Sometimes it seems that the words ‘pregnant and emotional’ go hand in hand! Pregnancy is a time when the body is changing and needs to still support you whilst also now carrying and nurturing your baby. Your emotions may be all over the place and no wonder as your body is producing more hormones and in much higher levels. Your levels of oestrogen and progesterone ramp up which can leave you feeling rather irritable, perhaps weepier and even more forgetful (baby brain anyone?). You are also going through a transformation into motherhood – whether for the first or subsequent time, so you are changing too. At Christmas, emotions can also be heightened with all of the excitement and planning; families coming together who may not often see each other and for lots of other reasons. Here Daisy teacher Ceri Elms focuses on how you can positively handle your emotions over this festive season and beyond – to make sure you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Worries and concerns
Thoughts and worries about life after pregnancy with a newborn can also cause an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol. Questions such as: ‘how will my life change with a new born?’; ‘how will I cope?’; ‘will I get support from my partner/family/friends?’; ‘will I be a good mum?’ can all start keeping you awake at night. The fact you are even worrying about being a good mum, means that you care enough in the first place, so odds are that you will be! Don’t let a worry bog you down. The best and most basic piece of advice is to share it. Speak up and tell your partner/your friend/your caregiver/a support group (http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/pandas-support-groups/). Once voiced, the worry can be discussed and practical advice can be given or sought. A worry shared really is a worry halved – and often, a worry gone. If someone knows you are concerned about not getting enough support for example, they know to give you support themselves and can help you find it from others too.
Fear and anxiety
Fear can be the ugliest of the emotions, creeping in when you least expect it and making you worry about pregnancy, the baby and birth. Often this stems from women feeling a lack of control in pregnancy and also not understanding what is happening to their bodies and how they can prepare for birth. The fear of the unknown and the fear perception of birth is often reinforced by its ‘painful’ and ‘passive’ depiction in the media. In addition, people’s traumatic and dramatic birth stories that really aren’t helping anyone to think more positively about birth, are often to blame. Anxiety is the friend of fear and they often go hand in hand and can set your mind racing about all the things that could go wrong and make you focus on the negative. This in turn can cause you to feel tense and possibly even panic. In labour and birth, fear and anxiety produce high levels of the hormone adrenaline which can inhibit the birth hormones oxytocin and endorphins. This can make your labour longer, less efficient and more intense – thus almost seeming to validate the horror stories and worries you had in the first place. This fear-tension-pain cycle can be broken however, and quite easily.
Preparing for a positive birth
How do you protect yourself from things you don’t want to hear and see about birth and learn about how it can actually unfold positively? How do you find out that most births are actually not traumatic or dramatic at all, and that you can absolutely be in control of your own birth story? It’s actually very simple. Prepare, prepare, prepare! Do your own research, based on fact and reality, not on hearsay and dramatization. Talk to the people who are surrounded by birth every day (not just relying on sources who have given birth once, maybe more, and are putting their perceptions and experiences on to you!). Learn about all of the different ways it can happen and how you can actually help the birth process be more efficient, shorter and less intense. Your midwives, consultants, positive birth groups and antenatal teachers are your best resources here. Your Daisy teacher and Daisy village of other mums are always here for you too, and we have been there, felt it and dealt with it ourselves so use us for advice, support or just an ear to listen. Check out the fabulous Facebook group Mama You’ve Got This! https://www.facebook.com/groups/MamaYouveGotThis/ for support and advice. It’s also perfectly acceptable to tell people that you are focusing on your own positive birth so you don’t want to be influenced by their stories, thank you.
The power of an active birth
It may be beneficial to stop watching the way society and the media wants us to view birth too. Turn off those TV shows that only show birth one way (the painful, medicalised and woman as just a patient usually) and look for other videos online of birth that is positive, natural and ‘active’ too. An ‘active birth’ doesn’t mean the woman is constantly moving around in athletic poses at all – it’s about having the freedom and choice to move and knowing how to work with your body, and balancing movement with rest – what positions and movements you do is completely up to you. Find out how different birth can be when the woman feels prepared, in control, listened to, respected and empowered by trusting her own body and instincts – as we were made to do. You may be surprised how beautiful, natural and instinctive birth really can be.
The importance of self care
Another simple way to de-stress and get control over any emotions is to look after yourself. Do something just for you: have a bubble bath; read your favourite book in a quiet room whilst someone else deals with the other kids/family for a bit; go for a walk; listen to soothing or uplifting music; just relax and breathe, and focus on how amazing your body and baby are. Self care is incredibly important for your well-being, both emotionally and physically, and it can be surprisingly restorative and rejuvenating to just take a little time out, just for you. Also remembering to eat well, drink lots of water and exercise regularly can make a huge difference to how you feel and really boost your mood. Plus exercise promotes endorphins, which is a key birth hormone too.
Pregnant and emotional? Talk it through…
However you are feeling and whatever you are worrying about, please always find someone you trust, whether a caregiver, professional or loved one and let them know. Don’t just put it down to your emotions and suffer in silence. You will be surprised how others can help you and how they will change their approach towards you, perhaps being more practically helpful around the house/work, more sensitive, supportive and positive. Heightened emotions and worry can cause you sleepless nights (at a time when sleeping is already a challenge right?!), and can in more extreme cases cause panic attacks or other medical issues, so for the sake of you and your baby, please make sure you reach out.
Here’s wishing you all a very Happy Christmas, here’s a free relaxation download from us, to you: https://thedaisyfoundation.com/pregnancy-relaxation/
Love Daisy x
Find your nearest Positive Birth Movement group: https://www.positivebirthmovement.org/groups/
If you are interested in finding out more about Daisy’s complete birth preparation course for you & your birth partner: https://thedaisyfoundation.com/daisy-parent/