If you’re an expectant or new parent in 2020 then this is going to be a year of change! But in addition, many of us resolve to pro-actively make some changes at the beginning of the New Year. The accepted research shows that between half and three quarters of people who make New Year’s resolutions don’t keep them! This leads to massive disappointment and even just thinking about having to make resolutions can then be stressful! So how do we go about achieving and managing change without becoming stressed out? As we have described in previous Christmas blogs (see blog 1) some stress (type A) is good, but chronic negative stress (type C) is bad both for adult parents but also for the unborn or newly born baby. So here’s 6 tips to help achieve successful change:

1. Have clear values and goals

One of the key reasons why people don’t keep their resolutions is that both the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ are not sufficiently clear. Without these ‘a goal is just a wish’. Change is difficult and research shows that the most important factor is the ‘why’! Why do you want to change something? And that doesn’t just mean stopping an unhelpful habit – it needs to be replaced by something positive. It’s also wise to have realistic expectations – neuroscience research suggests you need at least 21 days to start to change a habit, and for it to become a true habit it needs 3 cycles of 21 days – 63 days in total!

The Neuroscientist Dr Caroline Leaf has shown how positive neural networks (dendrites – which resemble ‘trees’) need to develop at the same time as existing habits are weakened.

How clear are your values? These are the things that are important to you – and how much are these shared with your partner? – see the free download on increasing clarity around your values. Also, the goals you set should be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. So if for example, you decide to do more exercise in order to reduce weight, not only be clear about your positive ‘why’ (have a more healthy lifestyle, have more energy etc) but be realistic about what you can achieve by when – e.g. perhaps buy a tracker to ‘measure’ progress, increase the number of daily steps perhaps by 10%, set a monthly weight target etc.

… the main goal?

Arguably, the main goal if you’re an expectant or new parent is to optimise the first 1000 days – from conception to yr 2 – of your child’s life. And proven psychological theory would say that achieving secure attachment is perhaps the most important thing you can do for the future happiness of your child. See more information on attachment here.

2. Learn from 2019

Consider the last year and firstly think about your successes and what you want to do more of in 2020. Celebrate these things. And where things didn’t turn out so well think about what you can learn from this? It’s ok to fail at things, particularly if you’re doing something you haven’t done before – and if you’re an expectant or new mum a number of things could fall into this category! Treat yourself with compassion – and if you’ve made a mistake see it as a learning opportunity, both for yourself and also perhaps to pass wisdom onto others.

3. Developing mindfulness skills

If you suffer from anxious thoughts that swirl around your head, or you find yourself ruminating into that downward spiral and black hole of depression, then learning basic mindfulness skills can be very helpful. The practice of mindfulness, is about really being present in the moment, noticing thoughts without judgement, or reacting to them, and with self-compassion. In fact one recent US study showed that even a single introductory mindfulness meditation session may benefit people suffering from anxiety.

See the recording download below on how to deal with intrusive thoughts, emotions and urges.

4. Get some help

We are often tempted to just struggle on alone, and things don’t improve and often get worse. At the beginning of 2020, it’s a good time to make that decision to get some help with whatever problems you’re facing. We have a team of qualified Counsellors and Coaches who can help you set a new course for 2020. See our discounted offer on an introductory counselling session.

5. Helping others

It’s a well known fact that when you shift your attention to helping others – you help yourself too! Volunteering with a charity, church or club is often the best way because you are directly interacting with others. But if time is the prohibiting factor, then consider helping by giving financially, where your money can make the biggest difference! We are looking for people interested in the first 1000 days of life helping is to support expectant and new mums in Malawi in Africa – the poorest nation on earth. Our goal is for 1000 UK supporters to help us support 1000 families in Malawi by becoming a £10 per month regular donor, for 33 months (1000 days). Will you consider being one of our first 1000 donors? See more information here.

6. Improving relationships

Relationships are the essence of life with ‘no person meant to be an island.’ Is there a relationship that you want to improve this year? A conflict that has been ‘put under the carpet’? Have you been hurt by someone close? Maybe in 2020 it’s time to start improving that relationship by firstly forgiving that person, at least in your mind. See the download below on how to do this. Forgiving what someone has done to you (not forgetting or excusing it) is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your own future mental and physical health. Secondly, reconciliation is a different matter, but consider reaching out to that person, making the first move, and even if they reject your offer you will have the assurance within yourself that you have tried to improve things.

Happy New Year – from the Pregnancy Twinning team

Intrusive thoughts, emotions & urges

Do you battle with intrusive thoughts, emotions and urges? See these 4 recordings (based on ACT):

Recording 1 (11mins) – introduction and intrusive thoughts
Recording 2 (7 mins) – emotions
Recording 3 (4 mins) – urges
Recording 4 (5 mins) – a grounding technique if you ever feel overwhelmed by emotion

Determining your Values

Are you clear about the values that are guiding your life? Having clarity helps you to make changes, and provides an outlet if you struggle with intrusive thoughts, emotions or urges.


When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward.

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