This may come as a bit of a surprise but the movies really do lie to you. Every pregnancy isn’t about running to the bathroom with an urgent need to vomit (I know for some it is, though I did find it was surprising how many didn’t have this symptom), having a novelty, basketball-sized bump and eating pickles.
I found that, in fact, there’s a whack of time that feels like you’re waiting for pregnancy to kick off. My bump didn’t arrive for a while (my best pal does remind me of the time when I, with pride, told her that I thought I was getting a bump and she told me that it was probably bloating. It was.)
With all that waiting, there’s lots of time for thinking. And not just thinking but for your brain to really kick off, think about pregnancy extensively and really start to worry. In terms of that ‘overthinking’, there were three moments in particular very early on that I found particularly hard:
Waiting to find out if I was pregnant
Okay it’s only around 14 days or so from when you’ve ovulated until ‘Pee Stick Day’ but when you’re in it, jaysus it feels like a long ol’ stint. My head was constantly thinking about whether it was going to be this month, and the slightest twinge in my boobs had me heading to the bathroom to see if I could see a difference!
The twelve weeks mark
Once I found out I was pregnant, there was some lovely celebrations with my Other Half. But I did notice that we were a little muted with our joy as we had a miscarriage at 8 weeks only a few months ago and so knew the odds. And the heartbreak. And the worry that comes with all of that. We knew the numbers – get to 12 weeks, even better get to 14 weeks. Knowing all of that was grand, it was getting there with your sanity somewhat intact – that was the real tough bit.
Getting to 20 weeks
Once past the 12 to 14 week mark, I had thought that I was going to a lot more relaxed than I ended up being. We told our families and some friends at that stage which was really wonderful and another great moment. However I did find that it added a little to the pressure – if we were to have bad news, then even more people were involved now. It really took until the 20 week scan for the worry to really noticeably drop off.
So basically, it was the first half of my pregnancy that mentally I really had to work on the fears and worries. Thinking about labour was a relative doddle compared to that first half, I found! And speaking to other pregnant women, I was not the only one who had that kind of worry to deal with.
I was really glad that a pal of mine over coffee in her kitchen one Saturday morning, happened to tell me that she had done a bit of mindfulness during her pregnancy and how it had helped her. After peppering her with a few questions about it – lots of quite skeptical questions to start off with to be honest as I’m not too keen on stuff I’d categorise as ‘potentially hocus pocus’ – I decided to give mindfulness a bit of a go.
Was I glad I did. After only a few days doing it, I definitely found it helped my mind to calm a bit – and I was worrying a lot less. I started practicing some kind of mindfulness around the 6 to 7 week mark and boy did it help.
Now, mindfulness can mean many things to many people so for me it involved three practical aspects. Firstly I did a few classes to learn some of the basics. I also found a bit of time some evenings to pop off to a quiet area in the house, light a candle and do one of their exercises about being pregnant or preparing for life with a baby with an app I downloaded (after a few downloads, I found Mind the Bump the best for me).
Finally, the thing I ended up using the most. Working with my husband, I developed a few good ‘mantras’ that I would think of if I had suddenly a bit of a spike in worry. Now, mantras sound all very lofty and spiritual – really it was a few sentences that would help me in that moment to get the ol’ blood pressure down. There was around four or five in total usually and they changed slightly throughout the pregnancy. Those sentences included very practical things like ‘Your boobs are veiny’ (which for me was a great sign that all was well, as boy did my boobs get veiny!) and also ‘You got pregnant, celebrate it’ which helped me get a bit more positive about where I was right there and there, rather than focus on an uncertain future.
Anyway, I found mindfulness a proper, practical help during my pregnancy. Never thought I would have gone down one of those kinds of routes for my 40 weeks, but boy was I glad that I did.