Pregnancy is more than just a time for growing a baby (or two, or more) and getting showered with gifts and attention from others. It’s also a journey of self-discovery. Some of the things you’ll learn about yourself during this time will be interesting and fun, while others will be deep and very personal.
Make the most of these opportunities to explore who you are. Getting to know yourself more thoroughly can help you become a better mother and feel more confident about your identity as a whole.
As you go throughout your pregnancy, here are four lighthearted and four serious things you may learn about yourself from your experience. If this isn’t your first pregnancy, you may be surprised at how they differ this time around!
On a Lighthearted Note
8 How Much You Value Sleep
Once you become pregnant, diamonds are no longer a girl’s best friend. Sleep is. Gone are the days of staying up late for fun or waking up before you need to (wait, does anybody really do that willingly?) You realize how precious this commodity is and how little you get of it at a time when you need it most. Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve your amount and quality of sleep.
- Sleep on your side for the most comfort for you and safety for your baby.
- Buy a body pillow or sleep with several regular pillows supporting you where it feels most comfortable, such as between your knees.
- Go to bed as soon as you feel sleepy, no matter how early it is. Staying up too late can make it difficult for you to fall asleep even if you’re tired.
- Stay off electronic devices at least a half hour before going to bed. The type of light they emit makes it harder for your body to prepare for sleep.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal before bed. Avoid drinking lots of fluid so you don’t wake up to pee more than you already have to from being pregnant.
- Whenever you are able to, take a nap. Any opportunity you have to rest, take it! It will be harder to do once the baby comes. You may feel as if you have so much to do in preparation, but the most important thing right now is growing that baby, and that takes a toll on your body.
If you find yourself experiencing more severe
sleep problems than is normal for pregnancy or your usual sleep patterns, consult your provider.
7 Your Quirks
Pregnancy is the time to find out all the little quirks about you, such as food cravings and aversions.I think most women find it amusing to finally know what crazy foods their bodies will want while they’re pregnant. While the running joke is pickles and ice cream, that isn’t even the
weirdest craving women have confessed to. For me, it was shrimp burritos from Rubio’s with my first and several oranges a day with my second. When my mom was pregnant with my younger sister, she couldn’t get enough of stale Peeps.
On the flip side, there are some things you may become averse to. There may be certain foods and smells that will trigger your morning sickness. With my second child, I suddenly could no longer handle one of the most appealing smells in the world: buttery popcorn.
Oh the things you’ll eat, or hate…
Your taste buds and olfactory senses aren’t the only things that change. You may also find yourself irritated by certain noises that didn’t bother you before. Once I became pregnant, I wondered how in the world I went for two-and-a-half years without knowing my husband snores. I’ve slept with earplugs ever since.
You will also find yourself crying at the most random times or over the silliest things. I remember one evening after seeing a movie in my third trimester, my husband asked me where I wanted to eat. I started crying because I couldn’t decide and then cried some more because I felt so stupid for crying about it. Unfortunately, the emotional sensitivity doesn’t end after the baby comes.
6 Your Tastes in Baby Things and Names
Before you got pregnant, you probably had an idea of what you wanted to name your children, how you wanted to dress them and decorate their rooms, and what baby items you wanted to buy for them. You may have been thinking about these things since you were a child yourself or maybe only as recently as when you and your partner first discussed having kids.
Either way, now that it’s really happening, you’ll find out which tastes you still have and which have changed. Maybe that name you’ve always loved just doesn’t seem right anymore and another has caught your attention. Maybe you’ve decided the baby will be sleeping in your room and there’s no need to spend lots of money decorating a nursery after all. Or maybe you’ve gotten even more excited and want to go all out on everything baby, buying the cutest trends in clothes, accessories, and gear.
5 Different Ways Your Body Can Look
It’s no secret your body undergoes drastic changes as you grow a baby inside you. Your hair grows thicker, your curves become more pronounced, your breasts get bigger, and perhaps your rear and thighs do, too.
You can use this experience as an opportunity to realize how you look with a different figure. Ever wonder what you would look like with more voluminous locks or a bigger chest? Now you know.
Some of the changes can be unwelcome, such as hair showing up in places it didn’t before or your ankles and feet swelling up. Whether you like your new body or not, it can help you be grateful for both the body you have when you’re not pregnant and while you are.
Most of these changes are temporary, but some—both the wanted and unwanted—are lasting. All you can do is embrace them and view them as a reminder of how amazing it is that your body knows how to grow life all on its own!
On a Serious Note
4 What Your Body and Mind Are Capable Of
Your body can grow life. Think about that for a minute. You are creating another human being—and without conscious effort! Your body knows what it’s doing by itself. That doesn’t guarantee there won’t be obstacles, emergencies, or sad endings, but those things don’t mean your body is broken or inferior or anything else negative. Pregnancy is a complex experience with numerous factors involved, many of which are out of your control.
One pregnancy myth that is still viewed today is that you’re limited in your capabilities during this time and should take it easy. Unless you have certain health issues or risks and your provider has given you specific instructions and warnings, there are very few things you can’t do while pregnant! Take these women who didn’t let a baby bump stop them from doing great things, for example.
Carrying a baby inside you doesn’t just test your physical limits. It also reveals how tough your mind is. So much preparation for birth is mental. It takes trust, confidence, strength, relaxation, perseverance, and more to grow and birth a baby. Helpful activities to boost your mental power include meditation, breathing techniques, visualization, self-hypnosis, and other biofeedback exercises. No matter how your birth goes, you should feel empowered and amazed by what your body, mind, and spirit accomplished.
3 What Your Parenting Beliefs Really Are
Before you become a parent, you may think you know how you want to care for, teach, and discipline your child. You may have based your ideas on your own family experiences, research, observations, or suggestions from friends.
However, once it becomes reality that a baby is coming your way, it changes everything. You’ll find yourself worrying about things you never thought to worry about before. You may find that recommendations have changed since the time you first decided on your pregnancy, birth, and parenting plans. You may also find that things that concerned you before, no longer do.
This is the time to sort through all the information and advice you already have and that is being thrown your way. Stick to what is really important to you and let go of the rest. It’s important to be flexible and open minded as a parent and to trust your motherly intuition. You will find that your maternal instinct and perception are more real and accurate than you imagined.
2 What Your Fears and Insecurities Are
Pregnancy also uncovers all your fears and insecurities. Some of them you are probably already aware of, whereas others you may be surprised to discover. Parenthood brings with it a host of new worries. The most prominent are probably your fears about how your birthing experience will go. The best way to address them is through a thorough yet adaptable birth plan you create with your partner, provider, and doula, if you have one.
The better prepared you are physically, emotionally, and mentally, the better you will be able to handle any changes or disappointments. Even now, you may be realizing how well you manage change. Pregnancy is one swift transformation after another. The hormones make it even more challenging to handle.
If at any point your anxieties overtake you, talk to your provider. There is no shame in needing help, whether it means calling in family to let you rest and have time for yourself or seeing a therapist to work through your fears. In order to be the best mom you can be, you need to be honest with yourself and recognize when it’s time to improve your emotional health.
1 How Much You Have the Capacity to Love
The most wondrous thing you will learn about yourself is the immense capacity you have to love the tiny human being you made. You may truly, deeply love your partner or your own mother, but there is something about maternal love that cannot be matched in power and breadth or replicated by anyone else.
Your child’s pain will become your pain. Your child’s happiness will become your happiness. You will want the best for your child and will go to the ends of the earth to obtain it. As you raise your baby, you’ll find yourself being molded into a more selfless, caring person. Motherhood can refine your character in ways no other role can. As the years go on, you’ll only find that love multiplying.
Consider these thoughts from historically famous people who valued the special love found only in mothers:
- “Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.” George Eliot
- “Mother’s arms are made of tenderness, And sweet sleep blesses the child who lies therein.” Victor Hugo
- “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Abraham Lincoln
Keep a Record of Your Journey
Record the things you learn about yourself through this pregnancy, both the lighthearted and the serious. You can write in a journal, post a blog, or make videos. Once your baby is born, you will be able to look back at this time and see the personal progress you’ve made and self-understanding you’ve achieved. You’ll be able to remember throughout your life how each pregnancy helped you become the unique woman that you are.