As a parent-to-be, you are already experiencing change. During your pregnancy, as the mother, your body is going through a massive change and transition. If you are the father, you will be experiencing a change of her focus away from you and onto the baby growing inside her. You may also be feeling as if things are out of your control or that the relationship dynamic is altering, and both of you will be experiencing one or many of the below examples:
Getting pregnant sounded like a good idea, but now you’re unsure about what comes next. There’s so much that you don’t know about being a parent, and doubt lingers all through your new pregnant world. You need to build your confidence, yet you’re not even sure how to do that. All this doubt and fear must be impacting on the baby, not to mention your relationship. Let’s talk before it breaks.
Life was going along just fine with your partner, and now you’ve found out that you’re going to have a baby! No longer will life be about just the two of you, and possibly one or both of you aren’t as confident in the relationship anymore. This pregnancy may be unplanned, badly timed or maybe even unwanted, and as a result you find yourself experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression. You feel unprepared for this new role as a mother and anxious about the birth to come. Your focus is now on growing a baby and learning about what’s going on inside you. Meanwhile, the father-to-be is watching everything you’re going through and may have trouble connecting and understanding this intimate experience. He’s troubled because the pregnancy is not part of your initial relationship plan. Let’s talk before it breaks.
Pregnancy for either parent stirs up a mixture of concerns and emotions. It can also reignite symptoms of anxiety and stress for both of you. Either one of you may be overwhelmed by worry and fear about this transition yet not feel comfortable talking about it to your partner. Unfortunately, this is a point where many couples can derail because one shuts down and disengages from the relationship. You may feel as if you can’t voice your true feelings, thoughts and fears because you don’t want to rock the boat or make a difficult situation even worse. However, whether you are nine weeks pregnant or twenty-eight weeks pregnant, it’s vital for your relationship that you can talk about what’s going on. Let’s talk before it breaks.
The father-to-be may be away working for extended periods of time and you are growing your baby and preparing for the change all by yourself. He is focused on his work and his world, and calls in to talk occasionally, but the intimacy and emotional connection you shared is decreasing. It feels as if the two of you are living in very different worlds, which seem to be moving further apart week by week, and you are concerned. On the flip side, as the father-to-be, you are working hard to make sure that you’ll be able to take care of your new family financially. You are doing what has to be done, yet your partner has an ever-growing need for your emotional and physical support, which you can’t always give to her. She may be showing signs of depression or anxiety and you are concerned. Sometimes, too, there is the sad possibility that the father may have left before the birth due to various reasons – if this is the case, please go to the section on Birth Experience vs. Expectations and read the concern ‘Partner left before birth’. Let’s talk before it breaks.
Money may be tight and you are concerned that you don’t have enough funds to buy what you want and need for the new baby. Having a baby is expensive and there seems to be an endless list of things you need to buy. Also, with one of you, typically the mother, facing a reduction in working hours, it can be a tricky time managing cash-flow, which can cause anxiety and stress in the relationship. The father-to-be may also be feeling stressed by the responsibility of being the sole income earner. Let’s talk before it breaks.
Such a significant and dramatic change in your relationship as becoming pregnant can bring up unresolved issues and create unexpected behaviour. Sometimes the behaviour isn’t permanent, and issues need to be discussed. Other times the behaviour is permanent and the pregnancy has brought it to the surface. This needs to be addressed now! Let’s talk before it breaks.
For the mother-to-be: some days you’re up, some days you’re down, and other days you just want to flatten everything and everyone in your path! You feel out of control, not your usual self, and everyone appears to be walking on eggshells around you. For the father-to-be: you are living with a woman who seems completely crazy, emotionally unstable, confusing in all her communications and difficult to read and please. For most couples this trying time is temporary, but sometimes the influence of hormones can lead to things being said and done between you that may form a foundation of mistrust and poor communication, which you certainly don’t need once the baby comes. Let’s talk before it breaks.
The reality of being pregnant and having a baby has sent either one or both of you into an emotional tailspin that you just can’t seem to get out of. It’s affecting your wellbeing, your relationship and your whole life. Let’s talk before it breaks.
This is a common concern in today’s world. In generations gone by, women were surrounded by babies, toddlers and other women who were experienced in caring for and managing children. These days, however, it’s quite normal for women and men to live in a childless world until they become pregnant. This is not necessarily helpful for soon-to-be parents. Discussing your concerns is vital to preserve your relationship. Let’s talk before it breaks.
Your work or study is important to you, and having a baby is going to interrupt that. How do you handle and manage this? The choice of whether to stay home, go back to work or try to juggle both is one you can’t make fully until you have had the baby. Choosing which path to take can be difficult and confronting – in one way you don’t want your world to change, yet at the same time you want to have this baby and become a parent. Let’s talk before it breaks.
Your partner may have said they want a baby, but their behaviour is saying that they’re not so sure now, not coping with the reality and feeling anxious. Their communication is inconsistent and their moods and behaviour unpredictable, which is putting a strain on the relationship. You may be starting to ask the questions “What does depression look like?” and “Is my partner suffering from it?”. You’re worried – you need this brought out in the open as soon as possible in a safe, supportive way. Let’s talk before it breaks.
Everything is getting to you and you’re finding it hard to make decisions about even the smallest of things. There is so much to do, plan and organise about something so new and unknown. As a result, you’re either living in an obsessive world where you want everything to be perfect (which is driving everyone around you crazy) or you’re at the other end of the spectrum where you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and are stuck in a stressed and unproductive state. Even loading a due-date calendar on your phone seems too hard to commit to. You need a strategy to help you move through this and work with your partner towards the upcoming challenge of having a baby! Let’s talk before it breaks.
The pregnancy is taking its toll on your health and everyone is worried, especially you. Pregnancy for most women is no picnic. Yes, there are those rare few first-time mothers-to-be who have no health challenges: they don’t put on weight, they don’t vomit constantly for nine months, and their pregnancy is a breeze. They’re the picture of health and can run a marathon at nine and thirty-six weeks without even sweating, after which they give a pain-free birth in forty-five minutes. HELLO!! Most women have some health challenges during pregnancy and this is normal. Many women have to change their lifestyle and slow down, rest, disconnect from their job and/or technology to allow their body and brain to get ready for the massive job of growing a baby. Whether you’re a mother-to-be or father-to-be, if you’ve been consumed by work and used to running your life at a hectic pace, nature is now calling on you to get ready for a huge change in pace and routine. Many need emotional and mental support for that adjustment. Let’s talk before it breaks.
You don’t like hospitals, doctors or medical intervention, but having a baby these days seems to be all about dealing with the medical world. How do you have the pregnancy you want without all the upset of intervention, medical rules, regulations and expectations? Worrying about it is causing you stress, anxiety and frustration. This fear could be one you’ve taken on from a family member, from stories of your own birth and/or stories of other people’s birth experiences, or it could have been triggered by something else entirely. Best you get to the root of this fear and put it in its place so you can get on with the business of bringing your baby into the world, wherever and however that needs to happen. Babies decide to be born in the most interesting ways and places. Face it: you’re not in control of that, so it’s a good idea to talk about all your fears and concerns in case the birth doesn’t go the way you plan. Let’s talk before it breaks.
You feel guilty about being pregnant, about the choices you’re making, the choices you’re not making, about the reactions of others, your own beliefs, family involvement or lack of involvement ... the list goes on. We feel guilty about what we are or are not doing, conflicted in our beliefs about what is right or wrong, moral or immoral. Guilt brings with it feelings such as sorrow, remorse and regret. If you are experiencing feelings of guilt around being pregnant, you need to deal with these as soon as you can. Guilt is a negative emotion that feeds on itself, and it gives you no relief if you indulge in it. As soon as you say just what it is you are feeling guilty about, however, you can own it and shift it so that it does not have power over you anymore. If you or your partner are drowning in guilt, you need to talk about it before it consumes the relationship and destroys future hopes, excitement and possibilities. Let’s talk before it breaks.
You may feel negativity coming from yourself or your partner, your family, the medical profession, magazines, friends, work colleagues, even neighbours. How many of us have had the experience of a complete stranger coming up and giving us their opinions about our life, pregnancy and/or baby?! No matter who is expressing negativity – a stranger, friend, family member or your partner – you need to set boundaries regarding what is okay and limit the contact you have with people who are likely to be critical or opinionated. It’s important to establish strategies to manage the negativity now and moving into the future. Discussing it as soon as possible can clear the air and let you support each other during this delicate time. Let’s talk before it breaks.
This may be the first grandchild in your family, and your parents or your partner’s parents are over-involving themselves. Or perhaps your culture expects you to do and be certain things that you are not happy about. Siblings may be jealous or over-controlling, telling you what to do based on their own experiences. Some relatives claim a role, have an expectation or even land on your doorstep for days, weeks or months to ‘help’. It’s a challenging situation. Communication needs to be thought through and your battles chosen well. Understanding relatives’ perspectives and expectations, and working out how to communicate certain needs and requirements, will be most successful when both parents-to-be are clear about how they are going to deal with each other’s mother/father/sibling/cousins etc. A clear plan can unite the two of you so you both feel supported that neither of your families will over-run, smother, interfere or disrespect you or your partner in this new, exciting and sensitive time. Let’s talk before it breaks.