During pregnancy people love to ask “how are you doing!?” They cannot wait to hear about how the baby is kicking and how you are decorating your nursery. People may fondly rub your belly inquiring about baby names and even your stroller preferences. However they may not be as keen to hear about the challenges you are facing, or the discomfort you may be experiencing. Sometimes it might feel like there is added pressure to be happy during pregnancy, and it can be freaking exhausting.
The truth of the matter is that life still happens when you are pregnant. Relationship issues, financial issues, work stresses, family stresses, grief, loss, heartbreak and everything in between still occur during pregnancy and it sucks sometimes. While the actual challenges being faced can be difficult on their own, it can feel like additional stress if you are expected to sidestep your true feelings and only focus on the fact that you are growing a tiny human.
Sometimes People Don’t Know What To Say
During pregnancy it is not uncommon to hear phrases such as:
“Oh yes, that must be hard BUT you must just be so excited about the baby!”
“Who could be sad when you are growing a little miracle?”
“The baby must really help you forget all about the ____ (insert stressful situation).”
While these are all undoubtedly well meaning, they don’t change the fact that they share a common theme: “You are pregnant, you MUST be happy.” Unfortunately this is not reality for many women.
For some women their pregnancy is hard. Whether it is challenging physically, mentally or emotionally or all of the above, it can be entirely normal. It is not realistic to be happy every single day of your pregnancy. It does not make you a bad mom, or mean that you are ungrateful. It simply means that you are a human being, living your life which is filled with happiness, sadness, anger and every emotion in between *.
It Is Important To Ask Pregnant Women how They Are Feeling (and really listen to their answer)
While it is common to ask pregnant women about the nursery or how the baby is kicking, it is also important to ask them how they are feeling and allowing them to be honest in their response.
Let them share their feelings about their experiences and really listen to their answers.
If they are going through a difficult situation give them the opportunity to discuss it.
If they start to cry, let them for as long as they need.
If they don’t want to talk about the baby, respect it. They may be need a break from baby talk.
If they are anxious, listen to their concerns, and offer help ONLY WHEN ASKED.
For some, pregnancy can be a beautiful and joyful experience, but for others it may be really freaking hard, and both are equally valid. Life still happens, and all you can do is take things one day at a time, pregnant or not.
* Please note that experiencing some sadness, anger, anxiety etc. is normal. However if you find it feels overwhelming or interfering with your daily functioning please talk to your health care provider, or reach out for support *.