We form all kinds of relationships during our lives. Family. Friends. Partners, husbands and wives. Work colleagues. We know all of these relationships are affected by the reality of pregnancy and impending parenthood – some more than others. Some relationships might strengthen, others might weaken; some might adjust to the changes, while others might fall away completely. Whatever the changes, they can affect your emotional and mental well-being.
Being pregnant can certainly test your relationship with your partner. Both physical and emotional intimacy evolves as the pregnancy does, feelings can be intense, joy can mix with anxiety. It can be a rollercoaster. And if other issues are in the mix, such as financial issues, issues at work, social or physical isolation, or issues with extended family, it adds an extra layer of stress.
As well as getting used to your pregnancy this is also an important time when you and your partner need to talk about what it means to be bringing a baby into your life – particularly if this is your first child. For many couples, this can be more difficult than expected.
Whether planned or unplanned, many couples are pregnant before they start thinking about what parenting means to them and what it will be like to be a ‘family’ rather than a couple. For some expecting mums and dads this change can be difficult and even overwhelming.
At PANDA we know how important it is to be able to talk together about these changes. We also know that this can be difficult for some couples.
If changes to any of your relationships are negatively affecting emotional and mental well-being then it’s time to seek support.
Other people’s reactions
We know that people react to news of pregnancy in all sorts of ways. Often they are enthusiastic, loving and supportive, but sometimes they’re not quite as positive as you had hoped.
Sometimes even the enthusiastic responses can arouse mixed or negative feelings. As a couple you might be dealing with a range of complex feelings and thoughts about the pregnancy, from joy through to anxiety. When others suggest either through their reactions or their words that any feelings that are not overwhelmingly positive are wrong it can add another layer of complexity to what you are feeling.
However, you might be feeling scared. You might be experiencing doubts alongside your joy and anticipation. You might be struggling with the loss of your former life. If other people suggest these feelings are wrong or shameful, you might try to suppress or ignore them. But this can actually make things worse.
If other people’s reactions or behaviour becomes a concern, it’s worth speaking to a trusted friend, loved one or health professional.