When I became pregnant with my first baby, I felt as if not much should change in my life: work load, social engagements, church responsibilities, etc. I had read countless articles and blog posts about the amazing strength and ability of a pregnant body.So I was convinced that I needed only determination and a healthy exercise routine to keep me going strong. Boy, was I wrong!
As I meandered my way through the first months of pregnancy, my energy levels slowly dissipated, I became much more emotional and I realized that maybe cutting back in certain areas wasn’t the worst idea in the world. I didn’t want to readily admit this because I thought that was accepting defeat. I wanted to be stronger! I wanted to be Superwoman! But at what costs?
If you don’t stop and relax and slow down, you and your baby will suffer! Your expectations during pregnancy should be lower and deservedly so! Why?
1. Less Energy.
Obviously this is true and although you may know this fact in your head, it may not have reached your heart yet. Just as with me, there came a time when I realized (after months of knowing in my head) that I could not handle certain church responsibilities anymore or the household chores as much. I needed to step down from a few things and ask for help in other areas. That’s hard for me to do because I try to be self-sufficient and responsible. I didn’t want to admit that I was vulnerable and human.
2. You’re growing a baby!
This goes along with #1, but just in case you haven’t realized: YOU’RE GROWING A BABY IN YOU! Thus your energy levels will be lower. Your energy is being used to do things it’s never had to do before! If you really think about it, it’s an amazing thing that your body is doing! There is no other activity you can be involved in that is equal to growing a baby! For 9 months you’re growing a baby! Of course your expectations for what you accomplish should be lower.
3. Hormones are crazy.
This is an area that has greatly affected me. My hormones are crazy and therefore affect my emotions, which affect my moods, words and actions. Of course it’s up to me to govern them as best I can. But the fact remains that you will be much more emotional.
For me this means that I need more “me” time to rejuvenate myself. Not as many social outings, not as many responsibilities on which other depend, and more quiet time with God and Hubby is what I’ve realized I need to survive. This will be different with you as you’ve got a different personality than I and your emotional makeup is varied. But to ignore this fact will get you in trouble. You don’t want to cave under the stress and emotional anxiety of a big weekend because you failed to plan time for yourself or failed to delegate tasks. Plan for situations like these!
4. Baby can feel those stress hormones.
By reading many baby and pregnancy books, I’ve realized that baby can inherit your stress hormones. Baby knows when you’re stressed out and in turn makes him stressed too. This can affect his growth, his personality, his irritability, etc. You don’t want that for baby! So keeping your expectations low means you won’t be constantly disappointed in yourself or stressed because you had to cancel an outing.
Keeping your life as stress-free as possible should be a goal during pregnancy. Limiting contact with difficult friend or family situations, cutting back on responsibilities and taking more time for yourself is a good idea.
5. Life is about to get more complicated.
Once that baby comes into this world, there’s no turning back. Sleepless nights, endless feedings, more responsibility comes with baby. You will be glad you took it easy on yourself beforehand, because after your schedule is centered around baby. You may not have the option to sleep later, or to nap when you like or to read a book for 3 hours. So take advantage of this time and enjoy! Don’t beat yourself up because you’re taking things slow.
It wasn’t until I injured myself and was laid up for weeks that I realized I needed to slow down. I slipped and fell on stairs and badly damaged soft tissue in my lower leg and ankle. Thankfully nothing was broken but it still hurt like the dickens to use it!
During this recovery time I was directed to rest, keep my leg elevated and on ice. That severely limited my work load, social outings and church responsibilities. I literally sat in my living room chair for a week, reading books, writing blog posts and relaxing. It was all I could do! It felt wonderful to have an “excuse” for resting. Before this point I had tried to be productive: cleaning, organizing, purging junk from our home, working endlessly on my blog, volunteering at church, etc. All good things, but I wasn’t allowing myself to enjoy pregnancy or relax.
When I became temporarily immobilized, it really hurt me emotionally. In the beginning it drove me crazy to sit and do nothing. (Reading books and resting my leg was not my idea of productivity.) Being forced to be still like that drove me to my Bible. I vented my frustrations to God. I prayed for quick healing so I could continue my productivity rampage. But He taught me something instead.
Being still and unable to do all of the things I deem productive is not a bad thing. It gave me time for other things that I’d been neglecting: time with God, time for myself. I’m thankful for the lesson learned; I’m sad that I didn’t learn it sooner in my pregnancy. 7 months is a long time to go with expectations being so high.