There are many methods that you can choose from to aid any pregnancy or maternity based anxiety that you might have, and today I’m going to share the ones that personally worked for me. It’s vitally important that you talk to your GP if your own concerns feel overwhelming at all. Please note that I have no medical knowledge, just first-hand experience of pregnancy and early motherhood, the worries that come with it and ways in which you might be able to ease them.
Establish a healthy routine
As I was so nervous about giving birth, it really helped for me to stay as calm as possible during my pregnancy. I started by finishing work early using my annual leave entitlement and immediately established a clear and healthy daily routine so that I knew exactly what I would be doing and when. I knew when I would get up in a morning, when I would eat, when I would do my pelvic floor exercises, when I would go for a walk or do other activities at home, and most importantly, when I would make time to relax and rest. I prepared an activity table which was a really good idea given that my leave started just as we entered our third national lockdown. I had gathered a combination of things to do including jigsaws, painting by numbers, pregnancy journals, beauty products and facemasks. Every day I would choose a couple of things to do and it worked as a fab substitute for the array of classes and appointments that I wasn’t able to attend. It depends on your individual preference as to whether you wish to keep busy or chill out, but either way, routine is good.
Make time to relax
Never underestimate the importance of rest and relaxation when you are pregnant. I often set aside time within my daily routine to nap if I felt like I needed it, or alternatively watch a film or series. I made sure that I was spoilt for choice with our Blu-ray and DVD collection, along with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus! Sometimes, I opted for complete escapism from my situation and other times, if I felt like it would help me, I’d specifically watch pregnancy and birth related programmes. The best one I watched by far was ‘Emma Willis: Delivering Babies’. I found it really reassuring and insightful (unlike a lot of other programmes out there that seem to make you more anxious!).
Read and research
If it will bring you comfort to do some research, then the internet is a great place to start. Just remember to take some things with a pinch of salt and don’t scare yourself! I would advise sticking to official sources like the NHS website and Tommys.org., then you know that what you are reading is authentic. I personally preferred to rely on magazines and books. I loved the Emma’s Diary magazines which include the most helpful baby checklists and enabled me to feel like I had everything covered. The three best books that I read were:
- ‘First Time Parent’ by Lucy Atkins
- ‘Mind Over Mother’ by Anna Marthur
- ‘Hurrah for Gin!’ by Katie Kirby
They each eased my concerns about becoming a mum in entirely different ways. Lucy Atkins works to prepare you for parenthood in all of the practical senses, Anna Marthur focuses specifically on improving mental health, and Katie Kirby illustrates a more ‘real’ image of parenthood in a way that’s guaranteed to make you laugh.
Download and use baby apps!
Our smartphones occupy a lot of our time, so why not make your usage productive during your pregnancy? The three best ones that I used during my pregnancy were:
- ‘Bounty’ – This was great for insights to each pregnancy stage. It allows you to log your maternity appointments, provides you with all sorts of discounts and freebies, and offers an array of helpful articles.
- ‘Ovia’ – This was excellent for tracking baby’s development and growth, using size comparisons to food or other objects!
- ‘BabyCentre’ – This was great for more specific articles, including health concerns, baby development and milestones, as well as ideas for baby names.
All three of these also convert to postpartum apps after you’ve logged your baby’s arrival. So they continue to support you through early motherhood too! Other apps that I recommend for after your baby is born are:
- ‘Peanut’ – Think Tinder for finding mum friends! It’s also a fantastic online chat community for you to ask any niggling questions and discuss baby related topics with likeminded mums (instead of feeling like you’re clogging up other social media platforms!).
- ‘Nara Baby’ – This is fantastic for logging feeds, sleep and nappy changes. It completely eradicates any panic that you might otherwise encounter if you were to forget the last time that your little one fed, or when they last had a poo!
- ‘The Wonder Weeks’ – This is the only app I actually paid for, but it is worth it! An absolute godsend for learning about the different development leaps that your baby is going through and how it will change their behaviour. I personally worry a lot less about my baby’s relentless crying when I understand why it is happening.
Get some practice in
I wasn’t able to care for any of my friend’s children while I was pregnant due to lockdown restrictions, but if I had been able to, I would have offered. I imagine it might help to ease your nerves about the general care of a baby, particularly if you have concerns about not knowing much. It only takes one nappy change or bottle feed to feel like you can do it! If you can’t get any practice in or don’t feel comfortable enough to ask anyone, remember that you can watch and learn too! It sounds silly, but it’s easy to underestimate the benefits of observing other mums at work (or play!).
Attend some antenatal classes
Again due to restrictions, I attended mine virtually with @thehonestmidwife and what an absolutely blessing that was. Her real name is Louise Broadbridge and she is the mastermind behind ‘Let’s Talk Birth and Baby’ which drew up an enormous following during the pandemic. In living up to her online nickname, she is a very straight talking, ‘tell it as it is’ kind of person. As well as being down-to-earth, she is incredibly funny too. I personally think you need a bit of light hearted humour when it comes to learning about birth and becoming a mum. Her classes really did eradicate the last of my angst, and she made the process of getting prepared really enjoyable. Despite restrictions lifting, I would encourage people to sign up to her classes.
There is all sorts out there – virtually and in person! Get looking.
This is my final piece of advice for keeping calm during your pregnancy, your baby’s birth and for your journey into motherhood. Be mindful who you ask (i.e, don’t ask anyone that you are pretty sure will spout something unhelpful or more nerve-racking!), but don’t be afraid to reach out for help and information. We are in this together. Some mums might look like they’ve got everything in order and that they’ve always known exactly what to do, but it’s not the case. We all start out the same way – unknowing, unclear, nervous – and remember this when you are next worried…
EVERYONE is learning as they go!