Emotional detoxing can help balance your mood and give you a fresh perspective. At this time of year I think it’s especially important to do what I call a ‘negativity detox’. I do one of these whenever I realise that I’m getting bogged down in negative thoughts or behaviours and have found that expectant mums can benefit greatly from this practice at some point in their pregnancy.
During pregnancy the mix of hormonal changes combined with the fact that you’re tired, uncomfortable and approaching a major life change, can mean that you’re more sensitive or feel more vulnerable. This vulnerability can manifest as negative feelings, which are a natural part of the flow of life but often during pregnancy, negative feelings and thoughts seem to have more significance. Because pregnancy often takes away a lot of your normal energy levels, you’re even more at risk of feeling unbalanced emotionally.
You’re growing a person, preparing for their arrival and all the change that comes with that. It’s natural to have fears, worries and doubts – about pregnancy, labour, birth, feeding, coping with a baby, how your relationship will change, finances etc. There’s plenty of things that your mind can choose to worry about, but managing these feelings in the right way will help you to feel more prepared, more confident and more in tune with the truth.
It’s so much easier to say ‘don’t worry’ or stop being negative – and much harder to actually implement changes that allow you to feel freer and lighter. So what can you do?
I’ve put together some of my top tips on how to overcome negative feelings and thoughts during pregnancy. Learning to be kind to yourself during this unique time is very important, so why not start your negativity detox today?
Start by identifying the negative thoughts, patterns or feelings you have and the things that trigger them. Try and write a list of the worries you may be harbouring and the way these feelings usually show themselves. For example, if every time you go to the bathroom at night you start worrying about how your labour will go, write this down as a trigger. Similarly, if every time someone mentions how big/small your bump is, you start a spiral of worry about how your baby is developing, write this down too.
People are very pattern orientated and often during a time of major transition – like pregnancy – having regular worries or behaviours can strangely make women feel more secure and like they have more control over what’s going on. Try to visualise your list of worries as a wall that you’re holding onto that’s blocking the view of a happy scene on the other side.
Similarly, acknowledging the triggers that spark negative thinking will help you to feel more distanced from them and better able to switch them off.
Just like going on a dietary detox, a negativity detox requires you to clear out a lot of the toxic influences in your life. This means that if you know you always feel uncomfortable around a certain person or doing a particular activity, that you take measures to avoid those people or things and have less of them in your life.
If it’s impossible to avoid some of the sources of negativity in your life, then try to be mindful of them. Recognising something as negative and saying to yourself that you won’t allow it to make you feel a certain way will give you more power and make you feel like you are taking charge back of your emotional wellbeing. Inevitably negative experiences, comments or people can lead to low mood or other toxic emotions like anger, frustration, jealousy, doubt or guilt. When you are in the full grip of these emotions it can be difficult to extract yourself from them. Try to be mindful that these feelings are transient – you may be feeling them, but that doesn’t mean you have to be defined by them. Just because you feel doubtful about your ability to cope or feel insecure about giving birth, doesn’t mean that you can’t cope or won’t feel capable of giving birth when you’re faced with these scenarios.
Sources of negativity might be more abstract than a rude co-worker or a doctor you don’t like. They could even include things that drain your energy – from certain foods to certain places or even forms of exercise – make a list of the experiences that leave you feeling low and wherever possible minimise their presence in your life.
If commuting makes you feel exhausted before you’ve even got to work, look into whether you can do a day working from home or see if you can car share with a colleague who lives locally instead of cramming yourself onto a train.
Likewise, find out what makes you tick. Normally, when women are pregnant, having a strong, supportive and loving energy around them, whether it’s through their friendship group, family or partner, will ensure that they feel more positive, prepared and confident for their transition to motherhood.
If there’s a mother you know who seems to be a well of useful information and positive ‘can-do’ vibes, then make a point of seeing more of her. She may be able to help you feel more prepared for your transition to mum-life.
Talk to people who build you up rather than those that question your choices and leave you feeling insecure and should something like that happen – try to turn it on its head. Often people say negative comments because they are filled with their own self-doubt.
For example, if you’re expecting twins and someone says, ‘I don’t know how you’ll cope’ remember it’s more of a reflection on how they don’t think they would be able to cope, rather than a personal attack on your capabilities.
Feelings of jealousy come and go throughout pregnancy. You may be jealous of a friend whose pregnancy is going well whereas yours is making you feel sick to your stomach. You might find yourself green-eyed with envy that other mums to be don’t have stretch marks but you do – these are all elements of human nature, but they’re also sources of unhelpful negative energy that will do nothing for your mood.
Focusing on the positive is much harder when it’s abstract. Instead get writing a list of all the things you love about your pregnancy and all the things that make you feel good about yourself. Whether it’s your extra thick pregnancy hair, the fact your body is making a person that you can love forever to the fact you have an excuse to get looked after a little more by your partner – you’ll soon find there’s lots to be content about.
Most mothers to be feel a pang of doubt at some stage or another. Having a baby is a big life change and whether it’s your first or your fifth, adding to your family always comes with a healthy amount of fear, doubt and anticipation.
Will you find it hard? Yes you will at times. Will you be the perfect mum? Who is? Recognising that you have doubts is totally normal. The best way to deal with them is to speak to others in the same situation. A worry shared is a worry halved. So whether you talk to another expectant mum, someone in your family or your other half, a good listener will soon help you to put your mind at ease. Becoming a mother is never complete plain sailing. There’s a lot to learn, but there’s no reason why you’re not equipped to do the job. You can and you will.
I often find negative feelings come about when things feel out of control and usually that happens when you allow yourself to be spread too thinly. It can make you feel like you’re no longer in charge of your happiness. Learning to say no is a vital skill – and one that will come in very handy as a mother. Start tuning into your maternal instincts and recognise that your health and happiness are important. Once you realise that saying no is possible, it can feel like the world is your oyster once again.
Expecting a baby? Worried about how to prepare for labour, birth and beyond? Preparation is the key to feeling confident so why not sign up to our innovative online antenatal course, HATCH which is led by experienced midwife Sofie Jacobs.
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