Written by Psychologist, Nikolina Miljus
Breaking up is not easy at any time of life but it’s even harder when you’re pregnant.
When a breakup happens during pregnancy, finding an effective way to deal with it is so vital because you’re no longer responsible only for yourself.
You could be the most understanding person in the world or even the one who ended the relationship, but that doesn’t mean that the breakup doesn’t still hurt.
Not only are your emotions more intense due to the influx of the pregnancy hormones, but you are in a such a vulnerable psychological position too.
Your expectations and hopes for the relationship, pregnancy, and motherhood all get crushed by the breakup.
Seeing that your hopes and dreams are likely not going to be real is painful, and the post-breakup recovery involves rebuilding your expectations from the ground up.
Most moms-to-be don’t picture themselves as single moms and the thought of it can be a bit overwhelming.
Being a single mom is more difficult emotionally as well as financially.
On top of all usual pregnancy worries, a breakup during pregnancy also awakens feelings of loneliness, sadness, and stress that can detract from the joy of welcoming a new baby.
Getting over a breakup in pregnancy is a grieving process.
It will take time, but there are coping strategies you can use to help guide you through each stage.
Here are the ten essential ways that can help you deal with the breakup in pregnancy.
1. Give yourself time to grieve
Even if you and your partner ended your relationship under the most civilized conditions imaginable, the breakup will still hurt.
Your rational mind might fully understand that the breakup is something you have to accept and move on from, but your emotions need some time to settle in.
It’s perfectly OK to be a crying mess in the days and weeks after the breakup. Give yourself space to let your feelings out.
Some women react in the opposite way when faced with the stress of breakup in pregnancy: they are calm, plan and act.
This doesn’t mean the emotions are not there. They may just come out at a later time.
Pregnancy hormones can make emotions more intense, and this is why it’s essential you find a close friend, family member, or even a helpline to share what you’re going through.
2. Step back from the past and move into the future
Clearing away all reminders of your relationship from your house and moving as far away from your ex as possible are simple and effective ways to save yourself from hurt in the post-breakup period.
If it means throwing away that sweet teddy he got you last Valentine Day and trashing the pictures of the two of you, do it.
You’ll save yourself from being reminded of what could have been each time you see the trinket or get in touch with mutual friends.
Holding on to reminders will make things more difficult than they already are.
If you can’t bare the thought of throwing things away, put everything in a box and put it in your garage or basement.
3. Cope with stress more effectively
A relationship ending while you’re pregnant is stressful.
Intense feelings have a physical impact on your body and too much stress can impact your baby.
Developing babies are very resilient and smaller amounts of stress hormones won’t leave any noticeable impact on their development.
However, if you feel like you’re grieving over the breakup for too long and things are not getting better at all in two to three weeks, reach out to a friend, family, or a medical professional.
Help is out there and you should not be going through a difficult situation like this alone.
4. Realize that breakups in pregnancy happen more often than you think
When the initial blow of your new situation settles in it’s important to start looking at things rationally.
Most moms don’t fantasize about raising a child alone and having your dreams crushed by the breakup hurts.
But you are not the first or the last woman to be single during her pregnancy.
Women have raised children on their own since the dawn of time.
Chances are you can think of at least one example from your social circle as there are 13.7 million single parents in the US alone.
Yes, the situation might be less than ideal, but it is not the end of the world.
The critical element that can make a difference in how well you’ll manage as a single mom-to-be is the amount of financial and social support from the people closest to you.
Having a baby is expensive whichever your situation is, and sorting out the financial basics will help you feel stronger and more secure.
There is no shame in asking for help, even if you need to contact a local helpline or support group.
Trying to handle everything on your own makes things far more difficult than they should be.
Reach out and get as much support as you can, both financially and socially.
6. Know that you are stronger than you believe
Feeling a new life growing inside your body awakens strengths you didn’t know you had.
Men and women look at pregnancy differently because as the person carrying the baby you share a close physical connection with your developing baby.
There is energy and strength in this connection.
As your pregnancy moves forward and your feelings about your ex-partner change (and they will change), the priorities in your life will turn too.
The responsibility for the new life you’re bringing into the world can be overwhelming but it is also an opportunity to change direction.
Your relationship is no longer the center of the world; you and your baby’s wellbeing are.
7. Weigh up your options and decide on your priorities
The initial post-breakup period is when your emotions are at their highest.
This is not the time for you to make any major decisions, whether it is about continuing the pregnancy or about how much the father will be involved in your child’s life.
When you’re emotionally vulnerable, you’re more susceptible to being pressured into making decisions that are not truly yours.
This is why the best approach is to wait a while until you can confidently feel your choices are 100% yours.
If you’re faced with a time-sensitive decision, seek out an unbiased opinion from someone you trust.
8. Try understanding where he’s coming from
Whatever the reasons for your breakup were, you have a better chance of overcoming things if you try to understand your partner’s position.
This doesn’t mean you justify or accept bad behavior.
It just enables you to get perspective and some peace of mind.
Men have a different emotional connection to pregnancy and fatherhood than women do.
For you, pregnancy is something intensely intimate and emotional, and for him, the pregnancy may not have the same emotional color.
This is why your ex might seem so cold and rational when you’re talking about your baby.
9. Deal with the Practicalities
Once you’re able to look at your former relationship more calmly, you’ll need to think about how involved you want the father be in your child’s life.
This decision is not about you and your feelings.
Instead, you need to look at it from your child’s perspective and think about the future.
However, if communicating with your ex only results in more stress and negative emotions, then you also need to consider protecting your wellbeing and consider involving an impartial third party to mediate.
Of course, if you are in a situation where your ex doesn’t want to be involved in your baby’s life at all, there is not much you can do aside from pursuing financial support once baby has arrived.
It is a sad situation, but for your and your baby’s sake, it’s far better to move on and find support in people who care about you.
10. Raise your child in a happy environment
As you’ll come to discover over the nine months of your pregnancy, what matters the most is you and your baby’s happiness.
If this means that the baby’s biological father can’t be a part of your lives, then that is the situation you need to live with.
Creating a positive and conflict-free home that nurtures your baby’s development is more essential.
Regular contact with the biological father and establishing a routine is positive for your child, but it is a process you both need to work on.
For your child to be happy you need to be happy too.
Try not to allow that negative experience with your ex leave a lasting impact on how you perceive all men in the future.
And be kind to yourself.
There is no benefit in dwelling on what has happened in the past and blaming yourself.
This can only lead to disappointment and resentment, and prevent you from enjoying your life as a mother.
You deserve to be loved, looked after and happy so put your energy into that.