Anna Maria Locke

2019

What to expect when you quit birth control

2019Anna Locke
what to expect when you quit birth control

The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only.

So, I quit birth control. Surprise!! Kinda obvious now that I’m sporting a baby bump, but I didn’t originally quit the pill to get pregnant.

I shared why I decided to ditch the pill in this blog post, but wanted to write a follow up post to fill you in on what happened AFTER I quit the pill, what I wished I knew, everything I’ve learned since then about hormone health and fertility (spoiler: it’s not just for when you wanna get pregnant).

It seems like every other girlfriend I talk with these days is either considering ditching her birth control, or has recently quit or switched to a non-hormonal option like the IUD and is trying to make sense of her new body as her cycle slowly heals.

Everyone’s body is different. Some women adjust immediately and get their period back immediately. For others, it can take a little longer. Either way, I want you to know that you aren’t alone and most likely nothing is actually “wrong,” no matter what crazy stuff is happening to your body!

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My story

I was on the pill for 9 years in my 20’s, and for most of that time it was fantastic choice in that season of life and I have no regrets. Eventually, after my initial pill Yaz was discontinued by my doctor due to the high risk of blood clots (good times) I went through a variety of generic versions which are not the same thing. My body reacted differently to each generic formula and eventually I started experiencing some pretty major anxiety (read: panic attacks and heart palpitations) and overall felt off and disconnected from my body. Read the long story here!

I knew that the pill wasn’t working for me, my body, and my lifestyle anymore, plus I knew Ben and I would want to start our family in the next couple of years and I wanted to give myself plenty of time before wanting to get pregnant, so it was an easy decision to stop taking it. I told my gynecologist, finished my last pill pack at the end of January 2016.

I didn’t get my first real period until April 9th, almost three months later.

I used the app Kindara to track my periods so I could tell how long my cycles were lasting, which was really useful to know and also to share with my doctor.

My first full cycle post-pill lasted 77 days.

My second cycle lasted 62 days.

At this point, it had been about 7 months so I went back to the gyno to make sure nothing was wrong, but blood work and my first internal ultrasound (joys of being a woman!) all came back normal so at least I knew I didn’t have PCOS or a thyroid imbalance.

My next cycles lasted 61 days, 43 days, 36 days, and this brought me up to one year post-pill.

I continued to have a period every 34-36 days, which is a little on the longer side but not abnormal.

It took me a full year after quitting the pill to get a regular cycle back.

From what I read, this is apparently common.

Side effects I experienced

I was worried I’d suffer from really bad mood swings again since I had been diagnosed with PMDD before originally going on the pill. I definitely felt my emotions and energy shifting and had heavier periods and cramps again, but didn’t have any other major symptoms. I started to journal through my mood swings and that helped me notice patterns and feel less crazy.

The worst part of the whole re-balancing process for me was my yeast infection from hell.

I came down with that dreaded itchy feeling in April, and it didn’t die FOR EIGHT MONTHS.

Yup, it sucked.

Eventually after trying literally every medical and homeopathic remedy under the sun, it disappeared after I started using boric acid suppositories and around the same time my cycles finally started to regulate, so I’m not sure if it was the boric acid or hormones, but if you deal with a medication-resistant yeast infection I definitely recommend checking these out! Shoving acid up my vajay felt like a last resort but hey, desperate times.

Ultimately, I am so grateful I quit the pill when I did even though weren’t ready to get pregnant, because it did take my body so long to figure things out.

Give yourself time, patience, and space.

Once we were ready to try to conceive by the fall of 2017, I had regular cycles and had learned so much about my body which took a lot of stress out of the process.

Making a change is always a little scary, especially when it’s something that could have major ramifications on our health.

If you’ve been on birth control for some time, going off cold turkey can feel a little bit like throwing yourself off a cliff into the great unknown.

Will I get pregnant?

Will my crazy mood swings return?

Will my face break out?

Will I gain weight?

Will I lose control over my body?

Will I have super bad cramps or heavy periods again?

Our culture doesn’t teach us how to honor and appreciate our menstrual cycle.

We’re told it’s a curse, something to keep hush hush, to pop some Motrin and push through when we feel weak or tired around our bleed. We’re taught that it’s not ok to be emotional or sensitive, and we are so disconnected from our own bodies that we usually don’t even recognize that our mood swings, breakdowns, existential crises, relationship issues can 90% of the time be traced back to our hormones and where we’re at in our cycle. But you can learn how to shift your self care practice or give yourself a little extra grace when you need it, to literally go with the flow.

Knowledge is power.

Knowing your body is the most powerful power of all.

The birth control pill was a wonderful invention that has created a lot of freedom for women and I am in no way anti-pill, but once we enter a season of life where we’re ready to get to know our own bodies again, transitioning off birth control can be one of the most empowering experiences of your life.

I believe that educating yourself as far in advance of going off hormonal BC as possible is the best thing you can do to prepare your body and mind.


7 things to know before quitting birth control

1. When you are on hormonal birth control, your body does not ovulate or have a true period.

This is women’s health 101 yet I had never really thought about it. Birth control is like overriding your cycle on autopilot. The synthetic hormones suppress your body’s natural hormones and basically trick your body into thinking it’s already pregnant, so it doesn’t release an egg and if it does by chance release an egg, your uterine lining won’t be thick enough for it to implant.

2. It might take several months for your period to come back.

This doesn’t mean anything is wrong.

Going off hormonal birth control is a transition, not an on/off switch. Just like you won’t lose 20 pounds after working out for one week, your body isn’t going to immediately bounce back.

This can be stressful and discouraging if you aren’t prepared, or if you want to become pregnant right away, but I encourage you to give yourself time and have patience instead of jumping right back into a medication or trying to fix yourself ASAP.

3.  You might experience some crazy hormone side effects, or you might feel fine.

Either end of the spectrum is “normal.” Don’t suffer alone! Talk to your girlfriends, your sisters, your mom, journal it out, and above all remember that you aren’t crazy.

4. Getting your cycle and fertility back is more about ovulation than about bleeding.

Female fertility is defined as a woman’s ability to conceive a biological child. Conception depends on an egg being released from your ovary, then fertilized by a sperm, and then implanted into your uterine lining. If your egg isn’t fertilized, your hormones trigger your uterus to shed its lining and the egg, which causes you to have a period. Unlike menstruation, ovulation is invisible but you don’t technically have your cycle back until you’re ovulating again.

How to know if you’re ovulating? You can track your basal body temperature, your cervical mucus, test your hormones with pee strips, basically turn your body into a science lab. Unless you are actively trying to conceive, are using fertility awareness method as your primary form of birth control (I wouldn’t recommend this until you have a regular predictable cycle again) or are super curious, I wouldn’t worry about it right away. Waiting for your period is a lot easier and less work.

5. Your body is wiser than your brain. Give it patience, time, and love.

Know yourself before embarking on a detox program or 30 day plan, or getting back on medication.

If you are triggered into obsessing over your body or have a history of eating disorders, going off BC can be a wonderful opportunity to practice letting go of your need for control and adopting a more intuitive approach.

6. Your hormones and body are not broken or diseased.

You don’t need to fix or heal them. No matter what the books or diets or experts say. Our bodies are constantly in a state of ebb and flux, and there is no such thing as perfectly balanced hormones. Just like it’s not realistic to expect to weigh the same day in and day out. There are many factors at play - what you eat, stress levels, environment.

I prefer using terms like optimizing your fertility, versus “healing” or “balancing.”

7. You will most likely NOT get pregnant right away.

With a healthy cycle, women are only fertile (aka capable of getting pregnant) 6 days every month. (Whereas men are fertile 24/7!!)

However, your fertile window will be a bit unpredictable unless you ovulate regularly. The best way to gauge your fertility if you’re trying to get pregnant or avoid it is to confirm ovulation.

Even so, “Intercourse during the fertile window is not sufficient to produce pregnancy. Pregnancy depends on the viability of the sperm and egg, the receptivity of the uterus, and other factors that vary widely among couples.” (source)

Basically, getting pregnant is a miracle and is way more complicated than we think, so if that is one of your fears about going off BC, stock up on condoms and don’t stress too much about it.

What to do after you quit birth control

Continue educating yourself, but not to the point of overwhelm. Follow your curiosity.

Start tracking your cycle!

Going off birth control is as much an emotional/mental/spiritual process as it is physical.

There’s no way to predict how your body will respond, but the more self care you practice before you quit, the better chances you’ll have at avoiding the craziest side effects you’re worried about.

Overall, view it as an opportunity to practice letting go of your need to control everything, and trusting that your body will support you and heal itself with enough time and care. Practice self love, self compassion, self care, and give your body incredible respect for all the work it does.

You’re going to uncover so much about yourself along the way!

xo Anna


Recommended Resources:

Join my FREE resource vault, including cycle tracking and journaling guides!

Wild Synchronicity - my signature program on learning about your cycle, and applying it to your life and business as a self care and productivity tool.

BOOKS

  • Taking Charge of Your Fertility

  • Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom

  • Period Repair Manual

  • The 5th Vital Sign

  • Beyond the Pill

  • WomanCode

COACHES

Claire Baker - menstrual cycle awareness and self care, great blog posts and Adore Your Cycle e-book

Amanda Montalvord - fantabulous educational resources, hormone healing programs

Nicole Jardim - hormonal health programs

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How to track your menstrual cycle

2019Anna Locke
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“Our lives are composed of countless transitions. The moon passes through a full cycle every 28 days, and a woman menstruates on average four hundred times in her life.

Our cycles carry the code for working with obstacles in creative, skillful, and miraculous ways. All stages are interdependent, and creativity is only complete through the interplay of each of the seasons. Each requires that we adapt our rhythms and shape our lives around it.

As our cycles ask us to oscillate our rhythms and our focus during different portions of each month, they stretch us in bite-size chunks, nudging us to slowly expand our capacity to be with the best and worst of life. They condition us to meet whatever’s there.

They cleanse us of what we no longer need and realign us with how we most desire to shape our futures, from within. When we ride this wave, we optimize our capability for renewal. When we fight it, we feel depleted… how then can we stop working against our cycles and start working with them?”

- Sara Avant Stover, The Book of SHE


When I decided to quit the birth control pill 3 years ago, one of my primary motivations was to regain my “natural” cycle so I could be more in tune with my body and prepare myself for an eventual pregnancy.

I originally started tracking my periods so I could tell how my hormones were healing post-pill.

You might have heard of the Fertility Awareness Method, which is a more in-depth practice of tracking your fertility signs so you know when your fertile window is, as either a method of birth control or to get pregnant. However, I soon realized that cycle tracking goes so far beyond fertility and hormone health.

A few things your hormones and cycle influence: productivity, relationships, emotions, creativity, how introverted vs extroverted you feel, mental energy, physical energy, muscle recovery and flexibility for workouts, sex drive, ability to communicate, on and on…

Hormones control our entire lives!!!

It took me almost a year to get a regular monthly(ish) cycle back, but once I did, I dove into the world of menstrual cycle awareness and it blew my mind how much we aren’t taught about our bodies! We’re left feeling hormonal, crazy, and like something is wrong if we have mood swings or emotions. It’s on us to educate ourselves, and that’s why I’m sharing this post about tracking your cycle as a self-care practice.

The content in this post is taken directly from my signature program Wild Synchronicity


What does it mean to have a cycle?

Sometimes we think of having a cycle as being on or off our period, but in reality our hormones are constantly ebbing and flowing, so our cycle is what is constantly happening to our bodies, just like the actual seasons of nature are constantly shifting on earth. Sometimes a particular season lasts longer or shorter, and there are some climates where the seasons are less pronounced, and so our bodies are unique and different too.

I like using the terms “hormone cycle” as opposed to “menstrual cycle” because there are varying seasons of life and reasons why we may or may not bleed on a regular basis, but our hormones are constantly working behind the scenes, even when we’re overriding our natural cycle on hormonal birth control.

Our bodies are all different and there is no right or wrong way to be. Whether you have missing cycles, clockwork cycles, PCOS, endo, if you’re on the pill, wherever you are right now -- meet yourself where you’re at instead of feeling like something is wrong or you need to automatically balance or fix your hormones. Honor your experience.

Tracking your cycle is even more valuable when you don’t have a clockwork 28 day cycle, because you’re going to be using your body as your guide. Imagine Grandmother Willow from Disney’s Pocahontas,  this wise, all knowing source of wisdom. I believe there’s a Grandmother Willow inside all of us-- the female wisdom that has been passed down to us from generations, and our cycle is a useful tool or pathway we can follow to go inward and tap into that embodied wisdom! It’s like a built in GPS system or blueprint from which we can create more success in our businesses and lives, and one of the most under-utilized and under-appreciated sources of power that no one teaches us about.


What if you’re on hormonal birth control or don’t have a period?

The cool thing about being on hormonal birth control or the pill is that even though you might not have the extreme shifts, your cycle will be regular and predictable. You can still track your energy and notice micro shifts throughout the month.

If you don’t have a period right now for whatever reason, another way to apply this cycle work to your life is using the lunar cycle.

Click here to learn more about tracking via the moon cycle.


So how do we track our cycle?

Tracking your cycle is the foundation of menstrual cycle awareness. It means playing the role of scientist or researcher for yourself: getting to know more about your body as well as how your energy shifts. Once you track 2-3 cycles so you can start to notice patterns such as certain times you can predict you’ll start an argument with your partner or have an existential crisis, and it can be pretty mind blowing.

There’s no right or wrong way to track your cycle, the only important part is that you do it.

Simply mark the first day of your period as Day One, and start numbering the days from there.

You can use an app, journal, or printable worksheets to do your tracking.

I personally prefer using a notebook for tracking my energy, mood, and emotions, since apps tend to disconnect us from our bodies (although they are extremely useful for tracking fertility!

You can use your regular journal or use a special notebook for your cycle. You can mark the date and day of your cycle on each page, or you can try the quadrant method I learned from Claire Baker.

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How this works - each page of your notebook will be designated for a certain cycle day. You’ll make a quadrant in each page so ultimately you’ll have 4 different cycles on each day (e.g. 4 cycles of “day 10”) this is great for noticing patterns. Patterns can be powerful. For instance, I tend to have a breakdown or an existential crisis on Day 21. There’s always a point where i notice, oh hey it’s my Day 21 Breakdown! So instead of feeling like I’m a failure, I can start to view the breakdown as a way to purge and release all the stuff that is not working in my life.

Same thing with inner critic, energy, productivity -- these patterns will help you bring a deeper awareness which we will apply to how you show up in your life, relationships, and business moving forward.

You can also use a circular chart such as this one from Red School. which is cool because you see your entire cycle on one day (this is best if you have really regular cycles).


What to track

The main things to track are:

  • Your cycle day

  • How you feel

  • Where your energy is at

  • Anything else to note, such as travel or stress

It’s best to track at the end of the day to reflect on the day.

Some examples:

-how was my mental energy today? (was I focused, foggy…)

-how was my physical energy? (fatigued, jittery, high energy…)

-what was my inner voice saying? (critical thoughts or positive…)

-how is my libido?

-any food cravings? What was my relationship with food like?

-physical body -- was I bloated feeling lean, hot, cold…

-how did I respond to stress today?

-how was my inner state today? (confident, grounded, sensitive…)

-record your dreams

My favorite “one and done” journal prompt: How am I feeling?

Stream of conscious style writing is a great way to channel whatever is going on deeper inside your mind and heart.

Figure out what works for you and have fun!

Try to track most days. There are times where you might feel less reflective or have resistance around journaling… track that! There is no right or wrong way to be.

Remember that scientists don’t judge themselves. They simply collect data and then reflect and draw conclusions from that data.


How to interpret your cycle

Once you have tracked at least 2 or 3 cycles (which might take a few months depending on your cycle length), you might start to recognize patterns.

For example, maybe you pick a fight with your partner around the same time each cycle. Maybe you have an existential crisis like clockwork, or have a more anxious week, or feel super social at certain times.

This is where the wisdom starts to emerge, as you begin to learn how your body and cycle operate. From here, you can start to anticipate what you will need at certain times of the month.

Remember that life happens too, and no cycle is the same. You might notice you have different feelings or energy on extra busy months, or times you’re doing a lot of traveling or projects, regardless of where you’re at in the cycle. We don’t live inside a vacuum, so allow yourself some variability and see what you discover!

xo Anna


RESOURCES

Access my resource vault with tracking worksheet, journal guides, and Cycle Sync Your Biz e-book.

If you'd like to learn more about living in sync with your cycle, I’ve created my program Wild Synchronicity to empower women to learn how to live in flow with the hormone rollercoaster, and to learn how to take advantage of our unique strengths in each phase of our cycle.

Books

Adore Your Cycle
Taking Charge of your Fertility
Womens Bodies, Womens Wisdom
Period Repair Manual

Apps

MyFlo
Clue
Kindara
Natural Cycles

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5 tips for surviving the first trimester when you feel like a blob

2019Anna Locke
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Now that I’m heading into the home stretch of this pregnancy, I finally feel like I’m getting used to being preggo. Or at least getting used to the fact that my body feels different literally every single day!

One of my favorite parts of being so open about my journey is being able to connect with other women at a similar season of life, whether they are navigating miscarriage, trying to conceive, newly pregnant and haven’t even told friends and family yet (perks of being a stranger on the internet!), it’s such a gift to remind each other that we aren’t alone.

I love getting messages like this:


“I'm 7 weeks pregnant and having horrible morning sickness and food aversions! Pregnancy has been such a roller coaster of emotions! I feel like I'm losing myself because I haven't been able to eat or exercise or do the things I want due to feeling poorly! For instance my body craves carbs and salt right now so I eat what help me get food in my stomach but i'd love to be eating healthy but when I try some days it'll make me gag! Also lots of nights in so exhausted there's no way exercising or walking is an option and this makes me feel worse about myself! And all this stuff no one tells u! They act like as soon as you get positive test you will love baby and be excited and fit and beautiful 24-7 n reality is it just feels like I'm getting over a cold and a leach is inside me sucking all of my strength energy and motivation and I don’t see it feel it or hear it so I don’t have major connections to it yet. And pregnancy for me hasn’t been beautiful and charming its been bloat and hormonal acne and and clothes not fitting lol.

This is an exciting stage in my life how do I embrace it and make the best of it?”


Ohhhh girl. This sums up first trimester so perfectly, doesn’t it?

It’s freaking hard to go from feeling on top of your life, career, workouts, social life… to literally overnight feeling like there is a parasitic alien possessing your body and turning you into an exhausted, moody, bloated, nauseous blob. Not to mention the expectations and internal pressure to be the radiant glowing joyful goddess depicted by society and the media.

When we experience anything less than pure happiness and health, we start to second guess our experiences or feel shame and self judgment for not being more grateful, excited, or energetic.

In doing so, we diminish and discredit the profoundly ENORMOUS transition we’re experiencing physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, relationally as our bodies and entire identities shift into a new role - motherhood.

Any type of growth and change — even if it’s welcomed and positive — is bound to be uncomfortable and overwhelming as we shed old layers of identity and step out into the unknown.

(Also, two words: HORMONE ROLLERCOASTER)

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Here are some of my personal tips for surviving the first few rocky months of pregnancy.

Please keep in mind these opinions are coming from my limited experience as a first time mom, so take or leave anything I say with a grain of salt and always consult your doctor first! My personal advice is geared towards first time moms who are in a supportive relationship and are having relatively uncomplicated, healthy pregnancies and not suffering from complications such as hyperemesis gravidarum. Make sure you’re seeking the level of support you need for your unique situation.

1. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO EMBRACE YOUR NEW BLOB STATUS

Your body has been possessed! Give yourself grace and do what you can, but the first trimester is about rest and self care and adjusting, and it does usually get better!

Your body is putting on weight and fat stores now to fuel your baby as it grows, which is tough because while your fetus or embryo is still tiny you just feel bloated and gross... but it all balances out! View the first 12-14 weeks as survival mode. Embrace being lazy but explore gentle movement to see if it helps your nausea and fatigue. One of the only things that helped me feel better was getting outside in the cold winter air for a walk. It never sounded like a good idea, but it always felt good to move my body and get fresh air. My personal mantra was “it TAKES energy to MAKE energy.”

If you’re dealing with nausea, vomiting, feeling constantly motion sick or jet lagged, don’t beat yourself up about not being able to eat healthy foods. Try your best to figure out what you can tolerate, try to eat plenty of protein and healthy fats, and trust your prenatal vitamin will fill the gaps. I discovered that smoothies were tolerable, and used them to sneak in fruit and veggies. My favorite combo is a scoop of Vegan Chocolate Shakeology (full of superfoods, whole food nutrients, and pre/probiotics that helped settle my stomach) with half a frozen banana, almond milk, a handful of spinach, peanut butter, and ice.

One crazy factoid: our blood volume increases 40-50 percent during pregnancy, so that is partly why your heart works overtime and you will feel constantly out of breath. It doesn’t mean you’re suddenly out of shape or lazy, it just means your body has a lot of internal demands.

You will get the fitness back eventually, but in the meantime your body is working overtime on the inside! Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not happening.

If you do feel well enough to squeeze in a short workout with your doctor’s approval, it’s totally safe to continue doing what you were doing before pregnancy. I will be sharing my personal tips and favorite resources for prenatal health and fitness in a future post!

Sleep as much as you can, and practice delegating more chores to your partner.

Affirmation: “I’m not lazy, I’m pregnant.”

2. IT’S OK TO NOT FEEL EXCITED AND HAPPY 24/7 (or at all)

I went into pregnancy fully prepared for all the physical discomforts like nausea, fatigue, the random stuff your body does (hello bloody noses, flaky scalp, clogged toilets), but you can’t really prepare for the mental and emotional rollercoaster until you’re in it.

Pregnancy is hard because you are literally losing yourself, or the version of yourself you’ve known up until now. Your entire life as you know it is about to change, in obvious ways like gaining weight, stretch marks, and being responsible for an infant, but you’re also losing a lot of freedom along the way. No more last minute brunch dates with your girlfriends, sleeping in as long as you want, hopping on a plane for a long weekend getaway without any extra preparation, being able to focus on work or your business.

However, you’re also gaining a new version of yourself and your life, and I like to remind myself to focus on what I’m GAINING versus what’s being lost.

But along the way, whatever you are feeling is valid. Even the seemingly selfish feelings of grief for losing your old way of life.

Some typical first trimester emotional triggers:

  • Navigating the unknown

  • Miscarriage anxiety

  • Money stress

  • Overwhelm of adjusting to new reality

  • Feel like you are strapped on a rollercoaster and can’t get off

  • Feeling isolated or alone, especially at the beginning before you share the news, or if you don’t have anyone in your inner circle to relate with

  • If you experienced miscarriage, fertility struggles, or challenges in trying to conceive (or a close friend or family member is going through challenges), you might feel a broad mix of emotions or feel guilty for feeling anything other than gratitude and excitement

It’s ok to feel all the feels. We have the capacity to feel sadness, grief, overwhelm, fear AND love and joy and gratitude all at the same time.

You don’t have to rationalize your emotions. They aren’t supposed to make sense.

There is no one way you "should" feel and no one is happy and excited all day every day. That is completely unrealistic to expect of yourself while pregnant, especially when you’re also dealing with the hormonal hijacking, exhaustion, nausea, and all the other ups and downs of life. You might also be dealing with complicated family relationships, processing anything traumatic you’ve experienced to get to this point, maybe your own mom isn’t around anymore and you’re facing that loss again in a brand new way.

Emotions might be a rollercoaster but you WILL have exciting and joyful moments along the way, like seeing your little gummy bear on an ultrasound for the first time, hearing a heartbeat, watching your partner get excited too.

it definitely gets easier once your bump starts to grow and people know you’re pregnant, and you can get excited about preparing for an actual baby vs. just feeling like shit. But until then, it’s ok to feel like shit.

Fortunately, we have 9 months to feel the feels, come to terms with all the changes, and prepare for becoming a mother, which might not feel like enough but it is a lot of time, so try not to rush through to “get to the other side.” Meet yourself where you’re at even when it is hard.

3. SET BOUNDARIES TO MANAGE OVERWHELM

I almost said “to avoid overwhelm” and then laughed because that’s going to be impossible. You WILL feel overwhelmed. It’s ok. It’s part of the process of expanding into a new identity and role, and being swamped with brand new experiences and changes.

Welcome the overwhelm and understand it’s just part of the growth process.

I’m obsessed with reading and learning everything I can get my hands on, but my doula told me to avoid anything that triggers fear or anxiety, and to get outside for a walk when the weather is nice instead of obsessing about my pregnancy or getting sucked into the baby development/registry/Google vortex. Great advice.

Speaking of advice, you’ll soon discover that everyone and their mother - literally - is chock full of “advice” and opinions when you’re pregnant. Practice the art of the “smile and thank you,” and remember that you get to decide who you listen to, and what advice you take into consideration. It might help to make a mental list of whose input you value (e.g. your doctor, mom, sister, BFF, etc), and then allow everyone else’s input to slide right off, no matter how well intentioned they may be.

Get used to asking for what you need, and receiving help!

4. CHOOSE TO EMBRACE THE JOURNEY

I recently started reading the book What No One Tells You: a guide to your emotions from pregnancy to motherhood, written by two psychiatrists who offer the perspective that pregnancy isn’t just some medical condition, or a means to a baby, but rather a bigger transition or initiatory stage of life called “matrescense,” or becoming a mother.

They compare it to adolescence, which is a culturally recognized phase we’re taught about in school when our hormones go nuts and we grow from a little kid into a pre-young-adult.

Matrescence involves a similarly massive shift in identity, hormones, body changes, and mental and emotional upheaval, yet we don’t ever really acknowledge it.

Our society focuses on the baby but it’s important to focus on the mother, too.

it's a journey for sure! But you will be fine and you WILL do what is best for your body and baby, learning how to trust in your body and your intuition is one of the most amazing parts of these 9 months.

Try not to get caught up in the future or wanting to get to the next phase, and practice mindfulness and being present in the moment, even when you feel crappy.

5. REMEMBER IT’S ALL TEMPORARY!

You probably feel different every single day, which is a reminder that your body is literally constantly changing. The days might feel long, but the weeks and months will fly by, and eventually this too shall pass. I try to remember that this is the only time in my life I’ll experience my first pregnancy, and it helps give me perspective and feel extra grateful and present in the moment.

Enjoy the learning journey, take things day by day, and practice tons of self compassion and grace. The self care you establish now will serve you well in the future once baby is here and life is turned upside down.

But until then, it’s not upside down yet!

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Pregnancy has humbled and challenged me in so many ways. I think the first trimester is such a SHOCK to the system because we need to be literally forced into a new reality, as we transition into motherhood.

Everyday is different. Roll with it.

I’m learning how to adjust my expectations, set priorities, and give myself so much grace along the way.

Will I ever feel like myself again?? Or do I just need to suck it up for the next 18 years?

I guess the answer is: I’m still myself. Just changing.

xo Anna