February 15, 2022

Understanding Anxiety During Pregnancy: Some Helpful Advice.

“For many women – myself included – pregnancy brings on tremendous anxiety and confusion, along with the joy.”   Emily Oster 

Pregnancy Anxiety in the early phase.

“Have kids, they said. It will be fun, they said.” This is just one of the many things that might be running through your mind as you are forcing your bloodshot eyes open for another 2am feeding, or you’re carrying your child by their arms to the bathtub from yet another messy blow out. Or maybe this runs through your mind as you enter another right of passage into motherhood by catching vomit with your bare hands or having an audience watch as you use the restroom. I get it, mama, I’ve been there! Of course, we wouldn’t take anything back and would go through this 10 times over if it meant we can have these little humans in our lives, but it doesn’t mean that the pregnancy journey isn’t really, really hard and lonely sometimes. 


You get that positive pregnancy test and your heart starts racing…you take another one to be sure. You still haven’t let a breath out yet. Yep, it’s positive. You’re feeling a whirlwind of emotions all at the same time. It takes a few weeks and that first doctor appointment for it to finally sink in…you’re going to be having a baby! And then a few weeks later, the morning sickness and exhaustion starts. 


I always said I felt the most pregnant when I looked the least pregnant…first trimester! By 3 or 4 months, or maybe much sooner for some, you’ve transitioned into elastic waistbands, or for me, dresses (no waistbands, yay!). Not before long, you’re noticing those little kicks and flicks of the tiny person growing inside your womb. It’s really getting real now! With each passing week, your body is becoming less and less familiar to you (no one told me that my shoes wouldn’t even fit me anymore!) You’re thinking “I barely recognize myself anymore and I still have 3-4 months to go. What am I going to be left looking like after delivery? Do I want to breastfeed? CAN I even breastfeed? How is this 7lb baby supposed to come out of…there??” By the time you’ve hit 8 months pregnant, you no longer care how it comes out, just that it does and you’re relieved of your back and pelvic pain and can sleep more than 2 hours without having to pee and readjust sleeping positions.  


The complex bonding relationship.

Then before you know it, baby is here. SO many emotions!! You’re in shock that this tiny human was somehow living inside your tummy for the last 9 months…like how?! You’re absolutely exhausted and sore and yet you don’t want to close your eyes to sleep because you can’t stop staring at this perfect little face. At the same time, if you’re anything like me, you’re looking at this baby going “do they even know I’m their mommy? I don’t even think they’ve opened their eyes since they’ve been born?! How long does that take? When do those feelings of overwhelming happiness and contentment start?” There’s often a grieving process that takes place after delivery. 


You might notice that you’re missing the relationship with the baby in your tummy and it’s taking you some time to adjust to the new relationship that you will now have with them earth-side. Something no-one really talks about, yet something I experienced with each one of my deliveries (3 total). Next comes feeding the baby…if you’ve decided to try to breastfeed, you’ve had many different nurses and lactation consultants looking at and touching your chest, trying to help you get baby latched and fed. 


One thing is for sure, when you leave that hospital, you don’t even know what modesty is anymore! And then a day or two after delivery, they actually let you leave with this tiny human! You’re thinking, “really? They trust ME to take care of this baby for the rest of my life?!” I get it mama, I’ve been there. Or maybe, you leave without this tiny human because baby needed some extra care in the NICU. I get it, mama, I’ve been there too. 

postpartum depression

There ain't no time to rest. ​

You’ve arrived home with your fresh new babe…time to get ready and hold on tight because here comes the rollercoaster of hormones and boy are they a RIDE! Maybe you start to notice that the “light at the end of the tunnel” is becoming dimmer and dimmer as the beginning days drag on. Maybe you notice anxiety settling in as the sun sets every evening, thinking “how are we going to survive another night with only 2 hour increments of sleep?” “Please God, let tonight be better than last night”, you pray. 


If you’ve chosen to breastfeed, you might notice a knot that starts to form in your stomach every time baby starts to get hungry…because something deemed to be so “natural” can often feel anything but! And let’s not forget the sudden crying spells because your husband ordered you the wrong sandwich from Panera. I get it mama, I’ve been there. If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms after delivering your baby, you are NOT alone! Many of these symptoms are normal considering the hormonal changes our body is going through, but it doesn’t mean you are expected to go through it without support. And if you’re more than 2-3 months postpartum and still having these symptoms, please reach out to someone. Your doctor, a therapist, a trusted supportive friend or family member, etc. You don’t have to continue feeling like this, mama! 

Mama, take care of your mental health.​

From conception to delivery, and throughout the postpartum period, we go through are so many twists and turns and it’s paramount that you, mama, take care of your mental health. There’s a need for the rediscovery of ourselves that occurs after entering parenthood. So much about us has changed. We’re not the same that we were before children. And we might not even realize how our mental health could be impacting our children. 


Not only do you deserve to feel better, but our babies deserve a healthy mommy. Consider this your permission slip to prioritize taking care of YOU. Whether that’s attending therapy, getting back into reading, making time to go out on a date, watching trash tv while eating ice cream out of the carton (it’s me), or committing to incorporating mindful exercise into your life, YOU deserve to feel good about yourself and your life. Taking the time to figure out who we are now in this stage of our life doesn’t have to be negative or scary. It can be a lot of fun, I promise! You can do this!


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