Excerpt from The Birth Center Client Manual
As anyone who has ever been pregnant knows, pregnancy is not just a physical state. The hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, particularly with the fluctuation in estrogen and progesterone levels, have a tremendous effect on a woman’s psychological state. Further, pregnancy is a developmental state in itself as the mother and partner prepare for the incorporation of a new member into the family structure. The following is a simple breakdown of some of the psychological changes that may occur during the three trimesters. Keep in mind that everyone is different; each person experiences these changes to varying degrees.
We hope that with the recognition of how normal and common these feelings are, you will be reassured of your normalcy as a pregnant couple.
Keep reading for a breakdown by trimester of physical and emotional changes.
Psychological Characteristics of Pregnancy (Mother)
- Joy, ambivalence
- Physical changes
- Establishing reality of pregnancy
- Variance of sexual appetite
- Beginning of concern with relationship with own mother
- Begin to form personally relevant, unique, mothering identity, separate and apart from own mother
- Fear of miscarriage
- “Quiet months”
- Threat of miscarriage over
- Beginning of preparation: response to maternity clothes and baby things
- Feel of movement of fetus
- Fear of injuring baby
- Dependency transfer to partner
- Realization that changes cannot be controlled
- Eagerness to involve partner by having him or her feel the baby move
- Increased emotional involvement with partner
- Overly concerned with partner’s safety
- Hypercritical of partner’s attitudes
- Working out shift in dependency from mother to partner
- Often increased sexual appetite
- Pride and fulfillment
- Anxiety, anticipation
- Biologically based dominance
- May be more religious and transcendent
- Issues of daily life—hardships, work
- Interest in baby
- Body image feelings
- Concern and irritation with baby, uterus displacing internal organs, kicking ribs, etc.
- Conflicts: preparing to be a mother, feeling like an infant herself
- Anticipation of labor—Braxton-Hicks contractions—when is it real?
- Change from care-receiver to caregiver
- Worry of precipitous labor and delivery
- Need for reassurance from partner
- Beatific phase of existence
- Desire of friends to participate
- Heightened sexuality, but psychological and physical factors may inhibit sexual acts
- Labor and delivery
- Fascination with death and dying
- Fear of partner dying and of being left alone with baby
- Altered state of consciousness: acute openness to inner world, relevance to outer world diminishes to inner emotional lability (refers to something that is constantly undergoing change or something that is likely to undergo change.)
- What kind of parent will I be?
- Dreams and fantasies.
- Vicarious participation.
- Fear or challenge of taking care of mother and child.
- Wanting to flee.
- Fear of additional financial responsibility.
- Envious competitive feelings.
- Shifting relationship to partner.