By Stephanie Greunke. Re-posted with permission from rockyourhormones.com.
10 Things Pregnancy Taught Me
Pregnancy is a constant reminder of just how incredible our bodies are. We can create and sustain a tiny human. And, we have natural instincts that help us raise and take care of that baby, even with no prior training. If that isn’t a world wonder, I don’t know what is. The pregnancy glow you hear people talk about? It’s real. It’s not just due to increased blood volume and hormonal changes, but is also the result of a new mama being completely thrilled and anxiously awaiting the arrival of her newborn. The months that precede the birth of your baby give you lots of time to think about your life. Your focus might shift as you better understand who you are, who you want to be, and how this new addition is going to change your life.
During my pregnancy I took time to reflect on all areas of my life, and I became more confident in myself and my place in this world. As I’ve talked to other moms, they’ve shared similar experiences and thoughts. Below I’m sharing a list of 10 lessons I learned during my pregnancy—perhaps you can relate.
I felt more grateful
I heard my baby’s heartbeat, looked down at my growing belly, and felt supported by friends and family. The gratitude I felt was indescribable. There were times I would suddenly stop during a walk and take a deep breath, soaking in all of the beauty surrounding me in the environment. I took pauses throughout the day to reflect on the richness that is life. I think we often forget how wonderful this life is until something wakes us up. For me, that was getting pregnant.
I slowed down
During my pregnancy my life was slower. This was partly because my body forced me to nap (anyone else?), but also because I knew it was the best for the baby. Prior to getting pregnant, I was a cortisol junkie who placed a lot of value on “being busy.” To me, being busy meant that I was valuable and important. When I slowed down, I realize it wasn’t my busy schedule that gave me value, but that being a good wife, mom, friend and coach was the ticket to my happiness.
I learned to put myself first and ask for help
I learned to say “no” and “please” during my pregnancy. After I got pregnant, it took me a few weeks to realize that my world was about to change. I needed to start scaling back on my social schedule, choosing the obligations that were the most important to me instead of accepting every invitation. And, I needed to ask for help from others when I felt overwhelmed. Sometimes, that was as simple as asking my husband to bring me a glass of water or having someone help me load groceries into my cart. Other people want to help, so let them!
I felt closer to my family
Now, I am closer with both my mom and my mother-in-law. When I was pregnant I realized just how amazing moms are. I have so much more respect for what they went through and provided. I found myself constantly texting or calling my mom and mother-in-law to share exciting updates (from the heartbeat sound I recorded to the news of the first kick and gender). Because I wanted to share about my baby with those I care about, I developed a stronger bond with those in my inner circle.
I grew up
Staying out past midnight, drinking a little too much, and calling coffee breakfast isn’t conducive to growing a baby. I watched pregnancy cause many of my friends who were still in party mode transform into mature, responsible adults. Women start figuring out what they need to do to get adequate sleep, improve their nutrition, and finally quit some of those bad habits. I’ve heard many moms say that they dramatically changed their health, for the better, after becoming pregnant. What a wonderful side effect of pregnancy!
I focused on the big picture (thinking outside of the skinny jeans box)
Sure, most expecting mamas are going to have days where they aren’t pleased with their ever-growing stomach, butt, or thighs during pregnancy. I’ll admit, I had days where I was brought to tears over the transformation that was happening in my body. I was tempted to think I’d never get my body back. Then I woke up and realized: I’m pregnant and these changes are a beautiful thing. It was wonderful to shift my mindset from “do I look fat in this outfit,” to “look at this cute bump.” I started viewing my body image with a broader perspective. Eating nutrient-dense foods helped me feel more in control of the changes because I knew that any weight I gained benefitted my baby and myself.
I figured out my priorities
I absolutely love working. Helping others reach their health and fitness goals is the most rewarding job ever. But after I got pregnant, I had to figure out which of my professional responsibilities (I had a lot!) meant the most to me. In the end, I decided that working on my private practice and consulting with other women blows every other job out of the water. By focusing on that role as my priority, I created time in my day to take care of my health. I decided that ultimately, that balance mattered more to me than saying “yes” to yet another work project.
I realized who my real friends are
Once I narrowed my social schedule, I found out which of my friends truly valued me and not just my fun, social side. I received congrats, gifts, and support from people who I thought forgot about me. I had people I didn’t even know cared about me ask if they could bring me a meal. After the baby, true friends will be there for you. Even if you can’t hang out quite as much, these friends will call to check in and see how you are doing.
I am more loving and vulnerable
Before my pregnancy, whenever I saw a baby I thought “how cute” and then moved on. Now, I literally want to grab strangers’ babies and hold them. I am obsessed with baby clothes and tear up after seeing a cute outfit. I hear a baby cry and think, “oh no, how can I help you” instead of being annoyed. Sad movies and songs on the radio can move me to tears.
I felt like a heroic goddess
Well … because pregnant women are! In my experience, people on the street would high five me and give me huge smiles. My husband adored me. My friends gave me mad respect. People randomly talked to me just to tell me their own pregnancy stories. Strangers would approach me to help me with things, even when I was capable of doing the job myself. It was awesome.
Pregnancy was a magical, wonderful time that helped me grow exponentially as a person. I’d love to hear some of the lessons you’ve learned … join our discussions on the Whole Mamas Instagram or Facebook. Better yet? You can join me in our private Whole Mamas Pregnancy Program Facebook group. See you there!
Stephanie Greunke is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition who specializes in women’s health. She is a certified personal trainer and prenatal and postnatal corrective exercise specialist. Stephanie guides and supports women locally and globally through her web-based private practice, RockYourHormones.com. You can connect with Stephanie on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.