This is for the mom who doesn’t feel a pregnancy “glow.” The mom who cringes when people ask, “Aren’t you excited?” The mom who didn’t expect pregnancy to be this hard. It’s okay to acknowledge that even a wanted pregnancy can feel more like an ordeal than a celebration.
Pregnancy Is Different for Everyone
Hollywood and other media portray pregnancy the same way every time. A few telltale (and weirdly tidy) episodes of morning sickness, a wacky craving or two, a big belly waddle, and presto, time to push. In real life, pregnancies vary a lot. They can include any or all of the following side effects:
- Morning sickness (that may last all day)
- Tender, swollen breasts
- Food aversions
- Mood swings
- Abdominal pain
- Bleeding gums
- Leg and back pain
- Gestational diabetes
- Stretch marks
- Itchy skin
- Swollen feet and ankles
- Uncomfortable Braxton Hicks contractions
- Difficulty sleeping
Some people sail through pregnancy. Others seem to deal with every symptom on the list. That’s not meant to scare you, just to remind you to resist the urge to compare yourself to your serenely pregnant best friend. Chances are, the two of you are experiencing very different pregnancies. (And even if your pregnancy is “easy,” that doesn’t mean you have to enjoy it!)
If you can, schedule something nice for yourself. A prenatal massage, or even a few hours to yourself to read or nap, can give you some relief from pregnancy aches and pains.
Not Loving Pregnancy Doesn’t Mean Not Loving Your Baby
You thought you’d be blissful and excited. Instead, you’re irritable, and discussing nursery themes is the last thing you want to do. It can be challenging to deal with these feelings, especially if you’ve experienced a pregnancy loss or had difficulty conceiving. You may even feel anxious that a lack of “maternal” feelings makes you a bad mom before the baby’s even here.
It’s completely valid to be simultaneously grateful for your pregnancy and hate every minute of it. It can be hard to think of the unseen creature kicking your bladder as the sweet baby you’ve dreamed of. Maybe you’re unsure how you’ll handle sleepless nights and stinky diapers. All of it is okay. Feeling worried or not bonding with your bump does not mean you won’t love your baby.
Looking for the humorous side can help. Plenty of books and websites embrace the snarky side of motherhood. Stories from parents who love their kids (but not the mess) are a good reminder that it’s okay not to be perfect.
You’re Not the Only One
Scrolling through social media can give you the impression that pregnancy for everyone else is all flowering meadows and tender gazes at their bellies. Far from it! Even people with complication-free pregnancies don’t enjoy every moment. There’s a good chance that what you’re experiencing is completely normal, and something a lot of other moms can relate to.
If your negative feelings are persistent, or strong enough to affect other areas of your life, tell your doctor. Many women don’t know that prenatal depression exists, but it does, and help is available. Reach out when you’re struggling. You’re not alone in your feelings, and you don’t need to handle everything by yourself.