Simple, practical steps helped me overcome prenatal depression naturally. It took time, but the results were there – I welcomed my baby with joy. Part 3 explores more of the practical steps I took, and how you can use them for yourself.
Organization and Routine
I'm a pretty organized person by nature, and I like to plan things out. My household also runs in a fairly routine way – when things are going well. If I feel off, however, I don't keep up with things like I should. Nobody else is going to come along and do it, so everything just tends to get worse.
I am forever thankful that I decided on the homeschooling curriculum I did for this year – long before I had any inkling I'd get pregnant a few months ahead of my carefully thought out “get pregnant plan” (Hah!) I chose a curriculum that the children could work through with my oversight – yet they didn't need me to hold their hands through it. Because I chose that curriculum and set up a fairly stable “schoolday routine,” they did not get behind in their schooling. Cassidy is a little behind in spelling because I did skip days of doing some of the oral work needed – but we will finish this summer in plenty of time for the fall.
The rest of life, unfortunately, did not run quite as smoothly as schooling did. Massive aversion to cooking and kitchen smells threw my meal planning through the ringer. The housework suffered and I didn't do a good job checking up on how well the children did with their household tasks. I also let a lot of my goals for my business fall by the wayside.
Some of this is to be expected in early pregnancy. I keep saying the next time I get a positive pregnancy test I'm going to start doubling up on dinner entrees to stock my freezer for when the super-smell problems set in. Fatigue is common in early pregnancy, too. Sometimes it's best to just accept some of this.
But I was struggling so much emotionally that I basically let everything but schooling drop. I felt crummy and looking around at my once smoothly-running household just made me feel worse.
Follow the Plan
I was able to turn this around starting when I started eating well again. Once I ate so that the nausea was gone, I felt better and had more energy. The first thing I did was develop a workable meal plan to carry me through the next several weeks. Having a meal plan really helps me – it removes the decision making needed on my part. I just follow the plan.
With the meal plan in place and running fairly smoothly, I went on to checking up on the children's chores better. Having older children is very helpful because they can do a lot of household tasks such as washing dishes. But children are definitely children, and if you don't check up on their jobs regularly they don't do them well – or they don't do them at all! Regular checks tend to keep them on track 🙂
I also got back into doing my own chore routines and straightening. My mom gave me a book for Christmas (Large Family Logistics) that covers a workable way to add decluttering and organization into a regular routine. I immediately implemented this and over the past several weeks have felt really good seeing the change in my home. I feel like it's mine again – I'm in charge. I also feel like I'm getting more and more ready for the baby. I haven't done anything “baby related” like washing clothes or preparing gear yet… but organizing and cleaning is nesting enough to make me feel great right now.
I keep track of the books (finances) for our family, and I'd fallen behind on that. Again, with the excellent encouragement from Large Family Logistics, I started tackling that mound of paperwork. I did a little bit each week and now have it all under control again. That feels very empowering to me, too.
Another thing that really helped me was getting starting with our childbirth preparation work. This was great for me because it gave me something tangible to focus on with baby preparation. As I mentioned, I felt guilty for not bonding with the baby well, and a childbirth class brings the baby and the birthing body into focus. It also gave me solid goals to work towards to prepare for birth.
Scott and I are using the Pink Kit again for this baby and I love it. You learn real skills that really get used during birth. There's plenty of practice to do in the weeks leading up to birth – you can get started around 24 weeks, or even earlier. If I have trouble in a future pregnancy, I will start the reading even earlier. It doesn't hurt and for me it certainly helps!
A Perfect Birth?
I've been taking the time to start visualizing the baby's birth – how I see labor happening, and how I see the actual moments of birth and those just after. It's helpful for me in this that I have had several good births and can draw from those memories – especially from the memories of Galen's birth. I know the awesome feeling of birthing a baby and the euphoria that comes with it. Imagining this happening – differently, as with every birth – but still wonderful – empowers me on the spot. With Galen I spent time visualizing every day and his actual birth was uncannily close to what I'd “practiced” over and over in my head. So I imagine this baby's birth just the way I want it to happen. That's empowering.
If you don't have empowering births to draw on I would encourage you to “borrow” from those of other women. Read birth stories and watch good videos. There are many great natural birth videos online and there are quite a few DVD's available with excellent births on them. Pull what resonates with you and create a great birth. Imagine it in first person – and see yourself using the techniques and skills you want to use.
Speaking of birth stories, I also found them very helpful. Reading the stories of happy mothers finally meeting their babies was very soothing to me when I felt down. I have read birth stories in all pregnancies, but reading them during the time I was down was especially helpful.
Finally, a good pregnancy affirmation track can make a big difference. Any track of positive pregnancy affirmations, or even a pregnancy relaxation track can work. You can even make your own affirmation track by recording yourself saying affirmations (such as “I accept my pregnant body,” I am nourishing my baby,” “My baby is healthy inside me now,” etc.) Listening to the affirmations tends to help me feel better.
(NOTE: Trying to balance your pregnancy, life, and getting ready for baby? Use my checklist pack stay healthy (naturally), organized, and confident throughout your pregnancy! Get them here.)