When you are pregnant, people assume that you are happy. There’s nothing quite like being pregnant, and for most women, it is a positive experience. Your friends and family will be super happy that you are going to have a baby, but what if you don’t feel that way? What if you are feeling downright miserable, in fact?
For some women, this might be because they have morning sickness every day, which lasts as a persistent nauseous feeling throughout the day. For others, their morning sickness lasts way beyond the time that it should, going well beyond the first three months, sometimes through the whole pregnancy. This is called hyperemesis gravidarum, and it can be dangerous for the unborn baby. So this condition is likely to bring the woman suffering from it considerable stress, which is added to the stress of her pregnancy.
Perhaps this does not describe you, but instead you have been confined by your doctor to bed rest. At your last visit to your OB-Gyn, you were told that your cervix had started prematurely dilating. Obviously, you want to do everything possible to prevent birth from happening prematurely. For this reason, you have been confined to bed rest. Bed rest is one of the most boring ways for a pregnant woman to spend her time. She is essentially not supposed to leave her bed at all until her due date is near enough to allow labor to occur without incident.
Having met many women who have been confined to bed rest, I can tell you that it is a miserable situation. You are literally not allowed to do anything other than lay in bed or sit on your couch all day and all night. Reading books and using the computer or tablet, or even your phone gets boring really fast. There are no games that are interactive or challenging enough that you would want to play them 24 hours a day.
Unbeknownst to many women who are prescribed bed rest, this practice is in fact controversial. Many nurses, especially OB-Gyn nurses, have written extensively on the topic of bed rest. Nurses have argued that the benefits of bed rest (eliminating or reducing the risk of premature labor) are outweighed by the risks inherent in remaining immobile for long periods of time.
In addition to a risk of bedsores and excessive fluid remaining in the legs due to a lack of motion, this practice also goes against all of the science that points to physical exercise as the best way to prevent premature labor, even in cases where the cervix has dilated. So it may well be that the better plan for such women is to get up and move around, rather than lying in bed all day long.
On the plus side, however, many pregnant women have used this time as an opportunity to get prenatal massages. I have personally helped many clients who were assigned bed rest whose doctors have advised them to get massage therapy to help with the inevitable aches and pains that being still and not exercising are likely to cause.
Prenatal massage has also been prescribed for pregnant women who are suffering from high blood pressure during their pregnancy. Since this is also a cause for the prescription of bed rest, sometimes having several prenatal massage sessions after the diagnosis of high blood pressure can help to bring the blood pressure back into a normal range. This is one of the accepted medical effects of massage, and some forward-thinking doctors prescribe it to their patients who are suffering from this condition. Unfortunately, having high blood pressure during pregnancy can also make for a miserable time, since the condition itself causes pain and possibly seizures, and there is added stress caused by the concerns for maternal and fetal health.
In addition to massage during pregnancy, which is highly recommended as a remedy for all of the above conditions, including morning sickness, there are other things a woman can do to help reduce her sadness, stress, or depression, and bring back the joyful experience that pregnancy should be.
The first would be exercise. Getting outside to exercise is ideal, but even using a treadmill in your den or basement is better than doing nothing. It has been shown that exercise can help to elevate your mood, and being active is also extremely healthy for the pregnancy itself. Exercise, similarly to prenatal massage, can help to boost the immunity, prevent premature or preterm birth, and also help to reduce or prevent postpartum depression. There are many other benefits to exercise as well, including lengthening telomeres to slow the aging process, among others.
Finally, the pregnant woman can practice meditation. By meditation, I am not referring to a complex and lengthy process, but simple techniques are the best. Sit quietly with the eyes closed, or lay on the floor with your knees elevated by a pillow or a chair. If you are past the first trimester of pregnancy, limit your time lying on your back to twenty minutes, as the pregnant belly can stifle circulation to the legs. Then simply focus on feeling your hands and feet, and follow your breath as it moves into and out of your lungs. Do not worry if thoughts arise, that is normal. Do not try not to think, as that is a sure way to think more than you ordinarily would. After each meditation, stretch your body and return to your normal activities.
These three suggestions, of prenatal massage, exercise, and meditation, can do a great deal to help you to return to a state of joyful anticipation during your pregnancy, and to eliminate the worry, stress, and misery you might be feeling as a result of the conditions and prescriptions above. If you stick with them, they are certain to give you at least some degree of help in turning your pregnancy into the positive experience that it should be.