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 everyone around you needs 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’s undergoing a relationshift. Here’s how to deal with it if that person’s…
… Your man
Making baby was fun – now you’ve got a bump and 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. “You might not feel sexual anymore, or you could be resentful over him not understanding what you’re going through.”
Find the balance Even if your man’s Mr Metrosexual Of The Year, 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.”
… Your mum
She’s been dying to pass on her experiences – while you’re trying to tell her you want to do it ‘your way’. You need her support but you want to forge your own ‘mum’ identity, too.
Find the balance 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. “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.
… 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.
Find the balance Career expert Corinne Mills from Personal Career Management 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.”
… Your boss
You’ve either been given less to do and feel ‘shelved’ or the work’s still piling on while you’re 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.
Find the balance 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.”
… 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.
Find the balance “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.
… 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.
Find the balance 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.
… 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!
Find the balance 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”.