Wherever I look it seems like major life events connected with stress and possible reduced mental health include: moving, change in employment, and having a baby. Guess what? In my crazy life Bear and I are going through all three again within a short space of time. With Little Cub due in January, we decided moving at this point rather than when I was an over-filled balloon. But as the internet refused to give me any advice or information about what I should be thinking about whilst moving and pregnant, I thought I would put my piece in about what I’ve learnt during the process.
When doctors and others tell you not to lift anything heavy (specifically after the start of your second trimester) it is not just about protecting your back. As a pregnant belly progresses and grows a woman produces a hormone called Relaxin which makes joints and ligaments looser. This means it is easier to strain muscles and when you add in a shift in your centre of gravity it is also easier to accidentally injure yourself due to a loss in balance.
Personally, I pushed it… and noticed the pain afterwards. I had pulled-muscle pain around my lower stomach, thighs and lower back – not fun! Something as simple as lifting a small suitcase from the bed to the floor, or picking up my growing-by-the-minute puppy because she was just too cute!
I’m not suggesting you can’t do anything, but do be careful and look after yourself and your baby first.
Moving is stressful. It’s a fact. What is also true is that stress is not good for you or the baby. The best thing you can do is keep organised, prepare in advance and allow yourself time to reflect and relax.
For me this was allowed by making lists, planning out day-by-day what needed to happen, and making sure both Bear and I had a day or two to chill out and just watch TV. It’s the little things that often really help.
Money can always be a stress, but actually it can flow meaninglessly out of your pockets like sand through fingers. When pregnant this can feel even more scary because of the pressure to save the pennies. Best thing I found to do is plan things out and budget. Work out what you will need, borrow as much as you can (useful items not money), and get multiple quotes for things you are renting.
For us, the worst expense was the unfortunate fees that came with ending contracts early. The annoying bit is that it was unavoidable, but to combat these, we found the cheapest van hire, cut back on un-needed trips which use valuable petrol, and cut down on items so that there wasn’t the need to hire the space, pay for storage or waste resources.
Let Help Come
It is important to accept help – you cannot do everything alone, and hopefully you’ve got friends and family who are around to offer. Whether it simply be lifting already-packed boxes from a house to a van, or taking on the deep cleaning chemicals you should probably be avoiding, help is a good thing.
Due to being a little bit of a control freak, and finding it difficult to keep things organised with multiple hands on multiple tasks, I have often found it more stressful allowing help than not. Trick this time? Honestly it was half a trick and half an attempt to decrease stress: avoiding being around. I packed boxes and bags and suitcases, planned out collections for the charity shops and Freecycle, and organised what needed to happen by when. Bear lifted and moved and cleaned up bits and pieces, and then we had family who lovingly cleaned up the bare spaces, and helped lift boxes and furniture into a van. I meanwhile was in my parents’ house organising rooms, helping out by doing light house work, keeping our dear puppy happy and doing some yummy cooking. It felt frustrating and I often felt useless, but actually it is the most organised and least stressed I have been during any move (and I’ve had 4 in two years!).
Organise In Advance
The best way to beat stress, save money, and keeping control of your helpers is to plan. Write down what needs doing, work out which needs to be the last thing to happen and work backwards, then if you find you have a ton of extra time you can put it in the plan and give yourself decent portions of time off to relax.
I worked on a spreadsheet which had our helpers, the dates, the jobs to do each day/week etc, as well as any extra details (pick ups, appointments, costs, etc). It kept things organised, and although I still didn’t get everything I wanted to done, I did keep my priorities straight, people stress-free, and my mental and physical health in a decent state.
This was one of the biggest problems I had with the least amount of information available. We were moving in early October, and I didn’t know what I was meant to do with the appointments I already had in Warwick. I didn’t know whether I would be able to get a referral for the right things in time once I’d moved, registered, seen a new midwife, etc, etc. No matter where I looked I couldn’t find advice about what I was meant to do.
So, in general giving yourself as much time before the big important appointments. I had approximately 3-4 weeks before an anti-natal appointment, the glucose tolerance test and a scan, so giving myself time to make sure I could rebook these elsewhere. Moving isn’t a problem but missing appointments isn’t good! If in doubt, research what your local doctors will be and ask them what you can do in advance to make sure appointments get sorted.
Further to the above, here is a warning: that nice little booklet thing you were told to keep with you from your very first appointment with midwife… well, that big form full of crazy questions may need to be done all over again. Different locations have slightly different forms, and to be fair with all those details on it you hardly want to tipex and write it all over again. Keep it safe but do make sure you rehash all those details for the next lot of questions.
So in general, it is worth giving yourself as much time and research and organisation. If you get details of doctors, puppy classes, schools, clubs, etc and anything else you might need and keep a nice little contact list. If you get in contact in advance, it’ll generally be easier than figuring it all out whilst figuring out which box has your pants in them.
It can be done. You can be pregnant and move. You can get help and get organised and things will be OK. That being said, do think carefully about your body when moving, the bigger you get and the closer to your due date you are, the harder and more uncomfortable you’ll be. Give yourself a break and if you’re going to move try to do it before 28 weeks. Then again anything has got to be easier than moving with a newborn so on the other hand, get a move on!
But seriously, it will be OK. Keep breathing.