When pregnant, we are often bombarded with advice on everything from the most flattering maternity wear to the best nappies, but how often do we talk about mental health as a pregnant mum? Here’s part two of looking after your mental health from pregnancy onwards.
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A baby changes the dynamics of your family, whether you have older children or they are your first. Your priorities, daily activities and needs change, and in the context of sleep deprivation and recovery from birth, this can lead to frayed tempers. Try talking to your partner about this before the baby arrives. How do each of you cope with stress? What do each of you find helpful when you are upset or frustrated? Are there ways of letting each other know that you need a bit more support, or a bit of space, or to be held? Talking about this in advance can help you both understand how to better support each other without needing to work this out when the baby has arrived and you are sleep deprived.
Your relationship with your baby
Whether you choose to find out the sex of your baby or not, you could try starting to talk to the baby, using the names if you have chosen them, before they are born. You could try talking to them about the things you are preparing for their arrival, and who the important people in their lives will be.
Think back to your own childhood and consider the stories and experiences that were special to you. You could choose books, toys and pictures that you remember fondly to help you connect to that sense of family with your own baby. You don’t need to buy everything new; perhaps your parents have kept items from your childhood, or you can find good quality pre-owned clothes and toys – as long as it’s clean and safe, your baby won’t know the difference.
Be your future friend
During the first few weeks and months after having a baby, you are likely to get a lot less sleep than you are used to. This can have a huge impact on your mood, as feeling tired can contribute to feeling low and irritable. Think about ways you can streamline your daily essentials to save yourself as much effort and energy as possible once the baby has arrived. Could you batch cook some easy meals in advance and freeze them, or pre-order a few weekly supermarket deliveries online? Even simple things like dividing up household tasks and setting out clothes you’ll need for yourself and the baby in easily accessible order can make a difference to a sleep-deprived mind! You may not be able to drive for a little while after the birth, so think about alternative means of transport now e.g. having local taxi numbers to hand, think about which people may be able to offer a lift, and look at the bus routes to the places you’ll need to visit.
Pregnant? Treat yourself to a copy of Mama Notes – the 12-week journal that focuses on your emotional wellbeing in the first three months of your baby’s life. Packed with weekly activities and ideas to try, journal prompts and checklists for the daily essentials. Shop here!