Feelings, relationships and pregnancy | Pregnancy Birth and Baby
Feelings, relationships and pregnancy | Pregnancy Birth and Baby beginning of content
Pregnancy can mean the beginning of a new stage in a woman’s life, with all the changes that new stage can bring. People talk about obvious ones — cravings, fatigue, nausea, body shape — but there are also situations like negotiating new working arrangements and reworking your finances that can make this a difficult time.
As well as physical, financial and social changes, many women experience emotional changes during pregnancy too. Mixed emotions are a normal and necessary part of preparing to become a parent.
Like unexpected physical health complications (for example, high blood pressure), mental health problems can affect any woman during pregnancy. Talking about your feelings can be the first step towards feeling better.
It's very important to look after yourself and recognise if you are finding it difficult to manage from day to day. If you have been feeling sad, down, worried or anxious for a while and this is starting to affect your life, it's time to seek help.
Preparing for being a parent
It can be helpful for both expectant mums and dads to learn about ways to help themselves and others through this time of change.
Read parenting books, talk to family members and friends about their experiences as new parents and take some time to think about who might be able to provide support if you need it. It can help to develop a network with others who are also pregnant or who have children of a similar age.
While preparation is important, it is also good to remember that you can't prepare for everything.
Your emotions during pregnancy
Pregnancy is a challenging and exciting time. It is normal for expectant mums and dads to experience ups and downs when expecting a baby. However, for some, anxiety and depression during pregnancy can affect their daily lives.
Look out for these symptoms of anxiety and depression during pregnancy:
panic attacks (racing heart, palpitations, shortness of breath)
persistent, generalised worry, such as fears for the health or wellbeing of the baby
obsessive or compulsive behaviours
abrupt mood swings
feeling constantly sad, low or crying for no obvious reason
being nervous, on edge or panicky
If symptoms last for more than 2 weeks, talk to your GP or midwife.
Your relationship with your partner
Pregnancy will bring about big changes to your relationship, especially if this is your first baby. Some people cope with these changes easily, while others find it harder.
It's quite common for couples to have arguments every now and then during pregnancy. It's important to realise that during pregnancy there are understandable reasons for the occasional difficulty, and good reasons for feeling closer and more loving.
These communication tips can help to nurture your relationship during pregnancy:
Talk to each other about how you feel about being pregnant and what's to come — the positives and negatives. Try to talk in a way that explains your views rather than blames your partner.
Talk about your hopes and dreams for your family and what rituals and traditions are important.
Talk about your individual parenting styles. If your styles turn out to be different, you might need to work on solving problems together with negotiation and compromise.
Be open and honest about your sexual needs.
There are also practical ways you can help to manage the impact of pregnancy on your relationship:
Go to antenatal classes together.
Consider getting some help with managing your money if you're worried about the cost of having a baby.
Talk about practicalities, such as how you'll make time for yourself and time for your partner and how you'll share household tasks now and after the baby is born.
Your relationships with family and friends
Pregnancy is not only a special time for you and your partner; there may be a lot of other people around you who are interested in your pregnancy, such as your family and friends.
People can offer a great deal of help in all sorts of ways, and you'll probably be glad of their interest and support. But sometimes it can feel as if they're taking over.
Being pregnant may also put you on the receiving end of a lot of advice and perhaps criticism. There will be times when you appreciate the advice but also times when the advice is not wanted or helpful.
The important thing is to decide what is right for you. After all, it is your pregnancy and your baby.
If unwanted advice is becoming a problem, explain gently that there are some decisions that only you and your partner can make, and some things that you prefer to do on your own.
Support in labour
One practical question you will need to discuss is how you will cope with labour and whether your partner will be there. Many partners want to be present at their baby's birth. It can help to find out about your birth options, including where you can give birth.
It may be that you don't have a partner during this pregnancy, and you need extra support from family or friends. You may wish to talk to your midwife about some of the services that are available.
Coping if you're alone
If you're pregnant and on your own, it's important to have people you can share your feelings with who can offer you support. Sorting out problems, whether personal or medical, is often difficult when you're by yourself. It's better to find someone to talk to rather than let things get you down.
Ask someone you trust to support you at the birth
Just because you don't have a partner doesn't mean you have to go to antenatal visits by yourself and cope with labour on your own. You have the right to take whoever you like: a friend, sister or perhaps your mum.
Involve your birth partner in antenatal classes if you can, and let him or her know what you want from them. It may help to discuss your birth plan with them so that they understand your wishes for labour.
If you do not have a partner you can also ask your midwife if there are antenatal classes in your area that are run especially for single women.
Think about how you'll manage after the birth. Will there be people around to help and support you? If there's nobody who can give you support, it might help to discuss your situation with someone.
You can call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 if you would like to speak to a maternal child health nurse.
Beyond Blue has produced a guide for pregnant women, new mums and other carers, which you can download from its website. You can also call the Beyond Blue helpline on 1300 22 4636.
Jean Hailes (New parents), PANDA (Anxiety and depression in pregnancy and early parenthood), Raising Children Network (Healthy relationships and pregnancy)
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: September 2020
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Anxiety and pregnancy
Mental wellbeing during pregnancy
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Relationship problems and pregnancy | Tommy's
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.”
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 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.
get information about couple’s counselling at Relate. They also offers a live web chat service where you can talk to a relationship or family counsellor for up to 30 minutes for free.
find a private counsellor in your area though the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
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:
you and your child’s wellbeing.
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, whatever your age, background, gender, religion, sexuality, ethnicity or disability. Around 1 in 3 women are affected by domestic abuse when they are pregnant. This may happen for the first time in pregnancy or existing abuse may get worse during pregnancy and after birth.
Find out more about domestic abuse before and after pregnancy.
Reviewed: 12 October 2018 | Next review: 12 October 2021
This content is currently being reviewed by our team. Updated information will be coming soon.
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How pregnancy affects relationships: the opinion of a perinatal psychologist
How pregnancy affects relationships: the opinion of a perinatal psychologist
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020
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About our expert
Who is a perinatal psychologist? This is a specialist who studies the peculiarities of the psychological interaction between a woman and her unborn baby, helps future mothers and fathers plan a child and adapt to a new role - the role of caring and loving parents.
Our expert is a professional female and perinatal psychologist Marina Shudel, the author of a series of programs for working with pregnant women and women after childbirth, the author of the course "My child from 0 to 3 years old", a certified art therapist. Marina Shudel helps families plan for the arrival of a baby, prepare for childbirth, deal with anxiety and fears in a pregnant woman, cope with pre- and post-natal depression, and provides psychological support to mothers with an infant and young child.
We analyze the relationship with her husband during pregnancy with a perinatal psychologist
Not all couples easily and simply pass into the status of parents, even if the child was planned and long-awaited. The arrival of a baby changes the life of a couple. This is a big responsibility and stress for both a woman and a man. The child brings new responsibilities, transforms roles in a couple, changes priorities, attitudes towards himself, the world and his partner. The main thing at the same time is not to demand too much from yourself and from your partner and give time to get used to the role of a parent.
In a selection of videos prepared for Nestlé Baby&Me readers, Marina Shudel raises questions that are relevant for parents, in particular:
how partners can react to the news of a new addition to the family;
what factors influence the relationship with her husband during pregnancy, what to do so that they do not deteriorate;
how a woman's behavior changes at different stages of pregnancy and what causes it;
what functions does the environment of the expectant mother perform and why is it so important for a pregnant woman to feel love, support, security, as well as the attention and involvement of a partner;
how to behave to a husband during his wife's pregnancy;
is it possible to make love during pregnancy;
why a man may feel abandoned during his partner's pregnancy;
how to learn to accept a partner as he is, and why this is so important;
how future parents learn to cope with quarrels, insults and better understand each other.
Expert opinion and recommendations
Changes in intra-family relationships in a couple during pregnancy are normal.
We cannot change the partner. We can only change our attitude to a particular character trait or behavior.
The future father can create ideal conditions for the mother of his baby. To do this, you need to be interested, pay attention to what is happening in a woman's life. Support and help, especially in the most difficult periods - in the first and third trimester. The caring attitude and involvement of a man helps a pregnant woman to properly tune in to the appearance of a child, to form the image of a baby and herself in the role of a mother.
It is necessary to talk more with each other, communicate in pairs, discuss problems or grievances, but not blame each other.
It is important to take care of health together: switch to healthy foods, give up bad habits, walk more in the fresh air.
A woman needs to be provided with a calm, favorable atmosphere in the circle of close people. You should also avoid physical overload and unhealthy activities during pregnancy, eat a balanced diet to provide the baby with the necessary amount of vitamins and other nutrients.
It is important for a pregnant woman to pay attention to herself and her inner feelings. After all, the positive emotional state of the expectant mother plays a significant role in the formation of a healthy psyche of the baby.
It is possible to be a strong, emotionally stable and loving mother without the participation of a partner.
In order to maintain good relations between spouses, eliminate the consequences of a quarrel, reduce stress, better understand yourself and understand your partner in psychology, art therapy is used.
No need to dwell on fears and problems. Learn to get more positive emotions from motherhood and remember that you are the ideal mother for your baby.
So, the expectation and birth of a baby changes a lot in the relationship between a man and a woman. This is the most important stage in the life of every parent, which may not always go smoothly. However, we hope that our expert's advice will help you get to know yourself and your partner better, as well as maintain a kind, caring and loving relationship with your husband during pregnancy.
Articles on the topic:
How to conceive a child: advice to future parents
Second trimester of pregnancy. Emotions and experiences. Working with feelings
Third trimester of pregnancy. Emotions and experiences. Working with feelings
Changes in a couple after childbirth
The role of a man in pregnancy
So, your wife is pregnant, which means that you are expecting a baby together. And, most likely, you are interested in questions about how this pregnancy will directly affect you, your wife and your relationship in general. In order for everything to turn out well, you need to understand what your wife expects from you, and what is your role in this difficult period.
The first thing your wife always expects from you is to fulfill a male role, fulfill male duties, which can manifest themselves as participation and support in everyday ordinary life.
However, the time of pregnancy differs from the usual life of the spouses. Moreover, pregnancy itself consists of trimesters, which also have their own characteristics. Therefore, your participation and support should be different in each trimester.
The wife's emotional state can be described as "here and now".
During this period, it is important for your wife first of all to accept her pregnancy, to accept all the changes that are happening to her and in her.
She becomes helpless because the physiological and hormonal restructuring of the body in this trimester takes a lot of strength. A woman in her emotional state in the 1st trimester approaches the characteristics of a small child who needs parental care and priceless love.
On the other hand, it is the realization that both of you are becoming parents that prompts her to "test" you again and again for your readiness for fatherhood: what kind of father are you for her child, how do you cope with your role ...
Therefore, your task during this period is to try to be a father for both - for your wife and baby. And you won’t be able to come up with anything better than the simplest thing - to fulfill her “strange” desires, pamper her, protect her and show her how much you love her. Because attention to her, to her condition means for the wife that you will also take care of the child.
Supporting your wife at the beginning of pregnancy, you will get much more than you gave: you will get her confidence that you are there, that you can take care of her in a difficult responsible period, that you are an attentive, feeling father and you can have children with you.
The emotional state of the wife fits the definition of "bread and circuses".
In the second trimester, the emotional and intellectual sphere of a woman changes:
the intensity of her emotions becomes brighter;
long experiences disappear;
the leading emotional background is positive and, if nothing happens, life is beautiful.
Now your wife is quite well adapted to her condition, eats "for two" and needs a variety of positive emotions.
What is your role in this trimester? To be with her - a partner, in all her endeavors: theater, exhibitions, cinema, shops, various taste changes (including possible restrictions on products), sex, doctors, prenatal courses, swimming pool, etc.
This is the "golden time" of pregnancy, when you live this period vividly together, are saturated with the novelty of life, and already your baby shows itself to be moving. In this trimester, a woman begins to move from the position of a child to a motherly position. She is already beginning to take concrete care of the baby: she communicates with him, looks for information related to the child, goes to courses, makes plans ...
During this period, you also begin to feel your paternity, because it becomes possible to communicate with the child through the stomach, and you can already form a first impression of him: what he is like, what he does not like, how he reacts to external events, how long it takes to calm down …
During this period, your role doubles: for your wife you become a caring partner in life, and for a baby - a parent. All you need to do is to be a support for your wife and make it clear that she is loved, despite any changes that occur to her body.
The third trimester
The third trimester can be characterized as follows: “nesting and sleeping…”
The essence of this trimester is to experience 2 events:
to equip the “nest” and
prepare for childbirth.
Inevitably and unexpectedly for you, the wife will begin to show the nest-making syndrome, which is characterized by her completely irresistible desire to prepare a place for the child: buying a crib, various kinds of accessories for the child, etc. Even if your wife basically does not buy anything before the birth of the baby, you cannot avoid shopping.
And then your role may be to take a manly approach to evaluating the things you buy. If a stroller, for example, evaluate it in terms of functionality, ease of delivery, installation in an apartment, heaviness for a wife, rigidity for a child, etc. Here is the time to reveal yourself as a man - the head of the family!
We often have much more in us than we think. And pregnancy not only reveals a woman, but also enriches a man, making him stronger and giving him new skills and knowledge about himself. By the end of pregnancy, your wife will more and more “go away” into an internal state, as if glowing from the inside. She is psychologically and physiologically preparing for childbirth. She is almost ready to become a mother and ready to take care of the baby.
Your role is the role of an equal partner in organizing and living this event, as well as becoming a real father for the baby with all the rights to love him and all the duties to him: in saving his life and providing him with favorable conditions for health, growth and development .