This fact sheet will help prepare you for how pregnancy can impact on your relationship. It covers:
*Breaking the news
*How your relationship may change
*Adjusting to becoming parents
Breaking the news
Pregnancy whether it is planned or unplanned can be a surprise. The expecting partner may need to give them self time to get used to the idea, before telling their partner. They may feel scared, excited, or all over the place. This is perfectly normal after receiving life-changing news.
It is important to choose the right time to break the news. The expectant partner may want to ring their partner straight away and break the news, but it's worth thinking about their likely reaction. If they're busy at work they may not give the best response. Waiting until you are both at home, and have more time together, will give a chance for the news to sink in for you jointly. You're embarking on a journey together, so it's good to get off to a positive start.
Don't worry if either of you feels conflicted about the pregnancy early on. Many women and men worry about how the pregnancy and the coming baby will affect their relationship. Is your relationship strong enough to cope? There were two of you who are happy, now there will be three, and the dynamics will change.
Sometimes the non-expectant partner can react in ways that are less than positive to the news, even when the pregnancy is planned, perhaps through fear of the coming responsibility. They may exhibit signs of this through withdrawing, or being less than wholehearted about the news. Though this may feel disappointing, try to give them a bit of time to adjust.
If the non-expectant partner is not able to be immediately supportive, the pregnant partner may want to find an understanding ear from a close friend. In time nearly all partners adjust to the idea of parenthood, but it may take them a bit longer.
How your relationship may change
Even in the early days of pregnancy the pregnant partner will feel differently to how they normally do. They are likely to be more tired and vulnerable. They may feel weepy or irritable. Some pregnant women feel content but have little energy. About 70% of pregnant women have morning sickness at any time of the day.
The pregnant partner is changing throughout their pregnancy, which will have an impact on how they feel about them self and their body.
When change occurs, the partner of the pregnant woman has to adjust to that change. This can sometimes cause conflict for couples, who may be used to their partner being a certain way.
Defuse arguments by being as open as possible about what you're both feeling and experiencing, and that should help bring you closer together. Pregnancy should be a special shared experience, but both parties are experiencing different things.
Pregnancy is a time when expectant women look inwards. They may find the changes they are going through scary as well as exciting and their partners may feel a bit left out, unsure of how best to offer support.
If your partner is pregnant, ask them how you can help, and what they need from you.
Top tip: take time out for yourselves as a couple, away from domestic chores and other stressors, to be together relaxing.
In the final stages of pregnancy from month seven onwards, mothers to be are likely to find that they need to rest more, and not be so active at home or socially. This is the time to take the pressure off from housework and cooking.
The pregnant partner should let their partner know what their limits are physically, and negotiate between the two of you how the chores will get done. Is there a family member who could help out? Perhaps hiring a cleaner would offer practical support.
Try to get the help and support that you need as a couple, so you are using your energies for each other, not just to work and sort out the house.
Adjusting to becoming parents
The changes in an expectant mothers body can make her feel less - or more sexy. She may find that she needs reassurance that her partner still finds her desirable, and sees her as a woman as well as the mother of their child. Let your partner know if you feel insecure, and discuss any issues there are around your sexual relationship.
Couples find that gentle massage, touching and hugging can help them to bond as a couple. If you feel sexy, don't hold back just have fun finding a comfortable position.
You are soon to be parents, which will be very demanding as well as rewarding. Its a good time to plan a special holiday, and do things you've always wanted to do as a couple, to make the most of this time together before the baby arrives.
Preparing to be parents can bring you closer together if the experience is shared, and both parties are truly involved. If there are a few rows along the way as you adjust to becoming parents, this is normal, as life change may rise emotional temperatures.