You might feel like your pregnancy is all about you and the baby you are carrying. But for many women, there is another component to that equation – your partner – the Dad-to-Be. Pregnancy changes your body as it makes accommodations and changes to meet the growing needs of a brand new person. However, it sometimes also changes the relationship you have with your partner. For some women they feel closer to their partner, but for others, pregnancy can be a time of mixed emotions where the connection feels lost and your self-image changes.
Emotional changes in pregnancy and how they are affecting your relationship
Even the most excited father-to-be can have a difficult time understanding the changes you and your body are going through during pregnancy. It is important to remember that some of these changes are temporary, some will have lasting impacts, and some will stay with you forever (like stretch marks!), but that they are all a part of the greater goal of a healthy pregnancy and baby. There are many ways pregnancy can affect relationships.
- Some women feel less attractive, causing them to pull away from their partners (even when their partners are being supportive and positive).
- Some women feel resentment that they are the only one in the relationship who physically changes during pregnancy.
- Some women feel powerless over the changes and depressed over the loss of their self-identity.
- Some women experience fear that their partners won’t ever look at them the same way again, and it makes them look for constant reassurance.
- Some women feel empowered about the ability of their body to change and accommodate the pregnancy and support a new life.
- If you are feeling these emotions, you are not alone. The emotions around the changes in your body are all natural, and they often fluctuate with your hormones, your trimester, and the support you receive from your partner, family, and friends.
How can I have a healthier self-image during pregnancy?
If you are experiencing emotions of fear, anxiety, and loss of control over your new body image, there are some things you can do to help ease those worries and develop a healthier self-image.
Talk with your partner about your concerns. My husband always tells me he is not a mind reader, but that he would love to know what is on my mind. Because partners don’t experience the same changes that we do during pregnancy, dads-to-be can have a difficult time relating if we don’t relate our emotions to them.
Continue to find ways to be intimate with your partner. You both need to still feel that connection, even the simple things of holding hands as you go for a walk or snuggling on the sofa as you watch a movie together. Allowing your partner to experience the joy of your pregnancy will help both of you see the changes as manageable and even beautiful.
Develop an exercise plan with your OB. This isn’t just about weight – although that is an important component. Exercise can help release some of those feel good hormones to improve your mood, which helps your overall sense of well-being. It will also help you keep toned for labor and delivery, but in the short term will help you feel more in control of your body.
Pay attention to what and why you eat. With my second child I gained too much weight. I had still a few pounds left to lose from my first pregnancy, and looking back I realize that I felt like I had already lost the battle, so I gave in to whatever cravings I had. It didn’t help me feel good about myself during or after my pregnancy. With my third child I resolved to eat only the foods that were healthy for my child. Even though he was born at a very healthy and robust 9 lbs. 8 oz., I had only gained a net total of 3 pounds – so I was lighter immediately after birth than I was before I got pregnant. I felt so much better physically during pregnancy, and my recovery after delivery was that much easier.
When you truly begin to feel beautiful, inside and out, it will show, and your partner will reciprocate those feelings right back to you. There is a reason why people speak of the “pregnancy glow” – pregnant women are beautiful – and that includes you!