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Positively Pregnant: what to do when being pregnant knocks your happiness


I originally started this blog on a particularly bad day when I was around 19 weeks pregnant. The usual cognitive techniques I used to maintain a generally positive and resilient outlook were not working or felt like too much effort. I’m now nearly 33 weeks pregnant and have had a number of days like this – as well as, I should say, plenty of great days too. Hormones play a big part, there’s no question, and I don’t mind admitting I had underestimated their impact.

There are a number of reasons why being pregnant can impact your happiness. And I mean psychologically, which doesn’t cover the difficult physical symptoms many women suffer from (and I was lucky to avoid, this time at least). From an overwhelming temptation to compare yourself due to the sheer volume of stories and information out there, to dealing with a changing body shape, to the immense pressure of all the things you “shouldn’t do” causing anxiety in even the calmest of women.

I feel like I’ve navigated the rollercoaster relatively well (though you should probably check with my husband!) – and on the not so brilliant days I’ve used positive psychology as much as possible to help. If you’re in the same boat, try the below mantras which we’ve shared with Isabella Oliver for their positivity week, and let me know if you have any others that help you:

Give yourself a break. Slowing down a bit takes some getting used to. But you ARE allowed to relax and restore your energy. Let your pace of life change, and be in the moment.

You try and live life at your normal pace at first, and then bam. You’re exhausted from a fairly normal day at work. What’s going on? Your energy is going into making a human, your hormones are going mad and later on, you’re carrying plenty of extra weight. By the 3rd trimester, you need about an extra 500 calories a day to feel normal. Luckily, slowing down and enjoying the moment is actually good for you, so don’t let yourself feel guilty about it. Heard of mindfulness? Try it out easily by using one of the great apps out there to help you focus. We recommend headspace.

Stop comparing. Someone will always be loving pregnancy more than you, or have a horror story. Everyone is different. Your experience is what matters and you are the only comparison you need.

The internet is wonderful. It is also a total nightmare when you’re pregnant. There are simply too many references and views on things out there. One tip I had was to get one comprehensive book for anything I needed to look up, and Your Pregnancy Bible was kindly bought for me by a friend. Too much comparison is bad for your happiness in general, because someone else will always ‘have’ or ‘be’ more and we risk jumping on the ‘hedonic treadmill’ and always chasing a bigger goal we can never reach.

Listen to your body. Exercise, rest, your favourite food. Only you know what your body needs to get the helpful hormones running through your system. Do it.

Your emotions, often impacted by your hormones, are like a language. The more you listen the more you will understand. It’s a huge myth that you shouldn’t do any exercise when pregnant; if you were exercising before you were pregnant you should absolutely carry on. “Don’t over do it” was the message I heard from a lot of concerned-looking people, but actually going to a workout class (even when I didn’t really feel like it) was one of the few things that made me feel ‘normal’. Pre-pregnancy I was exercising 2 or 3 times per week and that has gone right down to a weekly spin class and the occasional swim these days (as well as lots of rest and eating!); but as long as I don’t push myself in too crazy a manner, it feels good so far. There are some great tips on exercising whilst pregnant from the Mom Loves Best website, which you can find here and all the latest guidelines can be found on the NHS website.

Don’t forget to marvel at yourself. You’re creating a whole new person using your own body. That’s properly amazing.

This is a simple one and weirdly easy to forget. Your body is doing something pretty incredible. It’s ok to be excited by that, and it might even be good for your health.

Embrace your changing shape. Research shows men find pregnant women sexy. You should too (and a fabulous outfit helps).

As you watch the scales creep up it can make you feel a little depressed. At the in-between stage where your baby bump isn’t obvious it can just make you feel a bit squidgy and horrid (I know I did some days). Try not to panic, it won’t be long until your bump becomes obviously baby shaped and you’ll see the positive way others react to you. Some men may even be overly positive.

Stop and say thank you. Whisper it to yourself, write it down, talk about it to someone. What are three things you are grateful for today? However small they are, practice this habit – it will gradually shift your focus.

Each day try to focus on the things you are grateful for. Gratitude is very good for your overall wellbeing. The things you note don’t even have to be big or significant. The important thing is you also write down the part you played in making them happen. Even if you’re grateful for a sunny day, you’re involved because you stopped to notice it.

Separate what you can and cannot control. Anxiety about things you can’t do anything about is wasted time. If you are happy, healthy and kind, you can be confident in the uncertainty of everything else.

Always focus on what you can do something about. You don’t know the future and you can’t control other people. You can do what you need to do to feel happier, stay healthy, and spread goodness to others.

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