Pregnant and Overwhelmed

Pregnant and Overwhelmed

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I am losing sleep over this pregnancy because I am afraid it will be too much for me. I already have a lot on my plate β€” how am I going to handle a(nother) baby?

  • A new pregnancy can often initially feel overwhelming, raising the question, "How will I juggle everything?"
  • Frequently, women would like to have some other things checked off their list before getting pregnant. The workload and stress are already high before even considering a pregnancy. Or maybe this is not the first child, and the question arises of how to have sufficient time and attention for another little one.
  • Physical changes triggering nausea and mood swings can also be taxing, causing some women to feel very exhausted. All of this can lead to a bleak outlook on the future.

Unsure how things could work out? This page provides self-care tips aimed toward more breathing room and a fresh perspective. Read more! Or take the quiz:

Lived Experiences β€” Causes of Being Overwhelmed and Exhausted

Perhaps you can't even remember the last time you took a deep breath or came to rest. Dows your everyday life feel like a fast-paced treadmill?

Many women live in a state of constant stress. The reasons may vary: Frequently, it is caused by the balancing act between work, relationships, kids, household, and voluntary work. Or the stress may be of our own making as we place ourselves under pressure: "I want to be a great mom, look attractive, be a good friend/daughter/neighbor/colleague..." Digging beneath the surface, we often discover our perfectionist tendencies. These high expectations make it difficult for us to slow down and take care of ourselves in addition to all our hard work.

You may have been in a challenging situation for some time, such as caring for a relative or relational conflicts within your family, with your partner, or with others. This can be very emotionally draining. Perhaps you are taking online classes and need to prepare for exams while raising a family. Or maybe you are struggling with a chronic health concern or depression...

The cause for feeling overwhelmed is unique to each individual. Usually, several stress factors are piled on top of one another. At first glance, it may be hard to identify what is currently causing you to feel stressed and worn out.

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When a Pregnancy Puts You in a Tailspin

An unintended pregnancy can throw you for a loop. If you already felt stretched to your limits, it is understandable that you would wonder how to manage with a baby. There probably had been other things on the agenda. Or maybe you had wanted to take better care of yourself and meet some of your needs.

But a pregnancy can initially even rattle those who were thoroughly enjoying their place in life and meeting challenges without overexertion. It can feel as if a rug had been pulled out from under your feet, and your steady ground gives way to the fear of becoming overwhelmed or the nagging question: Can I be a good mother?

Maybe the effects of the pregnancy on your body are making it difficult for you right now. Many women find it harder to think clearly or make sense of their emotions while being overwhelmed by the physical symptoms of pregnancy. Persistent nausea, for example, can make it very difficult to remain clearheaded and regain an optimistic outlook on life. A conversation with your medical doctor may help determine how to alleviate these symptoms.

You may struggle with change in general because it feels unsettling, or you doubt your abilities.

Fortunately, pregnancies last nine months, which allows you to gradually discern workable solutions in caring for your needs and adapting to the (new) task ahead. It is not necessary to have every detail worked out months in advance.

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Pregnant Again and Overwhelmed β€” If I Am Already a Mom

As an experienced mother, you understand what mothering is all about. You know what this pregnancy holds and are familiar with the beauty of motherhood – the sense of fulfillment, the joys, the priceless moment of holding your baby for the first time. Having a baby makes your life richer. But you are also aware of the many challenges of motherhood. Without the necessary support, your needs will most likely be placed on the back burner.

Under these circumstances, it is understandable that a pregnancy would give rise to mixed emotions. You may even feel a sense of anxiety or panic. Perhaps you only just realized how overwhelmed you are feeling right now.

But looking back to where you have been, could you have imagined that you would achieve all that you have accomplished so far? Doesn’t it sometimes almost seem unbelievable?

In retrospect, have you perhaps realized that your mothering heart has consistently grown with each new task? Your inner strength is what has carried you this far. This is what you are made of!

It may also help to consider that the more exhausting days of infancy will not last long. This life segment will soon give way to an easier stage in life, which will leave more room for other things.

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Taking a closer look at all the demands that are piled on you may be a first step in discerning where relief and support are needed and perhaps available. Could you use some (additional) childcare? In what ways could you reserve little pockets of time amid the day-to-day demands for something you enjoy? What do you find rejuvenating?

Five Pregnancy Hacks for Less Stress

These self-care tips aim to give you more breathing room and open up fresh perspectives. Even the slightest change can positively impact your life as a whole.

#1: Seek Out Emotional Support

Having people around you who provide emotional support can make a huge difference. You need a safe space where you don't feel embarrassed and have the freedom to say things like, β€œI am not happy about this pregnancy” or β€œI am wracking my brain about how things could work out."

Friends or family often provide this kind of support. Getting input from other women in similar situations in an online community can also provide the emotional support you long for. Or perhaps you already have someone specific in mind whom you would like to confide in?

#2: Take Time and Be Patient - Even With Yourself!

If the pregnancy was not anticipated or has caused your stress to surface, positive feelings may get completely blocked out. If this is the case, it is to be expected that you would initially feel no excitement in anticipation of the baby's arrival.

Be gentle with yourself by taking all the time you need for things to come into focus. Then, you can take one step at a time to address your needs and make practical changes.

Perhaps your partner also needs time right now to process the news about the pregnancy so that he can support you as you need him to?

#3: Worst-Case Scenario

What would be your worst-case scenario in this situation? Asking yourself this question will reveal the areas in which you most desire support. Does this help you narrow things down?

By consciously confronting your fears, they may lose their edge. Facing them may help you realize that solutions for some of these anxiety-inducing scenarios can be found. Or because you know that not every worst-case scenario will actually happen. Still, a few fears and worries will probably remain, but these are the catalysts that allow your courage, confidence, and strength to shine. You get to show what you are made of!

#4: Me Time

Your daily routine may not include time to yourself until now. You can feel good about implementing some me-time! Doing so may initially take some courage because you are used to getting things done on your own.

What could that look like for the more immediate future? Would it be possible to get some time away? Perhaps you could meet with a friend or do something outdoors. Taking time for yourself can lift the pressure you are under, giving you a fresh perspective. If you already have kids, whom could you ask to babysit for you?

For long-term relief, a revised schedule will help clarify expectations regarding who does what. This will allow you to plan for regular periods of alone time which you can use any way you want: by taking a nap, pursuing a hobby, meeting up with friends, or anything else you long to do to recharge your batteries. You could also use this for a date, allowing for one-on-one time with your partner.

When you start feeling worn down, anticipating your next scheduled downtime will feel like a lifeline.

#5: Look Back and Celebrate How Far You Have Come!

We rarely face a challenge knowing in advance how things will go. We only realize what we are actually capable of when the time comes. Looking back, you can probably remember some of your accomplishments. Sometimes, it is precisely the unforeseen things that life asks of us that bring out unforeseen strengths in us. Can you think of a situation in which you were fearful of the future and anxious about changes, but in retrospect, you see how well you handled it? Or where something positive even resulted from it?

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Taking Stock β€” A Real Opportunity

One thought may be dominating right now: There is no room for an (extra) child in my life! But this is the precise reason why this pregnancy poses a great opportunity.

This pregnancy could present a turning point in finally discerning what kind of support you need.

This is the time to take stock:

  • What is going really well? Why?
  • In which areas do I feel overwhelmed? Which part do I find most stressful?
  • What kind of support do I long for in each of these areas? (even if this initially sounds unrealistic)
  • What are my needs? In which areas would I like more breathing room?

Even if specific solutions are not readily apparent, the first step is to take stock of the situation. Only then is it possible to lay the foundation for more permanent solutions that provide your long-overdue relief. These may include a babysitter, a cleaner, or a weekend getaway as a couple. With support in place, life may end up being more relaxed and peaceful than before you were pregnant!

Counseling and Support Options

Perhaps you read this article to this point and liked some ideas but feel too overwhelmed to start because there is so much to do already. Or maybe the support you need was not mentioned here.

Additional Ideas:

  • If your relationship is rocky, leading you to think about the implications of single motherhood, you may want to try couples counseling. Plan regular date nights to have much-needed one-on-one time with your partner.
  • If your concern is meeting the needs of your other children, consider who would be willing to lend a helping hand. Or which extracurricular activities could you sign some of the kids up for so that you could have quality time with each child individually β€” or some much-needed alone time?
  • Are you outgrowing your living space? Check out family assistance programs such as United Way (call 211), Habitat for Humanity, or your local Department of Social Services.
  • Need help with money? Check out our Financial Assistance Page!

Taking good care of yourself is vital because your life matters!

Should I Get an Abortion Because I Am Feeling Overwhelmed?

Maybe you are also facing the question of whether to have an abortion because you find it difficult or impossible to discern a way to care for an (additional) baby. The overload on your shoulders probably feels immense right now.

Your life is too valuable to stay in a constant state of powerlessness and exhaustion! The goal is for you to return to a life of healthy self-determination. To get to this point, it is worthwhile not to make a decision while feeling stressed but to take your time. Once you grant yourself moments of solitude or choose an activity that gives you room to breathe again, you are more likely to discern your hidden strengths and deepest desires.

Our services are geared to support you on your journey toward unburdened autonomy. Here is a selection that may be a good fit for you:

You are invited to participate in our weeklong Decision-Coaching sessions. For seven days, you will receive a daily email with food for thought and stories from other pregnant women.

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