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Now that I am in the third trimester and only have to look forward to being increasingly more miserable as the weeks pass (or so I’ve heard), I thought it would be the ideal time to share my pregnancy survival guide. As you may have gathered in this post about why I hate pregnancy, I’m not a huge fan of this whole pregnancy thing. The first trimester was miserable, the second trimester was filled with the baby bump showing up (and unwelcome comments from everyone along with it), and now I’m getting seriously uncomfortable.
Pregnancy Survival Guide: Your Changing Body
For women that struggle with body image (and let’s face it, that’s most of us, right?), pregnancy can be a great challenge because your body is changing in ways that you largely have no control over. For me it has been key to find clothing that fits and is still flattering, because ill fitting and too small clothing is definitely not a confidence boost.
Before buying maternity pants I used the Belly Button Band on my pre-pregnancy pants. Because it actually buttons into your pants, unlike many other belly bands, I didn’t have to worry about it slipping down or up.
Motherhood Maternity is great for inexpensive maternity shirt staples. I have this set.
If you are like me and just can’t stomach buying a bunch of maternity clothes new, check out Just Between Friends consignment sales or Clothes Mentor consignment shops in your area, both of which feature a maternity section. I have found jeans, shorts, dresses, and shirts between multiple locations.
Pregnancy Survival Guide: Resources for Pregnancy and Birth
Do parts of the pregnancy or birthing process freak you out? This is completely normal, so do your research and learn more to dispel myths and anxiety surrounding the process.
Make sure you are getting your information from reputable sources and not from mommy message boards, however. Since I will hopefully be having a natural birth at a local birth center, I have relied mainly on more holistic and natural resources, such as these two. It is important that your are knowledgeable about both your planned method of birth and other potential outcomes. If you are planning a natural birth, explore alternate methods of pain relief, such as water, massage, meditation etc.
Remember to address any questions or concerns with your doctor or midwife. And don’t feel like you have to wait to your next appointment to talk about a complication or something that is simply weighing on your mind. Call the after hours line for the doctor or midwife on call or make an earlier appointment.
Pregnancy Survival Guide: Mental Health Prenatal and Postnatal
As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety on a daily basis, the mental health aspect of pregnancy has been incredibly important for me to focus on. This is why in the first trimester I started going to therapy on a regular basis again at a center that has a focus on the needs of prenatal and postnatal women. I also reevaluated my medication usage with my psychiatrist and we decided to not change anything. I will note that there are a lot of medications that are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women to take and pregnancy is not a reason to discontinue use. Please speak to your doctor about your options. It can often be more dangerous for both your health and the baby’s health to stop taking an antidepressant during pregnancy.
A focus on mental health is key for every pregnant woman, not just those with pre-existing mental illness. Why? Because pregnancy isn’t only wrecking havoc on your body, but your mind as well. All the hormones coursing through your body can cause mood swings, anger, sadness, and just leave you feeling unable of coping at times. And that doesn’t include the natural worries and anxieties that surround about bringing a baby into the world and then caring for them. For many women, including myself, this can create a sort of existential crisis in which you question how your life is and will be changing and what that means for your identity. Don’t hesitate to discuss these concerns and feelings with your doctor or a therapist.
It is also important to prepare for the possibility of postpartum depression, which effects over 15% of postpartum women. Here are some useful links to check out: http://postpartumstress.com/helpful-links/.
Pregnancy Survival Guide: Preparing a Support System
Since I’m planning on being a stay at home mom, something I’ve been thinking about a lot is how things will be when it is just me and baby at home. I have already been experiencing some loneliness at times when pregnancy symptoms have kept me at home. My husband only has one week of paternity leave, so that means that it will be just us girls from a couple of days after the birth.
So I’ve started doing research on the availability of activities and mom groups in my area. The truth is I’m not really looking forward to participating in “mommy groups” almost as much as I am not looking forward to being just us. I’ve heard some tales of the pettiness and cattiness that can occur in these kind of settings and I really don’t want to deal with it at this point in my life. But I think I’ve found some options that might avoid some of this drama.
If you are looking for more of a support group setting, search for parenting or new mom support groups in your area on Psychology Today. These groups are facilitated by trained professionals, which means you will get to connect with other moms in a setting where the discussion is guided and safe.
If you are a Christian, you might want to check out a MOPS group in your area. While this is an opportunity to meet other moms, the main feature of the group is a monthly meeting featuring a speaker while your baby or toddler is cared for, which takes some of the pressure off. Some groups offer other activities such as moms night out and play groups. As well, some groups are starting to also offer the option of night meetings for working moms.
Organized mom and baby classes also may be an option if you are looking for interaction that also allows for stimulation and learning for your little one. Check your area for offerings that may include: library story times, yoga and other fitness classes, music, art and movement classes.