For the mother
Whether you are on your own or in a relationship, pregnancy can trigger emotional, psychological, and social changes.
Many women experience what may seem to be conflicting emotions during pregnancy, even women who very much wanted to get pregnant. The arrival of a baby is a life-changing event, and even though the changes bring joy, they can give rise to numerous questions and worries. On the other hand, you may find that your life continues much as normal and that you adapt easily to the demands of the child you’re carrying.
The important thing is not to ignore your emotions or fight them, but rather to express and try to understand them. Sharing them with your partner and those close to you can help you feel less alone and get the support you need.
Take the opportunity to talk to other pregnant women or those who have recently given birth. You’ll realize that you are not alone in experiencing some of the changes you are going through. You may also notice that you don’t share the same emotions or concerns as others. Remember, every woman—and every pregnancy—is unique.
However, if you find yourself feeling sad or irritable most days, or lose interest and enthusiasm for your daily activities over a period of two weeks or more, see a doctor or psychologist to help understand what you’re going through. Pregnancy does not protect against depression, and some women may actually experience a depression episode while pregnant.
For the father
Since you aren’t the one carrying the child, you may not feel the impact of the pregnancy on your life as quickly as your partner does. The simple fact of knowing that your partner is carrying a child may not be enough to make the pregnancy tangible for you. In fact, the reality of it all may not hit home until later on.
Listening to the baby’s heartbeat, feeling his first movements, and being present at the ultrasound are events that can help you develop a sense of fatherhood. For some men, it’s only when the baby is born that they become truly conscious of their new role as a father.
Fathers-to-be also get caught up in the whirlwind of changes. Some worry about their partner’s reaction to their involvement with the child, and wonder if they will be able to live up to her expectations.
Remember that pregnancy is a good time to begin your relationship with your baby. Even if the baby isn’t born yet, this relationship, which starts in both your head and heart, will become more real if you talk to and touch your baby through his mother’s belly and take part in prenatal sessions.
For the couple
Going from a two-person to a three-person relationship, or expanding an existing family, brings its share of changes and adjustments. This is also true for parents who plan to adopt a child.
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 because it will allow you to express your emotions and understand the other person’s point of view. 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: Dominique Belley
If you already have children, you may have the impression you are neglecting the older ones because the discomfort of your pregnancy and fatigue prevent you from looking after them the way you did before. 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 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 and having them make contact with the baby by touching your belly when the baby is moving. You can help ensure they don’t feel left out by getting them actively involved in preparations for baby’s arrival— by helping decorate the baby’s room or drawing him a picture, for example. It’s a good idea to tell them that you still love them and prove it by showing your affection. Your family and friends can also help out by giving your children some extra individual attention.