Relationship problems and pregnancy

Pregnancy can change your relationship with your partner. Some people cope with these changes without too many problems, but others may find it harder. Knowing where you can find support can help.

Why supportive relationships matter

Your relationship with your partner, if you have one, can affect your emotional health and vice versa. Pregnancy hormones can make you feel a mix of highs and lows, which can cause many birthing people to feel more vulnerable or anxious. Some may have trouble coping with their symptoms or any complications that cause stress. 

A positive relationship can provide love and support, making you more able to deal with things. A poor relationship can make you feel bad about yourself, even causing you to feel anxious or depressed.

You may also worry if your baby’s affected by the stress caused by your relationship problems. This is unlikely if you get the right support. Find out more about stress and your baby

From a couple to parents 

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

  • 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 one 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.

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

It’s good to talk to each other about your feelings and any concerns you have about the future. Perhaps you could discuss: 

  • 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, taking turns to listen to each other
  • think about practical things you could both do to make things better
  • try to see 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 remind you that you are in a strong, healthy and loving partnership.

Sorting out relationship problems

Some couples may try to talk through their problems, without finding a way to sort things out. One or both partners may feel they are working on the relationship on their own and start to resent it.

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

Counselling can help with all sorts of relationship issues like improving trust, communication and how to better support each other. It may also help you both come to terms with the life-changing event of pregnancy and what it means for your relationship.

You can:

If you split up

Some couples do split up when they are expecting a baby. This can be a very tough time for both of you, but there is support. 

The charity Gingerbread supports single parents by providing information about things like:

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

Domestic violence

Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial. 1 in 4 women experiences domestic abuse or domestic violence at some point in their lives.  It can also affect men.

Some abuse starts in pregnancy. In other cases the abuse gets worse during or after pregnancy.
Domestic violence or abuse can cause emotional and mental health problems, such as stress and anxiety. It also puts you and your unborn child at risk.

It may be very hard to recognise or admit what is going on. Remember that domestic violence or abuse can happen to anyone, no matter their background or gender, and you are not alone.

There are professionals you can talk to if you are thinking about having a family but you are being abused. Nobody will judge you or tell you what to do. All that matters is that you get support.

If you’d prefer not to talk to someone in person, you can call the Refuge 24-hour domestic violence helpline on 0808 2000 247. They will give you confidential advice and support.

Remember, too, that anything you say to your midwife or doctor is in confidence. That means they can't tell someone 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.

More help and support

Find out about anxiety and emotional changes in pregnancy and what support there is for dads and partners too.

NHS. Domestic abuse in pregnancy (Page last reviewed: 20 April 2021, Next review due: 20 April 2024)

Review dates
Reviewed: 04 February 2024
Next review: 04 February 2027