Positive Psychology in Pregnancy

Switch negativity and worry for a more positive mindset.

If you struggled to conceive, or yours is an unplanned pregnancy at a difficult time in your life, it may be a challenge to focus on the positive aspects of your pregnancy without stress or apprehension.

This negative mindset can be difficult to break. You may be concerned about your health, your baby’s wellbeing and the future. Anxiety, worry and stress over prolonged periods can take an emotional and physical toll on your health. By learning to channel positivity, you can concentrate on having a healthy and successful pregnancy.

Positive Psychology in Pregnancy

Positive Psychology

Positive psychology is the scientific study of happiness or experiencing happiness in one’s life. The tools used in positive psychology can help to break negative thought patterns and provide the resilience you need to cope during times of stress and uncertainty.

After years of research, Martin Seligman, hailed as the father of positive psychology, determined five measurable elements that contribute to a person’s wellbeing or the achievement of a positive life. These include focusing on positive elements in your life and finding things that make you feel good. Other elements highlight the importance of setting and achieving goals in life and in the relationships we build with others.

Be More Positive in Pregnancy

The five elements of Seligman’s PERMA Model can be used successfully in pregnancy to help you think more positively. Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you should ignore problems or difficult situations, but rather to not allow them to define you.

Positive Emotions

Positive feelings can improve your sense of wellbeing. Focus on your baby’s growth and the positive changes you can look forward to over the next few months. This can be a challenge, especially in the first trimester when you may be concerned about miscarriage or struggle with morning sickness. Address these common discomforts as they arise but focus on the end result – your baby being born. Every trimester comes with its own challenges and changes, sometimes you just need to go with the flow.

Use affirmations, positive statements that flip negative thoughts into positive ones. Write your own affirmations, based on your pregnancy, health and circumstances. Always use the present tense. Some examples are: “I am doing my best for my baby”, “I am a great mom” or “Birth is a positive experience”.

Engagement

Engagement in the PERMA model means to fully engage in an activity. Pregnancy is a beautiful journey in a family’s life. Take time every day to connect with your baby. Start a pregnancy journal and write down your experiences. You can also include digital voice notes and video clips to share with your child later on. Preparing for your baby is a special time. Plan and decorate the nursery together with your partner.

Relationships

Take time to strengthen your relationships, especially with your partner, but also with close family and friends. Build a support network now that you can call on to assist when you need help after baby’s birth. If you don’t live close to family, connect with friends, a neighbour, other mothers and your health care team.

Hormonal changes can lead to mood swings which can be difficult to control. Be up front with your partner about your feelings. Ask him or her to be patient if you’re more emotional than usual.

Meaning in Life

Your life will change with your baby’s birth and this may cause anxiety or concerns about your new role, finances and bringing a child into the world. If you are worried about changing dynamics in the family unit, or if you will be a good mother, connect with other parents and ask questions on their parenting styles. Use the information to determine what you like or don’t like. Find ways to prepare for the coming changes, for example, consider childcare for when you return to work or start an education policy for your baby now.

Achievement

Lifestyle choices can have an effect on your health and your baby’s health. Make positive changes in your diet, quit smoking, set a goal not to drink alcohol during your pregnancy and get exercise to prepare your body physically for labour.

Adopt a positive attitude and flexibility when it comes to your birth plan so you can adapt if circumstances change. After the birth, you’ll feel a great sense of achievement and not disappointment that things did not go as planned.

Resources: www.momjunction.com; www.parents.com; www.cleverism.com; www.pursuit-of-happiness.org; www.verywellfamily.com

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Posted in: Health, Pregnancy
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