You and Your Partner: 0-12 weeks

Although pregnancy can be a very meaningful and exciting time for a woman and her partner, there are unique concerns and pressures for each of you alone and also together as a couple. Pregnancy is a period of transition, a change from one family pattern to another. It is also a time of growth.

The Expectant Mother

Pregnancy changes your life in many ways. Successful adjustment to the changes of pregnancy leads to successful adjustments after the baby is born. Many of the feelings you're experiencing now, in this first stage of pregnancy, are primarily due to hormone level increases and the physical changes in your body.

Virtually all pregnant women have both positive and negative feelings about being pregnant. While uncertainty about pregnancy, the baby, and yourself as an expectant mother is a very natural emotion in the first trimester, it should be fairly well resolved during the second trimester. If it isn't, discuss your feelings with your health care provider and ask for help.

The physical and emotional aspects of pregnancy may cause you to be anxious and less effective when dealing with daily issues. But remember that these symptoms are temporary. Ask for recommendations.

Stress and Pregnancy

Everyone feels stress every day. A moderate amount of stress is necessary for motivation, goal achievement, and satisfaction. When there is too little or too much stress, normal functioning becomes difficult, if not impossible. Any change in a person's life produces stress, and the major changes occurring during pregnancy are certainly challenging.

Unrelieved stress during pregnancy may make a woman more likely to have health problems. These problems can affect her developing baby.

The sources of stress vary among individuals, but no two have similar reactions. Your personality, health, financial situation, etc., can affect your ability to handle stress.

In order to make life more manageable, identify the stress factors that affect you. Decide which are hardest for you to handle and take action to decrease that stress. The following techniques may help:

  • Set priorities and share responsibilities at home and work
  • Learn to say no to new projects or activities before you're overloaded
  • Set realistic deadlines or changes in your work responsibilities
  • Establish a regular exercise program under the guidance of our doctors and nurses
  • Enroll in childbirth education classes, which allow you to learn what to expect throughout your pregnancy, as well as offer support from other expectant parents. Understanding what you are experiencing will help decrease stress in itself.

Support Systems

A family's adjustment to childbearing depends on the availability and quality of its support systems. Support can be found in many places. Your emotional, physical, financial, and spiritual support may come in many forms and be obtained through a variety of service agencies and organizations. Make sure the support you choose is helpful and appropriate for your needs.

Communication

One of the most important things an expectant mother can do to handle the changes and stresses occurring in her life is to talk about them. Not only should you share your questions and feelings with your doctor/midwife, but you should also maintain open lines of communication with your partner. He is probably in need of a friendly ear and an opportunity to share his feelings as well. Together you may be able to find some comfort and relief, and possibly, even some humor, in your individual situations. Communication between expectant parents is extremely important. It will relieve some of the stress you may be feeling and help you make good decisions on future issues such as:

  • Your return to work
  • How you will share in caring for illnesses
  • Selecting child care

The Expectant Father

Expectant parents today share not only the joys of pregnancy, childbirth, and childbearing, but the worries as well. And chances are that you both share many of the same concerns. Although your partner isn't experiencing the changes your body is going through right now, he has his own unique set of concerns, and need for information during pregnancy. And he certainly shares the same emotional confusion and has many of the same questions and fears that you do.

Studies have shown that many expectant fathers have worries and fears related to themselves, their wives, the pregnancy, the baby, sexuality, finances, childcare, and the new role of father they will be expected to fill. It is important to discuss those needs and concerns early in the pregnancy. The father's adjustment to pregnancy can have a significant effect on his happiness, the immediate and future health of the mother, and many aspects of the growth and development of the baby. Involving your partner in your pregnancy will help decrease his anxieties and make him more of a "team member". Have him join you for visits to our office, and encourage him to read about pregnancy and parenthood.

Sexuality During Pregnancy

Talk to your provider about specific factors that may affect your sexual desires and experiences while you are pregnant, including:

  • Communication and intimacy
  • Comfortable positions for sexual intercourse
  • Alternative methods of sexual satisfaction
  • Sexual interest and frequency
  • Partner's response
  • Use of condoms
  • Orgasm
  • Personal hygiene
  • Any restrictions that may be required due to your specific situation or complications such as vaginal bleeding

There are many physical and emotional changes that affect desire and actual physical pleasure, and understanding how these changes affect making love during pregnancy can help. It's not surprising that a decrease in sexual interest may occur early in pregnancy. After all, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and painfully tender breasts tend to make sex less appealing. In women with comfortable first trimesters, however, sexual desire often remains more or less the same. A minority of expectant women find it increases significantly. This increase in desire is often due to hormonal changes in early pregnancy that leave the vulva more sensitive and/or because of heightened breast sensitivity. These women may experience orgasms or multiple orgasms for the first time.

The most common concern related to sexual activity during pregnancy is the fear of hurting the developing baby. Except for certain medical complications, intercourse does not have to be interrupted during pregnancy unless a couple wishes to do so. The fetus is well cushioned and protected inside the amniotic sac and uterus, and the uterus is securely sealed off from the outside world with a mucous plug that "seals" the opening of the cervix.

Not all women know what to expect or not expect, in the intimate part of their relationship. You should always ask your provider if you have any concerns about your normal sexual activity and any signs or symptoms they want reported. A basic rule of thumb is that any abnormal or unusual symptom that you experience should be reported immediately.

Reprinted by Pregnancy.org, LLC from Her HealthCare.