Culturally there is almost this expectation that pregnancy should be the happiest time of our lives… In books, TV shows and on Insta we constantly hear about the pregnancy glow, or just how amazing and beautiful pregnancy is.
And don’t get us wrong – many things about pregnancy are beautiful and amazing…but the reality is that many women don’t like being pregnant, or don’t enjoy every aspect of pregnancy. And this feeling can take them by surprise.
There are many reasons why you may not love being pregnant, and it is important to know that this is ok and doesn’t mean you won’t be a good parent. We’ve compiled a few of the most common reasons many women don’t love being pregnant, to help you feel seen and heard in these completely normal feelings. As well as a number of strategies to help you cope with these feelings.
Falling pregnant can be difficult
Many women who have had a hard time falling pregnant or have experienced pregnancy loss may find it hard to enjoy pregnancy. They may feel like they should be “grateful” and struggle with feelings of overwhelm, and anxiety or may have trouble accepting that they actually are pregnant. Many women struggle with feeling like pregnancy is or feels different to how they had imagined it – which can, in turn, cause anxiety.
Guilt or anxiety about being pregnant
Furthermore, if you’ve been struggling with falling pregnant for a while and have found comfort in support groups or friends who have the same struggle, you can feel guilt or anxiety about falling pregnant – it can make you feel bad or wrong about feeling happy or celebrating – even if you know that this is a bit irrational. Or, if you’ve experienced one or multiple miscarriages, it can be hard to enjoy or celebrate your pregnancy because you are worried about experiencing loss again.
Being pregnant can feel awful
While we all hear about the wonderful pregnancy glow, or the joy of carrying a baby that so many others talk about… often the realities of pregnancy can have you feeling just downright awful. Typical symptoms you experience during pregnancy like morning sickness, food aversions, fatigue, heartburn and insomnia can really take their toll on you – especially when you still have to hop up and go to work or take care of your other kids like it’s any other day.
All of these conditions can make pregnancy really difficult for many women and can make it hard to enjoy it. Despite all of these hardships women can experience during pregnancy, it is still really easy to feel like you are being ‘ungrateful’ about your pregnancy if you voice your discomfort. This can often make feeling unwell during pregnancy an isolating experience for many – especially if all of your friends and family have had easy, happy and healthy pregnancies.
The circumstances aren’t what you wanted or imagined
We often talk about pregnancy as a ‘gift’ or a ‘blessing’, however, it can sometimes be hard to see it that way if it is unwanted, or isn’t happening in the circumstances or the way you had imagined. After all, pregnancy is a huge change in anyone’s life – but especially if it is unplanned or if your circumstances suddenly change.
Many women who fall pregnant have to make really hard decisions about what is best for them. If they do decide to continue with the pregnancy, many have to consider being a single mother, organise co-parenting arrangements, or make big career decisions.
Or it could just feel different than you had imagined… Many of us dream about being mothers one day, and think about what it will be like being pregnant. Then we are met with the realities of it… it can just feel different than we had expected. Less magical and more sweaty, tiring and a bit uncomfortable.
How to cope when you don’t love being pregnant
Now that we know some of the common reasons you may not love being pregnant (though there are more), here are some ways you can deal with these feelings:
Give yourself grace
It can be really easy to feel guilty or get down on yourself because you feel that it is wrong to feel this way – or it will mean you will be a bad parent. Rest assured that these feelings don’t reflect poorly on you as a person, or have any indication of what you’ll be like as a parent either. Take a deep breath and tell yourself that it is okay to feel this way. Accepting these feelings is the first step for learning to cope with them.
If you’re struggling to accept how you feel, or be kind to yourself, try to imagine if a friend came to you with the same thoughts or feelings – how would you react, what would you think of them and what would you say? Most likely, you will find it easier to be kinder and more understanding to a friend, which can help you put some distance between yourself and your inner critical voice.
Honour your feelings
Now that you’ve accepted your feelings, it’s time to honour them. The stress, anxiety, discomfort, potentially even anger and sadness you are feeling are all justified. Don’t expect them to just disappear now that you’re beginning to accept them. Instead, engage in healthy coping strategies for dealing with them. Whether that is writing in a journal, venting or confiding in a friend, getting outdoors, listening to music or taking time to rest and even cry.
Justify how you are feeling whenever you can – pregnancy is a huge change in anyone’s life and it is more than enough reason to be experiencing big emotions. By honouring your emotions, rather than running away from them (or ignoring them because you think you should be happy about your pregnancy) you are giving yourself time to process them.
We all need support from time to time. During pregnancy, it is a great time to be regularly connecting with your support network – whether that is family, friends or your partner. Schedule time to see your friends and if you’re comfortable, let them know you’re having a hard time with your pregnancy. You may be surprised at how many of your friends with kids, or who are pregnant can relate. And even if they can’t relate, good friends will always be there to be non-judgmental listeners and supporters.
However, sometimes the ways you’re feeling go beyond not loving your pregnancy into overwhelming feelings and emotions that are more serious. You could be experiencing bouts of anxiety, depression, isolation or worry which can be signs of a perinatal mood disorder. In these cases or whenever you feel like you could benefit from some extra help in processing your emotions about your pregnancy, it is important to visit your doctor about accessing some professional mental health support.
1 in 5 women experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy and/or after birth – so know you’re definitely not alone in your experience.
Take time for yourself
Pregnancy is a huge life adjustment for everyone – and unfortunately during this time most of us still have to go to work, or take care of our kids or just get through day to day life. This is especially tiring when you’re pregnant and even more so when you are already having difficulties coping with your situation, so make sure to take lots of time for yourself.
This can look like many different things depending on what you find restful. It could be reading, walking, watching Netflix, chatting with a friend or having a bath. We’re not saying you need to book in for regular massages or spa treatments (though they definitely wouldn’t hurt…) as we know this isn’t possible for most of us, it’s just about finding 5-30 minutes a day just for you.
It can be a really hard or isolating experience when you don’t love being pregnant. Rest assured that these feelings are completely normal and it’s okay to feel this way. The important thing is you find ways early on to cope with these feelings and know you definitely don’t have to deal with them alone.
If you or someone you know are struggling to cope you can visit COPE.org for a wide range of support resources, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.