We so want to do right by our babies, yet the list of things that could harm them seems to grow daily. The result can be a pregnancy burdened by waves of guilt: guilt about eating the wrong things, about not eating enough of the right things, about accidentally crossing the street at the exact moment a delivery truck emits a cloud of exhaust. But, remember, you are doing your best, and when it comes to pregnancy or motherhood, there is no such thing as perfect!
Having a baby is one of the greatest joys life has to offer, yet many mothers are surprised to find that they often feel sad while pregnant. Although persistent sadness can be a sign of prenatal depression, intermittent sadness is probably just your brain’s way of processing the radical life change that comes along with pregnancy. Parenthood is an enormous gift, but there are losses involved too (ahem, sushi … wine …). Sadness is a way of grieving for the things you’re missing (i.e., sleep). Unless it’s severe, don’t worry about it too much. This too shall pass.
3. Extremely empathetic
It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to find themselves suddenly unable to deal with movies, news, or any other media relaying tragic tales involving babies, children and/or mothers. An ad for a charity could move you to tears; a scene in a movie will stay with you for weeks. They say a mother’s love knows no bounds. In this case, it can extend to children who aren’t even yours.
Some parts of pregnancy are less pleasant than others. Anger is a totally natural, healthy reaction to the impairment that pregnancy can sometimes place on your everyday life. Getting mad at the symptoms that make your life miserable — heartburn, sleeplessness, morning sickness — doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate your pregnancy! Don’t let a healthy dose of anger turn to guilt. Venting (and blogging!) can do wonders.
The shifting priorities that come along with pregnancy can make past grudges feel less powerful. If the rift was with a family member or a friend who’s also a mom, the experience of becoming a mother might make you see the value in reconnecting. Or you may find you simply don’t care as much as you used to about things unrelated to your immediate job of gestating and caring for a baby. It’s hard to dwell on the past when you’re so focused on the future!
Being pregnant can feel like tiptoeing through a minefield. There’s so much to worry about — diseases, toxins, birth defects — I could go on, but I’m sure your brain has its own reserve of things to obsess over. Worry is an inevitable part of being a parent, and it tends to start before the baby is born. Severe, debilitating anxiety, however, should be treated by a mental health professional. But in less extreme cases, the process of developing coping tools for anxiety is a gift that will keep on giving.
A new life stage can knock you off your footing; it’s not uncommon to feel a rush of insecurity about your new status. (Pregnancy is often likened to adolescence in this way.) Questions of identity and body image pop up all the time as you move from one phase of life to another, and it sometimes takes a while to feel secure in your new role. But eventually it will happen.
Sure, there are those peak moments — doctors’ visits, ultrasound snapshots to take home, fawn over and show off — but the days between those peaks can feel long. There may be mornings when you wake up after another night of interrupted sleep and think, I’m still pregnant?! While the planning and preparations are fun for some, others find them mind-numbingly dull. Luckily, pregnancy is just a prelude to the real action: the baby!
Sometimes expecting mothers feel an almost supernatural sense of resiliency. While others speak about risks and anxieties, you may feel strong and serene. This might be nature’s way of boosting our confidence, or it may be denial. The only real danger in feeling like a superhero can be unrealistic expectations about the challenging moments to come (during childbirth and caring for an infant, for example). So ride the waves of confidence but keep an eye on reality.