When I developed my pregnancy complications and then landed on bed rest (my doctor cuttting me off from all of my jobs), I felt horrible.
I knew it wasn't my fault. I wasn't causing these complications. I wasn't taking a vacation instead of working and bringing in finances for our family.
But I needed someone to blame for all of my complications, for the unfairness and the helpnessess that I felt because nothing in my pregnancy was going the way that it was supposed to.
The guilt was palpable. I felt unworthy of help, support and the sacrifices that others were making for me to help my body do something that it should have been able to do.
See what keeps coming up? "Should". That awful "S" word that kept me stuck in that cycle of guilt.
What I quickly had to realize was that not only did this guilt not serve me or help me emotionally but it was adding stress to my pregnancy that was making things even worse.
If you're feeling guilty for failing your baby, for dumping work on coworkers or for not being able to help around the house or with the other kids....I get it. I do.
And there are steps you can do to overcome it, because the guilt you feel is very common, but it is unfounded and undeserved.
Your high-risk pregnancy is not your fault. (Tweet that!)
The changes your family has to make and your coworkers have to make is not your fault. The guilt doesn't make your situation better either, as you know.
It's important, for you and the baby, to stop feeling guilty.
Before we talk about what to do about this guilt, I want to make sure we're talking about the same thing when we say "feeling guilty".
What is guilt?
Guilt is an emotion we develop at an early age. It’s an important emotion that we develop because it tells us when we did something wrong.
Guilt essentially acts acts as a moral compass so we know when we’ve done something wrong, we can make amends and forgive ourselves for doing that wrong thing.
Guilt is also a common emotion felt by people with health conditions, especially if the health condition limits their life in some way and even moreso if those limitations affect other people.
Why do moms with high-risk pregnancies or babies in the NICU feel guilty?
You may feel guilty about a variety of things.
Your partner has to carry more of the household responsibilities because you can’t keep up
You’re not as available to your coworkers so your projects ended upon their lap.
You are not able to contribute financially to your family like you used to.
You miss your loved ones’ celebrations and life events because you can’t make it.
In these situations guilt is tricky because the restrictions or lifestyle changes dictated by health condition are no one’s fault.
Yet, we still look for someone to blame and often we turn that inwards and blame ourselves.
That is called misplaced guilt. In most cases guilt acts as a moral compass but in cases where you have misplaced guilt it’s like the compass is broken!
Guilt triggers a stress response in the body
If you already have a health condition like an autoimmune disease, high-risk pregnancy or inflammation, you know how important it is to keep your stress low.
The stress from guilt puts you at risk for headaches, body aches, GI trouble, cardiovascular disease and preterm labor. It also puts you at risk for low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.
How to get overcome and let go of the guilt