An elegant keepsake journal…
If you are thinking about starting a pregnancy journal, then I really urge you to do it.
I wish I had written a diary during my own journey of pregnancy; for the first time and the second time I was pregnant.
If nothing more than to remember that special time and what I went through.
And I know I’m not the only one. Spela Kaurin wrote in her blog post ‘12 Reasons Why I am Sorry I didn’t Write in a Pregnancy Journal‘ that not writing a pregnancy journal was one of the things she regretted most.
Believe it or not, pregnancy does go so quickly that you forget to remember all of the special moments with your baby’s growth, the major milestones, the emotions, your own physical changes – right up to when your little one is born.
And there are lots of them.
Of course I remember some but I know there’s many things I’ve forgotten.
It’s like teenage diaries – yes I was one of those kids that kept a diary – I would never have remembered half the things that happened if I hadn’t written it down. One particular diary entry I read recently had me like ‘OMG!! I’d completely forgotten about that!’
And no, I’m not going to say what ‘that’ was 😉
So for definite, I wish I had kept a pregnancy diary – and beyond. Not just for me, but for my girls too so they could look back and maybe one day compare their own experiences – or at least have a damn good laugh!
What is a Pregnancy Journal?
“Writing in a journal (also called expressive writing) can improve your emotional well-being, mental clarity, and even physical health” – BabyCenter
A pregnancy journal, pregnancy scrapbook, pregnancy planner or belly book is your personal companion on the beautiful journey to motherhood. Its purpose is simply to hold the moments that shape the unique experience of carrying life.
And to catalog every time you threw up! There was actually a study conducted by researchers from the University of Alberta on nausea in pregnancy by keeping a diary – ok it was only for 7 days but it was to help identify interventions that could illieviate symptons.
A pregnancy book is a place to document each and every wonderful (and as above not so wonderful) step, preserving the incredibly personal trek from the first ‘positive’ test to the welcome of new life.
Sounds a bit like the memoir of an astronaut’s voyage into outer space!
And it can really feel that way too, especially for first time moms.
As a pregnant mother, you can find solace in scribbling down so many different experiences from the fluttery sensations in your stomach (are they too soon to be babs…?), to the rollercoaster of thoughts that completely take over your life (and they really do). It’s a week-by-week guide to mark the physical transformation of your body; the obvious and the not so obvious.
Within its pages, you write a pregnancy story, or reflect on a snapshot in time, not just of growth and change, but also of the emotions that accompany the anticipation and excitement of a new baby.
A pregnancy countdown journal takes you through the three trimesters; first trimester (0-12 wks), second trimester (13-27 wks), and third trimester (28-40 wks).
And if you don’t know what to write, these pregnancy journals often come with thoughtful prompts that guide you and help you make sure no detail is left unwritten.
They are there to track the key pregnancy milestones:
- the first heartbeat heard
- The first ultrasound
- the onset of a peculiar craving
- a visual display of movement
- fainting at the checkout (where a very kind lady rushes you to a chair while you blurt out your new pregnancy, secretly loving the fuss but hoping you don’t throw up all over her)
By capturing these experiences, you can create a memory book and a perfect gift to one day pass down to your child.
- Capturing Moments: A pregnancy journal holds the precious moments of pregnancy, creating a personal story that chronicles the journey to motherhood.
- Emotional and Physical Milestones: It provides space to document and reflect upon the emotional ups and downs as well as physical developments throughout pregnancy.
- Building a Legacy: a keepsake for you and your child to revisit and relive such incredibly special memories.
Benefits of Keeping a Pregnancy Journal
For Your Sanity!
From the moment you find out you are pregnant, your mind, body, spirit, in fact your whole existence is focused on babies, and the next 40ish weeks can seem like forever.
You almost feel like going mad, especially when you’re still having to deal with the normalities of everyday life/work which are trying not to be swamped by the never-ending thoughts of pregnancy and newborns.
Keeping a pregnancy journal helps to calm these emotions. Writing down thoughts and feelings provides an almost therapeutic outlet and can help you process the joy, anticipation, and anxiety that comes with expecting a child – as well as helping you to get through the normal day-to-day living!
A journal is a visual space to celebrate each pregnancy milestone.
From that little blue line to the dreaded nausea, from the thickening of your waist, to the distorted image on the first sonogram, documenting these events creates a timestamped memory of your baby’s time in the womb and their eventual journey into their new world.
Memory Book Album
Pregnancy is a unique and exciting time that passes quickly. Creating a pregnancy journal preserves the daily moments and remarkable changes that might otherwise fade from memory.
It’s all too easy to forget tiny moments that are dwarfed by the impending joy, fear and complete overwhelm of being a parent.
Documenting those moments into a memory book album keeps them sealed in time, and a reminder of everything – good and bad – that you went through.
We all love those ‘remember when…’ stories, bringing a special moment back to life.
And sharing your experiences through pregnancy can help to strengthen bonds with a loved one, family members and others whom you are close with.
Even though they didn’t physically experience pregnancy, they shared the journey so can also share the story.
Reflection and Growth
Reflecting on your pregnancy through journal entries can help with personal growth.
Pregnancy and parenthood brings responsibilities, decision making, unselfish acts, and seeking stability as well as other personal qualities that you instinctively take on when you have a baby on the way. Your journal can highlight these areas in personal development so you can witness how you’ve evolved throughout your pregnancy journey.
By tracking your physical and emotional state, a pregnancy diary can inform decisions about your physical health, mental health and the baby’s well-being, offering insights into patterns or concerns to discuss at your doctor appointments.
It is a valuable tool that can help put you at ease, especially if you go into another pregnancy as you can compare previous symptoms to new symptoms, or check advice you were given during previous prenatal visits.
See more benefits of keeping a pregnancy journal from Journey Owl.
What to Look for In a Pregnancy Journal
Selecting the best pregnancy journal requires careful consideration. Look for a guided pregnancy journal with a layout that resonates with you; it should offer a balance between structure and flexibility. Daily diary entries might suit some, while weekly summaries might be a better writing process for others. Ensure the journal has additional space or extra pages for personal reflections, as this is where you’ll document your unique feelings, experiences and ongoing health data.
The presence of thoughtful journal prompts is also important, and they can enrich the recording of your journey. These can guide you through the highs and lows of pregnancy, ensuring you capture moments you might not think of on your own. These prompts could ask you about your changing body or provide a space to record your baby’s first kick.
An essential feature to consider is customization. A journal that allows for a personal touch—like including ultrasound photos—transforms into a truly personalized keepsake.
Extra writing spaces for those days where everything is happening, or you just fancy recording a bit more than usual.
This customization can provide comfort and joy not just during pregnancy but also as you revisit these memories in years to come.
Your pregnancy journal will be as unique as your journey into motherhood. It will be a keepsake that you will treasure forever so personalization can turn a simple notebook into a heaving catalog of pregnancy memories.
Think about how you want your journal to look; minimalistic or vibrant and full of color? Are you into floral artwork, or pastel pink bunnies and blue teddy bears?
Do you prefer a soft or hardcover book, bound or spiral? Do you want the cover to include space for a baby name when you have chosen one or their initials engraved, or do you want the identity of your child to be hidden within the pages themselves?
How about the layout inside your guided journal? Is it blank pages you’re after or specific entry boxes and spaces to put baby bump photos and pregnancy records? Simple designs or floral swirls? Listicle options for baby names or information on birth plans?
The choice is endless, and you probably won’t know what you want until you see it.
By personalizing your memory book, you create a bespoke keepsake pregnancy journal that is an extension of you, your personality and your own unique style.
Digital vs Paper Journals
Choosing between digital and paper pregnancy journals depends on your preferences and lifestyle. Digital journals offer convenience and accessibility. With them, you can make entries on your phone or tablet, and they are easily actionable with the help of various apps. They often come with the added benefit of cloud backups, ensuring your memories are safe from physical damage.
However, the digital approach can feel less personal, lack the ability to add your own special features and may be subject to data privacy concerns.
Paper journals, on the other hand, bring an altogether different experience to your journaling with an array of beautiful books on offer. Many find the act of writing by hand to be therapeutic, with the physical book becoming a sentimental keepsake. They can be passed down to your children and further generations, or to other family members – preserving the antique feel to your memoirs.
The disadvantages include the risk of loss or damage and the lack of any backup capabilities. They can be found and read by others rendering personal and sensitive information forever at risk. Paper journals also require physical storage space, which can be a limitation for some.
I love writing in good old-fashioned pen and paper with beautifully designed stationery books. I like them thick with spirals so I can write more comfortably.
But…they do tend to sit on the desk more times than they are written in. Because of accessibility and because I am on the computer or on some kind of device more than is healthy, I like the convenience of opening up an app and spilling my thoughts on that instead.
Ultimately, your decision could hinge on whether you value the tradition and physicality of a paper journal or the modernity and convenience of a digital format. Both aim to keep your precious moments documented, yet they cater to different journaling habits and needs.
Ideas for Journal Entries
Ok, so now you have your shining new journal, complete with blank pages staring back at you.
Where do you start? And what on earth do you put in it?
First of all – HOW DO YOU FEEL??
Are you excited? Nervous? Scared? So happy you just want to scream it from the rooftops?
Start from the beginning. When did you first start thinking about having a baby? Was it even planned?
Don’t be scared of what to put. This is for your eyes only – you do not have to share it if you don’t want.
Once you start, your words will begin to flow and you’ll suddenly find lots of things to tell your new journal, your unborn child or yourself later in life.
Here are some ideas for your pregnancy journal:
- Where were you when you found out?
- Snaps of the pregnancy test(s) you did
- Day-to-day / week-to-week or just monthly accounts of thoughts, physical feelings and progress
- Track morning sickness, and or other pregnancy symptoms
- Charts or drawn images
- Photographs of ultrasound images
- Pictures of your growing belly
- Snapshots of social media posts / congratulations messages
- Lists of nursery preparations
- Scans of memorable concert/theater tickets from a night out during your pregnancy
- Printed or shop bought map from a baby shopping trip
- Photographs and an inventory of all the baby products you purchased on the shopping trip
- Till receipts of big buys like the pram, cot and/or moses basket
- Info from holidays taken during your pregnancy
- Baby shower invites and gifts
- Messages from loved ones
- Cut-outs of packets from the odd foods you craved
- Medical prenatal appointments
Other ideas may include:
Sketching Your Bump: Set aside a page every few weeks to draw the outline of your growing belly. This visual progression can be a delightful way to track growth. And if you’re an artist at heart, then you can really take the page by storm…or growth 😉
Letters to Baby: These are great to include in your journal: personal notes or letters to your unborn child. These will become treasured messages for them to read in the future. They can include:
- Sharing your dreams
- Telling them of your past experiences
- Heartwarming messages from their father or fellow caregiver
- Providing a family tree or details of their closest relatives
- Your likes and dislikes
- What you did as a child as far back as you can remember
- Your deepest feelings of excitement and anticipation of meeting them for the first time
Soundtrack or favorite songs: Create a list of your favorite songs now and years gone by, especially ones that resonate with you during your pregnancy. Music often carries emotional weight and can bring back a precious moment in time when played later on.
Cravings Chart: Keep a humorous and insightful record of your pregnancy cravings, no matter how quirky they are. This is a fun way to look back on the peculiar tastes and combinations that your journey evoked.
The Firsts: Document the firsts of everything; the milestones that you will always want to remember…
- The first pregnancy test (there will be multiple because that very faint line may or may not be there!)
- Your first doctor’s appointment
- The first fluttering sensation to their first kick,
- the first time you saw them on the ultrasound,
- the first time you heard their heartbeat
- The first craving you had, or food/drink you suddenly could not stand! I had a thing for Pringles in my first pregnancy and could not go near coffee during my second one
- The first outfit you bought for them, and definitely the first pair of booties (I loved buying cute little shoes, they had no purpose at all but looked utterly adorable! And babygrows, both mine had tons of them, there is nothing like picking a baby up in a toweling babygrow).
- The first big thing you purchased for them – was it the pram or the crib?
- Your first contraction
- The moment you saw them for the very first time
Pregnancy Q&A: Dedicate a section where you answer a set of questions every month. This can include how you feel physically and emotionally, your hopes, and your baby’s development.
Milestone Photos: Repeated again because visual memories are always a great thing to have, and these can go next to pregnancy events as well as how big your bump is getting.
Involving Family and Friends
Bringing loved ones into the pregnancy journaling experience enriches your keepsake journal with perspectives and shared excitement from others.
You can set aside a few pages for family and friends and invite them to write messages or share stories, perhaps even their own experiences with pregnancy.
Perhaps you could have a special page for the grandparents-to-be, allowing them to express their joy and hopes for their future grandchild.
Hosting a journaling baby shower activity is a fun way to gather everyone’s wishes and predictions for the baby. These entries will be treasures, not just for you, but also for your child in the future.
Include short and sweet notes from your partner that capture their own thoughts and feelings about being a new parent. You can even create a tradition where you both write a note every month, chronicling your shared path to parenthood. Shared journaling strengthens the bond between you and your partner during this unique time.
For friends near and far, digital tools can help. Use an online platform where they can upload their contributions if a physical journal isn’t feasible. Later, you can print these digital notes and add them to your journal.
Including loved ones’ thoughts and stories is a wonderful way for your baby to look back on, and you both to share.
Ensuring Privacy and Security
Although you may want to share some parts of your pregnancy journal book, for the most part, you will want to keep it just for your eyes only.
Pregnancy is a deeply personal endeavor, and so is your journal as it holds your most intimate thoughts and feelings. It is confidential until you choose otherwise.
Here are some tips to help keep your journal private.
- Choose a journal with a lock or keep it in a secure place, like a locked drawer.
- Keep it in a simple lockbox.
- Create a secondary, boring cover that has nothing to do with the contents of your journal. Wrap it in a reading novel jacket and store it on your bookcase with similar titles.
- Store it in a plastic wallet in a lever arch file, and sit it next to other files. Write recipes on it or something mundane.
- Wrap it in a special, pretty blanket so it looks just like a folded blanket.
- Keep it in a zipped handbag in your closet.
- Bury it in a keepsake tin and cover with wrapped chocolates/candy. As a child I used to collect novelty erasers, I had hundreds of them in a box and as I grew older I found they were a great place to hide things under.
If you journal online, here are some privacy and security tips:
- Use a well known, recommended app that has good encryption.
- If you only store it on your computer, keep it in a folder that isn’t obvious what it is.
- Create a hidden folder.
- Password-protect the folder/file.
- Never leave it open and unattended.
- Keep a couple of encrypted backups for data loss/security reasons.
Don’t let security and privacy be a second thought as you will want to have the confidence to write with honesty and intimacy, pouring your heart into your journal without the fear of judgment if somebody reads it.
When and if you want to share it, decide on what parts are to be kept private and which can be shared. Set clear boundaries and limit sharing your entries and pregnancy details unless you feel truly comfortable. Even then, share only with those who understand the journal’s value to you.
Transitioning from Pregnancy to Parenthood
Toward the end of your pregnancy, you want to be thinking about the transition of journaling as a pregnant woman to journaling your life as a new parent.
And you definitely want to carry on this tradition if you can.
Although life will become a lot busier and sleep is probably the only thing you will want to do when you get the chance, spending a few minutes capturing those special moments will be something you will be grateful you did in years to come.
The best way is to start a brand new journal as a ‘baby book’, not just because it resembles a brand new chapter in your life but it also makes the sharing of journals (pregnancy and/or baby) easier with others. It’s also nice for making the baby memory book into a keepsake for when your child is older.
These moments can include:
- Your baby’s first cry
- How you feel when you see them and hold them for the first time
- When their tiny hand first grips your finger
- Their first feed/nappy change/bath
- The first time you wrap them in that ever-so-cute baby blanket you’ve spent the last few months staring at longingly.
- The move from hospital cot to car seat, and the first travel home
- What it’s like to see your new baby in your own home.
These sorts of entries are great to include in your new baby journal as well as new routines, baby’s likes and dislikes, health and growing charts. But it’s also a good idea to keep up the practice of journaling by jotting down your thoughts, emotions and physical postpartum changes, as these are just as important to document and reflect on.
How to Preserve Your Pregnancy Journal
So your journey through pregnancy and birth is over, and your pregnancy journal is complete. What now? Is it redundant? To be left in a forgotten drawer of ‘stuff’ ready to pass on to your child when they hit a certain age?
For a start, it’s certainly never redundant. And it should never be just shoved in a drawer to gather dust and goodness knows what else! It should be cherished as a special keepsake.
It’s a treasure that once captured the excitement and anticipation of your whole life into motherhood. It will hold personal thoughts, emotions and experiences that were once the most important part of your life.
Keep it safe by adopting the following precautions:
- Store it in a cool, dry place free of too much dust, preferably in a box or book holder. This can also keep it safe from prying eyes.
- No direct sunlight, humidity or extreme heat nearby.
- From the offset choose a journal with acid-free paper; this type of paper resists deterioration over time.
- For the cover, splash out on a durable material like leather.
- If it is in a drawer, line the drawer with acid-free paper to shield it from dust or other contaminants.
- Be careful with bookmarks, depending on what they are made of, or what ink is on them, they could damage the pages or smudge the text.
- When you handle your journal, use clean hands to avoid transferring oils to the paper.
- Never eat, drink or smoke around it.
- Turn the pages carefully.
- Ensure photographs do not stick on the opposite page (use tissue paper to cover and protect the photographs).
Lastly, think about digitizing your journal. Scanning the pages creates a backup that’ll withstand physical wear and tear. This way, if anything does happen to your physical journal, your memories, experiences and magical moments will still live on.
Reflecting on the Journey
As you close the final pages of your pregnancy journal, know that this is not the end but just the beginning; whether further ones will be written as just a part journal favoring to capture just the significant milestones.
This journal of an expectant mother can be read many times over the years, and it will fill you with love and happiness as you reflect on everything you went through, reminiscing over the times your own memory has failed you. It serves as more than a simple diary, it becomes a companion that captures the heart of your journey into motherhood.
When you’re feeling a little low in life, take out your journal and leaf through each entry, reliving those precious moments. With every page, you’ll reconnect with feelings of anticipation, joy, and love that you experienced as you awaited your baby’s arrival. This personal chronicle is not just a recount of your pregnancy; it’s a window into a pivotal chapter of your life.
Sharing these entries with your child can create a special bond as they see the love that surrounded them even before they were born.
A Parting Embrace of a Mother’s Memoirs
Years from now, these pages will carry you back to the days when life was blossoming within you. You’ll feel the echoes of past joys, challenges, and anticipations that evokes a warmth that will remain timeless. Such a keepsake is irreplaceable, offering a tangible passage back to one of life’s most precious phases.
So, embrace this powerful means of storytelling, and let your memoirs safeguard the moments of emotions and experiences that will soon become the sweetest of memories. The narrative of your baby’s beginning is yours to tell, and what better way to do it than through a uniquely personal, lovingly crafted book – your pregnancy journal.
Citations in Order of Appearance
- 12 Reasons why I am Sorry I Didn’t Write in a Pregnancy Journal – Spela Kaurin, Huffington Post.
- Why Journaling is Good for You – Elizabeth Dougherty, BabyCenter.
- O’Brien B, Relyea J and Lidstone T. Diary Reports of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy. Clinical Nursing Research. (1997) 6(3):239-252.
- Top 10 Benefits of Keeping a Pregnancy Journal – Dr Jyothi Shenoy, Journal Owl.
- Pregnancy Journal: 60+ Ideas and Prompts – Kristen Webb Wright, Day One.
- Crawley R, Ayers S, Button S et al. Feasibility and acceptability of expressive writing with postpartum women: a randomised controlled trial. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth (2018) 18,75.
- Lindseth G and Vari P. Measuring Physical Activity During Pregnancy. Western Journal of Nursing Research. (2005) 27(6):722-734.
- Crozier SR, Inskip HM, Godfrey KM and Robinson SM. Dietary patterns in pregnant women: a comparison of food-frequency questionnaires and 4 d prospective diaries. British Journal of Nutrition. (2008) 99(4):869-875.
- 4 Ways Pregnancy Journaling Can Help You – Joyce Marter LCPC, Psychology Today.
- How to Start a Pregnancy Journal, Advice from Women Who Treasure Theirs – Amy Packham, Huffington Post.
- How to Start and Keep a Pregnancy Journal – Brooks Manley, Creative Primer.
- Acid-Free Paper – Wikipedia.