Relationships and pregnancy

Pregnancy can bring big changes to your relationship with your partner. You may find it brings you together or pushes you apart.

These are some common reasons for argument:

  • Your partner is less interested in the pregnancy than you are.
  • The baby doesn’t seem real to your partner.
  • You are both stressed about money.
  • You don’t want sex but your partner does.
  • You are feeling sick, tired and moody and you take it out on your partner.
  • You are worried your partner won’t find your changing body attractive.

It’s a good idea to talk to each other about your feelings and how your life may change:

  • 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.

Why good relationships matter

Your relationship with your partner has a strong link with your emotional wellbeing. A good relationship helps you deal with the stressful situations you may experience in pregnancy. A bad relationship can undermine how you feel about yourself and can make it more likely that you get depression when you’re pregnant or afterwards.

“My husband Stuart was very supportive and understanding. When I had my anxious thoughts, instead of telling me not to be silly he helped me rationalise my thoughts. He really calmed me" Katie, mum of one. Read more...

Sorting out relationship problems

Relationship difficulties with your partner may not be easy to sort out. If you're in this situation you could:

  • Have an open and frank discussion about how you each feel and what you each need.
  • Try not to be accusing or too negative, instead think about practical ways that things could change for the better.
  • Try to understand things from your partner’s point of view as well as your own.
  • Get relationship advice and support from the Couple Connection.
  • Get information about couple’s counselling at Relate.

If you don’t feel that you get much support from your partner, it’s important to think of who else you can turn to when you need to talk about things – a friend, a family member?

"Tom was very supportive; we discussed what my problems might be and what I needed from him, which was to not assume that I was angry at him, but that mentally I just need a cuddle." Theresa, mum of one. Read more...

Domestic abuse

Some women experience abuse from partners or family members. Sometimes abuse starts or gets worse when you are pregnant. Abuse from someone you know is called ‘domestic abuse’ or ‘domestic violence’.

Abuse can be:

  • physical abuse – such as hitting or slapping you or pushing you around
  • sexual abuse – such as touching you sexually or making you have sex when you don’t want to
  • mental/verbal abuse – such as constantly putting you down, threatening you or manipulating you
  • financial abuse – such as controlling you by keeping your money from you.

Domestic abuse can harm you and your baby. Don’t think you have to put up with it – it’s not your fault. Talk to someone about what’s happening.

  • Midwives ask all pregnant women about domestic abuse.
  • If you tell your midwife what is happening to you, she’ll tell you where you can get help and support locally.
  • If your partner always goes with you to antenatal appointments, phone your midwife. You may be able to tell her about the abuse on the phone, or she can organise to see you on your own.
  • 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.

If you split up

If you split up from your partner, it’s important to think about who you can ask for emotional and practical support. You may also need to sort out financial support and contact arrangements with your baby’s dad, and work out your own options for the future. You can get lots of information and support from single parents charity Gingerbread.

Other resources

Read more


  1. Røsand GM et al. Partner relationship satisfaction and maternal emotional distress in early pregnancy. BMC Public Health 2011; 11:161
  2. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Domestic violence and abuse: how services can respond effectively, public health guideline 50. London: NICE, 2014
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Last reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.

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