Cherish the love you have

Having a good, loving relationship with your partner is one of the most important and rewarding things in life. Such a relationship does not just happen on its own, though. Firstly, to be able to love another, you need to accept and love yourself. Secondly, a good relationship must be nurtured: be caring and attentive, show affection, listen and interact. At best, pregnancy can be a shared experience that strengthens your relationship and enhances the feminine and masculine traits of both parents. On the other hand, unpleasantness, insults and unfair behaviour during pregnancy will be forever remembered unless they are talked through and forgiven.

Housework

Couples without children generally split housework evenly without argument, but in families with young children housework is a major source of disagreement. Housework is the responsibility of each and every family member; it should not be considered as ”helping mum”. If not before, during pregnancy all family members should participate in housework – not just the parents but the older children as well. Dad’s share of housework increases during pregnancy, especially if the mother is suffering with contractions. During late pregnancy, the mother should avoid physical strain, such as lifting heavy objects. During the first week after birth, the baby needs round-the-clock attention. If all housework is left to the mother, she will become over-exhausted.

Sharing your feelings

In a good relationship, you can openly share everything that is on your mind: joys, sorrows, concerns, fears, hopes and dreams. Sharing your feelings and thoughts is not always easy and requires practice.

The following advice might be helpful:

1) Listen to what your

partner is saying. What is

he/she feeling? What is

his/her intention? Try not to

take immediate offence. Was

what he/she said actually intend-

ed to offend, or was it just worded a bit clumsily?

2) The individual is the best judge of his/ her own feelings. If your partner says he/she is afraid or troubled, don’t tell him/her that there is nothing to be afraid of. Rather, ask what it is specifically he/she is afraid of. Allow you partner to have the feelings he/she is experiencing and say, for example, ”You must have felt terrible when you were being got at by your boss”etc.

3) Tell your partner how you feel. If you are angry, say ”Having to clean up after you makes me angry”, for example. Try not to blame your partner, and avoid the word ”always” in phrases such as ”You are always so careless”. If you want something, state it clearly. For example, ”Could you vacuum the house?” (instead of ”You never do anything”).

4) Respect each other. Never say things that you know are the most hurtful to your partner, even when angry.

5) Digging up past faults is easy to do, but is poisonous to your relationship. Learn to forgive and forget.

Pregnancy and sexuality

Pregnancy may change the way you feel about sex in one way or another. Nausea, fatigue and breast tenderness during early pregnancy may cause your desires to decline. However, you might find that the little secret you are carrying makes sex during early pregnancy thrilling in a new way.

For many expectant mothers, the second trimester is a sexually fulfilling time. The increased blood flow to the vagina causes a feeling of fullness and heightened sensitivity. During this time, it is not uncommon for women to masturbate more than ever before. For many women, this is

a peak erotic time in their life. Many men enjoy their sexually more active partner. However, the new situation is likely to be confusing for the man as well. He might worry about harming the unborn child and avoid situations that will lead to sex. A normal pregnancy does not prevent the couple from having sex. During late pregnancy, many women feel awkward and sexually unattractive, while others enjoy sex right up to birth. Remember that sexual intercourse is just one aspect of sexuality. During this time when your shared life is taking on new forms, maintain intimacy and affection by saying and doing things you know will give pleasure to your partner.

After the child is born, there will be a period when your sex life will have to be on hold. The parents can decide the length of that period, but it is recommended to put off sex for a couple of weeks, until the vaginal discharge ends. However, there is no need to refrain from showing affection! Hugs, caresses, kisses and nice words are especially important when your means of expressing your sexuality are limited and you are feeling unusually emotional. Having a satisfactory sex life in your relationship is a shared responsibility – it takes two to tango!

Abuse is unacceptable

It is good to be an understanding partner, but there are limits as to what should be tolerated. Physical and mental abuse are crimes against another person and should not be tolerated. Heavy blows to the area of the abdomen may damage the womb and the foetus. At worst, this may cause the pregnancy to terminate. If you are being abused, turn to your neighbours or friends for help, or call the police, social services (onko tall?) or a mother and child shelter. Sometimes the first priority is to remove yourself from the abusive partner into a safe environment.

The emergency phone number is 911

The Emergency Response Centre staff will tell you what you need to do and will alert the necessary authorities.

8 Antenatal care in the prenatal clinics

Antenatal care is provided by pre-natal clinics to maintain the good health of the expectant mother and the unborn child, to promote a healthy lifestyle for the whole family and to help the family prepare for the new baby. The aims of antenatal care include promoting the well-being and good health of the prospective parents, supporting the parents in their growth towards parenthood and family life, and providing tools for preventing and solving possible problems in their relationship. In particular, support is needed in families expecting their first baby. The prenatal clinics are organised around the whole family, not just the mother. Dads receive support in their personal growth towards becoming fathers and advice on a healthy lifestyle and how to best support the mother. Additional support and advice is also provided by online clinics.

Antenatal care monitors possible problems during pregnancy, takes action to prevent them and refers the mother for further examinations and treatment in hospital, if necessary. The prenatal clinics and hospital maternity units also support the family if and when the mother has fears relating to childbirth, suffers from depression, or is having a multiple pregnancy. Care during pregnancy and childbirth is realised in close collaboration between the prenatal clinics and the hospital maternity unit. A nurse or midwife and a doctor work at the prenatal clinic. Antenatal care includes physical examinations, screening tests, personal guidance and antenatal classes. Your nurse or midwife may also visit you at home. During the course of a normal pregnancy, the expectant mother makes 12 to 15 visits to the prenatal clinic. Most health care centres offer ultrasound scans at 12 to 16 weeks. The services of a psychologist, a nutritional therapist, a physiotherapist and a social worker are al- so available for families.