Throughout the nine months of pregnancy, women will go through a rollercoaster of emotions. From the shock and surprise of finding out they’re expecting, to the potential drain of morning sickness or even the stress of trying to decide on a baby name, it can be a bit of a whirlwind.
Writing down all these memories in a pregnancy journal is a great way to preserve them, giving you something to look back on for years to come. After all, journalling has been found in numerous studies to be beneficial for your mental health.
For those who are unsure how to get started or are stuck for ideas about what to write, we spoke to women who kept one during their own pregnancies to ask all the essentials: how did you stick to it, what did you document, and do you have any tips?
Becky Connolly, 36, from Richmond, North Yorkshire, is mum to 14-month-old Reuben. The mum, who blogs at Becky’s Boudoir about parenting started documenting her experiences as soon as she found out she was expecting. She hadn’t written a diary before this, but thought it would be a good idea to record important dates and feelings for her to look back on. “Mine is so detailed and emotional, because I treated it like a best friend,” she says. “It’s like having a heart-to-heart that no one else gets the privilege to hear.”
For Lucie Rawlins, 38, from Bournemouth, her pregnancy journal accompanied her through both of her pregnancies with Freddie, now five, and Olly who is six months. She started her journal the minute she found out she was pregnant both times.
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What diary should I use?
You can buy ready-made pregnancy journals in high-street shops (such as this one here) which you fill in under headings and answer questions, so if you like a bit of structure, these may be for you. This is what Lucie did.
She had a journal (pictured below), which includes spaces for photos and storage wallets to hold clippings, appointment cards and scans to help you to capture the key moments. There is practical advice and step-by-step explanations of what to expect each trimester, along with checklists to ensure you’ve got everything you need. There’s also space for you to write your own thoughts.
Becky just bought a regular notepad, so she wasn’t restricted to a small section per day of writing. She says her notepad allowed her the freedom to write whatever she wanted, for however long, on whatever day. If you’re looking for suggestions of where to buy a beautiful notebook to get you started (and keep you motivated) try Papier, Oh Deer or Paperchase.
What should I document?
Becky wrote everything she felt and all the appointments she went to in her journal. She included her scans, trips to the midwife, visits to hospital, any aches, pains, mood swings and cravings, as well as what she bought for the baby. Aside from that, she wrote even when she felt like there was nothing to say. “Just fill it with your thoughts, even when you think there’s nothing to share,” Becky advises. “The most random paragraphs are the best, like what you managed to eat for dinner, or how you found getting out of the car in the supermarket carpark that day.”
This is very similar to what Lucie documented: “I wrote about how I was feeling each week, what I was eating, I put in there some receipts of maternity and baby clothes, scans, I wrote about my labour and the gifts I received.”
How do I keep it up?
Although the thought of keeping a pregnancy journal is a nice idea, the hardest part is keeping it up, what with all the other things you have to do while preparing for a baby. But Lucie says she didn’t find it hard to keep up, adding that pregnancy went so fast. She dedicated time to write in it each evening, just before she went to bed.
Becky also made herself write in her journal at a set time everyday, because she wanted it to be a true outlet of her feelings. “Even when I was upset I’d write in it” she explains. “It was hardest to write when I was going through a lot of morning sickness which tended to come on a lot in the evenings (as I can now look back on and remember), though I did manage to share one day at my worst when I was laid up on the sofa craving chicken supreme.”
Top tips on keeping a pregnancy journal:
:: “Keep the notebook by the place you sit most, or by the bed, with a pen!” - Becky
:: “Write daily so things are fresh in your mind.” - Lucie
:: “Keep it casual but remember to put how many weeks pregnant you are with the date - that’ll help keep track of where you are, and is helpful when referring back to a certain time in your pregnancy.” - Becky
:: “Write in depth as details are easily forgotten.” - Lucie
:: “Put your important phone numbers in the first page, such as the midwife, hospital and physio numbers, as that way you’ll treat it with importance and will naturally refer to it as your pregnancy book.” - Becky
:: “Keep all documents and photos during your pregnancy to stick in there.” - Lucie