When your pregnancy doesn’t go as planned it can feel like the whole world is crashing down around you. Here are some tips to help you find your way through.
When Your Pregnancy Doesn’t Go As Planned
Preparing for the birth of your child is exciting. But it can also be scary, filled with uncertainty and concern. Expectant parents are encouraged to have a birth plan, outlining all of their preferences for the delivery of their child.
But you know what they say about the best laid plans. Babies and bodies can both be unpredictable, determined to follow their own path regardless of the plans you make. It is best to also prepare for the possibility of your pregnancy not going according to plan.
While not a part of any official birth plan, most women have hopes and expectations of what pregnancy might be like for them. And whether you are pregnant with your first baby or your fourth, chances are good that your pregnancy will not go quite as you expect. These “small-ish things” might not sound like a big deal to some people, but they certainly can feel like a big deal when you are going through them.
Perhaps it is unexpected physical discomfort – swollen feet and fingers, morning sickness that lasts for three months straight, or feeling like you’re being used as a punching bag from the inside.
Or maybe your pregnancy is causing your emotions to go haywire, making you overreact to things that never bothered you before. And suddenly, you find yourself in an unhappy mix of hurt, guilt, and strained relationships.
Perhaps the timing is just off. You find yourself facing single parenthood when you always dreamed you’d be married first and now you aren’t quite sure how you’ll survive the break up, let alone the next 18 years as the sole provider for your little family.
Health Concerns and Worries
As much as we would all like for our pregnancies to go perfectly, many women find that their bodies need a bit of help with carrying a healthy baby to term. Problems ranging from RH Incompatibility to Pre-eclampsia to Gestational Diabetes or blood clots and beyond; it can be truly terrifying to find out that your own body might be a threat to your precious unborn baby. No matter how deep your faith or how loving your family, it is a real challenge to deal with constant low-to-medium-grade fear lingering in the back of your mind for months on end.
Labor and Delivery
Sometimes, issues come up during labor and delivery and suddenly, you find that your perfect birth plan has gone right out the window. Maybe you dreamed of another relaxing epidural birth like you had with your first child. But you go into labor so fast that your baby is born without any pain medication. Or you really wanted a home birth but had to transport to the hospital when your labor failed to progress. The Birth Center water birth you dreamed of ended up being an emergency C-Section and you can’t stop crying.
Labor and delivery is a time when women feel most vulnerable. When things end up going in an unwanted and unexpected direction, it can be challenging to face.
Something is Wrong with the Baby
Nothing will drive an icy nail straight through your heart like hearing the words, “something is wrong with the baby.” Whether you go into labor early and deliver a premature baby or learn that your little one is in fetal distress from swallowing or breathing meconium, finding out that your baby is in trouble is one of the worst things you’ll ever face as a parent. Suddenly, it is no longer about your birth plans and dreams. It’s about your child, your baby . . . your heart! At a time like that, you might even consider bargaining with the devil if it will keep your precious one safe, but all you can do is wait, hope, and pray.
Finding Your Way Through
No matter what you might be facing, when your pregnancy doesn’t go as planned, it can be hard to handle. But, one day at a time – and sometimes, one moment at a time – you can find your way through.
Honor Your Feelings
Whatever you are feeling, your feelings are valid. They matter. You matter.
Women often find it so easy to dismiss our feelings. We are nurturers and care-takers and want to put the needs of others first. But when you hurt, you hurt. When you are afraid, that’s just how it is. Your feelings matter as much as anyone else’s and respecting yourself and your feelings actually makes them easier to process and move through.
Don’t “should” on yourself – “I should be (stronger, wiser, braver…etc.)”. Don’t tell yourself that your feelings don’t matter because someone else has it worse. If you’re in the hospital with a broken leg and the person in the bed next to you has cancer, it doesn’t make your broken leg hurt any less. Your feelings matter.
Speak Your Truth
Once you have honored your own feelings inside of yourself, find a safe place to express them. Whether you talk to your spouse, a trusted friend, an anonymous support group online, or simply write them down in your own personal journal or diary, it is important to find a way to express your feelings. Yes, even getting professional help is completely fine!
Something about the act of expressing your truth helps to release the energy a bit. It can make you feel less “tight” – as if the knot inside you is loosening and relaxing a bit. Releasing the stress associated with negative and fear-filled feelings will help you immeasurably as you navigate whatever circumstances you are going through.
Don’t Blame Yourself, and If You Do, Forgive Yourself
It isn’t your fault that you are going through this. Your body is not out to get you or your baby. You did not do anything to “deserve” this.
Nature is random, and we are all a part of nature. Sometimes, lightning strikes one tree and not another. Even the Bible tells us that there is a time for sickness, a time for health, a time to celebrate, and a time to mourn. One of the worst things you can do is blame yourself or treat yourself harshly. Instead, treat yourself as you would a good friend. Be gentle and understanding of your own feelings and emotions. Remember that you are doing the best you can. The people sharing the experience with you are also doing the best they can. The gentler you can be with each other, the better.
Keep the Faith
Whether you are a believer in God, think more in terms of “spirit” or simply have faith in your own abilities, hold on to whatever gives you strength. Positive thinking actually matters, and can make all the difference in the world. Especially in the worst of circumstances, it can be easy to give in to sadness, fear, and negativity. But the more you can remind yourself of the good things in your life and all the times when things worked out the way you needed them to, the better. Things often do happen for a reason, even if the reason is hard for us to see at the time.
Author Elizabeth Stone once wrote, “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” There is nothing more true, even when your “heart” is still nestled inside of you, awaiting birth. When your pregnancy doesn’t go as planned, there are moments that can feel like the end of the world. But step by step, minute by minute, you can find your way through to your next new beginning.
The resources below may help you better deal with some of the “unexpected” parts of pregnancy. These are affiliate links, so please refer to my entire disclosure statement – which basically tells you I make a few pennies on each dollar you spend, at no additional charge to you!
Online Prenatal Class – While I took a course from the hospital with our first child, I didn’t want to do that (and didn’t really have a lot of time) with our second. So I took this online prenatal course as a refresher, and it was exactly what I needed!
Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow – This is a great way to get comfortable, or at least as comfortable as you can get while pregnant. 😉
The Whole 9 Months: A Week-by-Week Pregnancy Nutrition Guide – Want to stay as healthy as possible? This book is sure to help!
Purpose in Pain: How to Survive Illness, the NICU, and Pregnancy Problems – Nearly everyone has some problems during pregnancy. Some are bigger than others, and this book is here to help!
The Belly Book: A Nine-Month Journal for You and Your Growing Belly – If you want to track every ache, pain, movement, and growth – this is the journal for you! It’s a great keepsake to show baby how much you loved her or him before they even entered the world!
What to Expect When You’re Expecting – This book covers SO MUCH! It helped me through my first pregnancy, answered questions when my niece was in the NICU, and even helped with gestational diabetes with our second child. Oh, and it even mentions blood clots – which I also had the “pleasure” of dealing with. So.much.great.info.here!