Physical and Emotional Effects of Pregnancy

Emotional Changes

Pregnancy can be both a scary and a joyous time for a woman and her partner. The changes that pregnancy brings are not only physical but deeply emotional. Depending on the circumstances of the pregnancy (whether it is wanted or not), it may bring up feelings of confusion, denial or anger; or it may lead to emotional growth, maturity and a special feeling of completeness, despite periods of moodiness and feeling low that accompany many pregnancies.

It is not uncommon for pregnant women to feel unhappy about the changes in their bodies as pregnancy progresses. Nor is it unheard of for men to feel jealous, neglected and resentful of the great amount of attention and interest their wives receive during pregnancy. With good communication and a loving relationship these feelings usually pass without leaving a residue of major problems about the self or the marriage.

Relationship Changes

The powerful feelings aroused in both women and men as a result of pregnancy may result in a change in their relationship. For some it may be an unhappy change, particularly if an unplanned pregnancy affects finances, living space, employment or responsibilities. The stress may be felt by one partner or by both and resolution should be attempted via communication, honesty, and working at adjusting together throughout the pregnancy.

In many cases pregnancy brings a couple closer together. The excitement of becoming a family together and the anticipation of being a mother or a father may create a different sense of responsibility toward each other and foster a level of love and warmth not previously experienced.

Sexual Activity Changes

Pregnancy often has an influence on a couple's sexual activity, although it has no uniform effect on sexual feelings or function. Some women find that pregnancy is a time of heightened sexual awareness and pleasure, whereas others notice no change or a decline in sexual feelings.

Variations in sexual functioning are also found during different stages of pregnancy. Not surprisingly, women with morning sickness and high levels of fatigue during the first trimester often have neither the interest nor the energy to be sexually active.

Heightened Sexuality

The second trimester is a time when women may notice heightened sexuality both in terms of desire and physical response.

In the last trimester some couples find that a bulging belly makes sexual intercourse difficult; for others adjustments in sexual positions or non-coital sex solves this problem. Some couples agree to voluntarily abstain from sexual activity near the end of pregnancy because of concern about injuring the baby.

Though there is usually little danger of injuring the fetus or the mother, it is best to follow the advice of a doctor who has been treating the woman throughout her pregnancy regarding safe sexual practices at all stages of pregnancy.

Copyright 2002 Sinclair Intimacy Institute

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