For the pregnant woman
Along with the physical changes, pregnancy can also trigger emotional, psychological, and social changes. Preparing for motherhood and the arrival of a baby can give rise to numerous questions and cause stress for some women. Take the time you need to adapt to these new realities (see Being a mother).
For many women, the changes associated with pregnancy can give rise to what may seem like conflicting emotions. For example, you may find yourself swinging between joy, worry, denial, excitement, even sadness. The important thing is to acknowledge your emotions rather than fight them. Let your emotions come and let yourself feel them.
Talking about your emotions with those close to you can do you good and help you get the support you need.
You can also talk to other pregnant women or those who have recently given birth. This can help you realize that you are not alone in experiencing some of the changes and emotions you are going through. Most regions have places where pregnant moms-to-be can meet (see Prenatal activities).
You may also notice that you don’t share the same emotions or concerns as others. Remember, every woman—and every pregnancy—is unique.
Pregnancy can be a very emotional time. Don’t hesitate to share what you’re feeling with people you trust. If you need more support, talk to your prenatal care provider.
To adapt to these changes, some women prefer doing activities by themselves, such as meditating or walking. Try to find what is most helpful or does you the most good.
During pregnancy, women may attract more attention. Family, friends, and even strangers will often make comments, sharing remarks on your weight or appearance or offering all sorts of advice.
Some women are comfortable with and appreciate the extra attention. Others may feel pressure and prefer to avoid the comments. If you feel this way, don’t hesitate to say so and set your limits. You can always choose not to respond to questions and comments about your pregnancy.
Some women experience the changes and emotions of pregnancy more intensely and may be affected by depression during this period. About one in ten women will experience depression during pregnancy.
If you find yourself feeling sad or irritable most days or lose interest and enthusiasm for your daily activities over more than two weeks, or if you or your loved ones are worried, talk to your prenatal care provider.
For the future father or partner
Future fathers and partners also face their share of changes during a pregnancy. Some wonder if they will be able to live up to expectations. Others have questions about their new family situation or worry they won’t agree with their partner about the level of involvement each will have with the child.
The simple fact of knowing that your partner is carrying a child may not be enough to make the pregnancy tangible for you. Attending prenatal checkups and ultrasound appointments, listening to the baby’s heartbeat, and feeling his first movements are events that can help you start building a relationship with your baby.
Your relationship will become more real if you talk to and touch your baby through his mother’s belly. Even so, some partners only become truly conscious of their new reality when the baby is born.
If you know other new or expectant fathers or parents, don’t hesitate to ask them about their experiences. These conversations can provide answers and help you embrace your new role. Participating in prenatal sessions can also help make you more confident in your abilities.
For more information, see the section Being a father.
For the couple
Your relationship as a couple is important because it’s the foundation of your family to be.
Going from a two-person to a three-person relationship or expanding your family brings its share of changes and adjustments. You and your partner both have concerns but they won’t necessarily be the same and may not come at the same time.
You may wonder how your partner will react if you talk about your fears or share your doubts. Regardless of what you’re feeling, it’s important to communicate. Communicating allows you both to express your emotions and points of view so you can stay united on the path to parenthood. Your relationship as a couple is important as it forms the basis of your family-to-be.
For the family
Have your children touch your belly when the baby is moving.
Photo: Anne-Marie Turcotte-Tremblay
If you already have children, you may have the impression you are neglecting the older ones. Fatigue and the discomforts of pregnancy may change the way you look after them. You may feel guilty or wonder how you’ll be able to love all your children and give each one the attention he or she deserves.
Your other children, regardless of their age, may feel jealous or even angry at the idea of welcoming a new member into the family. They may be worried about where they will fit in during the pregnancy and after the birth of their brother or sister.
Reassure them and help them accept the baby on the way by talking to them about the upcoming birth. You can get them actively involved in preparations for baby’s arrival—by helping decorate the baby’s room or drawing baby a picture, for example. It’s a good idea to tell them that you still love them and demonstrate it by showing your affection.
For your partner, family and friends, your pregnancy can be a special opportunity to build stronger ties with your older children.
Ultrasound: An examination using an ultrasound device that can see the embryo or fetus in the mother’s womb.