Journeying into parenthood is a unique experience. You might feel excited, overwhelmed, or anxious, even if this is not your first time being pregnant! Prioritizing your mental health through pregnancy and the postpartum period will help you feel reassured that you can take care of your baby. Here are some ways that you can support your mental health through an exciting time of transition.
Good habits start early! The sooner you can get into the routine of practicing self-care, the easier it will be to continue self-care after the baby arrives. Taking care of your body with movement, nourishment, and rest is a good way to practice foundational self-care. Set aside time to go for a short walk or do some prenatal yoga appropriate for your trimester. Talk with your healthcare provider about how to balance your pregnancy cravings in a healthy diet. Invest in a good pregnancy pillow to help your body feel more comfortable as you grow and shift. Self-care habits that begin during pregnancy will be easier to revisit after your baby arrives. It will take on a different light as your time and ability to sleep might be impacted, but gaining confidence in the basics now will make it easier to adjust them in the future.
Practice Meditation and Mindfulness
When you practice mindfulness, you bring awareness to what you are experiencing in the present moment. During pregnancy and labor, being able to ground yourself in the present moment will help you ride the waves of discomfort as your body works to change for, accommodate, and birth your baby. You can practice skills like box breathing, visualization, and guided meditation for a few minutes every day. Focusing on your breath can help you to feel empowered when the circumstances around you feel out of your control.
Connect with Others
Having social support through pregnancy and postpartum can make a big difference. Studies over the last few decades show that social support is imperative during pregnancy for healthy parents and babies. Many people struggle to ask for help in seasons where they need it; this is one mindset that can exacerbate feelings of isolation in postpartum depression. Lean into family members and friends who live nearby that can offer a listening ear and physical support as you prepare. If local support is not currently accessible to you, consider joining local online groups for parents in your area to meet and grow your support system. You can also reach out to friends who aren’t local through text messaging, phone and video calls, or social media. Connecting with others to celebrate the good times and offer comfort during challenges can decrease the likelihood of an intense postpartum isolation period. Begin building your support network during pregnancy with the expectation that they will continue to be there for you after the baby arrives!
Confidently Ask for Help
As previously mentioned, asking for help can be a challenge at times. Be assured: asking for help does not mean that you are weak, incapable, or a bad parent. Seeking professional help outside of your immediate support system is perfectly acceptable and encouraged during a time of many transitions. While pregnant, you are not only in charge of listening to your body and advocating for yourself; you are also responsible to do this for your baby both while they are growing in you and after they are born. Engaging in mental health therapy during pregnancy can also reduce the risk of postpartum mood disorders. Therapy can be an incredible support for expecting parents to gain tools, resources, and support as you navigate this experience. A good therapist will help you process your thoughts and feelings in order to be more at peace and confident as you step into your new role.
Congratulations on taking a step to care for both yourself and your baby by looking into ways to support your mental health. You can do this!
Disclaimer: the suggestions in this blog post are not a substitute for professional therapy or a replacement for healthcare.