Life. What an amazing gift. That moment you see your positive pregnancy test for the first time gives you a feeling that can’t accurately be put into words. It’s as if the world has stopped right then, and (for most) you feel an extreme sense of excitement and joy that only someone who has experienced it can understand. You may run and tell the person closest to you, or you may not, but shortly after the initial excitement (and maybe a little shock) wears off, a million thoughts and questions start spinning around in your head because you know in that moment your life just changed forever.
You have now been entrusted with a little human who will grow in your body for the next nine months. Your body will need to nurture this baby and eventually and bring it into this world. But what if something happens? What if you don’t eat enough, or you exercise too much or to little, or you eat peanut butter or sandwich meat, or lay on your stomach, or you don’t feel them move enough, or you have this symptom or don’t have that symptom….I could go on and on…. There are so many things you could worry about every second of your pregnancy, but if you consume yourself with worry, you won’t be able to enjoy this miracle growing inside you.
I was one of THOSE moms with my first pregnancy, who worried about all those things I just mentioned, plus a million more. For my second pregnancy, however, I learned ways to calm the worry and enjoy pregnancy more, so I want to share some tips with you.
1. Go to all your prenatal appointments
This may seem pretty obvious to some, but it’s very important you go to all your prenatal appointments. There are many things that need to be monitored for both you and your baby during your pregnancy. The doctor will monitor your baby’s growth, heart rate, fluid level, position, and overall development. You will also need to be monitored for things such as blood pressure, weight, glucose levels, abdominal growth, and protein in your urine. Two very important tests that will also need to be checked are your blood type and if you are Strep B positive. If your blood type shows that you are Rh negative, you will need a very important drug called Rhogam around week 28, and if you are Strep B positive you will be need to be given antibiotics during delivery. If these things are not treated, there could be serious consequences for you and your baby. No need to worry about this if you attend all your appointments, however, because your doctor will make sure you are treated appropriately.
2. Ask Questions
To reassure yourself that what you are doing or not doing is ok during your pregnancy, ask lots of questions when you go to your appointments. I suggest getting a small notebook or journal such as the 40ish weeks: A Pregnancy Journal, and throughout the week, if you have a question or are unsure about something, write it down. Then when you go to your next appointment, bring your journal and ask away! Doing this will give you peace of mind. I did this EVERY appointment. My doctor probably dreaded me coming because he new I’d have a list of questions for him, but I was lucky to have a wonderful OB. He took time to answer all my questions, and this assured me that I was making good choices with regards to my pregnancy.
3. Educate yourself
This goes along with asking questions, but there are other ways to educate yourself as well. The internet is full of great resources, just make sure it is a reputable site. There are also many great pregnancy books that are very helpful. I LOVED What to Expect When Your Expecting when I was pregnant. It has LOTS of good information for every step of your pregnancy. It is very detailed and has even has answers to questions you wouldn’t expect to find in a book. Another great one is Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: From Doctors Who Are Parents, Too!. If you click links you can read thousands of other moms reviews of the books as well. If you educate yourself, you will be more aware of what is going on with your body and not have to worry if something happens that you’ve never experienced before.
3. Listen to your body
You know your body better than anyone. Listen to what your body is telling you during your pregnancy. I’d be lying if I said bad things don’t sometimes happen in pregnancy, but if you can recognize when something doesn’t quite feel right or look right, don’t won’t wait forever to get it checked out. If you just sit there worrying about it, hoping it will go away, you will most likely be making the situation worse. Give your OB a call so you can take appropriate action if needed.
Mediation is a great way to keep yourself calm. I did this a lot when I was pregnant, and I felt the benefits both mentally and physically. It focuses your mind, helps you relax, and also helps lower your heart rate and blood pressure. There are many different ways to meditate, and it is not hard to do. I listed to mediation cds, and they really helped me focus what was going on inside my body, remain calm, and reduce my stress level. This helped me enjoy pregnancy so much more. Some really good ones for pregnancy are Meditations to Support A Healthy Pregnancy & Successful Childbirth (Health Journeys) and Meditations for Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery Viewers Top Pick.
5. Take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself is very important. Your body has a huge job to do, and needs to be in the best state to do it right. Eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, and lowering your stress levels, will all help keep your body healthy. You also want to be sure to increase your folate(folic acid) intake to at least 400 mcg even before your become pregnant, if possible. If the pregnancy is a surprise, then start taking folate(folic acid) ASAP. It is best to take the most absorbable form of folic acid, l-methylfolate. A great way to do this and get all the other vitamins and minerals you need is by taking a good prenatal vitamin. You can find my favorite one that has the best type of folic acid here. You should also increase your calorie intake by 300-500 calories per day in your second and third trimester, and if you are carrying multiples, you will need to add an additional 300-500 calories per day for each baby you are carrying. Exercise is also important during pregnancy, but check with your doctor to see what level of exercise is right for you. Be sure to stay away from alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and even second hand smoke as well. These substances can harm your developing baby. By taking care of yourself, you will not only feel better, but will know that you are doing what is your best for your baby and can stop all the worrying!
I realize in the beginning it can be hard to enjoy every second if you have morning sickness (or in my case all day sickness), but try to remember what an amazing gift your pregnancy is. Not everyone gets to experience that miracle. Some people try for years unsuccessfully to have a baby, and it shouldn’t be something you take for granted. As your baby grows and you start to feel those little kicks, cherish those feelings. It may not seem like it at the time, but this experience will go by SO FAST, and one day you will wish you could go back and feel that life inside you again. Try following my tips so you can stop worrying, and start enjoying your pregnancy!