How Find The Courage To Confront Bad Relationships When Pregnant

This article was written by Dr. Monika Patel:

" I stayed in a relationship with a perpetually unsupportive person for far too long. I let the fear of “failure” and hurting someone hold me back from making a change... until I became a mother. That’s when raw protective instincts came into play. This is where my journey into confidence began. This journey has navigated me through risky waters... but has led me to validate my emotions."

Leaving A Bad Relationship

At the core of human existence is the desire to be accepted. If you, in your pregnant state, do not feel that way, you and your baby’s well-being need to seek help and care. 

The Effects of Unhealthy Relationships

Non-supportive relationships can (and often do!) occur in all phases of life.

It can happen regardless of circumstance

Regardless of efforts to heal those relationships

Despite all your good intentions.

For many reasons, unsupportive behavior can feels sharper when you're pregnant.

So, let’s talk about that.

It’s important to know you aren’t alone. And there is never just one way to handle something.

Maybe your pregnancy was a surprise.

Maybe it was planned.

Either way, when pregnancy has become a reality, emotions can seem to come out of nowhere. It's easy to feel be blamed or shamed.

When Your Bad Relationship Is With Yourself

Swallowing the news that you are pregnant is such a bizarre feeling. It can create a lot of expectation, fear, joy, self-doubt, confusion, shock, denial, and grief all at once. It opens the door for a whole gamut of choices that feel like they have to be made while semi-blinded. How will your body change? How will your life change?

Self-support can look like many things.

  • It can be simply acknowledging that the pregnancy doesn’t feel right for where you are in life.
  • It can be just making it through your first trimester.
  • It can be thinking about shifting roles.
  • It can look like phoning a friend.
  • It can be talking with your doctor about all your options.
  • It can be going for a walk.

Whatever your feelings... allow yourself time to process the news.

When You Have A Bad Relationship With Your Partner

Domestic violence is defined as any behaviors that physically harm, intimidate, manipulate, or control a partner through violence, threats, emotional abuse, or financial control

I took a few psychology classes in college. And I never once thought to put myself in the category of being in an abusive relationship. I didn’t realize the definition was so broad. And now, looking at the checklist of signs of abusive behavior, all were present daily.

For years. I wish I had known resources like the DV hotlines were out there to process my confusion, and hurt.   I had no idea it was so common. ⅓ of women in the world experience intimate partner violence. That’s more than 12 million people...just in the US.

It takes DV survivors 7 times, on average to leave the relationship. Hope and forgiveness can be binding. The cycle of violence makes fear a paralyzing factor.

That being said... unsupportive partners aren't always abusive. It could take them some time to “come around”. Or perhaps there are just other emotions, fears, and logistics that need to be talked through.

The Bad Relationship With Your Siblings

When you tell your siblings about your pregnancy they might react hurtfully... without even meaning to. They might throw their perceptions of you at you, in ways that you don’t perceive yourself. For example, I had an expecting mother come to my clinic one day. She told me that when she told her brother she was pregnant, his response was, “Good luck with that. You can’t even remember to change the oil in your car.” 

The Unsupportive Parent(s) 

Our parent’s words seem to carry extra weight. Some parents might still see you as their baby. Because of this, they might say things that degrade your confidence or ability to parent. They might react hurtfully to the name you picked out for your baby. They might be a downer when you are feeling really excited. Just know that, even though respecting elders is important, so is boundary setting. 

The Unsupportive friend(s) 

Friends can often become estranged when motherhood arrives. There quickly becomes a line in the sand between people who Have Kids and those who Don’t Have Kids. I know in my own experience, it was a little tricky because parents who Already Have Kids were so dang busy. And those who didn’t...well...I felt like I didn’t want to hold them back from where they were in life. So, I ended up forming close relationships with:

  • Single friends who didn’t have kids...but love kids
  • People from a slightly older generation. They'd already had their children. And had the time (and desire!) to mentor me. 

The Unsupportive Workplace 

For me, the hardest one was unsupportive clients. In the professional setting, there can be extra red tape around what you can say and do. Advocating for your rights or your body can be an uphill battle. There are so many double standards out there. Like, it’s “acceptable” for a male patient to comment on how huge your baby belly looks. But you’d never dream of commenting about their non-pregnant abdominal girth. It takes practice, but “scripts” help in situations like that. Something you can say with a little detachment. Like “I’d prefer comments about my pregnancy to be kept to yourself,” for example. 

Here are some suggestions:

  • In the case of an emergency, call a helpline. 1-800-799-SAFE is the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
  • Seek a change of scenery. It could be a friend's or relative's house. Or it could be a cozy air BnB. Even just seek out some alone time at home.
  • Journal it out. Having feelings trapped in your mind can perpetuate the cycle of stress and anxiety. Writing things out can help exhume them from your mind.
  • Emotion-Focused Therapy. One of their main premises is that anger is a secondary emotion. If someone’s default reaction is anger... then likely they are unable to deal with deeper, primary emotions like sadness or fear healthily. Knowing this about yourself (and others!) as well as other insightful ways to tie emotion and communication together are invaluable.
  • There ARE supportive people out there who can lovingly meet you where you are. It doesn’t matter how you find them.

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