Pregnancy Advice I: Fears & Insecurities

As I move towards the end of my pregnancy, I’m getting more and more questions from readers asking for pregnancy-related advice. Now, I’m not exactly a Preggers Expert, and any and all pregnancy-related information I offer up should be read with this in mind (in other words: if you have questions or specific concerns, especially medical ones, please please please talk to your doctor rather than…me), but that said, it’s been an incredible nine months, I’ve learned a ton, and I’m more than happy to share my experiences with you guys.

Because the questions I get on this topic are so wide-ranging (everything from “what moisturizer did you use to prevent stretch marks?” to “how did you pick a name?”), what makes sense to me is to divide these questions into categories covering everything from style to beauty to tips on staying comfortable and relaxed, and to post one every few days (so as not to bore those of you who really don’t want to read about this stuff). But before we get started on specifics, let me tell you the most important things that I learned:

1. At some point, you will feel like you screwed up.

2. You probably didn’t screw up.

There is SO much information and judgment out there about pregnancy and how to “do it right,” and the simple truth is that there is no single “right” way to “do” pregnancy. Once you start showing you will get unsolicited advice often, and while the vast majority of it will be well-intentioned, some of it will be flat-out inappropriate and/or hurtful. All of it should be taken exactly the same way: with a big old grain of salt. Everyone who’s been pregnant or who’s known someone who’s been pregnant has an opinion about this stuff, and if you listen to everyone’s shoulds and should-nots you’ll go crazy. Be healthy, be smart, and listen to your body and to your doctor, and you (and your baby) will likely be just fine.

It’s also OK to have doubts, fears, and insecurities, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I’ve talked here and there about my pregnancy-related worries, and have actually received a couple of emails and comments accusing me of being “phobic” about motherhood, and a couple more flat-out telling me that I’ll be a bad mother. These people have no idea what they’re talking about, and that’s just part of being on the Internet…but I’ve also been cautioned by people I know well not to let any negative thoughts seep in, because it’s “bad for the baby.” Again, well-intentioned, but the kind of attitude that makes women feel scared to express their feelings, lest others judge them for not having the “right” kinds of emotions, is not only hurtful, it’s dangerous.

Let me say it again: it is okay to feel nervous, scared, anxious, or insecure when pregnant. This is an enormous change both physically and emotionally, and it’s only natural that with all the positive feelings come some ambivalent (or even negative) ones. If you resent your body’s newfound aches and pains, if you’re having trouble feeling a connection to the baby while he’s still in your tummy, if you just really want the whole thing to be over and done with so you can get to the mothering part already…all these things are ok, and don’t mean that you’ll be a bad parent. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for having less-than-sunny moments, and if you’re feeling really bad, talk to someone, whether that’s a friend, a family member, or a professional.

So that’s just what I wanted to start out with before moving on to more specific questions, because I think it’s so important to understand that with pregnancy, as with so many things, perfection is not the point. In these posts I’ll be giving you information I learned based on my individual experiences, but none of it is gospel. To each her own.

Next up: maternity style!

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