposure sun (vitamin D)
- Proper nutrition
- Good sleep hygiene and routines
- Relaxation (breathing, yoga, meditation)
- Maintaining sexuality and connection with a partner
To reverse the process of emotional drift, couples should be proactive about improving communication, starting with each partner taking the time to actively focus on the other’s well-being. Simple steps can go a long way to smoothing out the bumps, including:
- Working on trust and understanding by asking questions about how the other person is doing and what they believe they need
- Openly discussing the pregnancy with your partner
- Divulging concerns about the pregnancy; keeping concerns and fears bottled up can lead to more or more severe problems
- Doing the small things for your partner that show that your heart is open; sometimes small gestures go a very long way
- Maintain intellectual connections and shared interests
Please understand that if you are pregnant, it is in everyone’s best interest to remove any marital conflict that has developed during pregnancy to ensure that the child gets the attention and focus it deserves. As a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and a qualified Reproductive Psychiatrist, I would like to talk to you about incipient signs of marital stress and help you work through your challenges.
For additional information, please feel free to email our office at Amanda.Itzkoff@gmail.com. To schedule an appointment, call our offices at 917-609-4990.
Dr. Amanda Itzkoff