There is a lot of societal pressure put on during pregnancy that paints a picture of rainbows and butterflies and happy times. While this is true and should be the driving force for bringing a newborn into this world, some dark and challenging emotions can accompany this image.
Typically overlooked and not talked about enough, anxiety during pregnancy in partners can be a detrimental obstacle to appreciating a future and creating a family.
Anxiety, according to Merriam Webster, is apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill; mentally distressing concern or interest; a strong desire sometimes mixed with doubt, fear, or uneasiness.
These feelings can be very common during pregnancy for both the partner and the mother and should be normalized so that they can be talked about and addressed more easily.
Something that I emphasize with brain pain and mood disorders is to relate them to the common cold. The sooner you acknowledge it and start to treat it, the quicker it will go away and not turn into something more serious. This is critical especially during the period of pregnancy where anxiety can manifest and if not treated properly can spill over into the postpartum period of raising a newborn.
Anxiety can cause a lot of stress and strain on the relationship between both partners, which will be discussed later on. It can also harm the unborn child through ways such as unhealthy habits, health-related stress, and negative energy.
Common causes and triggers
It is OK to feel anxious during pregnancy and is a very common emotion to experience! I can not highlight this enough as some people can feel ashamed, embarrassed, or guilty that they feel these tense emotions associated with anxiety.
Let’s take a look at some common causes and triggers that factor into anxiety:
Partner experiencing a mood disorder
This could be considered one of the most influential factors in triggering anxiety in partners. Partners who feel the responsibility of being the rock for the mother during pregnancy may have a heavy burden when they are going through a perinatal mood disorder.
Feeling uncertain and on edge about how to take care of the mother/partner can certainly create a highly anxious environment. The worries about being a supportive partner sometimes are too much therefore manifesting emotional anxiety.
Fears and uncertainties about parenthood
Lacking confidence and sureness in becoming a parent can evoke anxiety in partners. This is especially prevalent if this is their first pregnancy they are going through with the mother.
Not having a clear vision or creating a compelling future to becoming a parent can bring about a lot of worry, stress, and challenging emotions. Remember this, the fact that you care about being a good parent and are worried about it speaks to your character of being the best parent you can be.
You will get through these anxious feelings and be there for your child in the best way possible!
Woes over finances are a significant factor in divorces, let alone having to plan for bringing in another human to your life. It can be overwhelming at times to have an understanding of what expenses you may incur through medical, clothing, toys, food, childcare, etc.
Being open with your partner and creating a loose budget that you can amend as you raise your newborn will help provide some structure and stability with financial concerns.
Pregnancy can change relationships through intimacy, hormones, and communication. A lack of intimacy can raise anxiety for the partner as they may not feel as loved or connected.
Hormonal swings in both partners can create uneasy feelings and emotions that may raise levels of stress resulting in anxiety. Communication breakdown can happen often during pregnancy when there is a fear of being vulnerable with one another. This may lead to anxiety in the partner who fears talking about their emotional challenges.
Anxiety is rooted in worrying and over thinking about situations throughout life. Pregnancy is a breeding ground for this when it comes to health-related issues.
Small issues throughout pregnancy can be exacerbated when a partner is experiencing anxiety, fueling the fire even more. Having faith and trust in your medical team and modern medicine can be a difficult yet relieving way of lowering your anxiety with health-related worries.
Recognizing signs of anxiety in partners
Do you suspect your partner is going through some difficult emotions that seem like anxiety?
How would you know it is anxiety?
Here we will look at some signs that could indicate your partner is experiencing anxiety.
If your partner is showing behavioral changes such as social withdrawal or loss of interest in things they once enjoyed, they may go through anxiety. While it may not be the textbook definition of anxiety, these signs could indicate more changes to look out for with your partner.
Social interaction could trigger anxiety for your partner and when they start to remove themselves from friends and family, now would be the time to have an open conversation about why they are pulling away from those interactions.
Losing interest in things they once enjoyed could also be an indicator that they are feeling anxious about the pregnancy. They may not have the bandwidth to focus on a hobby they loved and instead be preoccupied with overwhelming thoughts and emotions.
Some emotional signs that coincide with anxiety are overly worrying, irritability, and fear of the unknown. If your partner gets upset over things that they normally wouldn’t, they could be feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and this is there way of lashing out and venting.
Constant concern over things that haven’t happened or the health of the baby is another emotional sign to look out for.
Anxiety can manifest itself through physical symptoms such as lack of sleep, panic attacks, change in diet, and bodily discomfort.
Panic attacks are an obvious thing to look out for with anxiety, but paying closer attention to a change in diet or lack of sleep is important in communicating with your partner about. It is important that you come from a place of understanding and appreciation for your partner when you do have these conversations, as it can be very triggering and unpleasant for somebody experiencing anxiety to talk about.
Role of Effective Communication in helping partners with anxiety
Probably the most important tool in working through anxiety and overcoming it between partners is having an effective line of communication.
Being vulnerable, open, and non-judgemental with your partner about what you are going through is a beneficial way to process anxiety.
Talking with the person you love the most and are planning on raising a child together can take a lot of pressure and weight you may be experiencing off of your chest. Bringing them up to speed on what you are going through so that they can have a better idea of how to support you will lessen the severity of the anxious feelings.
Feeling wanted and listened to is very important in breaking down that wall of defense that we all tend to put up when we are experiencing unpleasant things. Tell your partner this so that they can be on the receiving end of the tough times you are going through.
Just knowing that someone is there for you no matter what can be that guiding light to help you stay on track and overcome anxiety. While this is easier said than done, the only way to maximize the benefits of open communication is to do it!
Talk, talk, and more talk with your partner about even the smallest things will allow your cognitive functioning to better handle anxiety.
Bottling everything up is a recipe for disaster, as that is something we are all guilty of one time or another. So let your walls down, show your vulnerability, and your partner will match that as a supporting and listening ear.
Anxiety can carry the feeling of having to do everything at once all the time. The burden of always doing something, making sure that the mother is resting, being the rock for the family, and trying to maintain composure feeds into those anxious emotions.
YOU AND YOUR PARTNER ARE A TEAM! There is no “I” in the team and certainly should not have you feel the responsibilities of doing everything. Going back to communication, talk with your partner about breaking up chores around the house and planning.
Knowing that someone else is willing to chip in and alleviate some of those duties can take a lot of responsibility and managerial obligations off of your plate.
You can even have some fun while doing these things, such as teaming up to prepare for the baby. This can be an exciting and stress relieving activity to do together. Setting up the nursery, picking out clothes, and decorating the house will bring that vision and compelling future together with bringing your newborn into this world.
Many hands make light work and teaming up with your partner will tackle that “to-do” list in half of the time. This is also a great exercise in strengthening your relationship with your partner as you both work together towards an amazing time of welcoming your newborn back home!
Seeking professional help
While anxiety can sometimes be managed independently, there are times where these overwhelming feelings become too much for both partners to overcome.
If you feel that any of the thoughts you are having or physical symptoms could be a harm to you or your partner, this would be time to seek additional help through therapy or counseling.
Therapy and counseling are amazing outlets to help people work, process, and overcome those overwhelming emotions or mood disorders. Trained professionals with experience and education in managing mental challenges, such as anxiety, handle these situations.
Professional intervention can be a means to prescribing medication in some cases where the anxiety becomes so severe. While I strongly advocate for self-treatment therapy, talk therapy, and open communication, medications can significantly cut down on the impact and shorten the duration of anxiety.
If you are considering seeking additional or supplemental support through your anxious feelings, I would encourage you to take 30 minutes and schedule a connection call with me to see how I can help.
As a coach, it is my purpose and passion to navigate you on a journey to a compelling future filled with love, gratitude, and confidence for your family. Even if we are not a good fit, I will do my best to guide you in the right direction to better your situation.
Building a Support System
Establishing a support system at the early stages of pregnancy can be a massively beneficial move for getting through the ups and downs that bringing a newborn into this world can bring. This is something that can often be overlooked but if addressed and set up properly will pay dividends down the road.
Don’t be shy about including whoever you feel comfortable with in your circle of trust and support. Friends, co-workers, family, and even your neighbors can make a difference in pushing you through the tough times while being there the entire way.
You may never know until you ask, but some of your acquaintances can surprise you with how helpful they become when you trust them in your circle of support. Heck, your neighrbor could become your biggest help with taking care of those annoying chores we all dread like mowing the lawn or taking out the trash!
Self-Care Strategies for Partners
This topic is my favorite when it comes to working through mood disorders, difficult times, and life challenges. Self-care is such an understated form of therapy that when practiced consistently will bring a whole new perspective on life.
- Stress management techniques: A fantastic tool that takes little time for managing stressful situations is through breathing. Something we tend to forget about but gives us life is our breath.
One exercise I found to work great is taking 6 deep inhales through your nose and breathing out through your mouth as if it were a straw. This helps reset my mood and bring some clarity to the situation at hand.
- Mindfulness and meditation: Meditation is a great way to manage your thoughts and lower stress levels. You don’t need lengthy sessions throughout the day, and you can do it in about 5 minutes in the beginning
- Exercise and physical activity: In my opinion engaging in exercise and physical activity is the most impactful way of self-care through challenging times. When you push yourself out of your comfort zone and do hard things such as running, weight lifting, cycling, etc you become a better version of yourself 100% of the time, GUARANTEED!!
- Encouraging healthy lifestyle habits: While anxiety can lead one astray into drugs and alcohol, it is important to become self-aware of your feelings without using vices to numb them.
The more you can acknowledge what you are going through, the better you will process and work through it without relying on unhealthy habits.
- Nutrition and sleep: What you put in is what you get out. This should be your diet mantra when trying to turn your life around from something such as anxiety. Don’t eat junk food or you will feel like junk!
Set up a sleep schedule as well so that you can get into a routine that your body will become accustomed to. Make sure you are getting at least 6 if not 7-9 hours of sleep a night so your body has time to replenish and grow.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND WITH THE RIGHT SUPPORT AND TREATMENT YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS!
Anxiety is a completely normal feeling to experience in life, especially during stressful times like pregnancy! It is okay to feel the way you do, and the more you can acknowledge this and talk with your partner about it, the faster you will overcome it.
Taking matters into your hands through self-awareness is the first and most critical step in overcoming anxiety. Having an open line of communication with your partner is the next step to creating a support system to get you through these challenging times.
It is not your fault you feel the way you do and there are many other people in the world going through similar things that you are.
If you would like to go further and take a journey with me to a compelling future filled with love, gratitude, and confidence for your family, please take 30 minutes and schedule a connection call with me to see how I can help. Whether or not you are a fit for my signature coaching program, I will do everything in my power to help put you on the right path to overcoming your story and becoming the best version of yourself.
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