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When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I had the next 9 months planned out in my mind:
- I would continue to exercise
- I would eat healthy
- I would only gain the recommended amount of weight
- I would be grateful, and enjoy the journey, every day
- I would do everything within my power to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
These are noble goals and all, but let’s get real; sometimes life has a different plan. I’ve learned that pregnancy (and motherhood) has a way of giving the middle finger to control freaks like me.
Even so, now that I’m pregnant with baby number four, I still need to keep my control freak tendencies in check. Instead of driving myself crazy about details that are largely out of my control, I’m slowly learning to let go of the initial expectations I had about this pregnancy.
If you’re a control freak like me, here are five tips to help you make it through pregnancy with your sanity intact.
1. Back away from the scale.
When I’m not pregnant, I’m a petite distance runner. But as soon as that positive pregnancy test turns up, I start packing on the pounds. And fast. Instead of obsessing and beating myself up about how much weight I continue to gain, I’m just letting go – which means no weighing myself in between appointments. I still exercise at least five days per week, and I don’t eat complete garbage (at least not all the time.) So, if my doctor isn’t concerned (she’s not,) then I’m just putting that number on the scale out of my mind.
2. Stop comparing yourself to other pregnant women.
There’s a woman at my daughter’s preschool who is due a month before me. Guys, I didn’t even know she was pregnant, until recently. Meanwhile, I’ve had a prominent third-trimester bump going on for a while now, even though I just entered the third trimester. But here’s the thing: I pretty much have the shortest torso ever, so there’s nowhere for this growing baby to go, but out. It’s hard not to compare myself with fellow moms-to-be, but I try to remember that every woman carries her pregnancy differently.
3. Don’t compare this pregnancy to your previous pregnancies.
Slowly, I’m accepting that this pregnancy just isn’t like the ones before. I’m already too big for some of the maternity clothes I wore during my last pregnancy, I’ve abandoned all hopes for shaving my legs and my husband clips my toenails for me. I feel like I could give birth in a few weeks – but I still have a whole trimester left to go. It's hard to resist, but constantly comparing this experience to previous ones does nothing but bum me out. So enough of that!
4. Be okay with re-assessing your goals.
Once the all-day nausea and vomiting took over, that “healthy” diet plan turned into “whatever I think I can keep down.” I’ve also had to tweak my exercise goals along the way. Like some freak of nature, I ran all through my first pregnancy. For my third pregnancy, I stopped running at 30 weeks – so I made that my goal again this time around. By the time week 24 rolled around, there was so much pressure on my pelvic floor and hips, I had to switch to the elliptical and walking. It was discouraging because running is my passion. But I listened to my body, sucked up my pride, and made changes accordingly.
5. Give yourself permission to hate the process.
Some days, it feels like I’m going to be pregnant for the rest of my life. I’m so over it, and, to be honest, I have been over it since those relentless first-trimester days riddled with nausea and vomiting. This hasn’t been the blissful, last-time-I’ll-ever-carry-a-child-in-my-womb experience I had hoped for. That doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for this pregnancy or that the baby isn’t wanted. As much as I’m looking forward to the end result, I’ve hated the process every step of the way. And, you know what? That has no bearing on what kind of mom I’ll be to this baby.
6. Stop stressing about how you’ll deliver and when.
I know, I know. This seems like an impossible ask. (I’m on my fourth kid, and I still stress out about labor and delivery sometimes!) Plenty of expecting women have birth plans and hope to deliver near their due dates, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen the way we envision. If your experience is anything like mine have been, then you might find your due date has come and gone – days ago -- with no signs of labor whatsoever. Or, unforeseen medical issues could have you delivering several weeks early via c-section – and that “all-natural” birth plan goes right out the window.
It’s not easy when reality doesn’t measure up to what I had meticulously planned in my mind for this pregnancy. But learning to let go has not only helped save my sanity this time around – it’s also helped me slow down and appreciate my body for all the hard work that goes into growing a baby. It’s an ongoing process. But if this control freak can do it, then so can you.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.