Your guide to emotional wellbeing in pregnancy and parenthood
Having a baby is a big and life changing event. It’s natural for you and your partner to feel and experience a whole range of emotions during pregnancy and after birth.
Learning to tune into your changing emotional state can be a helpful way to keep a check of your emotional wellbeing and to recognise when you may need some extra advice or support.
There are lots of ways to tune into ourselves and keep a check on our emotional health. The following technique can be quick to remember:
Head Heart Body Hands
- Head: What have I been thinking about? (Do I have any worries? Am I overthinking about things which have happened? Am I having frightening thoughts about what might happen in the future?)
- Heart: – How do I feel emotionally? Sad / Angry / Happy / Excited / Nervous / Guilty / Frustrated / Ashamed / Shocked
- Body: What can my body tell me about my emotional wellbeing? Are my muscles tense? Am I full of nervous energy or flat in energy? Am I finding it hard to sleep? Have I gone off my food?
- Hands: What do I need to do? Who could help me with this?
Keeping connected with others can be another good way to keep a check on our emotional wellbeing. Others who know us may notice that we are struggling and help us to recognise that we may need some extra support.
It can be common to bottle up difficult thoughts and feelings and “just get on with it”. Unfortunately, this approach can leave us vulnerable to feeling stressed out and mental health difficulties can become more likely.
Talking about how you feel with someone you trust can protect your mental health and help you to feel less alone. Remember the old saying “A problem shared is a problem halved” it isn’t always possible to actually halve a problem, but it can feel less overwhelming when we know we are not alone, and this sense of support can protect our mental health
Pregnancy and preparing for parenthood can be a really busy and often stressful time. It is not uncommon for people to feel as though they don’t have any time or headspace to relax.
If it’s all work and worry with no rest or play this imbalance can have a negative impact on our mental health
It’s therefore really important to try to find ways to relax and have time out. Relaxing doesn’t always have to mean we quietly sit still; it may be active and involve others. Having a mixture of opportunities to relax by having fun, connecting with others, and quietening our mind can build our resilience to stress.
There are some great local services who can help you to build connections with others. Check out these links:
- Peanut – Find Friends and Support (peanut-app.io)
- Get in Touch – Dad Matters
- Family support — Proud 2 b Parents
- Contact | Home-Start HOST
Being an expectant or new parent can often bring a sense of feeling that things happen outside of our control, and this can leave us feeling less confident, stressed and maybe anxious. One thing that we really can control is how we look after ourselves.
Good emotional health can be promoted by us being in a good physical state – if we can eat regularly, maintain our fluids, and rest our body will need to give less energy to surviving and have more energy to do the things we want to and need to do, if our physical state is cared for our brains will also be more able to think clearly, problem solve and regulate our emotions.
Self-care is not always something which comes natural to us and sometimes people can worry they are being selfish by focusing on their own needs, but this is not the case. Being an expectant or new parent means that someone else is or will need you to be ready and able to help, the more you help yourself, the more easily yon will be able to help your baby.
The following apps can also help to tune into ways that you can do different to feel different, develop self-care and develop stronger networks of support: