Making the most of your prenatal journey

When you explore your feelings related to motherhood, you can overcome anxieties about childbirth. Expressing your feelings through writing and exercises shared with your partner can help you release tension caused by unspoken fears.

Remember that pregnancy is a period of psychological, physical and emotional upheaval. This means that you may have feelings of excitement and trepidation about motherhood, expectations for fulfillment and fear of future deprivation. All these feelings are natural. It is necessary for some women to mourn the loss of a lifestyle in which they felt free and spontaneous, without responsibilities for a child. But feelings are not actions. Because you feel this way at times does not mean you want to change your mind or send your baby back! This sense of loss is not a feeling you need to do anything about. Simply recognizing ambivalence as a normal part of decision making can banish any guilt you might otherwise create for yourself. Sadness about the past will be replaced by the excitement of the future if you allow yourself to say "good bye" to your old life. By giving yourself permission to acknowledge fear, loss, or disappointment, you make way for joy, love and hope for the future.

Assuming responsibility for another human life also brings up feelings of vulnerability. During pregnancy it is natural to feel more dependent, particularly on your partner. The desire to be taken care of arises as you adapt to your body's many changes. Feeling dependent on your mate or other people may then bring up fears of abandonment. Working through this fear, perhaps talking with your partner about these feelings will pave the way for adjustment to the family unit you are creating. If you communicate your fears, you minimize the liklihood of drifting apart. In the years ahead you will need to depend on one another in your new roles as parents.

Besides physical changes causing feelings of dependency, the journey toward parenthood stirs up deep desires to be mothered yourself. Your relationship with your own mother comes up for review as you develop your own identity as a mother. The kind of relationship you had with her may have influenced the confidence you have in your own abilities to mother. This new being will depend on you for its very life; now you will be the powerful influence. Your child's life and much of his or her future is in your hands. Some women feel confident and ready for this responsibility and others do not. It is natural for you to feel excited by the challenge of parenting, to anticipate the joys and rewards. It is also normal to feel anxiety about the job that awaits you.

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