Relationships problems and pregnancy

Pregnancy can change your relationship with your partner. Some people cope with these changes easily, but some find it harder. Knowing where you can find support can help.

Why supportive relationships matter in pregnancy

Pregnancy hormones can make you feel a mix of emotional highs and lows, which can make many women feel more vulnerable or anxious. Some may also have trouble coping with their symptoms or even have complications  during their pregnancy, which can cause extra stress.

A positive relationship can make you feel loved and supported, and more able to deal with these situations. A poor relationship can make you feel bad about yourself, or cause anxiety  or depression.

From couple to parents 

It’s quite normal for couples to argue, even if you’re in a healthy relationship. Sometimes this has nothing to do with pregnancy. But there are some common reasons why you may argue when you’re pregnant. These include:

  • you feel your partner is less interested in the pregnancy than you are
  • the baby doesn’t seem real to you or your partner
  • you feel your partner is being too protective of you
  • you are both stressed about money
  • one of you wants to have sex but the other doesn’t
  • you are feeling sick, tired and moody
  • you are both anxious about being parents
  • you are worried your partner won’t find your changing body attractive.

“I felt sick all day, every day during my pregnancy, which didn’t really get better until I was about 6 months along. I didn’t feel good physically and was also really upset that I wasn’t enjoying my pregnancy. This made me really stressed and irritable, which affected my relationship with my husband for a while.”

Alison

Making the change from being a couple to being parents isn’t easy. You’re probably thinking about how it will change your life and your relationship with each other.

It’s a good idea to talk to each other about your feelings and any anxieties you have about the future, including:

  • your hopes
  • your fears
  • your expectations about life with your baby
  • what kind of parents you want to be
  • how you can support each other.

You may also find it helpful to:

  • have an open and honest chat about how you’re both feeling. Take turns to listen to each other
  • try not to be accusing or too negative, instead think about practical things you could both do to make things better
  • try to understand things from your partner’s point of view as well as your own.

Talking about how you feel won’t always stop you arguing. But it may make you feel better prepared for the changes ahead and reassure you that you are in a strong, healthy and loving relationship.

Sorting out relationship problems

Sometimes problems in a relationship can become overwhelming. Some people may feel like they are dealing with everything on their own and so feel isolated or resentful. Other couples may try to talk through their problems but still can’t find a way to sort things out. 

If you are feeling unhappy you may want to try relationship advice or counselling. This gives you a chance to talk about your worries together in a safe and confidential place with a trained counsellor. You can also talk to a counsellor about your relationship on your own if you want.

You can:

If you split up

Unfortunately, some couples split up when they are expecting a baby. This can be a very difficult time for both of you but there is support available.

The charity Gingerbread supports single parent mums and dads by providing information about things like:

  • financial support
  • housing
  • managing money
  • you and your child’s wellbeing.

Domestic violence

Domestic violence  can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial. One in four women experiences domestic abuse or domestic violence at some point in their lives.

Some abuse starts when women become pregnant. Other times the abuse gets worse during or after pregnancy.

Domestic violence or abuse can cause emotional and mental health problems, including stress and anxiety. It also puts you and your unborn child at risk.

It may be very difficult to recognise or admit what is happening. Remember that domestic violence or abuse can happen to anyone and you are not alone.

There are professionals you can talk to if you are thinking about having a family but are being abused. Nobody will judge you or tell you what to do, it’s just important that you get support (listed below).

If you’re not comfortable talking to someone face-to-face, you can call the Women’s Aid 24-hour domestic violence helpline on 0808 2000 247. They will give you confidential advice and support.

Remember that anything you say to your midwife or doctor is in confidence. That means they can't tell anyone else without your permission.

You can tell your midwife or doctor if you are experiencing domestic abuse. They may be able to help you and, if not, they can advise you where to go for help.

Sources

NHS Choices. Domestic abuse in pregnancy https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/domestic-abuse-pregnant/ (Page last reviewed: 17/03/2018. Next review due: 17/03/2021)

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Last reviewed on October 12th, 2018. Next review date October 12th, 2021.

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Comments

  • By Risa (not verified) on 18 Jan 2019 - 10:55

    My partner and I have been together over 20 years since we were teens. We already have two children together and I am expecting the third in may this year. I work part time as a teacher, but my partner brings in the majority of the household income. On a daily basis he tells me that certain things I am doing are not good enough, in fact almost everything I do he has a problem with. He tells me I am inadequate as a mother, and complains about the mess of the house, even though I don’t sit down during the day because I am constantly doing housework when I am at home. He complains about money, but I pay a good chunk of the household bills, and pay for anything the kids need at the beginning of the month. This leaves me with nothing to last the month and he knows it. He doesn’t just put me down as a mother he attacks me verbally about my personality and the way I look, especially now I’m getting bigger because of the pregnancy. If I fight back I make him angry and he starts trashing the house, last time he broke our freezer. I get very emotional and cry and he tells me I’m pathetic. I know this is not right, but I can’t see anyway out. I ask him to leave, but he says I wouldn’t cope on my own financially, and even though I want him to go I know he is right.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Jan 2019 - 16:29

    Hi Risa
    I'm very concerned to read your message-your partner should not be behaving towards you in this way.
    Please could you email Tommy's at [email protected] or contact our pregnancy helpline on 0800 0147 800 so that we can give you more personal support for this. If at any time you do not feel safe at home or that your partner may harm you or your children then you should contact the police on 999 immediately for help
    Take care
    Tommy's Midwife

  • By Brooke (not verified) on 15 Jan 2019 - 02:09

    I know I am going crazy, he tells me this daily.
    Although he really doesn’t understand and does nothing to help the situation
    Just tells me “I hate babies” “fuck that thing for 10 months”
    I got very upset when he said those things, but to him I blew up.
    I’m having a child with this man? Who says things like that? And then blames me for just being crazy
    And also laughs in my face when I’m crying and all I want is for him to be serious. It’s all fun and games to him.
    Is this the end? Or should we keep trying?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Jan 2019 - 12:05

    Hi Brooke
    I am sorry to hear what a difficult time you are having in your relationship as a result of your pregnancy. It sounds like your boyfriend is finding the news hard to process. It does not sound like your boyfriend is being at all supportive. In fact, he sounds abusive towards you. Do you feel safe to stay with him? Is he harming you both physical as well as emotionally?
    Please call us on 0800 0147800 if you wish to talk anything through with us, we want to help you support you through this difficult time.
    All the best, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Steve powell (not verified) on 11 Feb 2019 - 15:09

    What you need is emotional support and understanding and love. And you don't need it yesterday, you need it now ! Your boyfriend is probably freaked out by the whole experience though, and is short circuting. Try to talk and communicate in a comforting way about your needs, and what kind of comforting and support you need. Try to build him up, so he will feel like a man and participate, and do the right thing. If he absolutely will not respond, I'd find a good man instead.

  • By Baby A (not verified) on 6 Jul 2018 - 22:10

    So, I'm in need of some advice. I have been with my boyfriend for two years. I am currently 8 months pregnant. We moved in with my mother to save money and I haven't been working since I have been having complications with the pregnancy. This is both of ours first baby. He is paying the bills, but makes money and so far has not saved anything. Previous to us getting pregnant we used to drink a lot and dabble in drugs. I was tired of that lifestyle and we started to stop, or so I did when I got pregnant. He finally stopped drinking in May of this year. However, he has been lying to me, sneaking drinks, and taking suboxene and something called kratom. He lies about where he is. Gets high, and still sneaks about. I want him to be the best father for our baby. But if though he is trying, he is still hiding and lying. I'm helpless bc I am relying on him. I love him and have not given up on him. But he gets moody and has jealous and rude behavior. Probably because he is deflecting his behavior and always trying to blame me for something leasing to his behavior. I am at a loss and want to be in the best environment for our baby but will he ever change or is this how put relationship will always be? He won't get help nor will he go to couples therapy with me. I am tired of walking on eggshells when I am pregnant and stressed and hate that he is always lying to me. What do I Do? I can't bear the thought of us not being a family. How do I know he won't drink or be high holding our baby? Why is he so miserable to try and be sober and just be happy with everything he ever said he wanted? Now it's a reality and it seems he wants out bc life is too hard? I feel like I am always the one doing something wrong to make him this way? I cant walk away bc how will i pay for bills and how can i give up on our hopes for a family?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Jul 2018 - 12:18

    Hi,
    I am really sorry to hear that you are finding yourself in such a difficult situation, and it sounds like there are some hard decisions for you to make. The most important thing is to make sure that you and your baby is safe. Is there anyone that you are able to talk to about what you are going through such as family or friends? Do you feel comfortable speaking with your midwife for some support? It maybe that he needs some support himself with use of drugs and alcohol but also possible mental health? The difficult thing is that he needs to want support, it won't be effective if he doesn't and there is not forcing him as this won't help.
    I would suggest speaking to someone for support and to help you make sure that you are both safe and looked after.
    I wish you all the best
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Apr 2017 - 09:43

    I am so sorry to hear of the incredibly difficult experiences you have gone through and continue to do so. feeling low and worried for the future is understandable, but it sounds like things are getting more difficult to cope with, especially now you are pregnant again and the previous issues aren't resolved.
    Please call us on our Pregnancy Line 08000147800 (we operate Monday-Friday 9.00 - 17.00) or via email [email protected] if we can help you any further.

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