Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Feelings, relationships and pregnancy

6-minute read

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:

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.

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.

Related information

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2020


Back To Top

Need more information?

Relationship breakdown and divorce

A relationship breakdown and divorce can be a distressing time for everyone involved. Here are some coping strategies to help you and your child through it.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Relationships

We know all of these relationships are affected by the reality of pregnancy and impending parenthood some more than others.

Read more on Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) website

Healthy relationships for pregnant couples | Raising Children Network

Pregnancy is a great time to nurture healthy relationships, so that you’re prepared as a couple for parenthood. Read practical tips for pregnant couples.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Supporting your partner during her pregnancy

You can help your partner in many ways during pregnancy and childbirth. Your support will benefit her, your relationship and ultimately your baby.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Pregnancy: your essential guide | Raising Children Network

Our pregnancy guide has essential tips on antenatal care, healthy eating, exercise, morning sickness, your pregnant body, emotions, relationships and more.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Sex and relationships

Parenting can put a lot of pressure on your relationship. Here is advice to help you maintain your relationship and sex life after the birth of your child.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

The psychology of raising twins and multiples

Helping twins to understand the psychology of their relationship means going right back to conception. They've had to share space right from the time of conception, and that really sets the stage for sharing space right throughout life.

Read more on Twins Research Australia website

Pregnancy health problems & complications | Raising Children Network

Many pregnancy health problems are mild, but always call your doctor if you’re worried about symptoms. A healthy lifestyle can help you avoid health problems.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

5 weeks pregnant: Doctor appointments

Week 5 of pregnancy is the best time to have a pregnancy test. You can use a home pregnancy test but its still important to visit your doctor so that they can estimate your pregnancy due date. This may involve an early pregnancy ultrasound. You should also receive pregnancy health advice and discuss pregnancy folate supplements in the fifth week of pregnancy if you have not already done so. Its also a good time to make sure youre eating all the right pregnancy foods and start your pregnancy exercise routine.

Read more on Parenthub website

Preparing for pregnancy

COPE's purpose is to prevent and improve the quality of life of those living with emotional and mental health problems that occur prior to and within the perinatal period.

Read more on COPE - Centre of Perinatal Excellence website

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?

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.