For women struggling to get pregnant or dealing with unexpected challenges during a pregnancy, social situations can be complex to navigate. Furthermore, emotional and psychological stress associated with fertility and pregnancy challenges can affect friendships and your relationship with your partner. This article explores ways in which women and their partners can cope during difficult times throughout conception and pregnancy.
Consider Working with a Genetic Counselor
Being better informed can help you feel more confident in the planning next steps in starting a family — as well as help you decide what to share with people close to you, and when. A genetic counselor is a medical professional who has completed postgraduate education in both medical genetics and counseling. Couples who are meeting fertility or pregnancy challenges may consider seeing a genetic counselor because these healthcare professionals can help them understand possible causes of infertility, miscarriages, and inherited or random genetic disorders, as well as present alternative fertility options.
Furthermore, genetic counselors educate couples on their pre-conception and prenatal testing options to uncover the reasons for fertility or pregnancy complications. An example of a prenatal test is non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), like the MaterniT® 21 PLUS test, which helps parents understand the risk that their child may have a chromosomal abnormality, and therefore the risks associated with their pregnancy. The results obtained from NIPT help couples understand how to properly care for their pregnancy as well as how to provide appropriate care for a child born with a genetic disorder.
Identify and Work with Your Feelings
When individuals and couples are open about their feelings with themselves and each other, they are better able to cope with the emotional stress that accompanies infertility and pregnancy complications. Research has shown that writing about your feelings can help ease distress and the intensity of trauma experienced during difficult times.
Difficulty conceiving or complications during a pregnancy can be associated with shame, guilt, anger, solitude, or grief. Resolve, The National Infertility Association, recommends the following steps for coping with the emotional stress of infertility:
- Familiarize yourself with the normal emotional responses to infertility
- Communicate with your family and tell them how they can support you
- Identify your feelings and allow yourself to feel them
- Create a space where your partner can be open with you about his/her feelings
- Try limiting the time you spend talking about infertility
- Collect information about infertility and alternative fertility options
- Seek out support
Find Extra Support
While it can help to be open with the people close to you during these challenging times, sometimes it’s painful to share discouraging news with family. If you feel this way, partnering with a mental health professional who is experienced in working with patients regarding fertility provides a safe place for you to express your feelings without judgment. Support groups and couples’ therapy are other options. If you’re dealing fertility or pregnancy challenges, seek the kind of support that feels right for you.
Coping Techniques. Resolve: The National Infertility Association. https://resolve.org/support/managing-infertility-stress/coping-techniques/. Publication date unavailable. Accessed August 4, 2018.
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