Emotions and partnership: when parenting distances

Emotions and partnership: when parenting distances

The first week of May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, so let’s talk about emotions and partnership and how parenting can distance. What emotions do you feel when your partner does not parent as you expected? How does it affect you?

Maybe during nine months of pregnancy, you have prepared yourself consciously to raise your child together. And then, when your baby arrives, you find that your partner does not meet the expectations you had or that his parenting style is not what you would like.

During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes a series of biological and psychological changes that prepare her for pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and the future nurturing of her baby. This transformation is called matrescence. These changes at the brain level can be maintained for up to six years after childbirth, according to studies by the NeuroMaternal group led by Susana Carmona.

But what happens to the partner?

In the case of the partner, who was not pregnant, the results of the studies suggest that the changes in their brain do not begin until after the birth and depend on the interaction they have with the baby. In other words, the pregnant mother always has a certain “head start.”

But in addition to these neurobiological changes, when it comes to becoming a mother and father, other aspects influence, such as sociocultural and educational factors and your own family history, your own experience as a daughter or son. Some people repeat the patterns of the upbringing they have received, while others need to move away from the parenting experience they received. Gender roles and the culture and society in which you live also have a great influence on parenting styles.

With all this context, it often happens that, even in couples that were equal before having children, there is now an imbalance in how they adapt to motherhood and fatherhood. And the greater the imbalance, the more difficulties there are, which greatly affect the mental health of the partner.

How you may feel

Parenting in a society that is not kind to babies and mothers is extremely difficult, but even more so if you add little co-responsibility from your partner. The lack of rest from parenting caused by the intense demand for care and the little hours of sleep can push mothers to the emotional limit. If you don’t find the necessary support within your home or family environment, this can make the situation worse and cause great psychological discomfort. Even more so if you are living a difficult process, such as breastfeeding difficulties or a hard postnatal recovery period, and your partner is not in tune with your decisions.

Each woman might express these emotions differently. There are those who experience them with great sadness and those who transform them into anger and rage. But all emotions are valid. It is important to find the right resources to accompany them and to look for a network and tribe in your surroundings to support you.

How to talk about the subject with your partner

Great efforts are required to find agreements with your partner. It is so important to share the need for attention and care of the baby and to explain how you feel about this situation. To do this, you have to put focus and energy into good communication, which can be difficult due to the demands of parenting and the limited time available to talk.

When having this type of conversation, assertive communication with your partner is recommended, in which not only the logistical aspects of parenting are discussed. Then, talk about the emotional experience of each one of you and in your relationship.

You can find more information about motherhood and your emotions in our free app LactApp, which is free to download on Android and iPhone.

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