Partner having mixed feelings about parenthood?
Mixed feelings about having a baby? You’re not alone.
“You must be so thrilled.”
“That’s amazing news. I’m so happy for you two.”
These are some of the common reactions you may hear when you share the big news that your family is about to expand. And whether it’s your first baby or your fourth, chances are that you and your partner’s emotions go well beyond “thrilled” and “so happy.”
The wild ride of pregnancy emotions
When it comes to emotions, the weeks and months following the pregnancy news can be much different from what either of you expected. Sure, it’s likely that you’ll experience waves of pre-baby joy and excitement. And there could also be a wide variety of additional feelings including fear, anger, anxiety, doubt, panic, sadness, isolation and many others. On top of these emotions, many people feel ashamed or guilty for feeling anything but 100% happiness.
Depression among pregnant women is also quite common. About 8-11% of women experience depression while they’re pregnant. And because going it alone can be quite challenging, single parents to-be are even more likely to experience some difficult emotions before giving birth.
If you or your partner are experiencing a full spectrum of emotions leading up to your baby’s birth, you should know that this is completely normal and that you’re not alone. After all, there are big changes ahead, and it’s absolutely natural to feel what you’re feeling.
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Seeking out support
The most important thing to do is to take care of yourself and support your partner during this exciting — but also tumultuous — time.
Remember, you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re concerned about your pregnant partner, be sure to bring it up in a kind, caring manner. Ask her how she’s feeling about everything, let her know what you’ve noticed, and offer a patient, listening ear. You may find that you’re feeling similarly about beginning the journey to parenthood, and that can bring the two of you closer together.
It’s also helpful to speak to others who have been through this experience. If you know any new parents, ask for a quick chat (preferably after the kids are in bed). Chances are, they can relate to the feelings you’re having right now. They may also have some helpful coping strategies to share.
Online forums are another readily available resource. You can log on anytime of the day or night and talk to other mums and dads-to-be. You can be sure that you’ll find others who are currently experiencing all that comes with pregnancy, emotions and otherwise. Mind the Bump - a free app developed by beyondblue offers a "Connecting with Your Partner" mindfulness meditation which may help to create a safe and open forum for you to communicate better with your partner.
You might like to support your partner to explore some of the thoughts or beliefs she is having related to the journey ahead. Often we can let our fears and concerns about the future rob us of the joy and happiness that would otherwise be available to us in the present moment.
Know the signs of something more serious
Depending on the situation, you may want to call a professional. For example, if you or your partner are experiencing:
- symptoms of depression
- panic attacks
- disruption in your sleep schedule
- tense muscles, a “tight” chest or heart palpitations
- a level of fear or anxiety that makes it difficult for you to go about your daily tasks.
In these cases, don’t hesitate to call your obstetrician, midwife or GP, who can refer you to mental health services.
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