It’s possible to use the first 3-6 months of pregnancy to prepare your mind (your emotional self) for the major emotional journey that is emerging in the last trimester and first weeks of pregnancy. Through this post you’ll learn about how to put things in place to set your future ‘self’ up for emotional wellbeing.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant for the first time (back in January), I started changing. I glanced up from the ‘positive’ home-pregnancy test into the bathroom mirror and caught my own eye – I was different. From that moment the ‘change’ seemed to happen so rapidly with my physical body, that it seemed almost like a ‘red flag reminder’ that I would also need to keep an eye on the equally rapid change that was happening (less obviously) within my mind. The changing mind during pregnancy is less obvious but equally as important to keep track of and to prepare. To literally set up for the safest and strongest result. I mean, we do pelvic floor exercises and antenatal classes to protect and understand our physical bodies before, during and after birth – we need to dedicate a similar level of attention to our mind and emotional wellbeing.
Here are four simple things I put in place to help set my self (my mind) up for success. Now that I have a baby who’s six-weeks old I can vouch for these!
- Pregnancy journal & a letter to your future self. You don’t need to buy a special diary and pen and dedicate hours to pouring your heart out on paper – you don’t even need to be particularly strong at writing or self-expression. This is just about opening a blank word doc or ‘notes’ page in your phone and jotting down what’s going on from time-to-time while you’re pregnant. I did a total of six entries. You could write it ‘to’ your baby – to give them an idea of who you were and what your life was like pre-family. Separately to this, write yourself a letter, while you’re pregnant – to your future ‘struggling’ self. Something you can open later on, when things seem to be really hard, that reassures you of your self – of who you were and still are. My letter says things like, “don’t forget that the hard phases are just that – phases, everything is temporary, this hard-part is not your new life forever” and also “here are a list of simple things you enjoy doing that lift your mood; going to the bookstore, having fresh-cut flowers in the house… etc”. Both of these writing processes (when you write or later read) are moments where you are ‘checking in’ with yourself in an easy way – you’re stopping whatever you’re doing and having a ‘me’ moment to solidify and take comfort in who you really are, which in itself is nourishing to your wellbeing.
- Please check in on ME. This one is slightly left of centre because you have to ‘ask for help’ which so many of us are reluctant to do. I knew that in the first weeks of having a new baby, my friends and family would check in and ask how baby was going – but I wanted to ensure that I had people checking in on ME. I literally asked a few friends to put it in their diary to check in on how I was coping emotionally, without necessarily asking about the baby. Since doing so, I have had a few brief but super-necessary conversations that were reflective and truly helpful. These conversations are a break from talking about the baby and a brief time to check in on my own mind. Bupa also has a mummatters tool that allows you to track how you are feeling throughout pregnancy and after birth, and prompts you to check in on your emotional wellbeing at regular intervals (basically organising yourself by setting up these simple yet important ‘me time’ habits). If help or support is ever needed, Bupa’s mummatters can help you find it. You can save it to your mobile’s home screen to use anytime, anywhere.
- Simplifying life, simplifying mind. This is a really simple one. I always wished I was one of those people who had a bag of gold coins in the car for parking so I wasn’t a frantic coin-hunting mess every time I parked on the street. I used the period of pregnancy to become that person, or at least set myself up to be that person for the next few months. So – I put a zip lock bag of gold-coins in the glove compartment. I bought 4 umbrellas from the $2 shop and put them in the cars, in the garage, at the front door. I bought two of every staple-grocery-item in the house (dishwashing liquid, laundry liquid, long-life milk). Think of it like stocking up for a storm. Now that I’m six-weeks in with my “born baby” I have already thanked myself countless times for these little gifts I gave myself – that just seem to take the edge off in those critical first weeks (especially when it’s raining!).
- Notes on a nappy. I saw this done as an activity at one of my best friends’ baby shower (if you’re having one) otherwise you can just ask friends to write these as they visit you and your new baby. Get a permanent marker and have friends write a little note/quote on the front of nappies. At 3am when you’re in a world of pain because you’re exhausted and are dealing with a number 3 poo-nami explosion and outfit change, you’ll reach for the fresh nappy and have a laugh at a simple note. It will remove you from the situation you’re in completely and allow you to take a breath, laugh it off and have a moment to think of the outside world and whoever your friend was that wrote this particular nappy note.
This is a sponsored post of my personal experience during and after pregnancy, I’m delighted to continue to work closely with Bupa on health and emotional wellbeing through this exciting new chapter of my life.