Keeping relationships on track during your pregnancy

Friends, family, workmates, even your partner, all your relationships experience a bit of a shift once you’re pregnant. Here’s how to keep them sweet

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  • Now you’re pregnant, every waking moment is filled with preparing for motherhood. And somehow, you forget that not everyone else is pregnant too. While for you this is a wonderful, amazing change, it means people around you need to get to know a ‘new you’.

    “All your energy and attention is focused on your impending arrival and other people tend to fade into the background,” says Professor Harriet Gross, a psychologist specialising in pregnancy. “Plus, your emotions are more variable and you can become more excited or upset about things.”

    So, if you find a certain person in your life seems to have changed or become hostile, don’t panic. Your relationship are simply undergoing a 'relationshift'.

  • Dealing with...your man

    Making baby was fun but now you’ve got a bump, he feels left out emotionally and physically. “Men can be put off by their pregnant partner’s changing body, or scared of hurting them or the baby,” says Lin Griffiths from Relate for Parents (www.relateforparents.org.uk). “You might not feel sexual anymore, or you could be resentful over him not understanding what you’re going through.”

    What to do:

    Even if your man’s Mr Metrosexual , he’ll never understand what it’s like to be pregnant, so don’t expect him to. “Resentment is the biggest passion killer,” explains Lin. “Tell him how you’re feeling. Use sentences that begin with ‘I’ – as in ‘I’m very tired today and could do with a hand with the housework’, rather than ones that begin with ‘you’ (‘you never do the washing up’). Starting with ‘you’ sounds like an attack.”

  • Dealing with...your mum

    She’s dying to pass on her experiences but you want  to tell her, you're going to do it ‘your way’. You need her support but you want to forge your own ‘mum’ identity, too.

    What to do:

    Focus on what you do need to learn and see what she knows. Or help her ‘gen up’ by buying a grandparenting book. (We like The Good Granny Companion by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, £10.99, www.goodgranny.com). “Try to talk to her and involve her in the experience as much as you can. If you both love shopping, go out and choose baby clothes together. Or go round a garden centre – just to take time out to talk and spend time together,” says Dr Sandra Wheatley, author of Nine Women, Nine Months, Nine Lives (Potent Ltd, £9.99).

    “The bond I felt for my baby made me understand my mum’s experience as a mother. We made sure we spent lots of quality time together – shopping and talking about exciting times ahead,” said Katie Jeffreys, 30, from Leeds, mum to Freddy, 3, and Jack, 21 months.

  • Dealing with...your workmates

    You used to work hard and play hard. Now, you’ve got to take time off for antenatal appointments and you don’t stay as late as you used to. You get the feeling colleagues aren’t happy about what they see as your lack of commitment.

    What to do:

    Career expert Corinne Mills from Personal Career Management (www.personalcareermanagement.com) advises not to let things fester. “Don’t feel guilty or overcompensate by working through your lunch hour,” she says. “Say to them, ‘Is there something you want to talk about?’ By bringing it out in the open, you’re showing it’s their problem, not yours. As long as your boss is happy with your work, your ultimate concern is the health of you and your baby.”

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  • Dealing with...your boss

    You’ve either been given less to do and feel ‘shelved’ or the work’s piling up while you’re feeling more and more exhausted. If your boss is a parent and feels she coped, she might not be sympathetic. But her attempts to support you may feel patronising.

    What to do:

    Tackle the workload issue, not the fact you’re pregnant. “Have a meeting,” suggests Corinne Mills. “Say; ‘Realistically in the timescale I have, I can only do three of these tasks - which are the most important to you? I can do the others, but not until next week.”

  • Dealing with...your drinking buddies

    Bye-bye boozy nights on the town, and hello you being the only sober one. You’d rather stay at home than be the pregnant taxi driver for your mates. But they think you’ve dumped them.

    What to do:

    “It’s important to have friendships that aren’t based on children,” says Sandra Wheatley. “It’s good to go out and just be you, instead of a pregnant person.” Suggest dinners, cinema or shopping to avoid the booze. They might be relieved to have a quieter catch up, too.

    “I was the first of my friends to get pregnant, so I felt as though I shouldn’t talk to them about it and didn’t go on our usual nights out. Second time around though, most of them had children, so it was wonderful to share the experience. We all made an effort to get together and have some ‘us time’,” said Gillian Chew, 32, from Preston, mum to Amelia, 6, and Lexie, 5 months

  • Dealing with...your best friend

    You used to do everything together, from shopping to clubbing. But in the same way as a huge pay rise would set you apart, your bump is something she can’t relate to. And when you do meet, you know you’re talking about the pregnancy too much.

    What to do:

    Try to put yourself in her place. “Being pregnant is incredibly important to you, but it’s not necessarily as important to others around you,” says Professor Gross. “Your friend will be pleased and excited for you, but she’ll have equally important things happening in her life.” Set aside time to spend together and make an effort to talk about what’s going on with her – be it a new boyfriend, work worries, etc.

  • Dealing with...your know-it-all mum friend

    She was the one you were annoyed with for going on about her pregnancy when you were the girly mate. Now you should have something in common, but instead she’s acting like she’s a mum of 10!

    What to do:

    You need to calm her down or you’ll end up snapping. “Try the subtle approach first,” advises Sandra Wheatley. “If that doesn’t work, you might be able to tease her out of it.” Suggest a lunch date and jokingly declare that baby talk is off the menu. If she carries on, try the ‘I’ versus ‘you’ trick again, saying, “I feel smothered” rather than “You’re smothering me”.

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