Do Not Faint

Planning a pregnancy while coping with anxiety and depression

Anxiety and the Pregnancy Guide

Put down the book; pick up the phone.

 

Pregnancy announcement.
Our pregnancy announcement.
Me.

That's right, I'm 9 weeks pregnant!

Over the next few months, I'll be sharing some tips I've found that have helped me keep my anxiety in check. Here's the first: no pregnancy books allowed! I find that books about pregnancy provoke anxiety. And I'm not alone. This article over at Slate, for example, backs me up pretty well:

"17,000,000 Weeping Pregnant Women Can't Be Wrong: The mean-girl advice of What to Expect When You're Expecting"

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Allison Benedict confirms my resolution to stay as far away from that particular book as possible when she explains that the book's

just-us-girls approach can at times be comforting (Did I ever tell you about the time my mucous plug came out?) or gross (Did I ever tell you about the time my mucous plug came out?), but most often it’s passive-aggressively terrifying. (Oh, your mucous plug hasn't come out yet? Huh. I'm sure it will. But for a tiny fraction of women, a dysfunctional mucous plug latch means you have three days to live. Consult your physician.)

What's a girl to do when her options are either "passive-agressively terrifying," condescending or impersonal? I asked my therapist this very same question the time she asked if I would please return the 17 pregnancy books I had checked out of the library last fall (months and months before we were even thinking about starting to try for a baby). The answer is astonishingly simple:

Talk to real women.

Of course, the key is to talk to women who remain positive about pregnancy and birth. It's pretty important to avoid the mom who tells she was not and you are definitely not up to dealing with the pain, and instead, to seek out the mom who would love to recommend a good birthing class where the instructor will help you understand all your options for dealing with pain during labor. I have found quite a few positive moms and pregnant ladies on the internet by reading blogs and through Twitter. But today, I found the best resource ever: The Doula.

"My mamas call me whenever they want to, and I will talk about whatever you need. I'll listen to every detail about that last appointment, even if you and I are the only two people on the planet who are excited about it."

She's more expensive than a book, yes. But she's supported a few moms through a few births, even at the very same hospital I'll be using. I can call her with any pregnancy or birth question, and she will try and find me the answer.

And she makes cookies. And tea.

She encourages moms to sign up for doulas as early as they want to, because her fee is the same, no matter when you sign on together. I'm going to meet with a few more doulas before I decide, but I'm kind of ready to be this lady's best friend. (I don't have that many friends in New Haven... it gets a bit lonely... But that's another story.) Whomever I choose, it will be happening fairly soon. Because why look it up on a book or search engine when you can just call your friendly doula?

Did I mention she made me tea and cookies?

doula with mother and baby
A doula, a newborn and a new mama! Don't they all look happy?
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Doula.jpg
You can find a certified doula through DONA international's website; I will probably end up using someone working towards her certification, because the fee is lower. But as it turns out, doulas are friendly with each other, too. They'll happily pass along names so you can meet with as many as you'd like before deciding. It's a bit like finding a therapist--you want someone who feels like a friend, but who won't judge or worry about you the way friends and family do. A good doula doesn't give advice, she just helps you find out all the information you need to make up your own mind. I am officially endorsing doulas as sanity savers.

Who did you talk to about your pregnancy worries? Did you hire a doula? 

Anne-Marie Lindsey is an aspiring teacher, grad school dropout, mental illness fighter, wife, dog owner and future mother.

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