Prenatal health and emotionally preparing yourself for the next chapter…
Pregnancy often brings a whole range of emotions to the surface, we may have feelings of excitement and joy to bring new life into this world; however, it is completely normal to experience feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. We are often confronted with media that paints a fairytale picture of pregnancy and birth. Letting the perfectionism go and having an openness to the impending change before it even starts will help in preparing for this life chapter. Preparing mentally and emotionally reduces your risk of postnatal depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. You may not be able to prepare for every part of the process but you can certainly set some strategies in place to support your emotional wellbeing when challenges arise.
Pregnancy Planning Considerations:
Current Mental Health Status
Mental health professionals are an integral resource to help guide you and support you through mental health management when planning a pregnancy. Many women have to consider alternatives to medication to support their wellbeing during this time, so keep an open mind as to what may work for you and gain as much information as possible from your support networks so when unexpected situations occur you have resources in place to assist you. Although it is tempting to do your own research, the internet’s answers can be contradicting and somewhat confusing with many opinions on what the ‘right’ thing is; whereas, if you seek advice from a psychologist or counsellor you can receive advice that is tailored to you and your needs.
Surround yourself with people who are caring and supportive, people you can trust to share your emotions and feelings when you need. You may be living far from those who you normally lean on for support, but remember, near you there are other women experiencing pregnancy and the challenges it brings with it. Speaking with other mum’s or pregnant women about the kind of support that’s available in your community can help you find what’s available.
Wellbeing & Mind-Body Connection
Caring for your physical health directly correlates to our mental health. By just increasing your activity level (even a walk outdoors) you can promote good feelings, confidence and resilience. Implementing a routine of self-care such as physical exercise, creativity and relaxation prior to pregnancy increases your chances of coping with difficult emotions. Initiating a routine before your journey to parenthood gives you the best opportunity of continuing this habit while undergoing other changes to your life.
Prior to pregnancy is a good time to make adjustments to your lifestyle, initiating changes earlier rather than later will ensure you are mentally prepared too. Have an honest conversation with your GP about alcohol and drug usage, be honest with yourself and the healthcare provider. They are not there to judge or condemn, they want to help you make the best choices for your health and wellbeing. Working with a healthcare professional you trust and like is important, so try asking other women in your area who they recommend and why before making an appointment with the next available clinician.
Child Rearing Philosophies
This is a great time to explore what values you hold in accordance to childbearing and parenting. If you are parenting with a partner it’s a good idea to start the discussion regarding parenting values and where your values align and where they differ. For example: your idea of being a ‘stay-at-home mum’ may be different to your partner’s, discussing parenting roles and expectations is important to establish a cohesive parent relationship.
Your journey to becoming a parent starts right from the moment you consider it’s the right decision for you, so don’t wait until you’ve given birth or are pregnant to start imagining the world you want your child to live. Ask yourself, how can I prioritise myself now so I can be the best parent later. Start a journal, write down your plans, envision what you hope for your family’s future. Consider what you can put in place now. It may include reconnecting with family members who you want to be part of your children’s lives; it could be initiating a new hobby or activity you enjoy for relaxation, decompression and stress relief. Or, you may just want to tick off a bucket list item before going into this next life chapter.
Remember this, by caring for yourself you are ultimately giving yourself the best opportunity to care for others.