Pregnancy can mean a lot of changes in your relationship
Expecting a new little one is an exciting time in a relationship. Whether it was planned or was a surprise does not matter when both parents are joyfully awaiting the birth of their new baby. However, pregnancy has a way of changing a lot of things, especially for first-time parents. There is no way to be fully prepared for how expecting a baby will change your relationship, but take the following into consideration.
Diet and Activity Levels
Every woman is different, but one thing is certain: being pregnant is going to change how you eat and what your level of activity is. You may be able to maintain high energy during the day and be wiped out at night; if you are used to being a night owl, pregnancy may alter this. It’s no myth that you may experience odd food cravings, but that may not be the only diet change. Many women, in an effort to be the healthiest they can be for their baby, change the nature of their diets to include healthier, more nutritious foods.
These changes can be frustrating, especially for a partner who is used to a certain pattern of activity. If you have engaged in quality time with your partner in the late evening up to this point, energy changes during pregnancy can limit how late you want to be awake.
Altering the amount of quality time spent together can have a negative impact on your relationship; be sure to go with the flow and make time for one another during waking hours. Conversely, if your partner has always been an early riser, but pregnancy leaves her exhausted and sleeping in more frequently, let her sleep! You may have to alter your schedule of time spent together, but the time together will be more pleasant if she has the energy to dedicate to nurturing your relationship.
How your partner communicates can become challenging during pregnancy. For the expectant mother, especially a first-time mother, she is experiencing changes in her body chemistry and brain activity that can be confusing and frustrating at times.
Being impatient with how the brain processes information is a common ailment when you are pregnant; the brain and body are undergoing so many rapid changes in order to foster a healthy environment for the growing little one.
Because of the changes in the way the brain processes information, positive communication patterns may take a hit. If good communication problems already existed, it may grow more troublesome. If you and your partner had a fluid way of communicating, the emotional and physical changes during pregnancy can disrupt the flow.
Be patient and flexible – both the expectant mother and the supporting partner can foster open and positive communication if they are aware that challenges will inevitably arise.
Sex and Intimacy
Changes in sex and intimacy during pregnancy are a no-brainer; they are inevitable. Even if you and your partner engaged in regular intimacy before pregnancy, there is no guarantee that this will continue with the news of the pregnancy.
It’s essential to continue to make time for intimacy in your relationship during this time. The pregnancy likely occurred as a result of sex and intimacy – why stop now?
As an expectant mother, you must take into consideration the recommendations of our physician regarding physical intimacy, but in the instance of limited physical intimacy, you and your partner can continue to engage in emotional intimacy to promote a healthy, supportive, and loving environment.
Increased intimacy has both psychological and physical benefits. The release of dopamine in the brain is a safe and natural “happy drug.” Research suggests that increased dopamine levels during pregnancy can have a positive effect on dopamine levels of newborn infants and decrease the risk of depression and other mood disorders later in life. So not only can increased intimacy have an immediate impact, but it could also have a positive impact on the mother and child later in life.
Expression of Emotions
How you and your partner express your emotions can also be significantly altered during pregnancy. Changes in your body chemistry are typical to blame for the alteration of your emotional expression. Regardless of how you might have been affected by outside factors prior to pregnancy, you may experience significant emotional reactions to things during or after pregnancy.
Alternatively, things that may have impacted you emotionally prior to your pregnancy, might not promote the same reaction during or after pregnancy.
As a supporting partner, it’s essential to recognise these changes and assist your partner with them. How emotions are expressed and displayed may be confusing for both of you – try to be patient and not become frustrated. Be kind to one another and accept that former patterns of emotional expression may be forever altered. Grow together during this process rather than allowing it to cause division.
Above all else, embrace the journey you are embarking on together! Expecting a new baby, even if it is not the first, is the beginning of a new chapter in your adventure. Don’t forget why you chose one another and look to the future with hope and certainty rather than doubt and fear.
About the author:
Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support, and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy & happy marriages.
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Since 2003, Clinton Power has helped thousands of couples and individuals as a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney and online in Australia. Clinton regularly comments in the media on issues of relationships and has appeared on Channel 7, The Sydney Morning Herald, and ABC Radio. Clinton’s eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship is available through his website or Amazon. Click here to take Clinton’s relationship checkup quiz to find out how well you know your partner.