When Lizzie asked me which topic she should write about for her next guest post, I was going through the absolute craziest of emotions , I felt like utter crap and could not for the life of me figure out how to fix it. I just blamed the pregnancy hormones. And so came this post on caring from your emotional wellbeing during pregnancy. Lizzie pretty much sums it up.
Pregnancy can be a time of huge ups and downs. It truly can be a rollercoaster of emotion. Joy, excitement, anticipation, fear, confusion and anxiety can all come into the equation. It’s not hard to imagine why the positive emotions come out to play – you are creating and growing a new life! You are looking forward to welcoming your baby into the world and growing your family. But many people find it hard to understand why women can experience negative emotions during their pregnancies – especially if the pregnancy was planned and very much wanted.
Here are some ways that negative emotions can creep into pregnancy and ways to help you try and manage these.
You feel sick
For lots of women, experiencing morning (all day…) sickness can cast a shadow over the pregnancy. They may have gone from being active, well and full of energy to having their days revolve around where the nearest toilet is and being in bed by 6pm. Morning sickness can be bad enough on its own, but for women suffering hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), it can have a very significant negative impact on their life and resulting in an inability to work or engage in social activities and even hospitalisations throughout pregnancy.
In all my research and conversations with women, I am yet to find a “cure” for morning sickness or HG. The best advice I have come across is:
- Natural methods to help (eat dry crackers first thing in the morning, ginger tea etc) – ask in your support circles and you will find MANY ideas to try.
- Get help around the house. If you are exhausted and feeling ill you don’t need to be worrying about the next load of washing or cooking dinner! If your partner won’t help (or you don’t have a partner) look at what you can outsource (friends, family or hired help) and what you can let go. Maybe the bathroom can go an extra week between cleans or the floor can be swept rather than swept AND mopped. And think simple for meals. If the smell of the slow cooker makes you feel ill, try simple salads. Lettuce leaves, tomato, cucumber and tinned corn and beetroot with whatever protein source you can stomach can be a quick and simple way to ensure that you are fed.
- Consult your care provider. Whether it be your midwife, GP, OB, naturopath, dietician etc. get in touch with them for ideas. There are medications which may help. And if one strategy doesn’t work – keep asking!!
You feel scared and anxious
Women can find that pregnancy brings up fears and anxieties that they have never experienced before. The sudden realisation of being entirely responsible for the health and wellbeing of a new little human can be very overwhelming. Fears can crop up about so many different things, from whether daily activities could be having a negative impact on bub to whether the food being consumed could cause a miscarriage or stillbirth.
Then there could be fears surrounding the birth itself. These fears may come from stories others have told (why oh why do people insist on telling pregnant women horror stories?!), fear of the unknown, fear of a caesarean or complications or fears stemming from previous birth trauma. These fears all impact on how a woman feels during her pregnancy.
This is where becoming informed is a great idea. Get clear on what your fears are. Write them down. And then beat them with information.
A word of information: Don’t just Google, ask your sister or your local mum’s group. Get a really broad range of information. Consult your care provider, read scientific journals, check out some blogs and ask around for anecdotal information.
Getting a doula can also be a great way to help work through your birth fears. A doula will help you assess your fears and put plans in place to help you feel informed, empowered and confident in your journey.
And then women who express these negative emotions have the added stress of feeling guilty about them. Too many pregnant women are told that they should feel nothing but joy and gratitude because “so many women wish that they could be in your shoes”.
So, possibly the most important point I can make here about negative emotions is: – Your baby is not your pregnancy and you can feel incredibly grateful for one without necessarily loving the other.
I would also like to add that if negative emotions are causing you so much stress that they are impacting on your quality of life, PLEASE get in touch with your care provider or PANDA (perinatal anxiety and depression Australia) and let them know that you need help. While negative emotions can be a very normal part of the pregnancy and birthing journey they shouldn’t have a significant impact on your ability to move through your days. Antenatal depression is a real and serious condition and can have serious consequences for mums.
Your beautiful bundle of joy deserves a healthy, happy and whole mumma to raise them.
Your mental health matters.
- How To Care For Your Emotional Wellbeing During Pregnancy - April 11, 2016
- How to Support a Friend Following Their Traumatic Birth - March 7, 2016