Your pregnancy can be an exciting and certainly daunting time. Among your most important focuses is likely to be ensuring the experience is healthy for you and your baby. There are, of course, various aspects of your lifestyle that influence this. However, one of the most frequently overlooked is the role of socialization and community.
The old adage “it takes a village to raise a child” applies to pregnancy in a variety of ways. While your journey to birth is a deeply personal experience, it is also made richer by those you choose to surround yourself with. This doesn’t mean you need to let everyone in the neighborhood take a role in your pregnancy, but by being willing to explore greater community engagement, you may find it to be a healthier and more positive process.
Let’s take a moment to further explore the role of community in a healthy pregnancy.
One of the key ways a community can contribute to your healthy pregnancy is by providing access to resources. When you experience your pregnancy without others, you are purely limited to the resources you can provide yourself. This can put undue pressure and stress on you at a time in which these can be particularly disruptive to your wellness. On the other hand, engaging with the community opens you up to a wider range of tools that can help you during pregnancy and beyond.
Among the most valuable resources a community can provide is a diverse knowledge base. This isn’t the same as having to deal with the myriad ostensibly well-meaning strangers who will approach you and give unsolicited and unwelcome advice about your pregnancy and birth. Rather, your community is filled with people that have experience in various areas. Connecting with them can ensure you and your baby can benefit from relevant information and advice on appropriate subjects. This may involve directly getting pregnancy tips from mothers you know and trust. It could also be insights from local professionals offering practical advice on areas of your life causing you stress, such as finances or employment.
In fact, when you’re close to your community, you’ll usually find they’re willing to help in a range of practical areas. You are likely to have a lot to prepare in the lead-up to the arrival of your baby. There might be do-it-yourself projects to perform or grocery store trips that get difficult as your mobility gets more challenging. Your friends and neighbors can provide the types of support you need in these moments. There may even be an experienced doula among your community members who can provide you with emotional support in the lead-up to the birth.
Pregnancy can be challenging enough without having to go through it on your own. A sense of isolation can make the pregnancy process more stressful. Indeed, since the COVID-19 pandemic, women are finding that they engage in fewer in-person appointments with their obstetrician or midwife. In some ways, the remote appointment process can be more convenient. However, it also means that you may find you experience less human contact than you would have a few years ago. Your community can be instrumental in mitigating this rising potential for isolation.
This could be as simple as arranging a group of people you can talk to on a regular basis. Hanging out with some friends for a coffee or engaging in shared hobbies can be valuable social outlets. You can also incorporate time to just casually connect with members of your community by visiting local stores and restaurants or regularly spending time at the library.
You can also benefit from getting involved with local initiatives. While your pregnancy is an important part of your life, it’s certainly not the be-all and end-all. But when you’re isolated it can certainly feel as though it is all-encompassing. Engaging in local environmental or social projects throughout your pregnancy helps reinforce your self-worth and further builds the supportive community you have around you.
Bolstering Mental Wellness
For all its joys, pregnancy can be a difficult time. As such, you’re likely to find there are periods of significant emotional and psychological strain. Having a strong and supportive community around you can help bolster your mental wellness.
Anxiety is one of the more common features of the pregnancy process. There are always moments of uncertainty and fear that you may find difficult to navigate. Indeed, it’s not unusual to experience medical anxiety as a result of previous negative experiences with procedures or a general fear of medical attention. One of the key ways to cope with this is to find a strong support network you feel comfortable talking about your concerns with. Having community members around you to provide comfort and reassurance may help you manage the symptoms and strengthen your resolve.
Having this community support structure can be really vital in the days leading up to and beyond the birth. Postpartum depression is a common experience for women and it’s important to put in place effective management resources as part of your post-pregnancy plan. Get talking to trusted members of your community you feel may be able to help by just listening to you. Work together to understand common symptoms and agree on actions to take if you appear to be struggling.
Engaging with your community during pregnancy can help you have a more positive and healthy experience. Your friends and neighbors may provide you with valuable resources and help you mitigate the potential for isolation. Importantly, they can work alongside you to bolster your mental wellness through difficult periods. By building and embracing a trusted network, you can fully enjoy the path to welcoming your baby into the world.
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