Strengthening your relationship in pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time of big changes and many emotions for partners.
You’ll be better able to support each other through these changes and emotions if you put time and effort into your relationship during pregnancy.
You can work on growing stronger as a couple during pregnancy by:
- talking about your feelings, roles, responsibilities, hopes and dreams
- working on your relationship skills
- spending time together
- seeking professional help if you need it.
Talking as partners and parents-to-be
Talking to each other openly and honestly is one of the best ways to strengthen your relationship in pregnancy and beyond. It can help you understand each other’s feelings, share expectations, prevent or resolve problems and avoid disappointment.
Here are some things you and your partner could talk about.
Feelings about pregnancy
- What are your feelings as a pregnant woman or feelings as a partner? Are you excited, tired, overwhelmed or something else?
- Do you have any worries or concerns about pregnancy or parenthood?
- How do you feel about the timing of the pregnancy and its effect on your lives?
- How are you feeling about sex and intimacy as a pregnant woman or sex and intimacy as a partner?
Roles and responsibilities
- How much time will each of you spend doing things like bathing, dressing and settling your baby?
- How do you feel about returning to paid work after the baby arrives?
- How much time will each of you spend on unpaid work like cleaning, washing, cooking and paying bills?
- How will you create a work-life balance with time for yourselves as a couple and as individuals?
- What roles and responsibilities will make you most happy and fulfilled?
Your hopes and dreams as parents
- How do you want to be as parents? For example, how do you want to bond with your baby?
- What values would you like your child to learn – for example, kindness, respect, acceptance and so on?
- Are there any rituals and traditions that are important to both of you?
- Do you have any skills or abilities that you hope your child will learn?
- Are there particular people, communities or groups that you’d like your child to be involved with?
Practical preparations for early parenting
- What types of antenatal classes do you want to attend?
- How will you prepare your home for your baby’s arrival?
- Who do you have in your support network?
- How will you manage your money?
- How do you want to use parental leave or flexible work arrangements?
- Do you want to get into better physical shape for raising your child? For example, do you want to quit smoking as a pregnant woman, drinking alcohol as a pregnant woman, smoking as a partner or drinking alcohol as a partner?
- Is child care something you’d like to consider? If so, what child care options might be right for you?
Life will keep changing after your baby is born. If you keep talking to each other, sharing expectations and negotiating roles and responsibilities, your relationship is more likely to stay strong and healthy.
Working on your relationship skills during pregnancy
Relationship skills develop with time, patience and practice. Pregnancy is a great time to work on skills like the following:
- Listening – good listening is about you and your partner letting each other finish talking without interrupting. It can also help to check that you understand what your partner is saying by summarising what your partner has said.
- Problem-solving – when you brainstorm solutions, negotiate and compromise, you’re more likely to solve problems in ways that you’re both happy with.
- Managing conflict positively and constructively – if things get heated, it’s important to call ‘time-out’ to consider each other’s perspectives and control angry feelings. This will help you come back with a positive attitude.
- Accepting each other – this means living with and valuing each other’s differences. It’s about being flexible, tolerant and open-minded.
Listening, problem-solving, managing conflict and accepting each other are important skills for raising children as a team. When you work as a parenting team, it’s good for your child’s wellbeing and development. It’s good for you too, because you’re likely to feel happier, more confident and more satisfied with your parenting and your family life.
Spending time together in pregnancy
Pregnancy is a great time to enjoy each other’s company and do things that you’ll have less time for in the early months after baby arrives. Sleeping in, watching a movie, going out for a meal and visiting friends and family are just a few things you might think about doing before the baby arrives.
Your memories of these times could remind you of the strength of your relationship when you’re busy caring for your baby.
When and where to get professional help if you need it
Relationship changes during pregnancy are natural. But if you’re arguing with your partner more than usual, avoiding discussion or feeling angry or disconnected, it’s a good idea to get some professional help to work things out together:
- Call Relationships Australia in your state or territory on 1300 364 277.
- Call Family Relationships Online on 1800 050 321.
- See your GP to talk things through and get a referral to a psychologist or relationship or family counselling service.
- Find a psychologist or counselling service through the Australian Psychology Society, Australian Counselling Association or Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.
- Call Lifeline on 131 114, MensLine on 1300 789 978 or QLife (LGBTQ+ peer support) on 1800 184 527.
- Contact a LGBTIQ+ support service.
If your partner doesn’t want to go to counselling with you, it’s still worth seeking help by yourself.
Pregnancy is a time when family violence can begin. If family violence already happens in a relationship, sometimes it gets worse during pregnancy. For support, talk to your health professional, call the National Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT or 1800 737 732. You can also call Lifeline, MensLine or a parenting hotline.