Congratulations! You have just found out that you are going to be a new mom. Not only does this mean bringing a beautiful and bouncy baby into this world, but it also means that the next nine months will be a hormonal and emotional roller coaster.
Being pregnant and becoming a mom when you have depression and anxiety is not impossible. In fact, many women around the world have shared their stories that having kids helped their depression like this mom wrote in The Guardian. It’s completely normal to experience anxiety regarding having a child, whether it’s your first one or your fifth one. You are in charge of another tiny human being. This is scary! But ultimately, it’s doable and you can take pride in knowing that you will be the best mom that you can be.
The first trimester can be very difficult. Your body is adjusting to all these new changes and in return, is not the happiest. You may be experiencing nausea, vomiting, extreme fatigue, and you may even start to notice some changes in your depression and anxiety that you hadn’t noticed before.
I’ve compiled a list that helped me survive the first trimester even though I have depression and anxiety, and I hope that these tips will help you, too.
Remain calm and be excited.
I know it’s easier said than done, but try to remain calm. This is going to be an exciting, new adventure for you, and you have every right to feel all the emotions you are feeling. Get pumped up and excited that you are going to be a mom! Don’t let the worries of what being a mom entails keep you down like your depression and anxiety might try to do.
Something that helped me to remain calm and to get excited was by rubbing my belly. Even if I didn’t have a bump, it was a way for me to get connected with the little bean that is growing inside of me. I also turn to Twitter to find others who are struggling with mental illness and reach out to them for advice that it does get easier and it does get better.
Embrace your body changes.
Your body is currently going through a ton of changes, from your ta-tas to your belly, and even your legs and feet. Something I really needed to do during my first trimester was to embrace my body changes. I was extremely anxious about gaining weight, especially since I am a recovering anorexic. Don’t let the gains or changes worry you. Keep your mind set on the fact that you are growing a tiny human who needs you and is counting on you to provide enough nutrition.
If you notice that your body isn’t showing a lot of these changes, do not fret or be sad about it. Also, don’t compare yourself to other mom-to-be’s. Every woman is different when it comes to when they start showing a belly bump, all the way to how their skin and hair look. It’s okay to be at different parts of your journey than other moms, and trust me, Google will only make it worse, which leads me to my next point.
It’s not worth it! It is totally okay if you need to do research on effective parenting styles or whether you want a natural childbirth or not, but do not start straying from those topics. There are a lot of dark things on the Internet regarding birth that will only make your anxiety way worse. If you do need to research some heavier topics regarding your baby, always use reputable sources.
Communicate with your doctor/NP/midwife.
Whoever your person is in the care of you and your little one, please be open with them. They are there to help you and to help your baby. It’s important that they know exactly what you’re feeling. If you notice that your care provider is not on your side, it’s time to find someone who will be on your side. It’s important not only to care for your little one who is growing but also to care for yourself. You are the one that your little one needs to survive right now. This means that self-care and mental health care is extremely important.
Consider asking your care provider if there are any medication changes you can make while you are pregnant. There are options and it’s important that you don’t struggle with those dark thoughts and anxiety. You deserve the care as much as your little one does.
Take up those hobbies.
When your anxiety flares up, it may be hard to take up some activities to keep you busy. However, I found that keeping my hands busy, like with knitting, helps keep my anxiety at bay. If your doctor put you on bedrest early on in your pregnancy, taking up different hobbies can be very beneficial not only to you but to your little one as well. For example, I finished knitting a baby blanket for when my little girl is born. My favorite tutorial for knitting for beginners can be found here. This woman makes it so unbelievably easy to start knitting! Some other hobbies you might want to consider taking up are:
- Drawing or Painting
- Walking (if your doctor allows you to get some easy exercise)
- Completing Puzzles
- Pregnancy Yoga
- Pinterest! (Surprisingly it can pass the time and take your brain off of things for a while)
- Gaming (tabletop or video games!)
The important part is to find something that you truly enjoy and that can keep your brain distracted from those intrusive and anxious thoughts.
If you have the energy with your depression, taking up hobbies can also be beneficial for your wellbeing.
Just remember that these are some tips that helped me cope with my depression and anxiety during my first trimester. These tips may or may not work for you. Again, it’s crucial that you keep in contact with your care provider to ensure that you and your little one are safe. If you are feeling unsafe, please seek out help. There are numerous resources available to help you stay safe and get well. You are wanted, needed, and we hear and see you.
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- US Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741741
- UK National Health Services’ First Response Service: 111 option 2
- UK Samaritans Hotline: 116 123