How to deal with the stress of your partner's high-risk pregnancy

How to deal with the stress of your partner's high-risk pregnancy

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Supporting your partner's physical and emotional well-being can offset the helplessness, isolation, and stress of her high-risk pregnancy – and help you feel more connected to each other. Here's what you can do.

Practical support

  • Go to doctor visits with your partner. Take notes to help her remember important information.
  • Attend childbirth preparation classes together. Lamaze, The Bradley Method, and HypnoBirthing are approaches that sometimes include stress-reduction techniques.
  • Help with housework. Don't sit back and wait to be told what to do. If you're not sure what needs to be done, look around and come up with a list of chores.
  • Take over the cooking and kitchen cleanup, especially if certain food smells make her nauseous.
  • Make it possible for her to rest or take naps often.
  • If you smoke, do it outside when she's not around. Try to quit or at least cut down on how much you smoke.

Emotional support

  • Give her back or foot massages, or do whatever eases her stress, pain, and fatigue.
  • Be generous with hugs, hand-holding, and other forms of physical affection.
  • Listen to your partner's concerns. The simple act of sharing her burden can alleviate it.
  • Encourage her. Share reassuring articles or anecdotes. Remind her of the optimistic things her healthcare provider has said.
  • Ask her what she wants from you. One day she may need your shoulder to cry on, and the next day she might feel like talking about anything but her pregnancy.
  • Make recommended dietary or lifestyle changes together.
  • Don't pressure her for sex or other activities she may not be up for.
  • Be open to changing the way you express intimacy. If she's not feeling up to having sex, ask what you could do to make her feel closer to you.
  • Plan a special activity when she's feeling down. If she's on bedrest, arrange a game night with friends or plan a quiet night at home with takeout from her favorite restaurant.
  • If she's not on bedrest, take walks together. Use that time not only to get some exercise but also for leisurely talks.

Take care of yourself

Caregiving is a stressful job, and you may need your own source of support – whether it's a friend, therapist, or support group. If you're feeling anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed, ask your healthcare provider for a referral to a mental health professional, who can help you find other resources.

Like any challenge a couple faces together, a high-risk pregnancy can strengthen your relationship because it requires paying special attention to each other's needs as well as listening to and supporting one another. But if the stress of your partner's pregnancy has a negative effect on your relationship, consider couples counseling.

Working with a professional therapist can help you resolve conflicts, improve communication, and reinforce connectedness. It also gives you a safe and supportive place to talk about your own unmet needs.

Susan LaCroix is a writer, editor, and psychotherapist with a private practice in Berkeley, California. She specializes in providing support to individuals and couples during pregnancy, postpartum adjustment, and the transition to parenthood.

Watch the video: Ask the Obstetrician: Pregnancy and Mood (July 2022).


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