By Stephanie Greunke. Re-posted with permission from rockyourhormones.com.
Today, we’re re-posting this article from our co-creator Stephanie Greunke, who wrote it after the birth of her first son Otto. Last week, Steph gave birth to little Leo, her second son. Mama and baby are doing great, and the family is currently spending lots of time bonding, recovering and getting to know Leo. We asked Steph to share one bonus lesson she learned during her second pregnancy… scroll to the end of the article to see what she said!
How Pregnancy Shaped My Place In This World
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 is a list of 10 lessons I learned during my pregnancy—perhaps they’re things you’re experiencing, too.
10 Things My First Pregnancy Taught Me
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 going to every thing I was invited to. 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. I found out that other people want to help, so let them!
I felt closer to my family
When I was pregnant I realized just how amazing moms are, and 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). Sharing about my baby with those I care about helped me develop 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 clean helped me feel more in control of the changes and I knew that any weight I put on was beneficial for 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 once I became pregnant, I had to figure out which of my professional responsibilities (I had a lot!) was the most meaningful 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. Hearing a baby cry no longer annoys me, and I tear up at sad movies and songs on the radio.
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.
The BONUS Lesson I Learned During My Second Pregnancy
I realized I can experience pregnancy differently than other people and that’s okay
I spent a majority of my first pregnancy comparing how I was feeling with what “the apps” told me I should be feeling or what other moms were dealing with during that week. If I wasn’t experiencing the app’s “complaints of the week” I would question how things were going. For example, other moms warned me that even though I was feeling comfortable during my third trimester, I would feel miserable the last few weeks. Although this didn’t turn out to be true, I spent the last few weeks waiting for the storm to come instead of enjoying the moment.
During my second pregnancy, I let go of expectations and welcomed whatever changes crossed my path. I rarely even looked at those apps because I trusted that my body knew what it was doing. If you’re feeling more morning sickness than your pregnant friends, you may question your health habits or overall health. If you’re not experiencing morning sickness, you may question miscarriage or pregnancy loss. Remember: comparison is the thief of joy and will not serve you throughout your pregnancy and postpartum. We’re all experiencing this magical journey our own unique way. There’s no such thing as a “perfect pregnancy” so keep your eyes on your own pregnancy and enjoy the ride.
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 the discussion on Instagram or Facebook. Better yet? Join our Pregnancy Program and join me in our private 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.