You’re pregnant: many and mixed emotions
When you find out that you’re pregnant, you might have many and sometimes mixed emotions.
Surprise, confusion or disbelief
You might feel surprised, confused or even a sense of disbelief – especially if you weren’t trying to have a baby or you got pregnant quicker than you expected. It can take a while for the idea of being pregnant to sink in.
If I was to sum up my initial reaction to being pregnant I’d say, shock, fear and excitement. We had discussed starting to try for a baby. It’s something we both wanted but had chickened out for a couple of months. I think we were both just a little apprehensive about something so life changing!
Joy or excitement
You might not be able to stop grinning or smiling. If you haven’t told others the news, people around you might be wondering what’s making you so happy. It might feel like you have a secret that you can’t wait to share.
My first reaction to being pregnant was ‘Surely the stick is wrong’, quickly followed by pure joy. I was convinced it would take us years to get pregnant, and am aware of how lucky we are that it only took a few months.
Worry, fear or nervousness
You might feel uncertain about what’s to come. Or you might worry about things like how your relationships will change or what sort of parent you’ll be. And you might feel a bit nervous or scared when you think about giving birth.
You might also worry about whether you were ‘healthy enough’ in the weeks before you knew you were pregnant – for example, if you ate soft cheese or drank alcohol.
Not sure how you feel
It’s OK if you don’t know how you feel about the pregnancy. There’s no one right way to feel. And you and your partner might feel differently.
Some people might not know how to feel because of their situation. For example, you might have a partner who isn’t supportive of you or your pregnancy, or you might be having the baby on your own. Or you might be grieving a recent miscarriage and are unsure of how to feel about the new pregnancy.
If you conceived with the help of fertility treatments or IVF, you might feel both relief and joy to be pregnant, but also worry about whether the pregnancy will go well.
You might have started to feel physically different. For example, you might be experiencing nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headaches and bloating. These physical changes can affect how you feel about being pregnant. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor or midwife about any pregnancy symptoms.
Positive ways to manage your feelings about being pregnant
One way to manage mixed feelings about pregnancy is to start preparing yourself for parenthood. This can help you focus on the exciting side of the experience and get your head around the idea of having a baby in your life.
Here are some things you can do to prepare for parenthood:
- Imagine what your baby will be like and start bonding with them during pregnancy. You can sing or chat to your baby – baby can hear you. You can also gently rub your belly.
- Think about what being a parent means to you and what sort of parent you’d like to be.
- If you have a partner, it’s a good idea to discuss what’s important to you when it comes to raising your children.
- Prepare for changes in your relationship with your partner during pregnancy. Communicating with your partner is an important part of this.
- Look after yourself by eating well, staying active, resting when you can, managing stress and taking time to do things that you enjoy. You might need to make lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or avoiding alcohol. Staying healthy and well helps you give your baby what they need to grow and thrive in the womb and after birth.
- Learn about pregnancy and what your baby needs after birth by talking with your doctor or midwife and booking birth classes. You can also read our articles on pregnancy and newborns. Building your parenting knowledge can boost your confidence and help you prepare for becoming a parent.
It’s also good to plan and build a support network. A support network can help you and your partner feel like you have practical and emotional ‘back-up’ as new parents. Surrounding your baby with positive, supportive relationships early in life will also be good for their brain development, social development, communication and more.
Your support network might include extended family, friends, people in your community, and professionals like your doctor and midwife. You can also ask a child and family health nurse or parent and family service to connect you with parent groups, playgroups and other supports.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to talk to someone you trust like your partner, a family relative or friend, or your doctor or midwife. You can also call the national Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) helpline on 1300 726 306 or the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby helpline on 1800 882 436.
Getting help for difficult feelings about being pregnant
If you have any worries, fears or any other concerns, it’s a good idea to talk about them with your doctor or midwife.
Your health professional can reassure you about most things. For example, they’ll tell you that what happened in the first few weeks of pregnancy will probably have very little effect on your growing baby.
And if you’re unsure about going ahead with your pregnancy, it can help to talk with your GP.
If there are problems in your relationship, including family violence, talk to your doctor or midwife, or call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 737 732 (1800RESPECT). They can help you get support so that you and your baby stay safe.