Socialising and Emotional Wellbeing
- The people you socialise with can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging. Emotional support involves having someone available to listen, reassure and sympathise.
- Opportunities for social contact and access to positive, caring relationships with friends and family may protect you from feeling isolated, lonely and depressed during pregnancy.
- Pregnancy brings many changes, one of which may include changes in your social contacts as you become less comfortable moving around, more baby focused and possibly stop work or reduce your work hours.
- Find new ways of keeping in touch with old friends or find new ones with similar interests.
“Once I stopped work, some days I felt quite alone. Then I realised it really helped ringing one of my friends. A quick chat always made me feel better. Other days I’d just organise to go for a walk with a girlfriend and we’d get a juice at a café afterwards.”
“I didn’t think it would be my ‘thing’ but I signed up for a drawing skills class at our local art school. It actually boosted my confidence and we even got a couple of my drawings framed for the baby’s room.”
- Other ideas could be learning a craft, language or signing up for a prenatal exercise class like yoga or water aerobics
“The antenatal classes I went to at my hospital were invaluable. Not only did I learn about what to expect during the labour and birth…like my pain relief options! But I also met some really lovely people, two of which have become really close friends and I’m sure our children will be to.”
- You could also attend a seminar or an information evening held by parent support services such as Ngala's parenting workshops which cover many child and family related issues
“I was new to the area and wasn’t sure of what was available to support expecting and new mums so I just went and spoke to the child health nurse. She knew pretty much everything that was on offer and let me know that there was a mothers group that I could start going to even before my baby was born – that was a great support!”
Find your local child health nurse (external link) to find out about groups that meet regularly in your area
- Socialising provides opportunities to get out and be active with people that you enjoy being around. But along with the benefits of socialising come some potential challenges to your physical health. Socialising in Australia often means letting your hair down and indulging in food and drink that may not be healthy. If you are not prepared, socialising can make it harder for you to do what’s best for you and your baby.
- While your choice of foods is important you also need to consider the amount of food you are consuming in social situations. Studies show that you are more likely to overeat because of the selection of foods available and distraction from your body’s satiety or fullness signals.
- Alcohol is best avoided at any stage of pregnancy as it crosses the placenta and can seriously affect the development, coordination and intelligence your baby. See: Alcohol - effects on unborn children (external link)
- Smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke during pregnancy can cause your baby to be born underweight and has also been linked to miscarriage, prematurity, impaired heart rate and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy (SUDI). See: Pregnancy and smoking (external link)
- It is also important to be aware that all of the substances you put into your body have the potential to harm your unborn baby. These include but are not limited to:
- Medicine - Including some prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and complementary medicines such as herbal remedies or nutrition supplements. It is important to speak to your health care provider to check the safety of all medications, supplements and/or remedies during pregnancy. Some common pain relief medications are listed here KEMH obstetrics pharmacy services (external link)
- Illicit use of prescription medicines– such as benzodiazepines or morphine
- Illegal drugs – such as cannabis, heroin, cocaine or amphetamines
- Substances used as drugs – such as inhalants (glues or aerosols).
For further information on the effect of medicines and other drugs on your baby’s development and how to get help please see Drugs during pregnancy (external link) and Pregnancy and drugs (external link)
- If you think food or alcohol may be a problem when socialising plan ahead so you don’t go hungry or thirsty.
“Being pregnant did make going out to dinner a little bit tougher than usual. I just needed to think ahead – checking the restaurant’s menu online or giving them a call before going to make sure they had a dish that was not only low-risk regarding listeria but healthy as well.”
“I usually brought along a healthy dish of food and a yummy non-alcoholic drink when going to a function with friends or family – just to make sure I didn’t get stuck with unsuitable options and feeling famished!”
- Try vegetable fritters, chunky chicken tabouli or this vegetable frittata (external links)
- In a tall glass of ice add ½ cranberry juice, ½ soda water and a dash of orange juice with a slice of lime.
- More about food safety and healthy eating in pregnancy.
- If you are a former smoker or having trouble quitting smoking it is best to completely avoid places that may trigger your desire to smoke.
“I used to smoke but then became pregnant and quit straight away. Now I flat out refuse to be around anyone smoking as I know that the second-hand smoke affects my baby.”
For some great support ideas to help quit smoking download the ‘Smoking and Your Baby’ tip sheet from here (external link).
- Your baby is developing their senses of touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste (and arguably the sixth - emotional sense which is clearly heightened in newborns in the way they react to a very stressed carer).
- As early as three months, the baby is developing their sense of touch – against the uterus walls, hands against their own face and mouth, and bumping into the umbilical cord. Babies rely on their mouth to sense things, hence all that womb activity of sucking thumb, swallowing amniotic fluid and hands to face.
- Response to sound comes around the fifth month – the baby will startle at sudden noise – react to mum and dad’s voice differently; changing heart rate, blinking and stillness confirm that noise and voices do register with the baby.
- These experiences form the foundation of attachment to the significant people in this growing baby’s life.
- By talking, touching and singing during pregnancy you can develop an emotional bond with your baby and also promote the development of your baby’s senses.
“I find myself talking and singing to our baby and my husband joins in too. That way the baby is getting to know our voices so when we get to meet her she’ll feel familiar with us and we will know her too.”
Ngala Books & DVDs
Call the Ngala
Helpline for early parenting support
9368 9368 or 1800 111 546
8am to 8pm every day or
When: 30 Mar, 9:30am
Birth to 4 months: A 5-week series of workshops for parents with a newborn baby. Each workshop covers a wide range of topics about you and your new baby and provides the opportunity to meet and connect with other new parents in your local area.