Pregnancy checklist – help or hindrance?

Pregnancy checklist lists – help or hindrance?

Pregnancy checklist – help or hindrance?

Most pregnant women that I work with as a Childbirth Educator report that they feel there is this immense pressure to complete the 'Pregnancy checklist'.

It seems that everyone, even strangers, are willing to share what the pregnant women should be doing for the ‘good of her baby’. If you Google ‘pregnancy to do list’, there are pages and pages of long lists of things the mother-to-be should do, such as:

  1. Stop smoking/drinking
  2. Eat well and avoid certain foods
  3. Take vitamins
  4. Choose care providers/birthplace
  5. Strengthen pelvic floor
  6. Get new bras/ baby clothes
  7. Connect with your baby
  8. Avoid stress that may impact baby
  9. And the list goes on and on and on!

The Journey into Motherhood

It would seem this list signals the journey into mothering to make it all about ‘doing’, and where the woman can feel a sense of failure in not completing what’s being suggested on the list. This list also seems to focus on doing for the good of the baby (which is very true of course), but rarely focuses on what truly is needed for the woman as she prepares for birth and mothering.

What if the QUALITY in which a woman goes about doing all that needs to be done is the vital ingredient that’s missing on the 'Pregnancy to do List'?

To write another list, considering I have just suggested it, only creates pressure for the pregnant woman (and I certainly would not want to be adding to this!). I offer instead here below, some considerations about the way in which women can be – to assist in developing a certain quality – that might then be applied to the necessary ‘pregnancy checklist’.

Self-Supporting Considerations for Pregnant Women

  • Embrace that caring for you is just as important as doing it for the sake of the baby

  • Allow for your own space that encourages and allows for the deep support of yourself and your physical body

  • Approach how you would care for and deeply support yourself in the very same way that you would actually care for your baby – by bringing a gentleness and tenderness to all that you do

  • Listen to what your body needs in relation to what you choose to eat, when you sleep, and what physical activity best supports your changing body

  • Slow down and take your time when doing what needs to be done, one thing at a time. Being a great multi-tasker is a myth that creates a false sense of getting more done when in fact it exhausts and creates overwhelm

  • Learn to say ‘No’ to what you feel does not support you – without justifying

  • Take the time each day just to be with you, as being pregnant offers a natural opportunity to feel more ‘stillness’ in the body. The Gentle Breath is a great way to connect to a quieter, stiller place within whilst the busy-ness goes on around you

  • Taking space and time to connect to yourself can allow a space in which to truly connect to your baby

  • Practice expressing how you are feeling and communicating what additional support you feel you may need to those around you

  • Gently and lovingly let go of any ‘ideal’ or ‘best way’ of doing things according to what a book, relatives, or anyone else says – remembering that you are the expert in knowing what feels right and true for your body during this and every other time.

Whilst these may feel like another pregnancy checklist, these simple pointers highlight and encourage the activity of ‘self-support' and ‘self-care’ and enable us to consider that pregnancy is firstly about truly taking the time to care and nurture ourselves as women, which is essential to then be able to care for and nurturing our baby.

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  • By Sharon Gavioli, Registered Nurse, Adult Educator, Counsellor, Practitioner of Universal Medicine Therapies, EPA Recognised

  • Photography: Clayton Lloyd