We’ve covered the first trimester, so let’s move on to the second trimester!
The second is, by most accounts, the best trimester. You look pregnant, you don’t feel totally exhausted and sick all the time (Unless you’re one of the few women who still does and if so, hang in there!); you are feeling kicks and have a good appetite. You get to talk about being pregnant and more or less assume the identity of a mother-to-be. This is typically a huge relief after a woozy, slump of a first trimester that can also be emotionally rife with fears of miscarriage, which is more likely early on in the pregnancy.
But the second trimester is not always a walk in the park. When the physical blahs of early pregnancy lift, there can be relief but also some tougher worries can rise to the surface. I enjoyed the second trimester during both of my pregnancies, but I did feel adrift at times. Here are 5 tips to help you through:
1. It’s okay if you don’t love pregnancy. We can all agree that morning sickness sucks, but now that you’re glowing and round, what’s the beef? Well, it could be any number of things. Sometimes pregnancy just doesn’t sit well with women, physically, hormonally, emotionally or logistically. And though these women are for all intents and purposes “fine,” they may feel out-of-sorts or like a bad-mom-in-the-making for feeling this way. If this happens to you, please consider the bigger picture. Some of us love babies, some love being pregnant, some love older kids who can talk and do things, some love parenting most when their kids are adults. Most of us find pleasures and challenges in all these stages but if the very first one– pregnancy– sucks for you, know that this is a drop in the bucket. You’ll have many other opportunities to like and dislike aspects of parenting. Though people don’t talk about it as much, there are plenty of women who just don’t like being pregnant. I have a great friend with three amazing kids who she’s very devoted to. I assumed– so incorrectly!– that she liked being pregnant. “Hated it!” she once told me. Every second of all three pregnancies sucked. And yet she loves her big family and was considering a fourth. There are no rules about what should and should not make us happy about having kids.
2. There are protein and nutrient-rich white foods. If you’re one of those women who becomes a very fussy carb-o-centric eater during pregnancy, do some research into foods you can tolerate and get creative about what you buy, because there’s usually a way to make it all work. If you look beyond your normal eating patterns, you may find some healthy foods you can tolerate. Italian white bean soup, for example, is white (ish), decently bland and palatable to many pregnant women. Fruits, fortified (no sugar) cereals and protein-packed smoothies are other ways women with limited cravings can get what they need.
3. Know that ambivalence about pregnancy and parenthood is actually normal. It’s not discussed! Oh no! But it’s very, very normal for expectant, new and even seasoned parents to wonder what the hell they’ve gotten themselves into. If you scold yourself for having these thoughts you may just end up feeling doubly crazy or cruel at heart. Maybe part of this thought process helps parents contemplate what challenges lie ahead and figure out ways to improve the situation to better accommodate them.
4. Some women don’t like sex when they are pregnant, even during the “sexy trimester.” It’s brutal if you’re one of these women and you read about those ladies– friends, bloggers, whatever– who are insatiable. It can feel like there’s something wrong with you. But some women just don’t get the bonus sex drive with pregnancy hormones and/or increased blood volume. I don’t know exactly why but I suspect it relates to the fact that women have enormous variation in sexual proclivities in general. So we’re all different. Chill out, have sex when you want to. Try new things to see if that helps– not necessarily kinky things, though, sure, why not? — but even just having sex at a different time of the day than you’re used to.
5. Prenatal depression is a real thing but the prognosis is good if you find support and help. The way to treat depression or anxiety vary depending on what the trigger might be– is it situational, hormonal, genetic? Sadly, our system is not good at treating mental health as the important component of physical health that it is– so, you need to be more proactive about addressing persistent depression or anxiety. Talk therapy can help. Some medications may be advisable. Meeting with others, such as other pregnant women, can help. Also, exercise can help with some level of emotional distress. I found that reading memoirs about depression, pregnancy, parenting and postpartum mood disorders were extremely enlightening as a first step. And books about mindfulness help some women find ways to be more in touch with the experience and less likely to suppress legitimate feelings and fears. Pregnancy can bring up all manner of issues, and though it can be incredibly painful, this huge life-transition can also be an opportunity for some positive realizations and change. But it does take some concerted efforts.
Ceridwen Morris, CCE, is a writer, childbirth educator and the co-author of From The Hips: A Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Becoming a Parent. Follow her on Facebook.
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