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’.

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“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’.

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Couples trying to conceive can find advice and support at The Fertility Show

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.”

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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.

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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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You need to tell your boss you’re pregnant 15 weeks before you’re due date. However, many women announce the news earlier, especially if an expanding bump or morning sickness give away the news.

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:

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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.”

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