Pregnancy: A time of joy, excitement, exhilaration … and also anxiety, tears and frustration. Although the good far outweighs the bad, it’s all too easy to fall victim to some negative sentiments while baby-bearing. From envy (Why can’t my belly be so round?) to gluttony (The baby needs this third brownie, right?), there’s a range of scenarios that can hamper your expectant happiness. Avoid these seven common pitfalls to put yourself on the path to prenatal greatness (or at least goodness). They might not be deadly in the literal sense, but they will kill your spirit if you give them a chance.
\ˈen-vē\: the feeling of wanting what someone else has
If you’re currently expecting, you are probably seeing and noticing pregnant women everywhere you go, and you likely have an acquaintance or two who is also with child. If you’re coveting someone else’s pregnancy—perhaps your neighbor with her gentle belly swell and healthy glow, or the gal you run into at every OB visit who looks like she just walked off the set of a maternity fashion shoot—know that you’re not alone. Many women come down with a case of pregnancy envy at some point during their 40-week stint.
“Being envious at times is a normal human reaction,” assures Sean Daneshmand, OB/GYN, founder of the nonprofit Miracle Babies. It happens all the time—not just during pregnancy. But before you get too caught up in trying to keep up with Mrs. Jones, remember that everything is relative, says Daneshmand. What looks perfect on the outside might not be so sunny on the inside. In fact, your object of envy might be envious of you! “Every new mother has her own struggles,” says Vicki Reece, a mom of three and blogger at JoyofMom.com. Maybe she’s throwing up around the clock or worried about how she’ll fare financially while on maternity leave. No one’s life is perfect, even if it looks that way upon first glance.
Rather than living in a state of comparison, focus on what’s really awesome about your situation: You’re about to have a baby. A perfect, tiny, beautiful little human. Be happy for yourself, and be happy for other people. And, if it helps, “Remember they also have to wear a frozen diaper, mesh underwear and use a donut pillow after the baby is born just like the rest of us,” says Kate Casey, a mom of four, author of You Know You Are Pregnant When … and blogger at LoveandKnuckles.com. Labor and delivery is the great equalizer.
\ˈgrēd\: a selfish desire to have more of something
Have you cruised the baby aisles at Target lately? Or popped into a specialty boutique? There’s a lot of baby stuff to be had, and it isn’t unusual for a mom to get caught up in the “I want it all” mentality.
But learn from the experience of Andie Petersen, a mom of three in Orange Park, Florida: “I thought I had to have one of everything, but I could’ve lived without about 60 percent of what I brought home.” She quickly found that you can easily warm baby wipes in your hands (and skip the wipe warmer). A do-it-all stroller is much more budget- and storage-friendly than having various models for each activity. And socks are easier than shoes in those first months (which leaves many pairs of size 0s unworn in the closet). Rather than getting caught up in the excitement of shopping for baby and overbuying, think ahead and figure out what you’ll really use. The list will be different for each mom, but one thing’s for sure—you almost certainly don’t need one of everything. Abstain, and your wallet and the clutter police will thank you.
Of course, sometimes it’s not just the baby gear that’s making you feel a little greedy. Kids can also lead us to long for a three-car garage, a backyard pool and a second home on the beach. We all want our kids to have the very best, but let’s not forget that “the very best” is actually health, love and happiness. Your baby is not going to care whether she’s crawling through a million-dollar mansion or a modest two-bedroom apartment. She’ll be happy to be hanging out with you either way.
\ˈləst\: a strong feeling of sexual desire
During your pregnancy, you might just find yourself in an all-too-inclusive club of women with a common unifier: the OB crush. “I dreamt about my doctor,” admits Petersen. “He’s the only man I shaved my legs for in my third trimester!” It isn’t unusual to develop a harmless crush on the man (or woman) who pretty much seems to know it all about what your body and soul are experiencing—even if he isn’t “your type.”
Let’s look at all the reasons it’s easy to lust after the man in white: Every time you see him, the first thing he asks you is how you’re doing. He confidently answers all your questions. He frequently offers reassuring advice. He cares about your swollen ankles and doesn’t try to avoid eye contact when you start crying for no reason. What’s not to love? Especially when your partner, who is new to this pregnancy thing and dealing with a lot of emotions and fears of his own, seems so incompetent in comparison.
Rest assured: The feelings for your provider will pass with the placenta. Once baby arrives, Dr. McDreamy will return to Dr. McNormal. At some point, you’ll probably even think, What did I ever see in that guy? Blame your hormones for the fantasy fling, and take comfort in knowing these crushes are common —and fleeting. Once you see your baby daddy with your newborn snuggled against his chest, you’ll forget that any other man exists.
\ˈprīd\: the quality or state of being proud; inordinate self-esteem
Pride isn’t always a bad thing. When you’re proud of your babe-to-be for growing right on track or proud of yourself for actually getting a home-cooked meal on the table by dinnertime, that’s OK. You should be proud! (Especially of that home-cooked meal.) As long as you don’t use your pride to make others feel bad, pat yourself on the back all day long, mama. You deserve it.
Other kinds of pride can do you in, though—such as when you’re in the thick of pregnancy fatigue but you’re too proud to ask for a helping hand. “Asking for help makes us feel that we’re lacking in some way,” concedes Reece, adding: “The truth is you must realize that your body is going through tremendous change, and you’ll be tired. Think of asking for help as something kind you can do for your child.”
Maybe you hoped to have the nursery done by now or a stash of baby supplies neatly organized, but you have to be aware of and acknowledge your limitations. After all, your body is hard at work growing a human even when you’re taking a breather on the sofa. There’s no shame in saying, “Yes! Could you maybe help me fold this stack of laundry?” when someone asks if there is anything they can do to help you. And if no one is asking, speak up. It’s the only way you’ll get what you need—and for whatever reason, if it doesn’t work out, move on with your head held high. A little humility does us all some good.
\ˈrath\: strong vengeful anger
If you skate through pregnancy without ever letting your emotions get the best of you, you’re a better person than … well, everyone we know. Those hormones cascading through your body are bound to lead to a blowup at least once. Things that would normally roll off your back might eat at you until you explode—and normally, it’s those we spend the most time with who get caught in the crossfire. (Although, sometimes, it’s the guy in front of you who tried to sneak 14 items in the express lane when the sign clearly states, “10 or fewer.”)
If you explode at someone at home or at work, “Make sure to apologize afterward,” advises Reece. Most people will give you a couple of passes when they know your body is going through a lot, but it’s still important to own your actions. If you find that you’re regularly experiencing more anger than normal, find outlets to help keep things mitigated. Meditation and yoga are highly recognized for their calming tendencies. “Exercise is also an excellent way to keep us calm and cool, along with naps throughout the day if possible,” says Daneshmand. We can’t control our hormones, but we also don’t have to let them control us. Whatever methods you normally use to keep yourself on an even keel, stick to them (and add to them, too, if necessary).
Sometimes just getting it out of your system can help. “Call your other pregnant friends and open up the conversation with, ‘May I just vent for three minutes?’ It will do wonders,” assures Casey. Journaling can be effective as well, or talking to a professional if nothing else seems to work.
\ˈglət-nē, ˈglə-tə-nē\: the act or habit of eating or drinking too much
Surely you’ve heard this before, but you’re not really eating for two. You should add only about 300 calories per day into your diet—roughly the equivalent of a banana and two tablespoons of peanut butter. (If you are under- or overweight, your needs might be different.) If you want to splurge on a hot fudge sundae with nuts, go for it … but don’t do it every day. “You’re not going to feel great if you overeat,” warns Reece.
Because you might feel hungry more frequently than before, consider dropping your three-meals-a-day routine and shooting for six small meals spread throughout the day instead. It’ll keep you feeling satiated longer and also help with issues like indigestion and nausea.
Whether it’s safe to enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage during pregnancy is a controversial topic at best, but one thing is not up for debate: Fetal alcohol syndrome, a real, life-altering condition, is 100 percent preventable. It’s never advisable to drink in excess while expecting, and most medical professionals encourage the “better safe than sorry” approach and recommend abstaining altogether until baby arrives.
\ˈslȯth, ˈsläth also ˈslōth\: the quality or state of being lazy
Ask an expectant mom how she feels on any given day, and she’ll likely respond, “Tired.” Pregnancy is exhausting. However, you can’t use it as an excuse to remain sedentary for nine months. It’s important to stay active to keep your weight gain in check. (Gaining too much can lead to gestational diabetes, labor complications, a higher risk for a C-section and other difficulties.) Plus, you’ll want to keep your body in shape for delivery day. “You train to run a marathon; wouldn’t you do the same for pushing a watermelon-sized human out of your body?” asks Casey.
Other than a few high-impact or jarring activities (such as aggressive team sports and horseback riding), there’s little you can’t do during pregnancy. If you were a runner or Zumba fanatic before, you should be able to continue those activities as long as your health care professional hasn’t told you otherwise. Be sure to get her approval before introducing any new exercise into your routine as well.
Although you might feel physically tired when it’s time to tie on your sneakers, the old rule of thumb stands true now, too: Exercise gives you more energy in the long run. So although it might be tempting to binge watch “Game of Thrones” instead of hitting the gym, make yourself get on your feet and keep at it. You’ll no doubt be happy you did when it’s all said and done.
Pregnancy is a roller coaster ride, and you will probably experience some very high highs and some very low lows as your body and spirit adjust to make room for the life within. Don’t expect perfection, and don’t beat yourself up when you fall victim to a “sin” that leaves you feeling a little less than lovely afterward. It’s normal to experience a range of emotions. A bad day doesn’t make you a bad person; it just makes you human. Besides, the little one you’ll soon be meeting will find you absolutely perfect, even if you were a little greedy or gluttonous while he was on board.