Whether a woman is expecting her first child, or her fifteenth, pregnancy is filled with many emotions. There is joy and excitement mixed with anticipation and a little nervousness. All these emotions are appropriate, given the weight of what this new little life entails.
Like mothers throughout time, I felt these slew of emotions during my first pregnancy. My days were peppered with elation and nervous anticipation. But there was also something else. My immense happiness was occasionally threatened by intense doubt and fear. At first, I thought I was isolated in these waves of uncertainty. So I decided to consult with other moms, which is when I realized I was not alone.
Through our conversations, we saw that Satan often tries to take our natural concerns and twist them until they become nearly unbearable. Obviously, there are natural worries and anxieties that come with pregnancy since it is such a huge event. But there is a great difference between being bummed that you can no longer fit into your favorite pair of skinny jeans, and thinking that there is nothing good about your body.
Therefore, it is necessary for women to be on guard against the Enemy in this regard. Just because pregnancy is wonderful does not mean it is exempt from spiritual attack. In fact, it is precisely because it is so wonderful that the Enemy especially hates it and makes grand efforts to ruin it (hello, abortion). The devil lurks, and seeks to destroy our warranted joy by taking our natural emotions and running with them through the mud. Fortunately, we have a God that is not only victorious over that scumbag, but sanctifies and protects pregnancy by being born Himself. We are not meant to live in darkness, but in the light of Truth.
Together, these new and seasoned mothers and I compiled the most common spiritual attacks on the expectant mother, and we concluded what helped us overcome them. The devil’s game doesn’t change much, so by being aware of what he might try to pull, we will be better equipped to combat his deadly lies when they are being shouted in our ears, and instead cling tighter to the Savior.
Let’s jump right in with the most prevalent and overwhelming lie Satan throws at us. He especially likes to tell us we are inadequate in the following ways:
– Physically: We think our bodies can’t handle pregnancy. Because we are sick and unable to be as efficient, we deem ourselves worthless. We think, “I cannot birth this baby.”
– Emotionally: We think we are an emotional train wreck that no one likes to be around, so we might as well shut ourselves off from everyone.
– Spiritually: We think we are not holy enough to be a mother. We sin too much to teach virtue to our children. We are not even close to resembling Our Lady in her motherhood.
2. Body Image
This one is a tough one that takes many women by surprise. When a woman first discovers she’s pregnant, she often gets really excited for that cute baby bump to start showing. And then it comes, and suddenly she may not be so thrilled with the changes happening to her form. In these vulnerable moments, the devil likes to swoop in and take over. “Your body is the least attractive it’s ever been”, “Your husband does not want you”, “This pregnancy has sucked away all your beauty”.
3. Marital Disharmony
Boy, does the Enemy really love this one. He enjoys going straight to the root of a joyful pregnancy, a self-giving marriage, and getting it all tangled up. Pregnancy demands massive amounts of communication, patience, openness, and understanding between spouses. Any chance we give Satan to place wedges and cause division, he will do so.
The devil takes every opportunity he can to tell us that we are not as good as so-and-so. He spews falsities to us like: “You won’t be a good mother – you’re not creative enough, or rich enough, or smart enough, or settled enough. Look at all these other super-moms. They have it all together, and you know you don’t.” Our Pinterest-obsessed culture and the mommy-wars certainly open the doors even wider for the Enemy. But that’s worthy of its own post.
Simply stated, Satan likes to make us doubt if we should have ever created this life in the first place. This one is quite terrible to endure.
6. Irrational Fear
Goes a little something like this: “Everything terrible that CAN happen WILL happen. My pregnancy is doomed, my birth is doomed, my postpartum time is doomed. I’m going to make all the wrong decisions and effectively destroy any chance of my child’s health, happiness, and holiness”.
How to Fight Back (and Win)
1. Your Spouse
Your husband is your first line of defense; let him defend you. After all, he is made for that. Let him combat the lies you are being told by planting sends of truth into your life. Allow him to serve you and care for you in your sickness, allow him to affirm that you will be a terrific mother, allow him to comfort you in your fear, allow him to initiate intimacy when you feel especially unattractive (side note: the majority of men find their wives most attractive during pregnancy, just saying 😉 ), and allow him to intensely pray and fast for you.
2. Eucharistic Adoration
Get yourself in front of the Resurrected Christ. Spend time in silence with Him. Cast your cares upon Him and invite Him into those deepest doubts. He has crushed the head of the serpent for you, for your freedom from these attacks. He will not leave you.
3. Your (and your baby’s) Guardian Angel
Seek help from the being that has been assigned to you from the beginning. Ask your guardian angel to give you a firm nudge when Satan starts to unleash his junk. Ask for protection and strength, clarity and hope. Ask your angel to remind you of the truth.
4. Scripture and the Rosary
Speaking of truth, the life of Christ, Truth Himself, will help us combat these spiritual attacks. By diving into the Word and contemplating the life of Jesus through the rosary, we will remain focused on what is true, good, and beautiful, and will be solidified and convicted in our vocations as wives and mothers.