While assisted/advanced reproductive technology (ART) brings the possibility and hope of having a child to millions of people each year who encounter obstacles when trying to conceive a child, many people find the medical process involved very stressful. It can feel like the process is taking over your life.
Women and men struggling with infertility not only suffer a physical loss but the loss of their reproductive story. This is the story we create about how we will one day become parents. Some people are more aware of their story than others, but once the blow of infertility strikes, the difference between one’s story and their reality is painful. Being robbed of this dream, oftentimes, leaves women and men feeling traumatized and grief stricken even before they begin their first assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure.
When infertility persists, one’s fundamental beliefs about themselves, their relationships, their sense of competence and vision of their future feels shattered. This is not how they imagined the path to parenthood.
Suddenly, pregnant women seem to be everywhere and encountering one can bring an assault of painful emotions. When these woman are strangers walking down the street that is one matter, but when they are friends or family members, this experience leaves women and men feeling terribly alone and isolated from the very people from whom they would normally seek support.
Pregnancy is idealized in our society. Consequently, the challenges a woman can experience, both physical and emotional are kept quiet and come as quite a shock to most women and their partners when they encounter them.
In fact, the period around pregnancy and the postpartum period is a vulnerable one. At least one in seven women will experience a mood or anxiety disorder. Many pregnant woman experience worry, depression, sleep disorders, sadness, irritability and other symptoms that interfere with their well-being and enjoyment of life. Not only are these symptoms unpleasant in and of themselves, they are confusing and distressing. Compounding the distress are feelings of shame and embarrassment that cause many woman to suffer in silence. They say to themselves. “Isn’t this supposed to be a happy time? What’s wrong with me?” “Does this mean I’m going to be a bad mother?” Many women soldier on, but unfortunately, these symptoms, if left untreated put a woman at greater risk for developing a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder.
Not only is pregnancy a transformative time physically, but also psychologically. And, while we have systems in place through regular prenatal care to address the physical aspect of pregnancy, we do not have the mechanisms in place to help a woman and her partner prepare for the emotional and psychological changes of parenthood. Along with the miraculous changes in a woman’s body is the psychological work that begins to present itself with her natural progression from pregnancy to birth. Little by little (or like a ton of bricks), her view of life shifts and her understanding of her relationships and her own history begins to change.
And there is a lot of work to do to prepare for the birth of a child. Learn strategies and interventions that assist the pregnant woman in meeting these challenges and tasks; recognize the value of assessment for risk during pregnancy and the selection of interventions based on the assessment.
Parenthood can be an exciting yet challenging transition for couples. Yet, becoming a parent is often the most challenging and stressful life transition couples face. It’s a tall order for first-time parents. The stresses of… often take their toll. They must learn how to meet their infant’s needs without ignoring their own, both individually and as a couple. Research shows that during the first years of parenthood, the quality of a couple’s relationship tends to plummet. Marital stress and conflict can affect each partner’s well-being and negatively impact the child’s development.
Declines in relationship satisfaction can have negative effects on partners, the child, and the family system. Marital conflict also adversely affects parent–infant attachment, child development, and family interaction patterns.