Pregnancy is an intensely physical experience. I never felt more "in my body," for better and for worse, than I did when I was pregnant. But aside from the physicality (and sometimes, as a result of it) the mental toll pregnancy takes on a person can intense. It makes sense, right? Your brain chemistry is changing and you're faced with the knowledge that you're going to be responsible for a human for the rest of your life. In order to grapple with these physical and existential transformations, there are things I did for my mind when I was pregnant, every single day, because getting through pregnancy in one piece is going to take some work.
It's easy, it seems, for people to forget about your brain when you're pregnant. They're very focused on the changes a baby is bringing to your body and, in time, the rest of your life. But it's not like you stop being an intellectual creature when you decide to procreate. Just like your ever-expanding uterus (and its tiny resident), your brain needs dedicated care. And what that care looks like will depend on your particular constitution and, frankly, the day of the week. The constantly fluctuating pregnancy hormones really don't make this any easier, BTW.
Here are some of the things I did for my brain while I was gestating in order to keep everything as chill as possible:
Pregnancy Related Reading & Research
Your body is doing such absolutely ridiculous sci-fi nonsense for the duration of pregnancy that there's always something to learn. Being of an inquisitive disposition, I had to know it all... or at least as much of it as I could without obtaining a degree in obstetrics or midwifery. If I was going to be as comfortable as possible in my ever-changing body and as it grew a second body, I had to know, intellectually, what was happening.
Non-Pregnancy Related Reading
Because a girl has to have some respite, right ladies?! Seriously, pregnancy takes up so damn much of your physical and mental energy that it's necessary to lose yourself in something else for a while. Something that's intellectually stimulating but also completely distracts you from the fact that you're growing a human.
Besides, I'm a reader. I read things. Reading is crucial for me in maintaining a functioning brain.
Mental prep is an important aspect, for me, of having a baby. It's also exciting because have you even seen baby clothes?! OMG they're so cute! And while not everything will go as you plan once you have a baby, going in with some semblance of "I know what I'm doing and this is it" helps, if not practically then mentally.
Talk About Baby Plans
In my experience, when you're pregnant people want to talk to you about your pregnancy and your plans for your baby. And, in my experience, it's really nice to have an outlet where you can talk about those things because it's occupying so much of your internal life.
Any show that airs primarily in marathon format is a good option for those days when you just need to zone out in a mindless stupor. My personal favorite was usually Law and Order (SVU, obviously) but YMMV and you have to find the best brain-dimmer for you. Anything starring a Kardashian or various Housewives franchises are a good bet, as are not-scripted-but-obviously-scripted nonsense about baked goods or restaurants that provide way more drama than any establishment that deals primarily in cupcakes or whatever has any right to promote.
I wasn't having vigorous intellectually debates on Sartre every day, but I did continue to engage in my brainier pursuits, not just because I wanted to but as a matter of intention. I didn't want pregnancy or parenthood to overtake everything in my life, so I kept paying attention to and discussing politics and new books and that article I read in some highbrow magazine. I think in my mouth, so I need to get it all out, regularly, or I burst.
Talk About Fears
Admittedly, I was actually pretty laid back about both my pregnancies. I don't think I worried too much, but every pregnant person worries a little. For me, it felt nice to sort of exorcise those negative thoughts from my brain by talking them through with someone who could reassure me, or who at the very least was also invested in my healthy pregnancy and birth outcome.
Venting was so important to me during my pregnancy. I really needed to just put all those annoyances out into the Universe.
Even if it was primarily done to ease my butt-numbing sciatica, yoga was a great way to keep my brain light and and relaxed... which is a feat when you're dealing with butt-numbing sciatica, among other things.
On a related note, how do yoga instructors learn to do their end-of-class patter in a way that makes it all so damn soothing? What's up with that?
Slept Whenever The Hell I Felt Like It
Because pregnancy was mentally exhausting and I deserved it.