Becoming a parent is one of the most life changing events women experience. Our bodies, our finances, our emotions, and our spirits are all transformed through the processes of pregnancy and childbirth.
Preparing for this process can help ensure your emotions stay balanced throughout and that you remain present to stand in awe at your amazing body and to cultivate connection with your tiny human before his/her/their arrival.
You may also have to be present for the possible morning sickness, weight gain, strange food cravings, mood swings, swelling, and stretchmarks but with some radical self-care you can navigate those changes with confidence.
Preconception Planning Includes:
- Evaluating behaviors you need to let go before getting pregnant and assessing your readiness to do so. Are you ready to say good-bye to alcohol, drugs, and nicotine?
- Working toward eliminating harmful behaviors or practices prior to conception
- Improving sleep quality through sleep hygiene work
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction to promote a calmer atmosphere for baby
- A safe space to discuss fears about having a child or becoming a mother
- A safe space to discuss fears about growing your family
- A safe space to decide that you do not want children
- Examine childhood traumas, like losing a parent or a history of abuse, to understand how your history can impact your experience as a parent so you can be mindful of creating a healthy family life for yourself and your child(dren)
- Examine issues in your relationship. The addition of a baby to a family or couple increases stress and tension. Work on communication skills before baby comes to help ease the pressure when baby arrives.
- Anything else you feel needs to be addressed before you get pregnant in order for you to have a healthy pregnancy
Here are two great preconception checklists for your reference. Just click the links…
CDC Preconception Checklist
ACOG Preconception Checklist
For Women with pre-existing Mental Health Concerns:
If depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, or other mental health concerns are part of your reality prior to pregnancy, chances are they will not go away when you become pregnant. You will have to manage your mental health much like a diabetic would have to take special steps during pregnancy to manager her diabetes.
It is very important to keep treating your depression and other conditions with the help of your Ob/Gyn. If you find out you are pregnant, call your doctor right away and let them know what medications you take so they can work with you to assess the risks and benefits of discontinuation.
Part of preconception planning is assessing the quality of your mental health and being thoughtful about when you would like to become a parent. If you would like to postpone parenting, I can refer you to wonderful resources for a birth control method that would work for you.
If you are ready to attempt pregnancy, therapy can be helpful in identifying how your mental health may affect your pregnancy and postpartum period, making a plan for how you will stay tuned into your mental health throughout the process, and working on strategies to decrease the symptoms that may interfere with you living the life you want to live and enjoying your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience.
I also provide psycho-education on perinatal mental health and can provide you with tools to talk to your physician or midwife about what you need them to understand throughout your pregnancy with regards to your emotional well-being.