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Health & Pregnancy

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Pregnancy's Ups and Downs

Pregnancy can have problems and trouble-free periods -- and either situation is normal.


"Maybe I could start a home business to supplement our income," the current customer-service manager muses, seemingly confident that things will work out by the time she gives birth. "Right now I'm just concentrating on staying healthy," she says, noting her more conscious efforts to keep informed about her body and the new baby's development. The 27-year-old remembers all too well how ignorant she felt the first time around, because she was too embarrassed to ask questions of her doctor and her family. Now, she feels she is more mature, more proactive, and is reading as much as she can about pregnancy and parenthood.

Pregnant With Possibilities

The issues facing No and Robles -- such as changes in lifestyle, day care, income, career, and sibling adjustment -- are common among expecting families, according to mental health experts. Fortunately for the sisters, they are not experiencing pregnancy problems like extreme mood swings or much physical discomfort to add to the mix. Many women do have these pregnancy problems, however, and coupled with the life-altering decision-making, they can make pregnancy a very stressful time. Yet, believe it or not, this is all still normal.

"A majority of women experience ups and downs during pregnancy. It's hard not to, with physiological and other changes going on," says Diane Ross Glazer, PhD, a psychotherapist at the Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center. "If you're always happy during pregnancy -- that's wonderful -- that's normal, too."

Although society often paints a picture of pregnancy as a rosy time, Ross Glazer says surging hormones can make women more emotional, thereby making problems and decision-making all the more difficult. To remedy the situation, she recommends women be kind to themselves and accept their ups and downs as part of the process. She also says it's important to talk to one's partner, a trusted family member, or a friend -- someone that can provide support.

Raphael Good, MD, says it may help to think of problems that arise during pregnancy as chances for families to prepare for life change. "It's an opportunity to come apart and regroup at a higher level," says the professor of psychiatry and ob-gyn at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

Women and their partners usually learn to solve problems and adjust to changes spurred on by pregnancy, says Good, but others may need extra assistance. Anyone who becomes overly depressed, has anxiety or panic attacks, has unhealthy changes in appetite, or experiences physical or mental abuse is urged to seek professional help.

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