AS you stare at that positive pregnancy test result or feel your baby’s first kick you might think you’ll never forget your feelings at that moment.
But in the melee of pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood, those seemingly unforgettable memories often do slip your mind. Unless, that is, you kept a pregnancy journal to privately record your thoughts.
Midwife and mother-of-four Clemmie Hooper, who has just under half a million Instagram followers for her mother_of_daughters posts, kept a pregnancy journal during two of her pregnancies, and says: “In a world where everything is captured online, I think journaling is a wonderful way of encouraging a bit of self-reflection.
“I wrote in baby journals with my first two, which I treasure and they love reading and seeing all the ‘firsts’.
“With my twins, I was blogging so I documented it there. I’m glad I did though, as whenever I read it back I think, ‘God, I can’t remember feeling like that’.
“I’ve forgotten so much! Mainly how tired I felt — the broken sleep is so hard. But now I can’t really remember how I actually felt during that time.”
Hooper’s How to Grow a Baby Journal has just been published and — as well as including plenty of space for pregnant women to write about their own thoughts, feelings and experiences during their pregnancy, birth and the early months of their baby’s life — the book is packed with her tips and advice to help support women, with advice for each week of the pregnancy and first month after the birth.
“It’s a lovely way to sit and document your feelings during such a major moment in any woman’s life,” says Hooper.
“Pregnancy throws up a huge amount of emotions (blame those hormones), and keeping a journal is a therapeutic way of getting it all down on paper. It can be really cathartic, and is a unique pregnancy diary.”
Wanting to give it a try? Here are some top tips for keeping a pregnancy journal.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO START WRITING A JOURNAL?
You might like to set aside a specific time each day to write and, instead of planning what you’re going to write, sit down with the journal and a pen and see what comes into your head — just let it flow.
If you have trouble getting started, write about your fears, and any questions or doubts you may have. You might even want to write about why you’ve chosen to put your thoughts on paper.
WHAT SHOULD YOU WRITE ABOUT?
“Anything really,” says Hooper, “from what it felt like when your baby kicked, to how your body changes and what food cravings you had. It’s what’s personal to you — in fact, no-one else has to ever read it, so be as honest as possible.”
You might choose to write about your body and how it looks, and even take some photos to put in the journal of pregnant you, your bump, and eventually your new arrival.
“You could outline any fears you may have about being a mum, and how you want to manage your work-life balance once you have a child.
Other ideas for pregnancy journaling include writing about not repeating your own parents’ mistakes, and the dreams you have for your baby.
And make sure you write plenty about your excitement and happiness too — and how your partner feels.
Here are 20 questions to answer in a pregnancy journal. Hooper suggests mothers-to-be and new mums should ask themselves these questions as they write their journal:
1. Where were you when you found out you were pregnant?
2. What made you think you were pregnant?
3. Who did you tell first?
4. Are there any foods or drinks you’ve gone off? Any interesting cravings?
5. Any inappropriate stories of battling through those early weeks?
6. Any funny stories about keeping it a secret?
7. What was your initial feeling when you saw the baby on the scan screen?
8. What tests (if any) did you have?
9. What are the moments you’ve loved so far about being pregnant?
10. Are there any moments you’ve not enjoyed so much?
11. Is there anything that’s surprised you?
12. How do you feel about your growing bump/changing shape?
13. How has your sleep changed through the pregnancy?
14. What dreams are you having?
15. When is your baby most active?
16. When and how did you go into labour?
17. How does your postpartum body look and feel?
18. What does breastfeeding feel like, and have you had any problems with it?
19. What do you need most? Sleep? Chocolate biscuits?
20. What’s your favourite thing about your baby?