There is plenty of interest and attention regarding the physical changes relating to pregnancy.
But less is spoken about emotional changes. In many ways it’s helpful that a woman and her partner have almost a year to adjust to the realities of becoming parents.
Pregnancy is one of life’s major transitions which involves a complex mix of positive and negative emotions. At times it can feel like a rollercoaster of emotions with highs and lows, fear and excitement.
So many of us have the expectation that pregnancy “should” be a certain way – usually a blissful picture of a stress-free mother happily engaged in gentle exercise and with plenty of time to get things ready for the baby.
The problem is, we are all unique individuals with our own unique histories, personalities and current set of circumstances. If we hold on to ideas about how pregnancy “should” progress, these inaccurate beliefs can make us feel like we’re the only person struggling and leave us feeling disappointed, self-critical or alone.
Three misconceptions about how feelings and emotions during pregnancy could be:
- I should be feeling happy about this baby’s presence (almost all the time).
- I need to reduce stress in my life while pregnant.
- Something’s wrong with me if I don’t feel, for example, excitement or the nesting instinct.
Instead, I would suggest the following three permissions about how to feel during pregnancy:
- The way we feel at any given point in time in right for us, based on our present reality.
- If our feelings become overwhelming, we give ourselves permission to let someone know and ask for support.
- When we’re feeling low, we call on a list of actions that help us feel better (ideally written when we’re feeling good).
It’s helpful to hold in mind the knowledge that feelings change all the time. They don’t stay the same. Sometimes we feel one way and sometimes we feel another way. Even if we feel stuck in a particular feeling, it eventually passes and is replaced by another feeling.
Most often our feelings are a chemical reaction to the many hormones all of us are producing at any given moment. Sometimes this is triggered by our reaction to what’s happening in our lives; and sometimes it’s just the body doing its thing.
We may experience difficult emotions during pregnancy but we don’t need to suffer as a result of them.
Difficult feelings during pregnancy can give us vital information about what we need. For example, extreme tiredness could mean that we need to rest more and not worry about household chores. We have the ability to choose actions that will help us work through emotional challenges.
If this doesn’t come easily to you, it can be learnt. At NISAD we offer training around this in our programmes and clinics.
Find out more our CalmBaby programme here.
MSc Psychotherapy, Diploma Psychotherapeutic Counselling
I am a UK-trained psychotherapist, originally from South Africa and now living in Sweden. I’ve worked in various ways to support people’s emotional wellbeing including play therapy with children in schools, adult therapy (including individual, couples and groups), and managing a therapeutic community for adults with mental health diagnoses. I’m excited to be developing programmes with NISAD.
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