Relationships In Pregnancy
Whether this is your first baby together or you have other children, each new arrival will make changes to your relationship with your partner. During pregnancy there is a lot to think about for both parents.
Alongside this pregnancy hormones can make you feel very emotional. Pregnancy illnesses and tiredness can make it a difficult at times. You may find it hard to know how best to support each other. This can cause misunderstandings and arguments.
The most important thing you can do is talk to each other;
- Give each other time to really explain how you feel. Try not to interrupt.
- Rather than using blaming words ‘you do this / you don’t do that’ describe how you feel; ‘I feel upset when… ‘
- Set time aside to be together - going for a walk, a swim or watching a film.
- Talk about your new baby what you feel excited about and what you feel worried about. Make plans together to get prepared for the baby.
Talk to each other about how you will cope together in the early days.
- What are the things that ‘have to be done’ who will do what? Whilst you are recovering from the birth your partner will need to do more.
- How will you make sure you both get as much rest as you can? It is a tiring time – accept that you both might get a bit snappy – plan how you will manage this together.
- Neither of you have to be perfect – having a new baby is a huge life event – it brings a lot of joy but it can feel hard too.
- Understand the different pressures on each of you and be patient with each other.
- Remember to praise each other for the things that are going well. It is easy to focus on negatives and this can make you lose confidence in yourself and each other.
For more relationship advice and support Click Relationships have good information.
If you are arguing a lot of the time and finding it hard to talk together you might find couple counselling useful. This can help you learn ways to communicate better when you are under pressure. Find local Relationship Counselling Services *here*.
Some relationships are unhealthy and abusive. Find out more about what abuse is *here*. Sometimes this becomes more obvious, or gets worse, during pregnancy.
It is very important that babies are not around abusive relationships either before or after they are born. It puts them at risk of physical or emotional harm.
You may have worries that there is abuse in your relationship. As parents you need to be sure that your baby is safe. Look at the pages about Domestic Abuse on Just One Norfolk.
Please talk to one of your health professionals if you are worried. They will not judge you. They can help you and your partner get support.
Family and friends can be an important part of the support network for both parents and for your little one.
Share your thoughts and feelings about the baby with loved ones. This gives you the chance to get the support you need from them. They may have had some of the same feelings and experiences and have helpful advice on how they coped.
When you are expecting a baby, it can feel like everyone has an opinion or advice on what you should or should not do. It can feel overpowering and frustrating.
When deciding whether a piece of advice works for you ask yourselves;
- How up to date is it? Is it safe? Advice changes quickly as experts learn new things for example Safer Sleep Advice has changed a lot and reduced sudden infant death rates.
- Does it fit with how you want to care for your baby? Keep to what feels comfortable and right to you.
- Can you find out more about what they have suggested? Speak to your midwife or health visitor or ring Just One Number on 0300 300 0123.
- If your baby could talk what would they say about what has been suggested? For example ‘picking your baby up when he cries you will spoil him’ your baby might say ‘but Mummy and Daddy I feel scared and lonely if you don’t come to me’.
Remember this is your baby and it is for you both as parents to make decisions together about what you think is best for you and your family.
When people offer advice you disagree with it can be hard to know what to say. Things you could try are;
- ‘That is an interesting idea – we will give it some thought.’
- Change the subject.
- Say ‘this feels the right way for us at the moment – but thank you, it’s good to know you care about us.’
- Explain that your GP/ Midwife/ Health Visitor have said ‘new research shows that it should be done like this now’.
Some of the ‘old ways’ of doing things have been shown to be harmful to babies so keep calm and be firm about what you want to do.
If people offer to help now or once baby arrives say yes! It is good to have help with the practical side of having a new baby in the house.
Offers of meals, shopping, dog walking and laundry can make a massive difference. You can focus on getting to know your little one and resting when you can.
If you and / or your partner have other children sharing the news of a new baby and preparing them for the new arrival is a special time.
Lots of parents feel a bit anxious too - about how this will affect their older children and their relationship with them. This is normal and to be expected, a new baby is a big change for everyone.
When to tell older children that you are having a baby is a personal decision. It is a good idea to take some time to get used to the news yourself first. Some people like to wait until the first few weeks have passed and they have more information about when baby is due and how the pregnancy is progressing.
When deciding the right time think about how old they are and how you think they will cope with the news. Things you might want to think about;
- Nine months can seem a very long time for children! Children don’t really understand time until they are around six years old.
- The idea of a baby growing in your tummy is hard for very little children to understand especially before there is much to ‘see.’
- Older children might overhear you talking about the baby and find out that way so be careful of who you tell before them.
Whatever age your child is try not to expect too much from them when you decide to tell them.
- May not understand what you are telling them
- Will need you to repeat the news little and often
- Need help to understand what being a big brother/sister means– try reading story books about this – your local library will be able to help.
Help prepare your little one by getting them used to any changes to come before baby arrives. For example if your partner, or other loved ones will need to be putting them to bed, or collecting them from nursery begin this before baby is born.
Keeping to routines and boundaries will help your child feel secure and cared for when the baby is born.
- Might be excited straight away. They might be upset. Some children will need more time to get used to the idea. Be prepared to keep going back to the subject over the weeks to come.
- They might want to be very involved in the preparations or prefer to take a back seat. Be lead by them.
- Older children will need reassurance about the changes to come. They might feel worried about how you will carry on making time for them.
It can be hard for children to share how they are feeling about such big news. Keep an eye on how they are behaving they may become quiet or they may be loud – their actions may show you how they feel. Find time to spend with them to talk about what you have noticed and give them the chance to talk about their thoughts and feelings.
If they seem negative about the new baby try not to be stressed by this. Let them be honest about their worries. Knowing you value their feelings is important and likely to reassure them they are still just as important to you as ever. Feeling secure in their relationship with you will help them build a positive relationship with their brother or sister.
Whatever the age of your older child/ children take time during your pregnancy to be together. Avoid all conversations being about the baby and take time to focus on them. This is a great habit to get into now and to carry on after the birth.
Who can Help?
If you feel worried and want more advice you can speak to your midwife.
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.
See, Hear, Respond - Best Beginnings and Barnado's are providing free support to pregnant families and new parents struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.