Blossoming, glowing, radiant: these are just some of the superlatives women are supposed to embody during pregnancy. But how about nauseous, sleep-deprived and overwhelmed? As your body changes and grows, your hormones are responsible for a symphony of symptoms, ranging from morning sickness and dizzy spells to bloating and mood swings. While these symptoms should diminish during the second trimester, every pregnancy is different. Comparing your own experiences to those you read about in best-selling baby books or hear first-hand from mothers who sailed through pregnancy can be disheartening.
Nurturing your emotional wellbeing during pregnancy will prepare your body and mind for the birth, and beyond. While it is usual to feel overjoyed one minute and overwhelmed the next, do not hesitate to consult your doctor if anxiety or depression persist during pregnancy, as is the case for 10% of women. Burying your head in books, blogs and online forums brings reassurance, but can also lead to feelings of anxiety and stress. Seek support from your partner, family and friends, and remember: looking after yourself is looking after baby. Here are some tips on how to ensure your emotional wellbeing grows with your bump...
Those first few months after your baby arrives will be lost to late-night nappy changes and feeding frenzies, so it's vital you indulge in a little “me-time” while you still can. Treat those hard-working feet to a pedicure, paint your nails in bright colours or sit back and soak in a candlelit bath. While it's tempting to rest and nest, why not trawl the internet for a new maternity outfit and get glammed up for a gossip-filled lunch with the girls?
meet and greet
Signing up for a class is an ideal way to meet fellow mums and dads-to-be: you could make friends for life, and your baby is guaranteed a pre-prepared posse of pint-sized playmates. The internet is awash with classes to swell your support network both during and after pregnancy - from NCT to aquanatal and pilates. Regular meet-ups will help you to leave the house when you least feel like it, and fill you with reassurance and laughter when you need it most.
let's get physical
Indulging in a little light exercise can help to reduce stress, boost energy levels and banish sleepless nights. Plump for gentle exercise such as yoga, pilates, swimming or walking, all of which help to boost mental wellbeing and prepare the body for childbirth. Ease gently into a new regime rather than exerting yourself, and remember to consult your doctor beforehand. Experts recommend kicking off with 15 minutes' exercise per week, before limbering up to 30 minutes, four times a week. Complement your regime with a nutrient-rich diet, bursting with fruit, vegetables, pulses, dairy products and proteins such as chicken, fish and lean meats.
catch some z's
Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on your physical and emotional wellbeing. Catch up on those all-important z's before your baby bursts onto the scene and deprives you of regular, uninterrupted sleep. If you already have a child, try to nap when they do, or ask their grandparents over for a spot of babysitting. Attempt to sleep on your left-hand side during the third trimester, and avoid caffeinated drinks before bed; opt for a vitamin d-rich glass of warm milk instead.
working 9 'til 5
Working during pregnancy can be exhausting, especially during the first trimester when morning sickness and tiredness take hold. Squirrel away healthy snacks in your handbag to boost flagging energy levels, and stay hydrated with lots of liquids. Invest in a special pillow to support your back as you sit at your desk, and take regular breaks to stretch your legs and aid circulation. Choose comfortable clothing such as pregnancy jeans and dresses and opt for a pair of shoes that support the feet. Going to bed earlier than usual will encourage a good night’s sleep and stave off those all-too-tempting afternoon naps.
a little help from your friends
Confide in family and friends as you prepare to make the transition from pregnant to parent. Invite siblings over to help you indulge your nesting instincts as you add the finishing touches to your baby's nursery. Accept a helping hand around the house, whether loading the dishwasher, lifting heavy objects or preparing the evening meal. If you're feeling anxious about the baby's imminent arrival, don't be afraid to confide in your partner - chances are they feel the same!
Pregnancy and the early months of motherhood can leave some women feeling isolated. Maintain your emotional wellbeing by surrounding yourself with family and friends who will support you throughout, from sleepless nights to magical milestones. Although we can’t promise that you’ll feel blossoming, glowing and radiant for nine months, we can promise that memories of morning sickness, swollen ankles and mood swings will melt away the moment you hold your baby for the first time.
While it is common to experience anxiety and low moods during pregnancy, we would advise contacting your doctor or midwife if these feelings persist for longer than two weeks.