Divorcing While Expecting
What’s more stressful than getting a divorce?… Getting a divorce when you’re pregnant. When you’re pregnant and trying to figure out and settle on what you’re going to do with your home, how assets will be divided, and who will keep the dog, things only become more stressful, exhausting and emotional. If you have firmly decided that you are absolutely moving forward with the divorce because it’s what’s best for you and your child (or children), you’ll need some help. Yes, it will be tough; yes, you’ll have added stress when your hormones are already all over the place, but you can and will make it. If you’re divorcing while expecting, here are some tips that can help you get through.
1. Feel Your Feelings
It’s important to let women know that it’s not only okay, but that you should allow yourself to feel sad, disappointed, upset and hurt when you’re going through such a devastating life change. The only way to grow from it all is to feel your feelings. Let yourself experience those emotions and have them move through you instead of bottling them up and having them hold on to you. There are too many women that hold on to the bitterness and pain of divorce and it doesn’t help them eventually become happy, find peace and recognize the beauty with this new chapter in their lives.
2. Don’t Rush into Another Relationship
You may feel that being in a new relationship is the best thing for you because you will have constant support. I can image that being “single” while pregnant is scary, however, I have been told by one mom that she really regrets rushing into a relationship while she and her husband were getting a divorce (while she was pregnant). She told me that she never gave herself the time to grieve her marriage and mentally process the divorce before her baby came. It affected her new relationship as time passed and it only brought more drama and turmoil during the end of her pregnancy, her birth, and the first months of parenting. Before getting into another relationship, she recommends focusing on you and the baby and reflecting on what happened in your marriage so that you don’t repeat the pattern in your next relationship.
3. Try to Communicate
I know… the last thing you want to do is communicate with your soon-to-be ex-husband. That’s a reason why you’re getting a divorce. But you have to keep trying to communicate because you will soon have a little reason that will forever connect the two of you together; your child. If communicating with him is something that is close to impossible, I recommend seeking out a good therapist or counselor that specializes in helping couples during divorce and helping parents co-parent. A counselor can help both of you learn better communication skills and they can help you work through the emotions of a divorce while pregnant so that you can hopefully build a stable co-parenting relationship for your child.
4. Plan Ahead
Once you have worked on your communication, come to an agreement about child support and visitation. It’s better to figure that out sooner rather than later. If you don’t incorporate these terms into your divorce decree, you’ll have to go back to court at a later time to have these settled. It’s painful to go through it, but save yourself from further emotional and financial pain by getting these established ahead of time. Which brings me to my next point…
5. Get Legal Advice & Understand the Laws in Your State
Find an attorney that you can trust (one that specializes in divorce) so that you can turn to him or her for advise. He or she can help you better understand what you should prepare for and what you can expect. Something that you need to look into are the laws in your state regarding pregnancy during divorce. Your attorney can help with this. Some states will not allow you to file for divorce if you’re pregnant; you will have to wait until after your baby is born to file. Other states won’t finalize your divorce until after you deliver your baby. Whatever the case is, the timing of your divorce could have long-term ramifications on your ex’s parental rights and responsibilities so be sure to discuss all of this with your attorney.
6. Build Your “Village”
I know that I’ve said this before, but it’s vital that you start building your “village”. These are the people that you can turn to when days get tough. Pregnancy can be hard on it’s own so think of the people who are in your life that can lift you up and help you when you need a hand and are feeling down. This could be family, friends, neighbors, church members, doulas, support groups, etc. Just remember that you do not have to do this alone.
7. Take Care of YOU
During tough times and major life changing events (like divorce) it can be difficult to be kind to yourself and take care of you. So many people find themselves not eating enough or eating too much, not exercising, not getting enough sleep, not finding ways to heal, etc. when they are experiencing a break up. But you are pregnant. You must remember that there is life growing inside of you. Not only is self-care helping you during this transition, it is helping your child start a happy and healthy life. Make an effort to continue to take care of yourself and do the things that bring you joy.
Hopefully your ex will want to be (because he should be) involved in your child’s life. I get that it can be tough to continue a relationship with your ex (even when it’s only a co-parenting relationship), but ultimately, if it’s in the best interest of your child, you must find a way to make it work. Prepare yourself ahead of time for these growing pains and see a family therapist, sign up for a co-parenting class, and read some books on co-parenting.
9. Know That You’re Not Alone
Because you are going through an incredibly difficult life changing event while pregnant, this puts you at risk for postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. It is completely normal to feel sad and upset at this time. However, if you recognize that these feelings are continuing or worsening and you’re having a harder time finding things that bring you joy, or you begin to have thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby, you must say something. Many women feel that they will be judged and labeled as a bad mother, but you are not. This is treatable and you can be helped. Speaking up is taking care of you and your baby. I recommend speaking with your OB or midwife. He or she can help you find a therapist so that you can get some help and not feel alone.
10. Learn to Ask for and Accept Help
I don’t know what it is about women, but we feel that we need to do everything on our own. (Myself included.) We know that we are capable of doing it all (because we can) and we don’t want to burden anybody else. I recognize that this is silly, but this is especially silly if you are going through a divorce while pregnant. We have to learn that it’s okay to ask for help and accept help when offered. Let people assist you when preparing for baby; let them bring you freezer meals or help you clean your house. Whatever it may be, you will be incredibly happy later on that you asked or accepted their help.
Getting a divorce during pregnancy is tough enough, but always know that you are not alone and that you will get through this. Give yourself grace, give yourself time to grieve, and focus on you and the new life that you will soon be bringing into the world.