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Robin Elise Weiss on Pregnancy
Robin Elise Weiss knows all “about” pregnancy. In addition to being a mother of seven, a certified lactation consultant, a certified doula and an internationally certified childbirth educator, she is the author of several books, including The About.com Guide to Having a Baby, The About.com Guide to Baby Care, The Everything New Mother's First Year and The Everything Getting Pregnant Book. Weiss lectures on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and related topics to healthcare professionals across the country. She shares her wisdom on how you can enjoy your pregnancy.
What are some of the more challenging emotions a pregnant woman might face?
Many women are completely shocked at how upset they feel about getting pregnant. She may have planned this pregnancy to a tee, including the use of fertility treatments; but all of a sudden, the weight of being pregnant and the changes that she faces on every level are staring at her—it can be overwhelming. There are also women who feel ambivalent about being pregnant.
The best, though not easiest, thing to do is to realize that these wandering, unexpected emotions are normal and do not harm you or your baby in any way, as long as you recognize and deal with them. Journaling and talking with a trusted friend or care provider are two ways you can get some perspective on your worries and anxieties.
What can women do during this time to ensure that they are happy and peaceful during their pregnancies?
Take responsibility for you and your baby. Don’t simply pick the first doctor or midwife; find one who wants you as a partner. This way, you can stay connected and be an active part of the process.
You should also surround yourself with people who say positive things about pregnancy, birth and parenting. Seriously, how can someone expect to feel good about pregnancy and beyond, when those around her keep saying, “Oh, it was awful—I can’t believe I did that!”
How can a woman enjoy her pregnancy when dealing with more negative aspects like nausea, fatigue and ambivalence?
Many women don’t start feeling the more agonizing symptoms of pregnancy for a few weeks. Some are lucky enough not to see them at all. Certainly when you’re bone-tired and queasy, you’re probably not feeling very happy. I know I’ve said some not-so-nice things to my husband while my head was hanging over a toilet bowl!
While surviving is a must, the thriving can be more difficult. For someone who is experiencing normal pregnancy symptoms—nausea, fatigue and so on—and not complications, then thriving is really about a great support system and a reasonable expectation of pregnancy. You need supportive, positive people around you to remind you of some of the good that is going on. If you don’t have a support network, now is a great time to start building one. Look for a pregnancy support group in your area, or reach out to pregnant women or mothers at work, church or in your community.
How can women continue to enjoy being pregnant for all nine months?
It’s hard to focus on the positives when you’re not feeling your best, or when you’re so anxious to meet your baby. I try to remind moms that each day of pregnancy is precious to their baby. When the baby is ready, it signals for labor to begin. There is nothing a would-be mom can do to rush the process, so focusing on it is worthless and consumes too much energy.
I have everyone in my childbirth class focus on doing a couple of things towards the end of pregnancy. I tell everyone to get a pregnancy massage; it feels great and helps you move more freely. I tell them to go swimming; you feel much less pregnant, and it can help alleviate aches and pains. I tell them to get a great pedicure, even though they haven’t seen their toes in weeks, to help them feel nice and have beautiful toes for the birth. And I talk about the concept of favorite dates; I recommend that they go to dinner, see a movie and do lots of things they did when falling in love.
One couple actually had dates at the local dinner store where you prepare foods that go in the freezer. So they went out to eat, made a bunch of dinners to be frozen and then baked when the baby came; and then they went for a walk and had ice cream. They said it was perfect!
How can pregnant women move past any grief they might feel over the loss of their more “independent” selves in order to embrace pregnancy?
I think that if a woman spends a lot of time wallowing in the loss, then she either needs to get up and get one with her life or to seek help in doing so. Yes, your life will change. Yes, it changes in ways that we can’t really say up front because it’s so different for all of us.
Talking to someone about your feelings can be helpful, particularly if this person feels similarly and has already been through a pregnancy. Some women like to focus on the loss of independence as being temporary. Others like to think about the new doors that open up for them once they have kids. My advice is to try lots of avenues to feel more comfortable, until you find one that works for you. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Part of what makes the transition so hard is that no one really wants to acknowledge that your life is going to be very different; or that it’s OK if that fact bothers or worries you.
Do you have any suggestions for ways women can enjoy the changes going on in their bodies, relationships and themselves, without becoming overwhelmed?
Many women that come through my classes or my doula practice find that keeping some sort of record of the changes really helps them. The women who keep journals, write letters to the baby, design photo albums, create blogs and so on, really seem to work through these normal issues much more quickly than those who don’t. If someone isn’t a writer, they could try using another medium, such as art, to work through pregnancy. Incorporating the changes into their lives in this way helps women feel them as who they are, as opposed to things just “happening” to them.
Someone who isn’t interested in a written or art project, but is very factual, may want to try writing a list of the changes they expect to experience or are experiencing—along with a list of ways to reincorporate the things they love most into their lives once the baby arrives.
What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?
When I feel really frustrated and scared, I usually remind myself that as bad as it seems, I will still have my family and my life.
The best thing about change is...
…that it forces me to grow by never being complacent.
What is the best change you have ever made?
Leaving a situation that was supposed to be right for me but felt so wrong. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and yet it had the best results of anything I’ve ever attempted.
For more information about Robin Elise Weiss, visit www.robineliseweiss.com.