Normal issues are amplified in pregnancy

Since finding out you’re pregnant, you might have noticed that issues you’ve always been able to cope with are much harder to deal with now. You might be arguing with your partner more than usual or getting stressed out more easily.

Becoming parents
 

Your relationship is going through a big transition – where you used to just be a couple, you’re now becoming parents. This transition is a time of increased stress for most parents and it’s one of the most significant changes you’ll ever have to deal with [1].

Even if your baby was planned, you’ve got a lot to get your heads around. Parenting is a lifelong commitment, with new responsibilities and huge demands on your time, money, and other areas of your lives. As your pregnancy progresses, the realities of your new roles can become daunting and may lead to more worry.

When you’re about to become parents, you might reflect on your own childhood and your experiences of being parented. While it can be healthy to learn from the past, any difficult memories may have an effect on your emotional wellbeing. All of this can cause previously mundane issues to become far more significant [2].

Managing expectations
 

If you and your partner know and anticipate the kinds of difficulties you will face, you are more likely to have realistic expectations. This can mean you’re better able to deal with difficult situations when they come up [3]. Talk openly and positively about your fears and expectations, and make use of the support and information on offer. If you’re aware of your biggest worries as a couple, you can work together to prepare solutions in advance.

Although your sense of identity might be shifting, you don’t have to lose sight of who you were before. Taking time for yourself to keep in touch with friends and maintain hobbies can help remind you that, even though your life is changing, you can still be the same person you always were.

Equally, spending quality time with your partner is an important reminder that, as well as being expectant parents, you are still a couple too.

 References
 

[1] Shapiro, A. F. & Gottman, J. M. Effects on Marriage of a Psycho-Communicative-Educational Intervention With Couples Undergoing the Transition to Parenthood, Evaluation at 1-Year Post Intervention. J. Fam. Commun.5, 1–24 (2005).

[2] Claxton, A. & Perry-Jenkins, M. No Fun Anymore: Leisure and Marital Quality Across the Transition to Parenthood. J. Marriage Fam.70, 28–43 (2008).

[3] Pancer, S. M., Pratt, M., Hunsberger, B. & Gallant, M. Thinking ahead: Complexity of expectations and the transition to parenthood. J. Pers.68, 253–279 (2000).

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