There are a lot of expectations when it comes to pregnancy, but we all know it's normal to feel a wide variety of emotions about expecting a baby. So why is it so hard feel ok with it?
Let me just start by telling you some things you already know: pregnancy is exciting! And also stressful. You feel like an amazing creator-mother-love-goddess! And also sick and tired and puffy. There is a lot of both/and when it comes to expecting a baby.
Your journey will be different than everyone else's. So don't let anyone set the expectations for your pregnancy for you.
Setting expectations isn't a bad thing to do, and in fact it's actually good to set intentions, look ahead, see how you see yourself up the road. But this is something that only you should be doing-- not your well-intentioned best friend / sister / neighbor / mother-in-law....
Here are the top three things I have reassured expectant parents, time and time again, (for over 15 years!) that are completely "OK" to feel about pregnancy. You're not alone. It's on a lot of people's minds. So let's start by giving yourself some love and removing any barriers that are keeping you from fully embracing your pregnancy.
1. It's ok to feel disconnected from your baby.
(Wait. Did the hypnosis-birthing childbirth educator just say it's ok to feel disconnected from my baby?) Why yes, I did! That's because connecting with your baby is a practice that you initiate and it may be a little awkward at first. Just think of it as sending your baby fetal love messages. Like a dm that you send from your heart that travels through your blood stream, through the umbilical cord, straight to your baby. Think of this as a "fetal love break" -- little messages that you can send throughout the day to connect with your baby. You can send these messages just like you would to your partner or anyone else, except this message isn't sent through your phone screen. Instead it's shared instantly through the physio-emotional connection that all moms have with their womb dwellers. Your baby receives these messages instantly with all the good, endorphin-rich feelings that goes with them. Talk to your baby. Say how you're feeling. Say how much you love them already. Say you're nervous, scared, unsure...whatever it is you're feeling about being a mom but that you will give it all you've got today, tomorrow and forever. You are enough.
Think of this as a "fetal love break"-- little messages that you can send anytime throughout the day to connect with your baby.
2. It's ok to feel different than your partner about your baby, your birth, what stuff you will get, and how having a baby together will or will not change your life.
Again-- going to start by stating the obvious here: Pregnancy is not the same for your partner as it is for you. So why should the two of you feel the same about everything that goes along with having a baby? First, you have physical and hormonal changes that cause you to feel all kinds of things that your partner does not have the benefit of experiencing. Sometimes it takes them longer to get excited about this. Sometimes they are WAY too excited and overwhelm you with their exuberance.
Start with what you have in common and embrace your differences.
Start with what you have in common and embrace your differences. Look at this as an opportunity to get to know each other better. Do lots of reflective listening like, "Tell me more about that...." or "That's interesting that you feel so < > ..." You don't need to feel the same about everything but you do need to communicate. Don't feel bad about asking each other for specific things and definitely don't fault your partner for doing something FOR you vs. feeling the same thing as you. (For example: if you want him to rub your feet or lay his head on your belly and feel for kicks, and he's willing to do it, enjoy it! Whether it's his idea or he's doing it for you-- be grateful that you have the kind of partner who is willing to be right here, right where you both are, on this journey together.)
3. It's ok to feel overwhelmed / resentful /annoyed by everyone's advice.
There is something about pregnancy that makes people think a baby bump is an open invitation to give free advice or share their terrible birth story. I personally love hearing other women's birth stories, but I don't love how many of my clients report being bombarded with horrific birth stories and outdated advice.
My advice to you, dear pregnant one, is to see this as an opportunity to practice compassion and grace-- first for yourself by doing the things you need to do to rid yourself of any negative impacts this has had on you: Take a shower and imagine that negativity washing off of you and down the drain or step outside and breathe in a big gulp of fresh air as you exhale any tension, anger or sadness you inadvertently took inside yourself. Then look at yourself in the mirror and reset those positive messages and images of your pregnancy and your birth that you have been working on since the day you saw two lines on the pregnancy test.
...if the world is going to become a better place, it will be from the pregnant mothers who do not take on the negativity and well-intentioned bad advice...but instead reflect it back into the world as the light and loving embrace it was meant to be.
And let me just say that if the world is going to become a better place, it will be from the pregnant mothers who do not take on the negativity and well-intentioned bad advice from their family and friends but instead reflect it back into the world as the light and loving embrace it was meant to be. Take a big breath. Send some more positive fetal love messages. And know that you ARE amazing! You are growing a human life inside your body with your body! Your body knows just what to do, without any advice, when it comes to growing and birthing your baby. You just need to be right where you are today and know you are enough.
*Original publication at ericamantopaulson.com
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We are a team of Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants. This is the place where we share all of our tips and advice from over fifteen years of working in the field.