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How To Handle A Breakup When You're Pregnant, According To Experts

It may be tricky, but it’s not impossible to navigate.

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Just like the old song goes, breaking up is hard to do. Now imagine going through it while expecting. But life happens sometimes, and you might find yourself having to figure out how to handle a breakup when you’re pregnant. While it might not be the most pleasant thing to do during your nine months, it might actually be the best thing for you and your baby in the long run.

Here’s the thing about pregnancy. Although it can be an emotional roller coaster at times, it can also bring tremendous clarity to your life, too. You see what makes sense in your life — and what doesn’t. And you might realize that your relationship is no longer working for you (or maybe you already knew it all along but didn’t want to acknowledge it). So kudos, because making the decision to end things during what truly is a vulnerable time in your life shows how strong you really are.

That said, parting ways still isn’t an easy decision to make. “Breaking up with your partner when you are pregnant is a really tough decision,” relationship expert Beth Sonnenberg, LCSW, tells Romper. “It is different than other break ups because you are going to still always be connected and probably remain in each other's life at some capacity as parents to your child.”

If you’re considering ending your relationship (or you’ve recently split up), these strategies will help you not just to survive the breakup, but allow both you and baby to thrive as well.

How To Break Up With Your Partner During Pregnancy

There are so many reasons why you and your partner might part ways while you’re pregnant. And still, it’s not too common, (a study found that more couples were likely to separate after a miscarriage or a stillbirth as opposed to those who experienced a live birth), which is why you might need some navigation on how to do it without causing additional complications or stress to your relationship or your health. You might feel the need to make a million decisions right away… but you don’t. “When you’re going through a separation, it's really important to triage decision making,” Diana Yanez, a certified financial planner, tells Romper. “What has to be decided now and what can wait until there's more clarity?” After all, a person in the midst of pregnancy needs as much stability as possible, Yanez points out. That’s why you should take some time to determine what has to be done now — and what can wait for later.


Assess how to positively co-parent

Lauren Bates, Getty images

If things just didn’t work out but you and your ex are committed to being good co-parents, well, you’re already ahead of the game. Try to keep the positivity going during the pregnancy by speaking with your ex-partner and working together. “If feasible, a working, positive, healthy dynamic with the other anticipated parent would be ideal to have, and the groundwork for that can start even before the baby is born, such as involving the other parent in the decision as to what the child is going to be named, whether there is going to be any religious ceremony respecting the child (such as a baptism or bris), and any other major decisions respecting the child,” says Rajeh A. Saadeh, a divorce and family law attorney in New Jersey. “There's no obligation for pregnant women to engage in that dialogue, and there is nothing requiring pregnant women to reach an agreement with the other parent on anything, but having those discussions at the outset, even if no agreement is reached, can start a workable co-parenting relationship for the benefit of all, including the baby.”


Figure out your financials

Apart from all the emotions that you’re experiencing, you also need to focus on your financial situation, too. You’re going to need a nest egg (literally) to care for baby, and it makes sense to start calculating how much you’ll need in dollars and cents right away. “Pregnant women going through a breakup should set themselves up for stability and independence as much as possible,” says Saadeh. “From ensuring that you have a job, to making sure you understand and take advantage of any maternity leave offered by your employer, to maximizing your income, you cannot assume that the other prospective parent will be willing, able, or court ordered to support you or your anticipated child.” And as you start the physical separation from your partner, you’ll need to do the same for your earnings as well, such as directing your direct deposit to a new bank account that only you have access to.


Keep yourself safe

Sometimes breakups can be bitter. If you think that your partner might react poorly to the suggestion of separation, take the necessary steps to keep you and your baby safe. “Pregnant women should protect themselves from any exposure to domestic violence that they may suffer in connection with the breakup and any steps that are taken along the way, and take care of themselves and their anticipated child,” Saadeh says.


Celebrate the separation

Breaking up doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. In fact, a separation sometimes has its advantages — especially if you’re leaving a toxic or abusive relationship. “It frees you up physically and mentally to put most of your life energy into your own health and happiness, which impacts your baby in a good way,” dating expert Trish McDermott tells Romper. a dating industry expert and co-founder of Meetopolis. “You can eat what your body is telling you it needs, not what your partner enjoys, sleep more, use your free time to exercise, walk, do yoga.”


Give yourself time to heal


The demise of a relationship can be emotional, even if it’s not working for you. And doing so while you’re pregnant might make it even more emotional. So give yourself the time you need to work through this experience. “The best way to move through a breakup while pregnant is to let the feelings flow,” says McDermott. “Cry, vent and confess to your friends, write poetry, listen to sappy music. Indulge, for a short time, in all the typical breakup feelings.” And then, when you’re ready, you can move onto bigger and better things — like the beautiful bonding experience you’re already having with your baby.


Lean on loved ones

If ever there were a time for gal pals, this would be it. Don’t think that you have to suffer through relationship withdrawal alone. “It's okay to ask for help, and you'll be surprised by the number of people who will step in to help you get through your pregnancy in big and small ways,” says McDermott. So reach out to your tribe, which might include friends, family, and neighbors.


Join a support group

If you thought you were the only preggo out there doing it solo, think again. There are lots of single mamas-to-be, and many are looking for a sense of community, just like you. So look for support groups (either online or in IRL) that can help you to feel less alone and offer solid strategies on how to enter this next chapter of your life with confidence and conviction (both of which you’ve already shown, by the way). “You'll find support online too, especially in dedicated communities that focus on women, parenting and connecting,” says McDermott. “Tell your story, step in for others, ask questions and reach out.”


Find distractions

Maskot, Getty images

Depending on the nature of your break up, you might need to look for someone who can fill your ex’s role. For example, if your ex was your birth partner or part of your birth plan, you may need to ask your BFF to help instead. “Be sure to substitute a best friend who is local and can be available,” says McDermott.


Consider dating again

Just because you’re rocking a bump doesn’t mean that you have to stay single for the duration of your pregnancy. “Once you've processed the relationship and breakup and have emotionally moved on, remember that there is no rule that says you can't date when you are pregnant,” says McDermott. Sure, it might be slightly unusual, but DWP (dating while pregnant) can be an exciting new phase in your life. And you just might be surprised how many men will be attracted to not only your glow, girl — but your strength, too.


Don’t blame yourself

When you’ve got a burgeoning belly, there’s just no time for the blame game. Sometimes, things just don’t work out, no matter how apparently ill-timed the falling out might be. So try not to feel guilty about the way things went, and be kind to yourself instead. “If you are judging yourself rather than being compassionate, you will make this time much harder for yourself,” Dr. Margaret Paul, Ph.D., a psychologist and relationship expert, tells Romper. “Do not judge yourself for your choice of your partner, for getting pregnant with this person, or for the break up.” Be as kind (and as forgiving) as possible so that you can focus on what matters most — the well-being of both you and your baby.

While it might not be exactly how you planned it, breaking up when you’re pregnant isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it might be the beginning of a wonderful new phase in your life that will inspire others (including your baby) to live their truth and do what’s best for them — no matter what the circumstances.

Sources interviewed:

Beth Sonnenberg, LCSW, relationship expert

Diana Yanez, a certified financial planner

Rajeh A. Saadeh, a divorce and family law attorney in New Jersey

Trish McDermott, dating industry expert and co-founder of Meetopolis

Dr. Margaret Paul, Ph.D., psychologist and relationship expert

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