In the interest of transparency, the suggestions below are all from my personal life. A lot of the strategies listed below WERE NOT ones that I employed in my own pregnancies, but I wish to ends of the earth and back, that I would have. Part of my ability (along with extensive training, research, and reading) to help others through pregnancy and beyond is to look at what I did and brainstorm things I would have do differently, if given the opportunity. It’s my hope that the following tips will be of some help to you all…Enjoy!
- Ask for and/or accept the help you need.
A lot of women aren’t used to initiating a request for help or accepting an offer of help. As women, we take on a lot whether in our personal or professional lives. It can feel uncomfortable to shift out of the “I can do it all” mindset to asking for the physical or emotional help you need. Making this adjustment now and practicing it during pregnancy will serve you once the baby comes. We simply cannot do it all, especially once there’s a newborn in the picture.
- Reach out to trusted friends and/or family members to talk about what’s on your mind and the feelings you’re having.
Again, this can feel very different from our usual mode of operation. You may not be accustomed to sharing your feelings with others. But this is an extenuating circumstance, you are growing and nurturing a human life! Having a verbal outlet can let some of the steam out of the pressure cooker (is that how a pressure cooker works? I don’t know, you know what I mean, right?). Mr. Rogers used to say if something is “mentionable it’s manageable”, and if we internalize and never verbalize our overwhelming emotions, they will do just that – overwhelm us.
Good news – this is a two-for-one deal! By focusing on the life growing inside by reading to, sharing music with, or simply having a conversation (albeit, a one sided conversation) with your tiny peanut you are also practicing a type of meditation called mindfulness. Mindfulness work involves focusing on the present moment and can be incredibly beneficial for anxiety, depression and overall well being.
- Experiment with hobbies.
You may be catching on that a lot of the tips on this list not only help in pregnancy but will also prepare you for the postpartum phase once your baby arrives. Experimenting with hobbies is no exception. This is a tactic that will help you to engage in and seek out self care in your life. Trust me when I say – you will need more self care once you have a child. It will also need to be more intentional self care than you’ve ever experienced before. It will be crucial that you are able to name what you need for self care and have it scheduled in like a very important meeting.
- Try journaling.
Journaling is another good outlet much like the aforementioned tip #2. The act of writing down how you’re feeling and the thoughts you are having can help to release some of the build up pressure that happens when we internalize challenging emotions. If this is your first pregnancy, remember that you’ve potentially never felt the way the that you do at this very moment. That’s going to take some processing, and journaling is an excellent way to help accomplish this. So, this was one of the exceptions, I actually did utilize this strategy during my pregnancies and found that pre-journaling, I would be absolutely spinning and my anxious thoughts would take over. After journaling, however, I was able to feel more calm and move forward with life.
- Seek help from a trained professional who specializes in perinatal mental health.
Finally, if you’re unsure whether or not the feelings you are having are normal for this phase in life or if you’re simply needing additional support during your pregnancy, reach out to a trained therapist who can help you navigate this challenging stage of life. Unhappiness or discontentment in pregnancy is generally concealed because we are taught to believe this will be the most “magical” time in our lives (read: actual human emotions not allowed). But, depressed mood and feelings of anxiousness are actually quite normal in varying degrees during pregnancy. You don’t have to be ashamed or feel guilty because you’ve done nothing wrong. Get out there and get the support you deserve!