Whether you've been hoping for a baby or you're taken by surprise, learning that you're pregnant is one of the biggest moments of your life. It's natural then to expect some emotional changes as you adjust. Fluctuating hormone levels, physical discomforts and the realization that you're going to be a parent may leave you feeling vulnerable and unprepared. Try not to worry: You're probably stronger than you think—and you've got nine months to prepare.
Your body begins to change the moment you conceive. You may welcome these changes or you may become acutely aware of feelings of anxiety about your body. You may worry about losing your figure or wonder if you'll be able to breastfeed. You probably have worries about childbirth. Articulating these fears will help you work through them. It's also important to begin to develop a positive attitude about your body if you don't have one already, suggests physician Aviva Jill Romm, author of "The Natural Pregnancy Book." Try to appreciate your body's wisdom and beauty. Learn to listen to your body's cues. Eat when you're hungry and rest when you're tired. Taking care of yourself now ensures a healthy pregnancy and also helps you develop the ability to care for your baby with empathy.
Pregnancy is the beginning of a lifetime of changes, including the way you see yourself. You may worry about your ability to mother or wonder about your career. Accepting or believing that you're pregnant may take some time, especially if you've been unable to conceive previously or the pregnancy was unplanned. It's normal to have feelings of ambivalence in early pregnancy. Talk with your partner and friends about your feelings.
Pregnancy means some big adjustments for your partner, as well, and some partners adjust more quickly than others. Your partner may worry about how a new baby will affect your relationship and sexuality. He may wonder if he's equipped to be a parent, or how you'll financially support a baby. Talk openly with him about the needs and expectations of both of you. If you have other children, you may worry about meeting everyone's needs. It's true that bringing a new baby home changes the dynamics in your family and everyone must adjust. Talk with other women who have children about how to handle relationships, time and organization.
The enormity of carrying a new life is enough to cause anyone to feel overwhelmed or emotional. Couple that with physical discomforts—such as nausea or fatigue—and you've got a sure recipe for emotional upheaval. Give yourself permission to take the time you need emotionally to adjust to your pregnancy. Journal or talk about your feelings. Go to bed early and take cat naps so you're as rested as possible. Adopt a healthy diet. Dietary deficiencies can add to feelings of depression, according to Romm. Talk with your doctor if you feel unable to handle day-to-day life. Changes in appetite and sleep patterns, mood swings and constant weepiness are signs that you need more support.