My In-Laws Are Ruining My Marriage!

It is often said that when you marry, you marry your spouse’s family and this feels very unnerving when you have a problematic relationship with your in-laws. It is important that your in-laws know that you, as a married couple, are independent and have the right to make your own decisions about your life. While parents’ interest in their child’s welfare does not end when the child grows up and marries, it’ i sometimes hard for parents to back off and know their limits. 

How you handle the situation of your sabotaging in-laws really depends on your particular situation. While some parents are well-intentioned, other people have agendas they want met. If your spouse’s parents have problems, your spouse has grown up with those issues and has been affected by them. So your first step is to ask yourself some questions before deciding the best course of action. 

Evaluate the situation

First, look to yourself. Are you perhaps doing things that signal that their behavior is ok? For instance, if you talk to your mother-in-law about an important decision you and your partner are trying to make, you are signaling to her that you want her advice. If she is pushy or even just highly nurturing, she may try to pressure you to do what she thinks is best. Changing your behavior might solve the problem. 

Next, ask yourself: if a neutral observer were to look at their behavior, would that person see intentionally mean or sabotaging behavior, mental illness, or well-intentioned but intrusive behavior? This is important, because if their advice is coming from a position of ill-directed love, the problem will be much easier to solve. If, however, there is intentional cruelty or mental instability, more drastic measures may be necessary. 

Is your spouse aware of the behavior or your feelings about the behavior? If so, does your spouse agree with you or his/her parents? Or perhaps does not see an issue at all? 

Steps to take

If your spouse is not aware of the problem or does not realize or acknowledge your feelings, address your concerns respectfully – after all, they are your partner’s parents—but emphasize the importance of solving this problem and not denying or ignoring it. 

If after your explanation your spouse does not see a problem with the behavior or perhaps sides with his or her parents, I strongly advise marriage counseling. When you marry, each spouse’s allegiance must shift from the family to the other spouse. This is a fundamental requirement for a strong, healthy marriage. Marriage counseling can help both spouses see how beautiful it is to nurture that mutual allegiance and develop a real partnership that makes each spouse stronger and more fulfilled in life.

If your spouse does see the problem and agrees with you, decide together how to set clear boundaries of behavior. Then, together, tell them what those boundaries are, clearly and specifically. Let your spouse do the talking. Your in-laws might still blame you for it, but the message must come from their own child so they know their child sides with you and not with them. 

Ask your spouse not to discuss with your in-laws any marital decisions you are making until after the decisions have been made. That will prevent them from giving unwanted advice. Also ask that your partner not discuss you with your in-laws—certainly not to talk about any differences you may be having. This could give them ammunition to break down the bond of allegiance between you.

Your partner will have to become more aware of the behavior that causes you so much pain and become your bodyguard, insisting to his or her parents that the behavior is unacceptable. In extreme cases, it might be necessary to cut off relations with truly sabotaging in-laws.

Even if you are both forming a united front against the behavior, it might be to your advantage to have a few sessions with a trained marriage counselor to give you some pointers and renew and strengthen your relationship.

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How to Talk to Your Spouse about Feeling Insecure in Your Marriage

If you are feeling insecure in your marriage, it is possible that the source of insecurity may not be in the marriage itself, but within you. The good aspect of understanding this is that you now have a starting place for exploring why you feel insecure. However, you will still want to let your spouse know how you are feeling so he or she can help you. Take some time to evaluate where the root of the problems lies, in you or in your marriage, before talking to your partner.

Possible causes of insecurity in a marriage

One of the biggest causes of feeling insecure in a relationship is feeling insecure about yourself. When you don’t see yourself as worthy of love, you may naturally be afraid that the person who supposedly loves you will eventually stop, once he or she finds out about the real you. 

These self-doubts can lead to negative thoughts, leaving you to suspect your spouse will find someone else more desirable than you. It can lead to nagging ideas, such as, “Why hasn’t he texted me back? He must be mad at me!” or “She’s late getting home from work. Is she seeing someone else?” Thoughts like these keep you emotionally imbalanced and insecure, and might cause you to feel clingy or suspicious. 

Another common source of insecurity in a relationship comes from baggage left behind from other partners, family, or friends who have hurt you. If you become suddenly insecure, irritable or frightened when your spouse does or says something, stop and think. Was there anything that happened in your past that could be coming up to haunt you? It is critically important for a healthy relationship that you try not apply the sins or hurts that someone else caused you on to your spouse. 

But maybe the problem really is the relationship. Think objectively about your marriage. Have you had any recent major life changes that have put extra strain on one or both of you? Examples could be the birth of a child, infertility, a recent move, a new job, promotion, or job loss, or a death or illness in the family. Are you spending less time together than you were before? Are you snapping at each other lately, or sitting in angry silence? If any of these things are happening in your marriage, chances are that you are both feeling insecure in your relationship. 

How to talk to your spouse about your feelings

If you have determined that the issue may actually be within yourself, it is important to let your spouse know that you are not blaming him or her, and you are trying to make things better. Share how you think some of your old fears are causing you to feel insecure in your relationship. By starting this way, your spouse is reassured that you are not pointing fingers, you are just opening up. And opening up can actually deepen and strengthen your relationship. 

Share what you have realized through your self-evaluation and explain how your feelings make you jealous, touchy, or needy. Ask your spouse to be understanding and talk about ways your partner can assure you of his or her love while helping you become stronger and more confident. 

If the problem is caused by an issue in the marriage itself, starting in this manner might still be a good way to start a conversation without putting your spouse on the defensive. Your partner might open up that he or she has also been feeling that way lately. This is an excellent opportunity to examine the root causes, but do not let it devolve into an argument! If it starts to turn into a disagreement, try to stop it by saying something like, “Ok, we’re both having really strong feelings about this right now. Let’s think about it more and pick it up later. I’m just really glad we’ve started to talk it out.” Positive affirmations like this can leave the conversation on a strong note. 

Consider whether you would benefit from individual or couples counseling. If you are dealing with deep-seated feelings of insecurity or clear marriage problems, the gentle guidance of a trained marriage counselor will greatly increase the likelihood of successfully overcoming the issues and returning to a more stable relationship.

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Dealing with Postpartum Depression

Having a baby can be an exciting and joyful time, but it can also be stressful. New responsibilities along with physical and hormonal changes can create emotional upheaval, either during pregnancy or after birth. Often these “baby blues” last only a few weeks, but if they persist, or if your symptoms are severe, you may be experiencing postpartum depression (PPD).  While you live and/or work in the bustle of New York City, it can also be isolating.  

The first thing to know about PPD is that it is not a reflection on you as a person. The powerful physical changes you have endured affect hormones that can create negative emotional responses. The second thing to know is that it is common and can be alleviated. 

Be sure to seek support, through your medical doctor, a mother’s support group, or a counselor trained in helping women who are experiencing postpartum depression. Regardless of the severity of your symptoms, there are several things you should do to speed your recovery. 

Maintain social interaction. Do not isolate yourself, no matter how you feel, because isolation can worsen feelings of depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and loneliness. Reach out to family and friends and tell them how you are feeling. Those who love you will want to help lighten your burden. If your circle of friends is small, connect with a mom’s support group or a PPD support group.

Eat healthy, nutritious meals, avoiding alcohol, which has a depressive effect. Some studies suggest women low in DHA are more prone to PPD, so consider an omega-3 supplement after getting the ok from your physician.

Exercise. This could be as simple as taking the dog for a walk or pushing the baby in a stroller through the park. Exercise decreases stress hormones such as cortisol while it elevates endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain relievers and mood lifters. Sunshine provides vitamin D, which is a mood enhancer, and studies suggest that being in nature can decrease symptoms of mild to moderate depression. 

Get sleep and take “me” time. One of the hardest times to get a good night sleep is when there is a newborn in the house. But sleep deprivation is known to adversely affect moods. Tap into your network of friends and family for helpers, or nap when the baby naps. Again, activate that help network so that you can get away from baby care from time to time and do something fun that refreshes your mind and replenishes your soul. Even a short break can be enough to rebuild your stamina and mood. 

Cuddle with your baby. If you are not feeling very bonded right now, this may be difficult, but physical, skin-to-skin touch can help stimulate the hormones in your brain that will help you bond. The baby needs your touch, your gentle voice, your smile. He or she will be more easily soothed in the future by experiencing your physical connection now, and you will likely recover faster, as well. 

Check your breastfeeding. For many women, breastfeeding can reduce the risk of PPD, but in some cases, women experience sadness or agitation when their milk releases. This can last for several minutes, so if you notice this, recognize it is hormonally triggered, not a reaction to your baby or your motherhood.

Taking care of yourself is always important, but when you are suffering from anxiety, depression, exhaustion, or other negative symptoms associated with PPD, it can take a great deal of effort. If you feel able to make the effort, you will find the symptoms begin to decrease. If the effort feels too great, seek help right away. With help from a trained therapist, you can get through this trying time.

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Identifying and Addressing Negative Thinking Patterns

We all have negative thoughts at times, and sometimes those thoughts are appropriate. But certain habitual thought patterns can increase the likelihood of anxiety and depression. It is hard to identify them because they seem so true and so real while we are experiencing them. However, to overcome these unhealthy habits, you need to step back, evaluate your thoughts as if you were listening to someone else speaking them, and correct them as needed. Doing so will help you lessen your feelings of anxiety and could relieve your feelings of depression. 

Ruminating, overthinking, and overgeneralizing

Self-reflection is good; rumination is not. Ruminating is thinking about the same thing over and over, without the intention of finding a solution to the situation. It can appear as overthinking or overgeneralizing. 

Overgeneralizing occurs when you make statements that do not reflect reality: “This always happens to me!” or “I’ll never be able to get this right.” You may think you will never find happiness, never find friends, or be stuck forever in a dead-end job. When you find yourself making such statements, stop. Ask yourself, “Is that really true?” Chances are, it’s not. Distract yourself with other thoughts or other activities. Consider asking yourself, “How can I change this situation?” and take your first step toward changing things.

When you are overthinking, you run through your mind all possible outcomes in order to avoid making any mistakes or taking any risks. Overthinking is an attempt to control every aspect of life, and it can be crippling. 

To prevent overthinking, give yourself a deadline for how much time you will allow yourself to think about the situation before taking action. Limit the number of resources you use to research possible options or outcomes. Then make a choice. Trust that it is ok to be human and make a mistake. The world will not come crashing down. It is worse to be stuck in a rut than to make a mistake moving forward.

All-or-nothing and perfectionism

This is the thinking pattern that sees situations or people as all-good or all-bad, which creates a need for perfection. Perfectionists have an all-or-nothing attitude because if it’s not perfect, it’s just not good at all — and this includes themselves. People with this black and white, perfectionist view set themselves up to fail because nothing will ever be perfect. As hard as it will be, start each day by saying, “Today, I will be good enough.” If you can tell yourself this in the morning, you will probably still do just as well as usual, but you won’t suffer as much stress.

Emotional thinking

Our emotional responses should not always be trusted, especially if generated by childhood experiences. If you felt belittled as a child, you might feel unworthy of success, or you might always assume people are thinking ill of you when, in fact, they think very highly of you. Try not to mind-read. It is not fair to the other person and it is certainly not fair to you. Examine your thoughts to see if they are consistent with reality and, as with ruminating, stop. Look at the situation rationally, as a by-stander, and try to evaluate things in a neutral, unemotional manner. 

It is never easy recognizing these negative thinking patterns, and even harder to stop them when they are well-entrenched. Talk to friends and loved ones or a counselor trained in the recognition of and treatment for depression and anxiety. Once you begin deflecting and defeating these unhealthy habits, it will get easier, and soon you will find yourself feeling much lighter about your life.

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Stress in Relationships and How to Cope

There are a number of factors in modern life that can strain relationships. It is important to address these stressors as quickly as possible and find ways to overcome them. Some of the top stressors include:

  • Death of a loved one, particularly a child
  • Work-related stress, which can include starting a new job, performing a job, and transitioning into retirement
  • Financial problems or different ideas about the use of money
  • Moving to a new home or area
  • Chronic health conditions or caring for ill loved ones
  • Disagreements about child-rearing
  • Having just too much to do – overbooked schedules or too many projects around the house 

Identify your stressors and your coping mechanisms

When you become aware of stress and you notice your relationship is suffering, ask yourself, “What are my stressors? How are these stressors affecting me emotionally or physically? What coping mechanisms do I use to deal with my stress? Are these methods helping or hurting my relationship?” Your spouse or partner should also ask these questions, since you may both be experiencing stress. 

Some practical advice about working through stress as a couple

Communication is absolutely key to any healthy and successful relationship, as are empathy and a real desire to support each other. You need to first recognize that people have different ways of coping, neither good nor bad – assuming, of course, the coping mechanism does not include intentional harm to self or others. Such behavior is definitely unhealthy and needs to be addressed, preferably with the help of a professional counselor. 

First, identify your coping mechanisms and discuss them together. If your way of coping is to talk it out and your spouse’s way of coping is to shut down, there would seem to be a conflict. However, you can find a compromise. For instance, if the stress is from work, agree together to give your spouse time to calm down, relax, and destress before listening to you talk it out. You may have to wait a short time, but you will get a more sympathetic ear. 

And if your partner is the one who needs to talk it out, don’t be too quick to offer advice. Just listen. Make supportive, sympathetic comments and ask thoughtful questions that show that you are really listening. By no means should you be looking at your cell phone or the TV while your partner is talking! After unwinding, your partner may be open to some suggestions or advice but offer it sparingly. This is time to cope and unwind. Save problem-solving for another talk. 

Don’t compare your levels of stress. Everyone handles stress differently. If you are both stressed, assume you are equally stressed, and for that reason alone, you should both want to help the other, because you know how bad it feels. 

Share private jokes and laugh together. We all know that laughter actually lifts the mood. Sharing laughter together, especially if it is something between just the two of you, increases intimacy and strengthens bonds. 

Do activities together, especially away from work and without the children. “Date night” should be a regular event or some other way that you can share time away from anything stressful. If you can apply some of these techniques, your stressful events could actually help you grow closer.

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Can you Take a Narcissist to Marriage Counseling or Couples Therapy?

A person who demonstrates narcissistic personality traits can be difficult to help through marriage counseling or couples therapy, though it is not impossible. But entering marriage counseling is only the beginning of healing for those dealing with a narcissist.

What is narcissism?

The narcissist needs to always look good to others and sees the world, and themselves, in black and white: they appear perfect and wonderful in their outward demeanor to cover up a deep feeling of insignificance and lack of self-worth. Unfortunately, this attitude overflows to their relationships: their spouse can do no wrong, or, once “the honeymoon is over,” can do nothing right.

Because the narcissist cannot bear to admit they have done anything wrong (since to do so would be to admit they are worthless), they will do anything to avoid this. They will not take responsibility for any problems in the relationship and will blame their partner for everything. Because they are completely self-centered, they have little or no empathy and cannot recognize – or seem to not care – how they make others feel. Of course, according to them, everything is your fault.

Can couples therapy help?

A counselor or therapist who is not experienced in recognizing narcissistic behavior may be fooled by the narcissist’s charm. The partner of a narcissist is usually quite distraught, with damaged self-esteem and frazzled emotions. The partner’s desperate attempt to make the counselor understand while the narcissist looks hurt but calm can fool the counselor into blaming the victim.

But a good counselor or therapist will not be fooled. If you have gone with your partner to a therapist who was unable to see through the narcissist’s mask, do some research and find one who is experienced in working with narcissists. That counselor can help you find ways to make inroads with your narcissistic spouse.

Since narcissists like to look good to others, they are often willing to show that they can learn quickly. They also like to blame other people or situations for their behavior. An experienced therapist may be able to help a narcissist understand the roots of their personality issues—perhaps situations in childhood damaged their self-esteem so that they developed these traits as a self-defense mechanism. If the narcissist can recognize this, it may be a sign that they are ready to begin changing some behaviors. This will take time as the defense against the belief that they are worthless developed over a life time and is deeply rooted.

Next steps

If you have been able to find a good counselor or therapist who can help the narcissist in your life look at underlying causes and admit there might be some need for change, the next step really should be individual therapy for each of you. Your narcissistic partner needs serious therapy to overcome a lifetime of negative feelings and traits. And you need very different counseling to help you heal from the damage your narcissistic partner has caused and encourage you to find healthy ways to validate who you are and what you do.

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Signs of Mild, Moderate, and Severe Depression

Everyone has a bad day from time to time, but how do you know when the occasional “blues” is really depression? The distinction isn’t clear, which is why depression is often missed in its mildest form. But catching it early can help you manage it before it gets worse.

Mild depression

Most symptoms of depression are found at every level, whether the depression is mild, moderate, or severe. Common feelings of mild depression include irritability or sadness, a feeling of hopelessness, guilt, or low self-esteem, low motivation at work or school, and a loss of interest in things you used to like. You may feel achy for no reason and be fatigued during the day or unable to sleep at night – or both.

People probably don’t notice your feelings and you might not think they’re worth telling a doctor about. You tell yourself that everyone has stress, everyone has down days, right? Well, yes, but not everyone feels bad most of the time. If you feel this way for a few days out of every week, or if the feelings persist for more than a few weeks in a row, talk to a professional.

Fortunately, at the mild stage, simple changes can make a big difference. You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s true: exercise decreases feelings of depression just as well as some medications do. Exercise causes the brain to release hormones that actually improve your mood, and the improvement is long-lasting. Also proven to be effective are yoga, meditation, and picking up a hobby. Be sure to keep a regular sleep schedule and eat nutritious food to strengthen your brain and heal your mood.

Moderate depression

Moderate depression includes the symptoms of mild depression, only they’re deeper and more frequent. Your low self-esteem may become self-loathing. Your low motivation may mean you just can’t do anything, affecting your performance at work or at school. And you may completely stop doing the things you used to love or stop spending time with your friends.

At this point, you may realize something is wrong. If you’ve stopped socializing, your friends might notice, too. Please talk to your doctor, a counselor, or a support group. Those activities that help people with mild depression will help you, too, but you may need more. Talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, which I use in my practice, can be very effective. Also, the prescription of supplements or antidepressants can be considered when necessary.

 Severe or major depression

This condition requires immediate medical help, because not only are the symptoms of moderate depression present in a deeper form, additional dangerous symptoms such as suicidal thoughts, delusions, and hallucinations can also occur, endangering yourself or others.

Everyone feels the various, individual symptoms of depression at some point in their lives. The difference is that those who struggle with depression have many symptoms at once, occurring frequently or all the time. People with mild depression may feel like they can “handle it” on their own, or “that’s just life.” It’s not. Seek help.

Those with moderate or severe depression may be too unmotivated to even reach out for help, so it’s up to loved ones to help the person with depression see that there is hope and there is help available. Please contact a support network, doctor, or counselor for yourself or your loved one right away. You deserve to feel better.

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The Effect of Infertility Treatment on Your Mood and What You Can Do

If you’re struggling with infertility, you know the emotional roller coaster it takes you on. But fertility treatments may exacerbate mood swings and emotional stress, so be prepared to combat these symptoms in a healthy way. 

How infertility treatments affect mood

A woman’s natural cycle is an ebb and flow of various hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone. Although these are our natural hormones, when they are imbalanced, we can feel emotionally unsettled, irritable, or sad. These problems are compounded when additional hormones of various kinds are given to a woman to help her body release eggs and conceive.

Common treatments such as Clomid and human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) trigger glands in the body to release hormones essential for healthy ovulation. Oral contraceptives, often used in IVF treatment, flood the woman’s body with higher levels of progesterone. Other medications actually suppress hormones that are overproducing in order to treat endometriosis.

If a natural imbalance in our hormones can cause us to feel emotionally off, then forced imbalances caused by artificially increasing or decreasing hormone production can have an even stronger impact. Many women undergoing fertility treatment respond with symptoms of depression, anxiety, or irritability, as well as insomnia and changes in libido. 

In addition to the hormonal treatments, the process itself can cause additional stress and emotional pain. Often there is a strict schedule of appointments, treatments, and behaviors that must be followed for a regimen to have an optimal chance of success. This puts a great deal of stress on a couple, and can also cause the woman to feel like a science experiment!

What you can do to address mood issues

First, don’t blame yourself. Recognize that your emotional responses are natural and, to a large extent, caused by the treatments themselves. Talk to your infertility doctors and be sure they know the emotional symptoms you are experiencing. If they disregard your concerns, find different doctors. Infertility is stressful enough. You need doctors who care about you as a whole person.

Next, find emotional support. Your spouse or partner should be your first and most important support. He needs to know and help you through this time. Then build a circle of sympathetic friends and family, and finally, if necessary, find a counselor expert in helping couples through infertility.

And as always, take good care of yourself. Eat well, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly. Exercise can be an effective anti-depressants for lifting a mood.  

You need not be alone as you go through this process. Find the help and support you need and keep yourself healthy, and you’ll get through the treatments with more of an ability to manage your emotions.

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Why Exercise Boosts Mood

Studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants at alleviating some forms of depression and anxiety, and has long-lasting effects without any adverse side effects. While you should always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, don’t discount this very effective mood-boosting activity.

 Why does exercise improve mood?

There are a number of reasons why exercise boosts mood, starting with what happens in the brain. Exercise releases hormones in the brain that produce positive emotions, including dopamine, endorphins, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These produce feelings of peace, joy, and even euphoria. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein that soothes, repairs, and protects neurons in the brain, making you feel like you can think more clearly.

But happy hormones and neuron-healing chemicals aren’t the only benefits of exercise. Another is the increased ability to handle stress. When you exercise, you’re essentially stressing your body at a low level – increasing the heart rate and activating the muscles, which trigger yet more chemical responses that actually increase your ability to handle stress.

Besides these benefits, there are plenty of others, depending on the exercise you choose. A brisk walk outside? You get fresh air and vitamin D. Walk the dog while you’re at it and you add the pleasure derived from the companionship of a devoted pet. Dancing provides improved social interactions and the chance to make new friends. And all exercise tones your muscles, providing you with a level of satisfaction and a sense of control over your body as you see yourself becoming stronger and healthier.

 What exercises should I do to boost my mood?

Your exercise need not be vigorous, but it must be regular and frequent. Ideally, moderate aerobic exercise of 30-45 minutes per day, 3-4 days per week can have lasting results, and it’s fine to break it up into 10 minute periods throughout the day. But if you can’t commit to 30-45 minutes, or if you’re just starting out, even 10-15 minutes every day could benefit you.

Walking briskly, biking, swimming, dancing, and playing tennis all provide the right amount of aerobic exercise to decrease stress, anxiety, and depression and boost your mood for the long-term. Clearly, exercise should be a part of everyone’s regimen for optimal physical and psychological health but remember to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen. If you begin exercising or have been exercising for a while and still do not feel the benefits mentioned above, you may be experiencing depression and/or anxiety that requires additional treatment. Do not hesitate to contact your physicians or a licensed therapist to discuss your symptoms and treatment options.

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Pregnancy and Anxiety after Infertility

You’re finally pregnant after struggling with infertility; so why aren’t you full of joy? If you’re feeling anxious or numb, know that your reaction is common and natural after such a long period of stress. That said, there are ways to decrease or eliminate these feelings so you can enjoy your pregnancy and your new baby.

Common emotional responses to pregnancy after infertility

When pregnancy is finally achieved after so many disappointments, you may not want to get your hopes up. You may doubt your body’s ability to carry to term and find yourself obsessing over every symptom – or lack of symptoms. You may feel guilty for complaining about morning sickness or aches and pains, feeling like you should be thankful for every discomfort since you’re finally pregnant.

Sometimes a pregnant woman is afraid that anything or everything she does could hurt her baby. You might be concerned about exercising too much or too little, eating the wrong things, even taking a bath! Then realizing you’re too anxious, you may worry that your anxiety could be hurting the baby, which makes you worry more – an ongoing cycle of anxiety.

And when you transition to an OB from your fertility doctor, you may be concerned that the OB doesn’t have the expertise you need or worry that he or she won’t understand what you’re going through.

Finally, some women feel like they don’t fit in anywhere. You may feel like you don’t fit in with other pregnant women who got pregnant easily, and now you don’t fit in with the women you met along your journey of infertility. In fact, you may feel guilty and want to avoid them, because you’re pregnant and they’re not.

Please hear me when I tell you that all these feelings are understandable, but they are not necessary and can be alleviated.

How to alleviate your stress

Make sure your OB has experience caring for women who have high-risk pregnancies or who are pregnant following infertility. Your provider must be understanding and supportive, willing to offer you more tests than most women get, and be able to address your fears and concerns. Do NOT hesitate to tell your doctor about your symptoms! Your doctor will be able to either allay your concerns or address your symptoms if they seem unusual in any way.

Though some women may choose to get a home sonogram or Doppler to listen for the baby’s heartbeat, I would advise against it unless your doctor thinks it is absolutely necessary. The home versions of these instruments are less powerful than those the technicians use, and a heartbeat can be tricky to find on a young baby. You will be worrying yourself unnecessarily. Simply ask for more frequent testing or find an outpatient testing facility that does ultrasounds.

Find a support group with other pregnant women who have struggled with infertility, either in person or online. You don’t know who else may have experienced infertility or miscarriage so this is an easy way to connect with people in a similar position as you are. These groups are really helpful because you can share your experiences and support each other. Your situation is not uncommon, so share your story and feel the love and support from others.

Educate yourself. By learning all you can about a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and infant care, you will feel more empowered and less a victim of circumstance.

Allow yourself to bond with your baby, and don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t come easily or quickly. Talk to your baby in the womb, play your favorite music and dance around the room with your baby. Prepare a system of supportive helpers for after the baby arrives and be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster ride.

New mothers often feel emotional — happy, fearful, and overwhelmed. On top of that, you have years of anxiety and grief that have built up following unsuccessful treatments and/or miscarriages. These feelings won’t go away just because you have a baby in your arms. Be sure to talk these feelings out with your husband, your family and friends, and if necessary, a trained counselor. Find someone who is an expert in dealing with infertility who can help you heal from the past pain and be free to experience joy in the gift of new life.

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