Bigger boobs, a wider belly, swollen ankles, your body undergoes incredible changes to house the newest little addition to your family, and during this transformation the relationship with the guy on the outside of your womb will change as well. Simply put, love and pregnancy can be a tricky combination. "At times you'll feel inexplicably close, while other moments you could feel as though your partner is living on another planet," says Cathy O'Neil, co-author of the book Babyproofing Your Marriage. Being mindful of what's in store, and learning how to manage and understand your emotions will go a long way towards helping you maintain and strengthen your bond. Here's how to navigate the five most common changes.
The pregnancy hormones surging through your body can have a profound impact on your emotions, triggering your feelings of panic. "Many women experience an overwhelming fear of abandonment during early pregnancy," says O'Neil. "Even the most independent woman will worry about her husband leaving her or getting hurt in a bad accident." This fear often leads to women making strange and unreasonable demands on their partners, such as wearing a helmet in the car or checking in every half hour. Don't worry -- this crazy woman will recede back into her primal cave as your pregnancy progresses. In the mean time, it's a good idea to warn your partner. Let him know you're feeling especially needy right now, and that it would really help for him to give you extra hugs and attention.
The minute you see that extra line on the plastic stick, you feel like a mom. And your body gives you little signs to confirm your newly appointed status. Your partner doesn't have any of those physical symptoms -- and until science catches up with science fiction, he never will. Which means he may not feel like he's a father until he holds that bundle of joy for the first time. "It's not that he isn't excited about becoming a parent, he just doesn't feel the same immediacy about the situation that you do," says O'Neil. Try not to feel upset if he doesn't seem concerned about picking out nursery paint or looking at booties.
Again, everything is happening to you. Aside from a couple of congratulatory back slaps or a handful or cigars tossed his way, most of the excitement about the pregnancy revolves around you. And since he can't exactly help you grow that thing, he might not feel so connected to it -- or to you, at times. Encouraging him to bond with the bump will help him feel more integral to the pregnancy. "Get him to start talking to your baby-to-be, play his favorite music, and share his excitement about teaching him to how to kick a soccer ball," says O'Neil. Be sure to set aside non-baby time, too. Making his favorite meal or surprising him with a movie date after work will help your partner feel like he's still your number one guy.
Getting used to your bodily functions during pregnancy is going to be interesting, and sharing them with your partner could be a new thing for you two. There will be moments when the two of you might be in awe of the life you're creating, you'll bask in love's glow and feel extremely close emotionally -- and then, you might fart. Be ready to laugh about it with your man. All the burping, gas, and nausea might seem a little embarrassing at first, but it will make you two more connected than ever.
Romance tends to be pushed to the backburner during the first trimester, when most women feel queasy, exhausted, and downright icky. As the months tick by and your bump becomes bigger, getting busy between the sheets might seem trickier to figure out, but it's important to make it happen. "Keeping up that physical connection during pregnancy and talking about it with your partner strengthens your bond as a couple," says Craig Malkin, Ph.D., a psychologist in Cambridge, MA, who recommends scheduling Big O time. "It may not feel spontaneous, but finding passion in the moment and reconnecting physically will bring you closer."
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