Pregnancy and childbirth can be full of moments when you’re completely out of control of (a foreign feeling for most of us, who run our lives like clockwork). Honestly, I feel like trying to keep a sense of control is often more stress-inducing than helpful. For me, handing myself over to the process of pregnancy and childbirth, being kind to myself and learning what it was like to be okay with a new phase of chaos and unpredictability was a real game changer
When I was pregnant, so many people (with parenting experience) were telling me that my life would change forever and the biggest change would be to the sense of ‘control’ I had always felt over my adult-life. People approached this topic with me differently., Some would say knowingly, “The control you have over your life is over as you know it”, almost in a “Pffft, good luck to you” sense., Others were wanting to, wholeheartedly and literally, sit me down and guide me gently around the fact that control would need to be almost totally relinquished, in order to achieve success in my new life as a mother (something they said they had“wished they had known”).
Regardless of how the advice came, I realised most people were sharing to be helpful, so that this shift in control was something I could prepare for emotionally. While I appreciated the advice, I also thought, unfortunately, there’s not really much I could do to prepare for this unprecedented and pending loss of control. I mean, how can you prepare for something like that? It’s like me telling you to “get ready” for a treasure hunt which is happening next month, without giving you a map… not much you can really do to sharpen your skills, before the day presents itself.
I decided to try and use the foreign, unexpected, uncontrollable moments of pregnancy as a training ground to proactively release my handle on control (rather than being a passive audience to its disappearance before my very eyes). Let me be specific, at 4 months pregnant, I was already beginning to lose control, ever so slightly, over things that had always been mine to completely own and direct. It felt like all areas of my life were being targeted.
– My body, for example, was no longer only affected by my lifestyle choices and actions. Rather, all sorts of other ailments were going on, like blocked sinuses, ‘boobus gigantus’ and a new restriction on oysters entering my mouth.
– My time wasn’t entirely mine anymore either. I had more appointments and scans than I could imagine and I couldn’t book flights to Burning Man, despite my promise to myself to get back there.
– My sleep was also becoming interrupted and I seemed to be wide awake at 3am each night – obviously some seemingly evil hormonal training ground for the night feeds to follow.
So, I decided to use each and every one of these moments to think to myself, “Change is approaching, control is shifting, accept it’s happening and enjoy the ride.” If I couldn’t control my world, I could at least decide how to look at it.
As you can imagine, throughout the course of an entire pregnancy there were PLENTY of moments where things were changing and I felt my grasp slipping. Actively noticing those moments and seeing them as an opportunity to “be ok” with a lesser sense of control turned out to be great training for motherhood. As my baby entered the world and the whirlwind of the first six weeks took place, I found I was more at ease with a reduced level of predictability and yep, much diminshed ability to control the world around me. I found I had a new view of what control even looked like. I was glad for that initial training.
Find new ways to rethink what control in your life looks like. There are some great resources out there for women who are pregnant or just had a baby, including Bupa’s new mummatters mobile tool. mummatters is designed to help women look after their emotional wellbeing during this time, which can make a real difference to them and their baby. The tool is easy to use, totally confidential and has been developed with leading researchers, specialists and mums. It’s a really good way of helping women stay strong and feel in control of their own emotional health.
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.