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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 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.

 

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."

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