Tommy's PregnancyHub

Relationship 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
  • make a wellbeing plan to make sense of your feelings and help you talk them through with your partner.

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.

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)

Review dates
Last reviewed: 12 October 2018
Next review: 12 October 2021