The relationship you share with your partner must be considered one of the most significant relationships in your lifetime. Although parenting is the most important job you will ever have, it’s temporary in a sense that your child will leave the home one day, but your partner is lifelong.
This dynamic duo can easily be disrupted when a pregnancy occurs. When your partner is expecting, it’s important to know what to expect to avoid problems and learn to nurture your relationship effectively. A new pregnancy can bring on a mixed range of emotions from fear to excitement for most couples, which is very normal. Couples who are expecting may tend to focus all of their attention on the baby and on doing everything right from reading books, researching the safest baby items, finding the best doctor, discovering what to eat and what not and whatever else helps reduce their anxieties.
All of these things are wonderful, but there must be a balanced focus on just the two of you at times to continue to nurture your relationship. Below is a list of what to expect in your relationship when expecting and how you can balance your focus on your baby and your relationship.
- There may be less sexual intimacy. Early on, the expectant mom’s body will be undergoing rapid changes that she is learning to adapt to and may feel insecure about some of the changes. She may be suffering from morning sickness and extreme fatigue. In this state, she may be feeling undesirable and the last thing she wants is intimacy. She can balance her focus with her partner by sharing both the positive and negative physical and emotional changes that she is feeling. The expectant mom can ask for support from her partner in this area and clarify what she needs. Both partners should try to express their views about sexual needs without blaming or projecting anger.
- The expectant dad may feel left out. Everything may seem to revolve around the expectant mom at this time because she is carrying the baby. Friends and family usually flock to the wellbeing of the mother to ensure a healthy pregnancy. The expectant mom may become consumed with loving this new person growing inside of her that you two created. Balance the focus in your relationship by expressing the love you two have for each other daily. Create “time zones” when the conversation is focused on the desires each of you have for the relationship and each other in a romantic setting. Expectant mom’s can include their partner by encouraging them to read books along with them, going to doctor’s visits and create snuggle time for dad and “belly” to begin strengthening their bond to name a few.
- You may feel clingy. The surge of pregnancy hormones in your body can have a significant impact on your emotions. Often times an expectant mom experiences overwhelming fear of abandonment and may trigger feelings of panic. They may worry excessively and demand their partner give them extra “check-ins” or want to limit their activities. This clinginess usually regresses throughout the pregnancy. You can balance the focus in your relationship by communicating openly about these feelings. Instead of making difficult demands ask for reassurances and care with extra affection and words of affirmation.
- You both may be feeling different emotions. It’s completely normal for the expectant mom to feel like a mom the moment her pregnancy test is confirmed. The reality sinks in quickly as she begins to experience early pregnancy symptoms. Expectant dad’s on the other hand are not “privy” to these physical and hormonal changes and may not emotionally feel like a father as quickly as their partner does or until he’s holding his newborn in his arms. This may result in a different level of excitement or interest in “baby talk” or “baby shop.” You can balance the focus in your relationship by being aware of this difference and communicating openly about each of your feelings. Focus on connecting with each other in the midst of caring for your new pregnancy. Schedule lunch after doctor’s visits or grab dinner and a movie after a baby shopping spree.
Porsha Jones, LMFT
Pjones @ GROWcounseling.com