We post baby bumps to show progress, but how can we depict the emotional curve of pregnancy?
My belly is not the only part of me that’s growing. My perception and awareness are having to expand — just like my uterus. Just like my thighs. Just like my hips. I am learning not just what to expect during pregnancy and childbirth, but how to shield my mind from anxiety and fear. And then the slingshot effect of guilt: should I, or shouldn’t I? will this harm my baby? am I being too strict? am I doing everything I can for her? do we have enough? what else do I need? do we really need this? what if we end up needing it and I didn’t put it on our registry?
With all of the mental stimulation, you have to ask: where are my emotions sitting in my body right now? do I feel manic? do I feel overwhelmed? do I feel excited? do I feel bursting with energy? do I feel more prepared? I experience all of those things, depending on the moment!
I have to check in and settle into my energy: how am I nurturing myself emotionally? what can I do to settle the constant thoughts? to know I’ve done enough homework for the day? how am I choosing to relax and make time to connect with my baby? have I meditated today? have I surrendered my idea of self-perfection? What will bring me peace right now?
The answers might look different for every body.
I tend to get caught up in a quick-spinning mental cycle when I prepare for anything, so it’s important for me to take a moment to pause from the psychosis and addiction of needing to know more, needing to have more, needing more info now! I have to bring the energy back to my body. It takes mental effort to turn on a YouTube meditation, because it means breaking away from the comfortable pattern of anxiety, and perhaps opening myself to something that initially feels prickly: like stillness. Even doing overtly physical things, like exercising, lifting (very light! 3 lb) weights, or organizing the living room helps me to break free from the paralysis of overthinking. At least, temporarily. And temporary calm is enough. There are obviously activities you can do that are geared specifically towards settling an overactive nervous system, like prenatal massage, energy healing, and breath work. But, there are other things you can easily work into your day (a long shower or warm bath, stretching, cooking and enjoying a nourishing meal, connecting with your partner), which can provide similar relief.
Side note: I’m lucky that my mother-in-law is a masseuse and energy healer. Last week, she asked if I’d like to do weekly massages with her — to help my nervous system prepare for labor and also to bond with me and baby (her grandchild). Of course I said yes! I’m incredibly fortunate that she tuned into my energetic field enough to know that I was struggling with anxious thoughts, and that she wanted to offer her gifts as an antidote. Sometimes, it’s too hard to ask for help. And if that’s you, I hope and pray that you have people in your life who are compelled to step in and be a sense of comfort or strength. And of course, I pray that you are able to use your voice to ask for the care you need. I’m working on that. 😉
Other questions to consider:
What else am I gestating besides this baby?
What thoughts or patterns keep coming up for me?
Where do I feel the most fear?
What thought or scenario generates the most anxiety for me?
What circumstance makes me feel scared?
And the flip side:
What empowering thoughts keep coming to me?
Where do I feel the most excitement?
What thought or scenario generates the most contentment for me?
What external circumstances make me feel at ease?
Paying attention to how your mind, nervous system, energy field, AND body are responding to pregnancy can be an enlightening experience. You’re whole, mama. So what parts of you feel empty? What parts can you nourish? How can you celebrate your inner and external growth as you prepare for baby?
I’ll be here, going through it with you — still taking photos of my baby bump (because hey, it’s cute), but also weighing emotional health (because it’s just as important).
Cover Image by Sean via Unsplash.com.