Pregnancy brings a major change to life as you know it.
In most ways, you think you’re prepared for the new things ahead.
But what happens if you’re also dealing with an unsupportive partner during pregnancy?
Pregnancy can actually be the hardest time in a relationship or marriage for many mothers and their partners.
What if you feel alone and unsupported during a time that’s meant to be full of hope and joy?
How pregnancy can affect your relationship
We tend to think of pregnancy as a wonderful life event – and it is! But it can also be a very difficult time for couples.
Often the focus is solely on the pregnancy, and the emotional connection between two people takes a back seat.
Pregnancy can bring with it a sense of impending change. You or your partner might not be prepared for how intense that feeling is. You might not have the tools to cope with anxiety or frustration, and you vent it in anger instead.
Your body is at the mercy of hormonal changes that can cause a lot of emotional upheavals.
This can be confusing for your partner, especially as a lot of what goes on in the first trimester is pretty much invisible.
You might look the same, but you’re extremely exhausted, nauseous, and irritable.
Your partner could be feeling overwhelmed about how to provide for a family, or wondering whether he’ll be a good father.
In some expectant dads, this triggers a ‘fight or flight’ response because they’ve never been taught or modeled how to express their feelings.
How should your partner treat you during pregnancy?
Ideally, during pregnancy, couples will build a stronger bond than ever before. They’re creating a family, and for many couples, this is a time when they realize how their own upbringing has formed who they are as adults.
Men aren’t doing the physical pregnancy bit so they don’t always understand the reality of how hard it can be.
The most important thing a man can do for his pregnant partner makes her feel more loved and secure than ever before.
15 Great Ways To Support Her During Pregnancy is a great read for all partners of pregnant women.
Is it normal to fight with your partner during pregnancy?
It’s actually quite normal to disagree more frequently during pregnancy. But it’s how you both deal with it that matters.
If you have a healthy relationship, you’re more likely to weather this stage. If your relationship was already having difficulties, pregnancy can bring many new emotions to the table.
Although we envision the perfect scenario, so many things can go differently than we expect during this time.
Some examples might be:
- You’re in a relationship with the child’s father and are arguing more than usual
- Your relationship was already breaking down when you got pregnant
- You’re not with the father of the child and didn’t intentionally get pregnant
- Your partner’s mood seems to have changed since you got pregnant
- Your mood seems to have changed since you got pregnant.
Planned pregnancy but now unsupportive husband
It can be a shock if you had looked forward to getting that positive home pregnancy test, and then you find your partner is less than enthusiastic about being a parent.
We’re more aware of what to look for in women, but about 1 in 10 men also experience antenatal or postnatal depression.
These are some of the symptoms to look out for in your partner:
- Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Mood swings
- Change in appetite
- Sadness or crying
- Sleep or memory problems.
The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses that the risk of men experiencing depression is increased by 50% when their partners also experience prenatal depression.
Relationship breakdown during pregnancy
If you and your partner planned your pregnancy and now he’s being unsupportive, chances are that he’s experiencing one of these:
- Prenatal depression
- Jealousy over your relationship with the baby
- Worry or stress about finances
- Pressure of feeling the need to provide or protect
- Doubt about what the future will bring
- Stress about feeling as though everything has changed
- A feeling he’s not needed
- Confusion or distress about watching you change from his partner to the mother of his child
- Feelings about your body changing, including your post-birth weight
- Worries about the birth, being a parent, or the effect a baby will have on your relationship
- If you already have one child or more, concerns he won’t be able to love all of your children in the same way
If your partner has become unsupportive during pregnancy, it doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t want the baby. It could be that you both experience the same situation from different perspectives.
Having an unsupportive partner doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship is in danger of breaking down.
Insensitive partner during pregnancy
As much as we hope our partners will be just as excited as we are during pregnancy, sometimes that isn’t the case.
They could be having trouble coping for one of the reasons above. Or they simply might not be as excited about having a baby as you are.
This can lead to depression or behaviors such as:
- Generally being unsupportive
- Showing a lack of interest in the pregnancy or baby
- Displaying anger towards the pregnant woman or baby
- Showing stress in other destructive ways
Knowing the difference between being insensitive and being abusive is important.
Unfortunately, during pregnancy women are at greater risk of experiencing domestic violence from their partners, whether it’s for the first time or the abuse escalates. Abuse ranges from physical to emotional, and even financial.
If you’re experiencing abuse or family violence, seek advice from local support organizations to keep you and your baby safe.
If you’re in immediate danger, call your local emergency number.
How do I deal with an unsupportive partner during pregnancy?
What can you do if you find yourself with an unsupportive partner during pregnancy?
The good news is there’s plenty of support out there.
Relationship troubles during pregnancy are more common than you’d think.
There are plenty of places where you can find the support you need.
Here’s where you can go if you’re experiencing struggles of this kind:
- Mental health professionals
- Relationship classes
- Individual therapy
- Childbirth education classes
- Your doctor, midwife, or health care professional
Selfish husband during pregnancy
If you think that you or your partner are experiencing depression while you’re waiting for baby, or if you feel your husband is being selfish therapy could be the best option.
You can go together or you can go alone.
Your partner might have strong feelings either way, so go with what works for your life.
A well-trained therapist:
- Works with people who want to learn better communication and understanding skills
- Help find the reasons for any challenges or distress
- Addresses any mental health conditions of either partner that might need attention before baby arrives
- Helps those who have mental or physical health conditions to take steps so they can feel in control
- Helps men feel like they are as much a part of the birth, delivery, and parenthood journey as their partners are
- Gets to the root of why partners might have problems with being supportive
- Helps the husband find his role
- Addresses any attention or jealousy distress partners might be feeling
- Addresses concerns about parenting the child
- Addresses concerns about changes in a woman’s body
- Addresses any fear or concerns partners have about past difficult pregnancies or births
- Helps couples come together to acknowledge and discuss all the impacts a child will have on the relationship
- Addresses any self-esteem challenges women or partners are having
- Helps partners face the pressures of work or supporting the family
Your therapist should be able to keep the focus of your communication on the reasons for your partner’s lack of support, without getting side-tracked into arguments or blaming.
Boyfriend not supportive during pregnancy
There’s not a lot of support for men during pregnancy and after the birth.
Childbirth education classes are a great sources of support. Your partner may be feeling uninvolved in the pregnancy and classes can really change that perspective.
Everyone in the group is experiencing the same thing and can support one other.
Chatting with other fathers might even help him.
Getting advice and tips from others dads, on any concerns or problems he has, could make all the difference.
Your group can even offer relationship advice or tips on how to connect with each other.
And, who knows, some of these people could be your friends after you’ve had your children.
Can stress hurt your baby?
Stress is a normal human response to certain situations. In most cases, a little bit of stress is protective, as it keeps us from making bad or destructive choices.
Ongoing or chronic stress, though, is not a healthy state of being for anyone, especially pregnant women and their babies.
Make sure you take steps to manage stressful feelings, whether that means sorting out relationship problems or making time for self-care each day.
Stress During Pregnancy – How Does Stress Affect Pregnancy? has more information.
Ending a relationship while pregnant
Today’s social expectations of how a family should look are very different from those existing only a few decades ago.
Research suggests the nuclear family of mother, partner, and baby is as popular as ever and best for the health of the child.
Although this is obviously the ideal situation, ending your relationship while pregnant could be the only option if your partner isn’t on board with resolving conflict, or has become abusive.
Past abusive behavior is a good predictor of future abusive behavior.
Make sure you can assess whether your partner is being unsupportive or abusive.
Know your rights and, if necessary, make an escape plan or call emergency services.
Your family welfare must come first. If you feel threatened, it’s important you’re able to get to a place where you feel safe.