Self-Care Essentials for Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a beautiful, natural process that brings about enormous changes in a woman, affecting your mind, body and soul and its also a time of celebration - you have created life! In pregnancy you can't help but become acutely aware of your body as it changes on a daily basis. Its a beautiful thing to witness, so take photos, videos and be in awe of your amazing body! Yet if your self care practices aren't in place it can lead to feelings of overwhelm and anxiety. Being in a constant state of stress in pregnancy could have an adverse affect on you or your baby - studies in the field of epigenetics have shown that chronic stress in pregnancy affects the mental health of the child throughout their life - so taking care of your wellbeing during pregnancy is vital.
In an ideal world reflexology would be standard care during pregnancy, part of the NHS and available to all pregnant women! Being a natural therapy that supports the natural process of childbearing, it can enhance and support you in every way and keep stress and anxiety at bay.
There are of course many ways you can practice self-care during pregnancy and I've listed some below. feel abundant and alive:
1. Say No!
One of THE most important things you can do for you is to say NO! You have to put yourself first now, when baby comes and throughout motherhood. You cannot care for someone else unless your cup is full, it just leads to resentment or martyrdom and that's not healthy or wise. Prioritise you and if that means saying no to a few events here and there, so be it! You will know what you can handle and when you are just saying yes to keep the peace or make others happy. So honour yourself and do you.
2. Listen to your body
Take the time out now to really tap into your body, to the messages it sends you; slow down, meditate, pause. Pregnancy is the perfect opportunity to explore embodiment; the practice of listening to your body's messages through feelings and sensing. Learning to trust your body's messages, your instincts, is something we are not taught, in fact we are often actively discouraged from doing it. Particularly as women, we have a tendency to keep the peace and "do the right thing", but ask yourself, how does it FEEL? Does it feel ok for you? When you listen to your body, you know what it requires and can make decisions that feel right for you and your baby. This is how you regain your power and reconnect to the innate wisdom of your body which will empower you throughout your pregnancy and birth.
3. Join or Create a Community of Mothers.
We need community - connection with other humans, its how we survive and thrive in this world. I know too many woman who did not thrive when they became mothers, in fact a common theme among mothers around the world is one of stress, depletion and isolation. When you become a mother, knowing that you have a circle of support around you will give you strength. Parenting is hard work, the hardest of work! So don't be a martyr. You know the saying it takes a village to raise a child. Well its the same for mothers. A community of mothers gives us space to discuss common issues, identify qualities in each other that we would like to embody and we can share our gifts with each other. So tap into your divine feminine energy and get creative! Start building this network now.
4. Food is medicine.
The food we eat impacts upon our health and our mood and during pregnancy our baby, so its essential that you provide yourself with high quality foods to get the maximum nutritional density throughout your pregnancy. Aim to eat the rainbow and if possible choose organic foods free from pesticides.
The first trimester can be a little difficult if you are experiencing morning sickness. I struggled massively with nausea and for a few weeks I lived on paninis, salt and vinegar french fries and fizzy drinks! Not ideal. As soon as the nausea stopped I contacted a naturopathic nutritionist and got a plan to ensure I was eating well to maintain a healthy environment for me and my baby. Check out @amanda_ashy, a local naturopathic nutritionist and family wellness coach who supports mums from pre-conception onwards.
Keeping physically fit and active during pregnancy will not only make it easier for you to labour and return to your pre-pregnant state, its also so beneficial for your mental health. Walking, swimming, running, belly dancing!; keeping doing your normal physical activities for as long as you feel comfortable. I found yoga to be one of the most gorgeous practices during pregnancy and most classes support you with breathing techniques and movements to help you during labour, and they include the all-important pelvic floor exercises! My yoga teacher for all three pregnancies was Ingrid Lewis of Around Birth and my inspiration for wanting to enter into the work of supporting mothers during pregnancy. She is amazing, her classes are enriching and warm and will leave you feeling empowered as a woman and a mother. https://aroundbirth.org/yoga-for-pregnancy.html
Pregnancy is a time to cultivate a gentle loving kindness with yourself - treat yourself like the divine feminine goddess that you are! Enjoy plenty of time outdoors, dance, bathe in the woods and soak up all that vitamin D, eat well, love yourself and honour your body. You are not broken, you are a divine feminine goddess carrying life into the world!
You are miraculous!
All images are from Unsplash.