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Pregnancy can be a wonderful experience, but it can also be overwhelming. You are likely to feel a lot of different emotions, and it’s important to recognize and understand these rather than brush them aside. 

As an expectant mother, you might feel joy, excitement, anxiety, fear, and even occasional mood swings. Each woman’s journey is unique and influenced by different factors – whether it’s the anticipation of motherhood, concerns about the well-being of the baby, or physical and hormonal changes. 

Recognizing these changes – and that they are perfectly natural – will help you to manage your emotional well-being during pregnancy. Below are a few tips to help you care for your mental wellbeing. And remember, this is your journey – not your mum’s or best friend’s: do what feels right for you. If you feel like you are struggling with mental health, don’t go through it alone and speak to your healthcare provider.

Make time for socializing

Pregnancy, especially if it’s your first one, can be challenging. Sharing your thoughts and concerns with people around you can help with uncertainties or if you start feeling low. Spending time with family and friends, and connecting with neighbors, coworkers or your religious community can help you feel supported as you transition into motherhood. 

Have open and honest discussions with your partner, explaining how you feel. It’s very likely that they are also going through their own emotional turmoil, and by sharing your experiences you can navigate this together. 

Speak to other mothers or women who are expecting and ask any questions you may have. Prenatal yoga classes can improve sleep and help manage anxiety), and you can also meet other women by going to antenatal classes or finding online forums and local WhatsApp groups. 

Whether it’s meeting people face to face, talking online or over the phone, staying connected can elevate your mood. If you need alone time, go for walks, to the cinema, or treat yourself to a nice meal; make time for yourself. 

Take care of your body to take care of your mind

Look after your body as much as you can by eating regular, healthy, and well-balanced meals. During pregnancy, you’ll need extra protein and calcium to meet your baby’s needs. You can add dairy products, legumes (like chickpeas, lentils or beans), leafy greens, and lean meats into your diet. Your healthcare provider can advise you on the best foods to eat and the ones you can avoid; they can also tell you which vitamins can boost your mood and energy levels while protecting the baby’s development. 

It’s also important to drink plenty of water. During pregnancy, your blood volume increases by about 45%, and experts recommend you drink between 8 and 12 cups of water per day to keep you and your baby hydrated. 

Stay active

Regular physical activity can not only boost your mood, but also help reduce the risk of complications and discomforts linked to pregnancy like diabetes, high blood pressure, and swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet. Check what type of exercise is best for you with your midwife or healthcare provider. 

Once you’ve had advice from your healthcare provider, pick activities you enjoy. Prenatal yoga has many benefits: it helps keep your body toned, prepares your body for delivery, and can provide some relief to many typical pregnancy discomforts like back pain, nausea, insomnia, and shortness of breath. 

If you don’t have time or don’t feel like going to a class, there are other simple ways of staying active. Try walking as much as possible, even if it’s just a short stroll during your lunch break, climb stairs instead of taking the lift, do some gardening or even dance to your favorite music. 

If you weren’t physically active before becoming pregnant, start slowly. Begin with 5 minutes, and build up to more over time. Remember to exercise safely and stop if something doesn’t feel right.

Take time out to relax

It’s normal to have worries and fears about what’s coming when you’re pregnant. As your pregnancy progresses, you might find yourself growing anxious about giving birth – this is very common. Pregnancy and childbirth are major life events, so don’t feel ashamed or guilty for having these feelings. 

Try breathing and visualisation techniques, which slow your heart rate, helping you relax. You can also try meditation. Practicing meditation and mindfulness during pregnancy can reduce your body’s response to stress, helping to bring down cortisol levels and allowing you to feel calm. Feeling well-rested is also key to a healthy mood, so make time to rest and take naps whenever you can.

Make time to indulge and treat yourself. There are many ways you can pamper yourself during pregnancy – it doesn’t have to be a trip to the spa. It can be lunch with friends, soaking in a bathtub or lighting some candles and meditating. You can also get a prenatal massage, have a mani-pedi or just get your hair done. Do activities that make you feel good.

Share your worries and ask questions 

Many pregnant women feel anxious, and in turn worry that their anxiety will affect the baby.  This can create a vicious circle, making you feel even more worried. Talk to people you trust about your concerns, and ask for help if you need it to find ways to manage these feelings. Speak to a friend, family member or healthcare provider. You can also look for local support groups.

If you feel like you are struggling to cope, it’s important to ask for help. Talk to your healthcare provider, who will recommend the best ways to manage your anxiety.

As you embark on your journey into motherhood, make time to care for yourself and prioritise your mental wellness. And remember, there is no shame in asking for help. Every emotion, every challenge and every joyful moment is a vital part of the unique experience of becoming a mother, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider with questions to ensure you embrace your pregnancy with a healthy, happy mind. 

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