Stop Telling Pregnant Women That They're "Just Hormonal"
I was recently talking with one of my good friends who is in her second trimester. Between all the talk of nausea, baby kicks, and birth plans, she said this:
“Suzie, I am so tired of people calling me hormonal and that I have pregnant brain. It’s like I can’t do or say anything without someone making me feel like I’m crazy.”
I immediately replied with my sympathies, remembering the same experience when I was pregnant.
Later on, I reflected more on her comment. I realized there is a BIG problem with it:
We as a society continuously invalidate pregnant women. When they feel emotional, we simply chock it up to hormones. When they feel anxiety or disorganized we just tell them they have “pregnancy brain”.
It’s as if anything a pregnant woman does or feels isn’t taken seriously, and that’s just not okay.
Here’s the thing…Yes, our hormones are all over the place when we’re pregnant. That doesn’t make the emotions we feel any less real or valid.
In fact, I strongly believe that the time of a woman’s pregnancy is crucial for unearthing, processing, and releasing much of the emotional “baggage” we have stored deep inside.
What I mean by that is: the emotions we feel during pregnancy are not necessarily “out of nowhere” but long buried emotions and triggers that pregnancy is giving us the opportunity to deal with and clear BEFORE we have an infant taking up all our emotional and physical energy.
In fact, this is the body’s way of forcing us to deal with our “stuff” that we’ve avoided for so long.
We’ve all become so good at disassociating and ignoring our feelings, but when we don’t allow ourselves to really experience our emotions as they come, they don’t just disappear — they get stored deep within and wreak havoc in covert ways. The soul’s wisdom is aware of this internal damage that our avoided emotions and traumas are causing and what the repercussions will be if we move into motherhood without dealing with it.
Pregnancy is a beautiful period of transformation and growth, not just in a physical sense but emotionally. It’s a right of passage for a woman to allow her deepest fears and unfelt emotions to surface and work through them so she can be a stronger, more emotionally healed mother.
We do this process a massive disservice by belittling the intense emotional clearing as a simple glitch in hormonal levels.
When I was pregnant, I spent a lot of time working with healers and therapists to find clarity and release. I’m certain that all of that inner work before becoming a mother helped me to stay calm, patient, and more emotionally available to my son once he was born.
Many of the feelings that come up are mirroring real issues she’s been putting off for a long time. If she’s feeling more anger towards her spouse, there’s an underlying issue that needs resolving. If she’s feeling strong sadness at things that seem minor, then there is a deeper grief that is seeking to be honored, or if she seems to be overly anxious about the arrival of the baby, there are most likely fears of inadequacy as a mother that must be examined and understood.
Rather than invalidating a pregnant woman’s emotionality, we need to be honoring it and supporting her in deeper understanding and healing of the root issues that are being triggered.
When you notice a beloved pregnant woman in your life experiencing intense emotional stirrings, please refrain from invalidating the experience, causing her to further bury these feelings.
Instead, here are a few things you can do to empower a woman to move gracefully through this right of passage and emerge on the other side feeling healed and emotionally cleansed:
1. Listen and offer non-judgmental support
There’s nothing better than a loving and non-judgmental listening ear or shoulder to cry on when you’re pregnant. Rather than offering up the cliche one liner of “I’m sure it’s just the hormones”, actually listen to what she’s going through and offer support while she processes these new emotions. You might just find that what you thought was simply a hormonal over-reaction is actually stemming from a very real and valid issue she needs to work through.
2. Hold her accountable for her own healing — don’t let her invalidate herself
Remember, she’s probably been just as brainwashed by society as you have been to think that she’s “just hormonal”. She may use this belief to invalidate her own feelings. Often times, we women aren’t used to our emotions being so close to the surface and not being able to ignore them. We may become embarrassed by our new sensitivity, when in fact we should be embracing it. Instead of letting her try to brush is off as “the hormones”, hold her accountable and gently probe to find the deeper root of where these emotions are coming from. If it seems like something that needs to be seriously explored, proceed to step 3.
3. Help her find a healer/therapist
This might be tricky, because many women won’t take kindly to the suggestion of getting professional help. But sometimes she might just need to know that you see and hear her feelings and don’t think they’re crazy. Suggesting that she find a trusted support person to help her understand and work through some of the issues arising might be just the confirmation she needs to take a step towards deeper healing.
4. Open up to your own healing alongside her
Whether you’re her significant other, parents, sibling, or friend, this is a great time to embrace your own healing. If she seems especially triggered or emotional around you, that just might mean that you’ve got some work to do too. Now is the perfect time to work through anything between the two of you, or on your own end. Why not take the time now to resolve any issues between you and the mom-to-be so you can both create a more positive emotional environment to bring a child into.
Pregnancy isn’t just a physical journey, it’s an emotional one. It’s time we started supporting women through that journey by validating their experience and helping them to process and heal on an emotional level.