Pregnant women: feelings and relationships
It’s natural to feel emotionally up and down when you’re pregnant. That’s because you have extra hormones in your body. Also, your body is changing physically, and you’re going through a major change in your life.
For example, as a pregnant woman, you might feel:
- more vulnerable and tired than usual and in need of extra support
- more interested and involved in the pregnancy than your partner
- more connected to your unborn baby than your partner
- less – or more – interested in sex than you used to be.
If your partner’s feelings about pregnancy and the unborn baby are a concern for you, it might help to know that things often change as babies make their presence felt – with kicks, movements and a growing bump.
Couples during pregnancy: feelings and relationships
As a couple, you might have a range of feelings about expecting a baby, from excitement to confusion and uncertainty. You might sometimes also feel some strain in your relationship.
It might help to know that mixed, changing and strained feelings are natural at times like pregnancy. This can happen for many reasons:
- One or both of you might be worried about the timing of the pregnancy, its effect on your career or the loss of your independence. You might also be worried about how the baby will affect your relationship.
- If one or both of you are taking leave from paid work, you might be worried about how you’ll manage financially once the baby is born.
- There can be tension if one of you wants more or less sex than the other.
- Each of you can be affected by the other’s feelings about pregnancy and the changes it brings.
Pregnancy is a time when family violence can begin. If family violence already happens in a relationship, sometimes it gets worse during pregnancy. If you experience violence in your relationship, speak to your midwife or doctor or call a helpline – they can help you and your family be safe.
Communication tips to nurture healthy relationships in pregnancy
Communication is one of the most important ways to nurture a healthy relationship in pregnancy. Good communication can help you to clear up misunderstandings, avoid disappointments and manage conflict. It’s essential to strengthening your relationship.
Here are some tips for communication:
- Talk to each other about how you both feel about the pregnancy and what’s to come – both the positives and negatives. Try to talk in a way that explains your views rather than blames your partner.
- Talk about your hopes and dreams for your family and the rituals and traditions that are important to you both.
- Talk about your individual parenting styles. If your styles turn out to be different, you might need to work on solving problems together using negotiation and compromise.
- Be open and honest about your sexual needs to avoid misunderstandings.
- Listen to each other as you talk. Good listening is about letting your partner finish talking before you speak. It can also help to check that you understand what your partner is saying by summarising what your partner has said.
Communicating with your partner is a skill that develops with time, patience and practice. If you’re experiencing a lot of difficulties or arguments during pregnancy, a relationship counsellor can help. But if your partner doesn’t want to go to a counsellor, it’s still worth seeking help, even if it’s by yourself.
Practical tips for handling relationship changes
Practical preparations can help you handle the effects of pregnancy and new parenthood on your relationship.
Here are some ideas:
- Go to antenatal classes together. These classes help you prepare for labour, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting.
- Consider getting some help with managing your money if you’re worried about the cost of having a baby.
- Talk about practicalities. For example, you could discuss how you’ll make time for yourself and time for your partner and how you’ll share household tasks now and after the baby is born.
- Accept or ask for practical help and emotional support during pregnancy and after your baby is born. For example, if family and friends offer to do the grocery shopping or bring you a meal, it’s OK to say ‘Yes, please!’