Understand how your relationships may change with your partner, your family and the world.
You & Your Partner
All relationships benefit from honest communication. You may feel at times as though you are inhabiting different worlds and that your needs are not being met. This can be true for both of you. Rampant hormones and the stress of imminent parenthood and new responsibilities can highlight the strengths and weaknesses but nothing is insurmountable if you are both willing to listen.
It is important that you talk about your concerns openly, with neither of you feeling rejected. Discuss your fears and insecurities. Spend time together and share the preparation. Talk about what you value in your relationship and what kind of world you wish to create for your child. Try to remain open-minded and non-judgemental.
If you worry about your ability as parents, remember that your first baby has the task of transforming you into parents. Both of you play an integral role in providing a loving and secure environment for your child, albeit in different ways. It’s likely that one or both of you may feel that your life is becoming dominated by the pregnancy. Take a day out together and do something inspirational. A change is as good as a rest.
You & Your Family
The risk of miscarriage reduces at the end of the first trimester and this may be an appropriate time to share your news with those close to you. Your announcement may evoke various responses. Generally the prospect of new life is greeted with enthusiasm and feelings of elation. There’s something especially uniting about an imminent birth in the family. It’s the beginning of something positive and uplifting and offers a perfect distraction from every day routine. Many women say that going through a first pregnancy can be healing in that it brings you closer to understanding what your own parents, and particularly your mother, went through for you.
Rebecca sums this up in her comment after giving birth to 3.68 kg Klaus: “I remember lying there being in awe of my mother and grandmothers who had all given birth naturally. I thought, they are frigging legends!” There will be of course people who do not respond so enthusiastically. Your fortune and obvious delight may highlight problems in their own lives. Try to remain focussed on your own wellbeing. If it is getting you down, remember that people who spend their days making other people’s lives unhappy are usually the most unhappy of all. If you are able to recognise this, then you may not feel so persecuted by their negativity. These people usually come round in the end. A warm and cuddly newborn can soften the most hardened of hearts.
You & Your World
As your pregnancy progresses, you will notice an ever-increasing amount of advice coming your way. For those of your friends who are already parents, it’s an opportunity to impart wisdom, some of it relevant, some of it irritating. Use your discretion to keep what may be of use. Whatever choices you make, there is always the possibility that they will be scrutinised and become matters of public debate. Whether or not you choose to finish work early, whether or not you choose to find out the sex of your baby, whether you opt for cloth nappies or disposable, or whether or not you intend breastfeeding, people around you, including strangers, may feel compelled to decide for you. Do what feels right for you and your partner.
Once your pregnancy becomes more obvious you may find it demoralising the way your body becomes public property. In particular the way your body suddenly appears to becomes the property of the medical fraternity. You may feel a loss of autonomy over choices and decisions concerning your pregnancy that can leave you feeling frustrated and disempowered. It is important to take a determined approach to maintaining your own sense of self and continue to play an active role in making choices and decisions. If you begin to feel you are being treated like a baby-producing machine, speak up. If you are unhappy with your antenatal care and professionals, say so. It is important you feel able to express your concerns.You will need to be prepared to deal with strangers who may have an odd compulsion to touch your abdomen, ask your due date and speak to you as though you are close friends. Be assertive but diplomatic if you find this disturbing. Well intentioned people can sometimes be thoughtless unless their attention is brought to it.
Sometimes you may feel like the baby growing in your womb is receiving more attention than you are. This can be confusing and upsetting, especially if you are experiencing difficulties. Ensure that the people around you aware of your needs and be prepared to ask for support. This is a very special time of your life. Allow yourself to enjoy it.