Pregnancy's Ups and Downs
Pregnancy can have problems and trouble-free periods -- and either situation is normal.
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
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
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.
Evaluating Yourself, Relationships
During her pregnancy, Angela Soos fell deeper in love with her
husband, Michael, and they both seemed closer than ever. "I was so happy he
had given me a baby," says the 30-year-old Holmdel, N.J. resident.
"This was something I had always wanted."
Soos appears to be one of the lucky ones. Some expectant
mothers report unwanted changes in relationships with their partners. Their
significant others may seem unsympathetic, or distant. Or the men may choose to
forgo sex with their wives during pregnancy for a host of reasons, including
being afraid to hurt the baby.
"Dads go through emotional changes as well," says Diane
Sanford, PhD, president of the Women's Healthcare Partnership in St. Louis, Mo.
She says it is crucial to continue to address issues with one's partner to come
up with solutions that are agreeable to both parties. "For example,"
she explains, "If he's afraid of having sex during pregnancy, the two of
you might want to take daily walks together to stay close."