With only a few weeks to go until I get to meet my baby girl, I’ve been taking time to process the changes in my body. At 40, I’m a little older than most first mothers, but so far I’ve enjoyed a good pregnancy. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had some down days along the way, and you know what? That’s OK. Growing another human has its limits, and pregnancy hormonal changes and progesterone dips are certain to throw us off, but I refuse to surrender. I am choosing happiness.
Mental health tips for pregnant women
As I come to the end of this stage in my journey, I thought I’d share some tips with you on minding your mental health while pregnant. Whilst I am a doctor, specialising in non-surgical cosmetic beauty treatments, I’m also a trained psychiatrist and very aware of the link between physical and mental health. One doesn’t work well without the other.
There are 4 physical well-being pillars that need to be addressed, before you start looking at your mental health. Without these, you’ll be on a much more difficult path to minding your mind.
The 4 simple things to try and get right first, before anything else, are:
- Sleep/rest – lots of it! You need enough to get your body going. If 8 hours a night is tricky, make sure you rest during the day.
- Hydration – drink at least 2-3 litres of water a day. Not only does it boost metabolism, it also boosts lymphatic drainage so you retain less water and feel less sluggish.
- Eat well – good nutrition and a balanced diet is important.
- Move – Just going for a 30 minute walk can do wonders. How many times have you gone outside and ‘cleared the cobwebs?’
Now, being pregnant brings such a drastic change to your everyday life which can be overwhelming at times, leading you to feel stress or anxiety. You might find people offering you advice, telling you there’s no need to feel worried, or triggering you with simple comments like, ‘you wait until the baby arrives…’
Recognise your anxiety
You’re not alone. It’s all about recognising when your anxiety is building and finding the right way to deal with it; what is the best coping strategy for you? It could be through mindfulness or meditation, tapping into your emotions to help you understand the source, or perhaps with therapy sessions where you can communicate your feelings in a safe place.
Ask for help
Communication is so important. Being pregnant is a special time, but if you’re worried about something, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The chances are if you tell your friends or family how you’re feeling, whoever you consider to be in your circle of trust, then they’ll want to help you, even if that’s just by listening.
Seek professional advice
Don’t be afraid to seek professional advice too. Doctors, osteopaths and reflexologists have incredible knowledge on pregnancy and will be only too happy to give you the right advice and support. It’s natural for mothers to become protective over their babies, not wanting to do anything that could cause harm, but don’t let a fear of medicines stop you seeking advice. There are plenty of options out there, prescriptive and alternative, that cause no harm during pregnancy.
Don’t succumb to self-sacrifice. Your baby gets everything they need from you – we are walking miracles. It’s you, you need to be looking after. Mothers can be the first to not do something they want to do in fear of harming the baby. But as long as you’re healthy and happy, your baby will be healthy and happy too.
Big changes can feel overwhelming, especially in the midst of a global pandemic, but some things are simply out of your control. Concentrate on the things you can control in your immediate ‘universe’; your daily life, family and friends and most importantly, yourself. This will activate your internal gratification pathways and you’ll feel the positive rewards within yourself.
Feel free to get in touch if you want to talk about your pregnancy journey. There’s nothing better than a woman-to-woman chat!