How does pregnancy affect writing? Over the past few months, I have done a lot of research online, but have not found many articles on this topic. I’ve included links at the bottom of this post for the few that I found helpful, but thought I’d post my own as a bit of information on what to expect for mama-to-be authors out there needing advice.

First Trimester:

With the cocktail of HCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin), progesterone and estrogen doing a number on your body in early pregnancy, it can be hard to stick to a writing schedule. If you’re one of the unlucky women to have morning sickness, there might only be one thing on your mind: throwing up your breakfast, not writing up a storm. Even nausea can be all-consuming, leaving little time for writing; I spent more time being queasy and sensitive to smells by day and fatigued by night. Not a lot gets accomplished: work, household chores, socialising – or writing.

What tip helped me? Whenever I found myself lacking the energy to write something new, I re-promoted something old: a previously published poem or story, or a published collection. This way, I was still being involved with writing, even if I wasn’t actually crafting anything fresh.

Second Trimester:

Just when you think you can say goodbye to nausea, a whole host of new symptoms set in, making writing take a back seat again. Progesterone production ramps up even more, causing ‘baby brain’: what some women attribute to their feelings of forgetfulness. It has been scientifically proven that a pregnant woman’s brain loses grey matter, with a significant impact in her first pregnancy; here’s a study done by Science News if you don’t take my word for it. But how does this affect writing? The loss of grey matter doesn’t directly relate: it’s more for increasing the mother-baby bond. Less is more, after all. But the increase in female hormones causing is more to blame; mood swings, physical changes including the start of a baby bump and round ligament pain can be distracting. Personally, I found myself at the library reading pregnancy books or Googling new symptoms rather than writing. Just as I thought I’d got the whole pregnancy-thing figured out, and had started a writing routine again towards the end of my second trimester, the third trimester hit giving a big batch of writer’s block.

What tip helped me? Even if I was becoming too distracted by a mind wandering onto ‘anomaly scans’ and looking up new words such as ‘lanugo’ and ‘vernix caseosa’, I made sure to spend time reading through manuscript drafts and adding notes to margins. This took a lot less brain-power and was more manageable for a dwindling attention span than writing something fresh.

Third Trimester:

Ah! The home stretch. Should be easy, right? Not so. First trimester fatigue returns with a vengeance, as do multiple trips to the loo, especially overnight, thanks to a heavy baby bump bearing down on one’s bladder. Sleeping becomes a problem as it’s hard to get comfortable when you’re dealing with pelvic pain and a beachball-sized belly. Insomnia plus reduced caffeine leads to poor concentration and grumpiness, which isn’t a great recipe for writing success.

What tip helped me? Chipping away. I got a sense of accomplishment at even writing a paragraph. A little was better than nothing and after all, just like a 9 month pregnancy, writing is a marathon, not a sprint.

Links to other pregnancy articles for authors:

Pregnancy and the Writer’s brain

Writing during pregnancy: 5 tips to make it easier

About Leilanie Stewart

Leilanie Stewart is a novelist and poet. Her debut novel, Gods of Avalon Road was published by Blossom Spring Publishing in October 2019. Leilanie has also published three poetry collections: The Redundancy of Tautology (Cyberwit, 2021); Chemotherapy for the Soul (Fowlpox Press, 2017); A Model Archaeologist (Eyewear Publishing, 2015) and two self-published pamphlets: Toebirds and Woodlice (Meandi Books, 2012); Metamorphosis of Woman (Meandi Books, 2012), satirical novella Zombie Reflux (Meandi Books, 2014) and surreal novelette, Til Death do us Boneapart (Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, 2017). Leilanie is also Editor in Chief of Bindweed Magazine, a poetry and fiction online magazine that also publishes a quarterly print anthology. She currently lives in Belfast with her writer and poet husband, Joseph Robert and their rambunctious toddler, a voracious reader of dinosaur board books. Literary blog: Meandi Books: Bindweed Magazine:

One response »

  1. […] a novel from scratch during either antenatal or postnatal periods (see my post from 8 June 2017 on writing during pregnancy: baby brain and writer’s block for more on this). I had thankfully written the meat of my novel before pregnancy, so fine tuning […]

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