Dealing with the shock (and panic!) of a new pregnancy


Emotional shock can often be the very first symptom of your confirmed pregnancy. Change, after all, is usually disconcerting—especially such an incredible change as finding out that you’re pregnant. Even if you’ve been planning your pregnancy, it can be truly traumatic to find out you’re actually pregnant. It’s probably the biggest news you’ll ever get in your life, and it affects your whole life indeed. So, be gentle with yourself as you adjust to this huge change. It is okay to not fully connect with your pregnancy right away. That’s normal. It’s like any other relationship: it takes time to acclimate, build trust, and understand this new dynamic in your life. You have plenty of time to grow into the idea (literally).

For women who have had a long road to conception, it can be even more intense. You’ve probably been going through peaks of hope and dips of grief during every cycle, and it may take some time to reestablish trust in your body and to adjust and connect with your pregnancy.

Just when you may be feeling a bit in shock and need some familiar comforts, your usual creature comforts may be on the “banned” list—things like coffee, wine, and hot baths are all but forbidden during pregnancy. So, it’s time to look for some new comforts that will help you find some ease, nurturing, and nourishment when you need it most. It’s not just about baby; it’s also about tending to you.

Find your comfort zone

Some strategies for beginning to bridge with your new one can include: taking some dedicated time out of each day to have an internal dialogue with your baby, quiet yet busy activities such as walking, or just being in nature, gentle yoga, meditation or guided imagery, reading, cooking, knitting, or other crafty work—and an occasional cup of hot cocoa—to help you unwind and cope with the stress. And although I know it can feel vulnerable, telling people close to you can also help your pregnancy feel less abstract. These activities may well aid you in feeling like you’re doing something good for your pregnancy, even if you’re feeling a little lost.

It’s not our societal norm to refer to pregnancy as a trauma, but it’s also not our social norm to tell each other all of the crazy, unexpected aspects of pregnancy and parenting. Creating room for the breadth of whatever you may be feeling is arguably healthier than feeling ashamed or bottled up. If you’re worried about negatively affecting baby with undesirable feelings, it’s time to let go and let nature get to work. It’s okay to feel nervous. You are not harming your pregnancy by feeling any and all of your feelings. I think of it as the beginning of a long road towards preparing your child to effectively process a full-range of normal emotions. And pregnancy is a great opportunity to start to create new and healthy thought patterns, and above all, give yourself room to be “normal nervous.”

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