How to not expect when you’re expecting.
When I first found out I was pregnant this time around, I thought to myself that being my last pregnancy I set my sights on being the stereotypical pregnant mama, drinking green juice, eating kale and chia seeds and cutting out all junk. I was going to do yoga and be zen. I wanted to be, or at least feel like the epitome of health.
So when the first trimester full on nausea and vomiting kicked in, anything resembling greens made my face turn green and the only food I could stomach was white carbs. My expectations of what I wanted this pregnancy started flaking just like my Janes Pantry sausage rolls and Cornish pasties.
Fast forward to 32 weeks pregnant…Brixton hicks contractions were in full swing. Walking up and down the corridors of delivery suite I was contracting just like I did with my last pregnancy where she was born at 34weeks. My previous baby before this was 37 weeks and my first was born at 2 days overdue. I was adamant I was going to be early, I had my hospital bag packed by 34 weeks, I went on maternity leave at 32 weeks (although having a Christmas off work played a part in this decision!) and any twinge or tightening just convinced me even more that baby was coming early. I was ready and waiting for my labour to start early to fill my expectation. An expectation that I put on myself. The difference though from my last births is that expectation of an early birth wasn’t there before. Labour just started and I went with it, which was so much nicer for my head. Waiting for a baby to arrive is a massive mind game. I teach to all couples that baby’s arrive when you’re feeling calm and relaxed. It’s natures way of letting your body know that you’re in a place of safety for birth. Oxytocin is highest when feeling calm and adrenaline (the stress hormone) can reduce oxytocin. Teaching this is one thing, living it is another!! It can be a real challenge!
I’m now nearly 39weeks, which will be my second longest pregnancy. It’s very easy to think that because it hasn’t been the same as my previous 2 that something is “wrong”. That there’s a reason that this baby won’t come out. Some days I’ve convinced myself this baby will need to be born via cesarean, maybe it’s head is too big, maybe it’s in a funny position. But the reality is that actually every pregnancy is different and that’s ok.
I wanted to share this with you so for anyone feeling the same you know that you’re not alone. I’m a midwife, this will be my fourth pregnancy and I still in my crazy, illogical, baby brain can convince myself that some days something is “wrong” or not going to be ok or that I’ve failed pregnancy because I’ve not been taking my multivitamins. These feelings generated purely due to my made up expectations.
Here’s what I’ve done to stop myself having expectations when I’m expecting, they can be used for whatever…
1. Birth affirmations- I remind myself daily that baby will come when the time is right. If your worried about size, remind yourself that baby will grow to a size that’s right for you. If it’s birth worries, tell yourself that birth is safe.
2. Switching off- I’ve given myself time in the day where I make sure that I’m not thinking of anything. Similar to meditation I suppose. For me this has been listening to my hypnobirthing audios and also starting a good book. I’ve downloaded Audible and am listening to Michelle Obama’s autobiography. It’s a great way to not be consumed with your own thoughts. I do this most days.
3. Tell someone- I’m lucky that I’m surrounded with great midwife friends who can shake some logical sense into me and rationalise my thoughts. My own community midwife has also been great at doing the same so don’t be afraid of saying what you’re feeling or thinking.
4. Do something that’s not baby related. Go get your nails done. Go for a coffee with a friend. Get a massage. Go outside for a walk.
5. Recognise what are your expectations versus what’s normal in pregnancy/birth/newborn. For me this is recognising that just because this baby hasn’t come early, doesn’t mean that he/she is never coming out or that something is wrong. It’s actually more normal that he/she hasn’t come out yet! For you this could be managing expectations on mode of birth, baby size, morning sickness, SPD, baby’s sleep patterns or like me baby’s arrival time.
Photo credits above Chui Photography