So this blog post is written in phases: during pregnancy and postpartum. Each phase is mentioned so enjoy!
At the time I’m writing this, I am almost 34 weeks pregnant, and currently my mood swings are telling me to smack my husband. One of the many challenges with pregnancy is managing mental health. There is so much going on inside me and around me that sometimes my brain takes a minute to catch up.
Postpartum comes with its own mental health challenges as well. However, the underlying theme is anxiety and self doubt as well. I am currently 9 weeks postpartum and finally feel some version of normal. So here is a breakdown of my mental health journey during pregnancy and postpartum so far.
Pregnancy: For me, the biggest mental struggle was anxiety, which came and went throughout. At every phase of the pregnancy, there was always something that occupied my mind-which made me quite anxious. During the first trimester it was constant questions like “Am I even pregnant?” “What’s going on inside of me?” “Can I eat this or use this product?” etc etc. Then when I crossed the first trimester mark, then the anxiety shifted to “Is the baby growing ok?” “Does it have all of its organs?” “Is the baby moving enough?” etc etc. And in the 3rd trimester it’s a constant questioning of “Is the baby going to have a healthy birth weight?” “Will I get everything done before the baby arrives?” etc. And at the point I’m writing this, I haven’t even thought about how the delivery is going to go. Oh, and did I mention the old school Indian superstitions? Or the anxiety around sharing my journey on social media? It was a whole mess.
- What helped: My daily affirmations really helped. I have a list of affirmations in my phone, which I read everyday. Fortunately, I’ve imbibed them so much that it’s helped me approach each phase positively and with a clear head, because I know the more positivity I have, the better it is for me and the baby. Another thing that helped was listening to meditation music. Anytime I found myself craving for some peace mind, meditative music during my daily walks helped calm me down and stabilize my mind.
Postpartum: Postpartum anxiety is not much different from pregnancy anxiety. Actually the only difference is me questioning my abilities as a mom. “Am I doing this right?” is a question that is so constant in my mind. There is so much to learn through this entire process-that I’m unfortunately very hard on myself when I get it “wrong” (e.g. misunderstanding her sleepy cry for a hunger cry). Another question I keep asking myself “Why don’t I understand this?”or “Why am I not getting this?”
- What helped: Two things helped. Talking and time. Talking to my mom, my husband or even my nanny was very reassuring. Everyone simply reiterated one thing: that it all takes time and I’m not the only mom in this boat. And frankly, that was encouraging. Eventually, with time I began to get the hang of Aisha’s routine, her cries, and basically what everything means and needs to be done. Yet, I am learning something new every single day, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
In both pregnancy and postpartum, I experienced the other extreme of being super excited about everything happening. I wanted a baby for sometime so it was perfectly natural to be excited about being able to grow this little human and raise it. When Aisha was born, I was over the moon with excitement as well. In all of these moments I keep practicing gratitude-for what my body is able to do, for this healthy small human that grew inside me and is now growing outside me, for my health, and just being able to go through this journey. Gratitude was another way that shifted and leveled my mindset to be more even keel as I moved forward.
So there are two of the main aspects of my mental health journey during pregnancy and postpartum. Of course I have dealt with and I’m still doing with my mood swings-where some days where I feel normal and even keel and other days where I feel I can’t do everything right, but that is a part of the ride right? It’s what makes us human!