Expecting a child is always a big deal for every couple, whether it was a planned or surprise pregnancy. The addition of a baby to your family is a life-altering change that can leave not just the visible stretch marks on your belly but also the invisible ones on your relationship with your partner. It is very common for even a head-over-heels in love couple to feel distance creeping in their relationship. Suddenly, all the focus and priority moves to the baby-in-making.
We were married for almost 6 years when my twins were born. We, too, were the swooning over each other couple who would hold hands even in sleep, quite literally. But pregnancy changes this equation completely.
Being a twin pregnancy and after going through infertility treatments for a long time, mine was instantly declared a high-risk pregnancy. This means that the next 40 weeks would be spent in prenatal visits, bed rest, and constantly worrying over the well-being of my unborn twins. Our everyday conversations started to be all around the ultrasound scans, doctor advice, latest internet research over risks involved, and precautions suggested by every other twin parent on the internet.
In short, we received a bundle of stress and nervousness before getting our originally ordered bundle of joy. From a madly in love couple, we became 100% parents—dedicated, worried, and anxious.
How pregnancy affects marriage
While it doesn’t sound wrong to be 100% dedicated parents (and there’s nothing wrong in being worried about a high-risk pregnancy either), if you’re not thoughtful about your approach, pregnancy can become one of the reasons couples drift apart during pregnancy.
Some of the subtle reasons and ways pregnancy may come in between you two even before your belly does:
1. Lack of energy
Getting used to being pregnant takes time. Your body is still getting even with the sudden flow of hormones, making you feel sick and weak more often than you’d have thought. In such cases, you may not have enough energy to invest in your husband or your relationship. This can make you both feel neglected and disconnected from each other.
2. Lack of emotional involvement
From the moment you see 2 pink lines on the pregnancy test strip, it may take a bit longer for your partner to wrap his head around the news. For you, every experience from morning sickness to weird food cravings to a prick for blood tests to an ultrasound scan makes it more and more real.
But he is not exactly involved in any further process of “baby-making”. This might leave you and your spouse on different pages and you may find him not as emotionally invested as you are.
3. Lack of physical intimacy
It is one of the biggest issues a pregnant couple faces. The importance of intimacy while pregnant cannot be overstated. While doctors would advise abstaining if there are any complications involved, other parents might avoid sex for fear of “hurting the baby” (which you won’t!).
Sometimes a pregnant wife won’t feel comfortable having sex as she’s still getting used to many eyes examining her private regions at every visit. This new breach of privacy and boundaries may not be exactly what you need to set “the mood” right.
While reasons can be many, couples tend to push them to the back burner, considering them as minor issues to address later. But it is highly recommended to sort things out before your baby comes because:
- You will be running extremely low on both time and energy later and won’t be in shape to sort out more minor things.
- If left unaddressed, these “small” issues pile up to create bigger misunderstandings.
- You want to welcome your child into a happy home.
How can you strengthen your relationship during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a significant and rather permanent shift of your life axis. You need your partner not just as a co-parent but as emotional support and care.
Here are some simple takeaways from my rollercoaster experience that helped us keep spark alive during pregnancy and eventually brought us closer than we were before pregnancy.
Advice for pregnant wives
- Involve your spouse in every step of this journey. Share all the details of what changes you’re experiencing, even if it is still not visible on your belly yet. It makes them feel included in the journey.
- Marriage is also a top priority. You may have set your sights on caring for the unborn baby, as you should. But that shouldn’t be the only agenda on your mind for now. After all, your marriage and partner were with you before your baby came and will also be with you when the baby grows up and leaves the nest.
- Express your fears. While you might get lesser active in your sex life, don’t disregard the fact that your partner may be missing the intimacy more than before. The best way to deal with this situation is to talk this out and explain how you’re feeling about being intimate and that you would appreciate the respect for your feelings.
Advice for husbands with pregnant wives
- Patience and more patience. The rule of thumb for the next 40 weeks. Your wife is going through many changes in a sort period of time, both physical and emotional. It is not easy for her to understand and cope up with such swings in hormones and moods. Be patient and assure her by reminding her that you’ll be there every step of the pregnancy.
- Accompany her and be physically present for every baby-related activity. These include doctor appointments and scans or car seat or crib shopping. Spend some time focused on her and the baby in her belly. This will help make her less anxious and assure her that you are equally invested in the baby and will make things more real for you.
- Attend birth classes and parenting classes with her. There’s no better way to show your involvement than actually participating in it. Committing to attending birth and parenting classes will not only give you both better confidence in handling the baby but will turn out to be a fantastic opportunity to bond with each other as co-parents.
- Share your advice. If your partner asks for your input on nursery designing or buying baby stuff, instead of shrugging off the topic by saying, “Whatever you like,” try to give some advice and opinion. Even if you don’t know the difference between hot pink and raspberry pink, helping her pick the perfect color of walls or bed will definitely be appreciated.
- Compliment her. Although pregnancy hormones tend to make women glow like a star towards the last trimester, it’s also the time their baby bump grows fastest and some of the women can be body-conscious. Make sure you don’t make any comments about her body/bump/weight gain if she is too sensitive about it.
Advice for pregnant couple
- Communicate with one another. I cannot emphasize this enough. It’s expected you will have a lot of new thoughts, feelings, and worries. Sharing it with your better half will not only help you feel less nervous about it but you’ll also be assured that you and your spouse are on the same page.
- Make time for each other. These might be the last few moments in the next few years that you get to enjoy each other’s sole company peacefully. Use this time wisely. Plan a babymoon or a pretty maternity photoshoot to make the pregnancy memorable.
- Celebrate smaller milestones. From the first scan and the first heartbeat to the first kick, take time to celebrate every small or big milestone of your pregnancy. It will bring you closer as a couple and further strengthen your faith in each other as a partner in raising the baby together.
Pregnancy is a beautiful opportunity for both of you to grow and learn together as you begin a new chapter of your life. With little effort, you can use this phase to make your bond stronger than before. Don’t hesitate to seek counseling for pregnant couples if marital issues have taken a huge toll.