Relationships and sex

Pregnancy can greatly affect your relationship with your partner. Deciding to try for a baby can bring a new level of emotional closeness and intensity - and of course having sex is at the heart of becoming pregnant. One woman said her partner was disappointed she got pregnant so quickly as he had hoped for 'a long campaign' of frequent sex. Of course the fun of having sex can give way to anxiety and stress if a couple are having problems getting pregnant.

Several women had lost interest in sex once they became pregnant. In some cases this was partly for fear of causing a miscarriage, although there is no evidence that this is something to worry about (doctors may advise women who have had repeated miscarriages not to have sex in the early weeks to be on the safe side). Sometimes it was the male partner who worried about harming the baby (see NCT - National Childbirth Trust).

Some women were keen to maintain a good sex life in pregnancy, although feeling tired or ill in the first few weeks could be a problem. Several women said they doubted if they were still attractive, but their partners tried to reassure them. One father felt strongly this was part of his role.

While some people found pregnancy strengthened their relationship, for others it created new tensions and in some it led to a break-up. One mother who had an unplanned pregnancy explained why she thought some women felt the need to get out of an unsatisfactory relationship for the baby's sake. She had read that domestic violence sometimes started in pregnancy, and wondered if this was because women became less tolerant and more challenging about their partner's behaviour.

Another single mother had often felt angry during pregnancy and took this out on her family. Her GP gave her helpful advice. Her relationship with her partner also broke up.

Another mother found it difficult to maintain a relationship with her partner when she discovered that her baby had a diaphragmatic hernia and was unlikely to survive. Relationships do sometimes break down after stressful experiences like this; as she said 'you can't support each other because you're too busy with your own grief'.

Amanda was upset she was taken by a social worker to get contraception on her way home from giving birth to her daughter. (See Learning disability and pregnancy).

Last reviewed May 2017.
Last updated
May 2017.



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