There are no national statistics on the numbers of pregnancy breakups, but we’re guessing this happens more than anyone knows, given how many women we work with who got dumped when they got pregnant?
Some pregnancy breakups happen as soon as Prince Harming finds out you’re late and starts to ghost you. Other guys stick around briefly to make themselves feel good but then start in with all the “how do I know it’s mine” questions before they make you so miserable you can’t wait for them to be gone. Other guys do the “well, okay, I’ll help with the baby but not until it’s here” shtick, then you don’t see them again until they show up at the hospital– with their new girlfriend. Some pregnancy breakups happen when the mom-to-be comes to her senses about having to spend a lifetime with a guy she was never planning to have a baby with. And still others occur when pregnant women finally find the courage to leave an abusive partner (be forewarned: violence usually escalates during pregnancy, so if you need help getting away, click here or call your local family violence shelter.)
Breaking up during a pregnancy, however it comes about, can be particularly difficult, so do be gentle with yourself, if it happens to you, and get free counseling if you need it. (One place you can find pastoral care around the clock is through the KLOVE Helpline.) It’s normal to feel especially vulnerable during pregnancy, so be sure to ask your ob-gyn for local resources for support, also. (Abrazo offers free counseling day or night, so whether or not you’re considering adoption, if you need to talk with a counselor, we’re here to help: 1-800-454-5683.)
Know that the changing hormones of a pregnancy can make crises seem even bigger than they are, kind of opposite of the message on the side mirror of a car that says “objects in (the) mirror may be closer than they appear.” Try not to make any snap decisions when you’re dealing with the stress of a breakup and the stress of a pregnancy. Feel what you feel, but remember that things might look different after a long hot bath or a good night’s sleep.
Pregnancy Breakup Rule #1
If your relationship ends during pregnancy, the most important thing you can do is to make sure that mom and baby have everything they need, physically and emotionally. Pregnant women need shelter, food, medical care and emotional support, throughout pregnancy and afterwards, too. If a relationship is ending, the mom-to-be needs to know in advance where she’ll go, how she’ll care for herself and her child, and who she can count on. Abrazo provides that assistance for moms who are placing; other organizations (such as Single Parent Alliance of America, or Single Parent Family or Arms of Hope) offer aid to single parents who are parenting.
Pregnancy Breakup Rule #2
First things first: if you break up during pregnancy, you need to set up a new bank account, just in your name. Call it your “freedom fund” or whatever, but open a savings account and whenever babydaddy comes crawling back offering to help if you’ll just take him back, tell him to put his money where his mouth is and make deposits there to show you how much you can trust him. And you make deposits there, too, all through your pregnancy. It doesn’t matter how big or how small they are; what matters is that you are building a nest egg to assure yourself that you are taking care of you for the future. Don’t dip into it for any random expenses! Just keep adding to it, little bit by little bit, so you have the kind of peace of mind that money does buy, when you need it most.
Pregnancy Breakup Rule #3
Take the high road wherever you can, and remember: having a child (with or without the other parent) means you have to empower that child to love and respect the other parent (unless you place your child for adoption, in which case that becomes the adoptive parents’ responsibility.) Avoid social media drama, because if you’re pregnant, you don’t need any extra stress, right? Anything you post online is basically out there forever, so resist the urge to stalk your ex online or to blast him to the world, no matter how big of a shmuck he may be. Write your baby a letter detailing all the good things you remember about the dad, while you’re feeling hormonally generous, so your child has that someday to remind him or her of what a great mom you have always been.
Pregnancy Breakup Rule #4
If you’re planning to parent, then you need to do some research so you are clear on your rights and responsibilities and those of your child’s other parent. In Texas, for example, the other parent cannot be listed on your child’s birth certificate unless he is present at the hospital, so you can give your child your last name or his, but you cannot put him on the birth certificate without his consent (unless you’re legally married, in which case your husband must be listed– whether or not he’s the bio-dad.) A family law attorney can advise you as to how to pursue child support and what visitation agreements need to entail; Abrazo can provide information about adoption, if you are considering placement.
Pregnancy Breakup Rule #5
Never use a pregnancy to try to hold on to someone who doesn’t want to be with you. And always resist the urge to make up with someone whom you’ve broken up “just for your child’s sake.” This may surprise you, because normally, it is best for children to grow up in happy two-parent homes; however, the truth is that pregnancy is rarely (if ever) an experience that enables two people who shouldn’t be together to build a happy, lifelong relationship. And kids who grow up with parents who didn’t belong together to begin with usually grow up always knowing it, and bearing an unfair sense of responsibility for those unhappy unions. If you think maybe you and the father should give the relationship another chance, then go through couples’ counseling together to figure it out, but don’t just get back together for your kid, or your kid may end up paying for that mistake… and so will you.
A pregnancy is normally a forty-week-long phase in a woman’s reproductive cycle; a child’s life is a large, beautiful canvas out of which masterpieces can be created. And a breakup is just the universe’s signal that two persons are meant to seek out life in different directions. Just as pregnancy does not determine the entire course of a child’s future, nor does a pregnancy breakup define the worth or the potential of the people involved.
If you do experience a pregnancy breakup, know that while it may not be easy, it need not destroy you. Take heart! You’ve got this, and in time, that pregnancy breakup may prove to have been a blessing in disguise, so focus on you and your little one, and keep moving forward, one swollen step at a time.
The pain of pregnancy breakups have nothing over the power of a woman with the capacity to give birth– so onwards and upwards, girl!!