Nurturing Yourself in Pregnancy
The concept of nurturing yourself in pregnancy, is second only to nutrition. Women begin pregnancy at different levels of the spectrum regarding their ability to care for themselves. Some women have developed rituals and habits that feel nurturing, while others have little or no experience with this. Whatever your experience is with self-care, pregnancy is a good time to begin forming regular habits to support oneself in feeling centered, relaxed, and rejuvenated. Many women find it very easy to do for others, but not so easy to do for themselves. To be fully present in taking care of a family, a mother must make it an absolute priority to take care of herself. If women learn to do this work, we find it easier to get through the tough minutes, days, weeks, etc., to keep the home and relationships functioning with love and compassion. Another important consideration is the model we show to our children (if we are mothers to many) when we take time to honor and nurture ourselves. Children learn so much from watching others, and if they can learn to take the same time to honor and nurture themselves, then they will have a more positive effect on their own lives and relationships. If you do not have any particular habits that you have incorporated into your life, hopefully the following information will encourage you to try something new, or can be an added component to your self-care routine.
Rest It can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep during pregnancy. Your body is changing so much and so frequently, that what works one week may not work the next! It is important to embrace your changing body and your changing emotions, and try a variation of formulas to get good rest one night at a time. It is ideal to take a rest/nap every day. If your schedule does not allow for an undisturbed nap, find a little time each day to unplug, close the blinds, put your feet up, and close your eyes. This can be so helpful in making up for lost sleep at night.
To become as comfortable as possible, be sure to have 3-4 pillows that you can place under your belly, between your thighs, and behind your back for full support of your body. Making yourself a little mama nest can greatly improve your comfort level to aid in better sleep. Be sure to re-settle in to your nest if you need to get up for a drink of water or to use the bathroom, or if you need to turn over. A pregnancy pillow can be greatly beneficial for easy re-nesting! https://leachco.com/products/snoogle
Having a good bite of protein before going to bed at night can be helpful if you find yourself hungry in the middle of the night. Keeping a pouch of almond butter or high protein bar beside the bed can be helpful so you don’t have to get up. Just a few quick bites and a big gulp of water, and back to sleep.
A nice walk after dinner can help increase circulation, which helps with relaxation.
Having a warm cup of chamomile tea, or golden milk can aid in relaxation. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and can help with any aches and pains in joints and ligaments.
Warm baths just before bed can help you sleep better. This can be a wonderful self-care ritual that you can do alone or with your partner. Lavender or Rose essential oils can aid in relaxation. Candles can be very soothing and calming as well. Your favorite podcast or quiet music can help you and your mind settle after the day. Asking your partner to join you can also be a good way to solicit some well-deserved foot and calf rubs!
Yoga is often recommended during pregnancy because it is a form of gentle, effective exercise which stretches muscles and increases circulation. It also relieves and reduces stress. Yoga is one of the best ways to learn about relaxing both your mind and body, and tuning into your breath. This practice is so beneficial in teaching techniques for use during labor. If you do not already have a yoga practice, it would be good to consider a prenatal or gentle yoga class a few days a week. The stretches can also be done at home daily to help improve your strength and flexibility for labor, birth, and postpartum recovery.
Meditation and Visualization
Similar to yoga, meditation can be a wonderful way to connect to your body and breath in a very relaxing way. Prop yourself up comfortable with pillows, and lay still with one hand on your belly, and one hand on your heart. Feel the breath move in and out, and the rhythm of your beating heart. Keep in mind that your heart is what is pumping all that glorious blood to your uterus and placenta. Thinking about what your uterus is doing for your baby, and visualizing your baby’s home can be very calming if your day is hectic. Around 30 weeks is a nice to begin to visualize your birth. Pam England is an author and founder of Birthing from Within, and has a beautiful approach to teaching imagery and visualization. http://www.dancingstarbirth.ca/Handouts/Laborinth.pdf
Journaling is a way to express your thoughts and feelings in a way that allows you to reflect on a certain day, or a certain emotion, or circumstance. You can find time each night to journal, or just keep it with you to pull out and write in when you feel that it would be helpful to relieve stress. Writing about fears and concerns can help to relieve any stress surrounding issues or relationships. Pregnancy can bring up so many emotions and thoughts. Writing about them can help to bring clarity and a new perspective or insight. Some women enjoy keeping a dream journal to keep track of messages or visions that can come during sleep. It is most helpful to write about your dreams before you even get out of bed so that you can record it fully.
Time with your partner
It’s easy to forget that our partners are also going through the changes of pregnancy. It is crucial to keeping your relationship strong to make time to spend together as much as possible. Not the cleaning the house, doing laundry together kind of time, but a time set aside to walk hand in hand, grab a quiet bite together, get some exercise, or go on a special date. This is especially important if you have other children. Often we get so involved with the day-today, that we forget to take time to nurture our intimate relationship. Even with your growing and changing body, making time to stay physically connected is so rewarding. Leave the details behind, and just simply enjoy being together.
Sheaffer Palermo is a mother of four, a part-time yogi, and an herb and food enthusiast living in the high desert of New Mexico’s land of enchantment.
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