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Feelings, relationships and pregnancy

9-minute read

Key facts

  • Pregnancy can mean the beginning of a new stage in your life, which can cause many changes and a range of emotions.
  • It's important to look after yourself and recognise if you are finding it difficult to manage from day to day — talking about your feelings can be the first step towards feeling better.
  • It is normal for expectant parents to experience ups and downs.
  • Pregnancy will bring about big changes in your life, as well as you partner's, so communication is even more important to help nurture your relationships.

Pregnancy and change

Pregnancy can mean the start of a new stage in your life, and for some, it will change how you live your life. People often talk about changes such as cravings, fatigue, nausea (morning sickness) and body shape. There are also changes, like needing to negotiate new work arrangements and planning your finances, that can make this a difficult time.

As well as physical, financial and social changes, you might experience emotional changes during pregnancy too. Mixed emotions are a normal and necessary part of getting ready to become a parent.

Like unexpected physical health complications (for example, high blood pressure), mental health challenges can affect you 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 and this is starting to affect your life, it's time to seek help.

If you are worried you might hurt yourself or your baby, you can call Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA — 1300 726 306), Lifeline (13 11 14), or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636). If your life is in danger, call triple zero (000).

Preparing for being a parent

It can be helpful for both parents to learn about ways to help themselves through this time of change.

Helpful ways to prepare include to:

  • read parenting books
  • ask family members and friends about their experiences as new parents
  • think about who might be able to provide support if and when you need it

It can also help to develop a support network with others who are pregnant, or who have children of a similar age.

While planning is important, it is also good to remember that you can't prepare for everything and unexpected changes are likely to happen.

Your emotions during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a challenging and exciting time. It is normal for you or your partner to experience ups and downs. For some, anxiety and depression during pregnancy can affect their daily lives.

Look out for these symptoms of anxiety and depression during pregnancy:

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, as well as reasons for feeling closer and more loving.

Communication can help nurture your relationship during pregnancy. Here are some tips:

  • 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 how you'll make time for yourself and time for your partner.
  • Discuss how you'll share household tasks now and after the baby is born.

Your relationships with family and friends

Pregnancy is a special time for you and your partner. There may also be other people around you who are excited by your pregnancy, such as your family and friends. People can offer help in all sorts of ways, and you'll probably be happy to have their support. Sometimes, you may need to put limits on outside help, for example, if it feels 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.

Involve your birth partner in antenatal classes if you can, and let them know what you want from them. It may help to discuss your birth plan with them so that they understand what you think you will want for labour.

Coping if you're alone

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.

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.

If you do not have a partner, you can also ask your midwife or doula if there are antenatal classes in your area that are run especially for singles.

Plan ahead

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. Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends and family. You may find the best source of support is other single parents. If you don't already know people locally, contact other parents through local groups. You can also contact your local council to see what services are available in your area.

Resources and support

If you are worried you might hurt yourself or your baby, call one of the following:

Download the Beyond Blue guide for pregnant women, new mums and other carers.

Read more on support options for single parents.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.


PANDA (Adjusting to change during pregnancy), COPE (Antenatal Anxiety), COPE (Antenatal depression), Jean Hailes (New parents), COPE (Managing advice from others), COPE (Talking to someone), COPE (Relationships with extended family)

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Last reviewed: August 2022

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Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

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