It’s something many women feel, but don’t talk about. The feeling of not loving pregnancy… possibly even hating it.
For many first-time mothers-to-be the idea of pregnancy brings with it romanticised dreams of glowing skin, falling in love with their blooming pregnant body, time off work to spend time talking to and nurturing the life within, like a fertile goddess in awe of the miracle of life. Even bonding with other pregnant women they meet, looking forward to making firm mum-friends.
For many, this just isn’t their reality of pregnancy. Pregnancy for some women is in fact far from this. The toll that growing a new life takes on a woman’s body… the exhaustion, the sickness, the discomfort. The changes to your body that she can’t seem to accept, let alone love. The limitations pregnancy can place on physical activity. The strain it may be placing on your relationship, your finances or your work situation. A loss of identity. The mix of unexpected emotions, ranging from fear to resentment to sadness. The uncomfortable unknown emotions that are there but you don’t know exactly what they are. The worry that not loving pregnancy may mean you won’t love your baby.
And to top it off…the guilt and shame in feeling this way, bringing isolation and loneliness as women worry that others will judge them as ungrateful or unworthy of their baby.
Women compare themselves to other women at every stage of their lives… and pregnancy is no different. We see others seemingly loving their pregnancy journey and we feel guilty and shameful that we aren’t feeling the same way. It’s never shared or talked about, and we just sit in that guilt and shame and hide our feelings away, thinking something must be wrong with us.
I want to tell you right now that it is OK to not love pregnancy. It does NOT mean that you do not love the baby inside you. It just means that pregnancy is tough… physically, mentally, and emotionally. You CAN experience two conflicting emotions at once. The way you feel about your pregnancy can be very separate to how you feel about your baby. You can dislike pregnancy, and love your baby. You can dislike pregnancy, and be grateful for being pregnant. You can dislike pregnancy, and be willing to do it all again to ensure the wellbeing of your baby.
It is OK to not love pregnancy.
Focusing on your growing baby can be the only thing that some women need to get them through. Or planning and preparing for birth and postpartum. Or surrounding themselves with people they feel they can be honest with, even if that is only their partner. For others it can be a bit harder to cope. If you are concerned about your negative feelings surrounding pregnancy, or you’re concerned about these feelings impacting how you feel about your baby, or if they are starting to impact your overall emotional wellbeing, it may be time to seek out some support. The right support will listen without judgement, validate your feelings, help you to decipher what it exactly is that you are experiencing, and work with your expectations of pregnancy to lighten your emotional load with reframing and coping strategies.
My name is Fiona Rogerson and I am an ACA accredited perinatal Perth counsellor and Hypnobirthing (Mongan Method) Childbirth Educator. I work in private practice with women and men to overcome emotional and psychological hurdles surrounding conception, pregnancy, postpartum, parenting and identity. I am also available to provide professional development training and workshops to various organisations. My practice is based south of the river in Perth and I can be contacted by email at email@example.com or phone 0402 017 425 or via my contact page.