Difficult or complicated reactions to pregnancy
If your partner is pregnant, you might feel some stress, worry, pressure, frustration or confusion.
This can happen for several reasons. For example, you could be juggling preparations for your baby’s arrival, money, work demands and more. Or you might feel unprepared for caring for a newborn. It’s also natural to feel worried about losing time for yourself and your partner.
Pregnancy can lead to stronger emotions too. These might include fear, anger, anxiety and depression. You could be experiencing these emotions for the first time. Or things that usually don’t upset you now do – for example, pressure at work.
Feelings like frustration and anger are common. What matters is how you respond to them.
How to manage frustration or anger when your partner is pregnant
Everybody feels frustrated or angry sometimes. But part of being a supportive and loving partner and parent is learning to manage your anger in ways that don’t hurt your family.
If you’re getting frustrated or angry with your partner, here’s what to do:
- Leave the situation so that you can keep yourself and everyone else safe.
- Before you go back, do your best to calm down. For example, go for a walk or run, listen to some music, take a warm shower, do some breathing exercises or talk to a friend about how you’re feeling. You could also say to yourself, ‘Getting angry isn’t going to solve this problem’ or ‘I can work this out’.
- Look for signs that you’re calming down. These include your heart rate slowing down (from beating fast) and your muscles and jaw relaxing (from feeling tense or clenched).
- When you’re calm, it might help to think about what made you angry and how you could handle things differently next time.
When anger becomes violence while your partner is pregnant
For some people, strong reactions to pregnancy, like anger, can lead to violence.
There are many types of violence, including:
- verbal – for example, shouting or saying hurtful things
- emotional – for example, controlling who your partner sees, where your partner goes, or what your partner does
- physical – for example, hurting or harming your partner.
Pregnancy can be a time when you behave violently for the first time in your relationship. Or if it has happened before, it might increase during pregnancy.
Violence is never OK. It can harm your unborn baby, your partner and you.
Getting help with anger and violence when your partner is pregnant
If you’ve been having trouble managing anger, or your anger is leading to violence, professional help is the best thing for your partner, your unborn baby and you:
- Speak to your GP or another health professional.
- Call Lifeline on 131 114 or use their text or webchat service.
- Call the National Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Counselling Service on 1800 737 732 or use their webchat service.
- Call MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978 or use their webchat service.
- Call the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.
- Call a parenting helpline.
If you get help managing your anger, you might find good things coming back into your life. For example, being able to express yourself without anger might rebuild trust in your relationships with your partner and other important people in your life.
Effects of violence during pregnancy
Violence can also cause a pregnant partner’s stress hormones to rise. These stress hormones go through the placenta to the growing baby. They can have a negative effect on the baby’s development.
And violence can make a pregnant partner feel very anxious. Anxiety can have negative effects on the baby too, including on their mental health later in life.
Many Australian states have laws that protect unborn babies. These laws allow state child protection departments to take out intervention orders against people who are violent and prevent them from having contact with their pregnant partners. This includes not being allowed to go to the birth and being allowed only limited and supervised contact with their children.
Shaking, hitting, kicking or throwing a baby can lead to death, disability or serious injury. After birth, if you ever feel that you might hurt your baby or you have hurt your baby, you and your baby need immediate help. If your baby needs medical assistance, call an ambulance on 000.