Over 40% of women report feelings of anxiety and depression in pregnancy. This percentage is likely higher, but due to stigma, some women may not report. Pregnant women are so drowned in imagery of what pregnancy should look like and many may feel that if they don’t fall into these norms, they are the odd one out, leading to increased isolation and other emotional challenges.
This guide will walk you through tips that may help you to be able to welcome both warm emotions and uncomfortable emotions during your pregnancy.
3 Tips for Navigating Pregnancy Emotions1. Practice mindfulness and connect with the emotions you're feeling.
- Mindfulness techniques aim at helping to bring awareness to the present moment without judgment in order to alleviate distressing emotions. One technique that you can practice is to observe your emotions related to your pregnancy without judgment: Name the emotion, observe where this emotion exists in your body, visualize the emotion and describe how much space it takes up, visualize the color, and texture of the emotions and journal your reflection of this experience. Lastly, practice telling yourself that you’re allowed to experience this emotion and give yourself permission to give space for this emotion.
2. Seek Professional Support
- Unresolved anxiety and depression during pregnancy increases the likelihood of experiencing a PMAD- Perinatal Mood Anxiety Disorder postpartum. You deserve to be present in a space where you can feel supported and your experience during your pregnancy can be validated. A Therapeutic space with a certified perinatal mental health clinician may be one that can be beneficial to you to work through the emotions that you are feeling.
3. Choose Self Compassion Rather than Judgment
- Are you telling yourself all the emotions you “should” be feeling about your pregnancy? When we “should” all over ourselves, we don’t leave needed space for the emotions we actually are feeling, which are also normal and valid emotions. When we tell ourselves we “should” be feeling a particular way, it leaves us with a sense of guilt or shame. Try practicing self compassion can include changing your critical self talk. Consider what you would tell a friend if she confided in you the emotions she felt regarding her pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a life changing event and it is competently normal to not enjoy every aspect of it. The next time you have a thought that includes “should'' related to how you’re feeling about your pregnancy, remember that you are not alone in what you actually feel. Joining a support group may be of additional benefit in which you can feel surrounded by other women with similar experiences.
About the author: Folake Ike is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Certified Perinatal Mental Health (PMH-C) clinician. She operates her private practice, Peace of You Therapy Services in San Diego, CA, providing individual therapy services to women adjusting to the waves of life, or struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression. learn more about Folake or view more of her work on her Frame profile.