Pregnancy and life lessons as a parent
1. Pregnancy obviously has a massive effect on a woman’s body but how does it change your mental outlook?
Any change, particularly something life changing which we have not experienced before like pregnancy can cause us to feel uncertain and even fearful as well as excited. Try to embrace this time by keeping a positive outlook, you can do this by being mindful of having healthy helpful thoughts. This ‘mental nourishment’ is equally as important as keeping your body healthy by eating nourishing foods etc.
Practice mothering and nurturing yourself with the same level of love and kindness that you will show your new born baby, enjoy those lovely bubble baths and massages now, as you may not have so much time after your baby is born.
2. Pregnancy can be quite stressful (tiredness, nausea, worrying about the future, relationships, money, work etc.). There are a number of techniques that I would recommend to someone in a stressful position and these will continue to help in the longer term for life as a parent:
Try not to jump to conclusion about how you feel or think things will be or turn out with no actual evidence.
Become mindful of how you are 'allowing' your worrying thoughts to affect you and your baby.
Try to control your thoughts, particularly if you feel they are running away with you into the future or even the past. Try to keep them in the here and now. In this way it is much easier to handle things one step at a time without feeling overwhelmed.
Think how you react when you believe your stressful thoughts and then imagine where you would be without them.
Keep a journal. If you do find yourself worrying about the future, relationships or money etc. try to write down your concerns using headings such as:
- I feel anxious that...
- I feel worried that...
- I feel frustrated that...
- I feel angry that...
- I feel sad that...
- I feel guilty that...
- I feel confused that...
Plus any other emotions that come to mind. This simple yet effective approach will help offload things from your mind and make it feel less cluttered. Although it may not change your situation it will help you to rationalise it without magnifying your difficulties. Always try to end your journal on a positive, such as I feel grateful that or I love that.
Remember that just because you believe something to be true does not necessarily mean that it is, it is simply your perception of the facts. I call this confusing thought with fact.
3. Most women are used to being in control of their time but pregnancy means having to learn to be patient as you are on someone else’s (the baby's!) timetable. How should you deal with that? Can this be time for a positive and permanent change to your thinking patterns?
Recognise if you have a personality that means you like or even need to be in control of situations this personality trait is going to contribute to your stress and anxiety. See this as an opportunity to 'let go' of some of your desire for things to go a certain way within your timetable and even your birth plan and plans for mothering. You can want things to go a certain way but it's the 'needing' things to go your way that evoke inner tension. Tell yourself that you would like things to go a certain way but you don't 'need' them to be that way in order for you to remain calm and at ease with the situation. Having less resistance in this way to your ideal can be so beneficial.
4. Many women have a negative relationship with their body before becoming pregnant (e.g. wanting to lose weight or change their appearance) but pregnancy shifts the focus onto being healthy and strong rather than thin. How important is this change and how can it affect your outlook towards yourself and your own strength as a woman?
Be kinder to yourself by dropping your negative labels such as 'I'm so fat’, 'I never get anything right’, this is like walking around with a bully in your head.
A famous quotation by Ralph Waldo Emerson states: 'You become what you think about all day long.' Once you label yourself, you begin to act as if it were true.
5. In pregnancy you ideally, you need the support of partner, friends and family like never before. Many women for example find their relationship with their mother becomes crucial to them. At this time it’s all about becoming aware of what your emotional needs are and then identifying if these needs are being met. Recognise how you handle your emotions if they aren't being met. Hopefully you will have a supportive partner and family around you, but if they are not behaving the way that you would ‘ideally’ like them to then accepting the way they are can cause a lot less inner turmoil. We get very upset when we believe other people 'should' or 'ought' to act a certain way according to our values. When they don't we blame them and get upset. Try to find friends that you feel are on the same wave length as you. Joining an NCT group and making contact with other pregnant women can be very helpful. Be mindful though of not comparing yourself to other pregnant women in a negative way simply because they 'seem' to be coping better.
6. Pregnancy is often a time when women have to ask for help and advice. This is something many women aren't used to and find difficult. Why is that? And how can asking for help make your life easier generally?
Some women do not feel as comfortable expressing their vulnerability, particularly if they see other women in the same situation seeming to handle it better. Try acting like your own best friend and give yourself advice with your 'wise less worrying' hat on.
Believe in yourself, as Henry Ford famously quoted "whether you believe you can, or whether you believe you can't you're probably right"
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