For some mothers-to-be pregnancy is a dreamy time of happy anticipation and nesting. For others it is much more challenging – whether because of juggling extreme tiredness, morning sickness, work, the needs of existing family or all of the above!
Here is some gentle advice that I have found serves most pregnant women:
1. Eat well
This first tip may seem totally obvious but it’s so easy not to do. If you are suffering morning sickness you may get caught up in some bad patterns like for example succumbing to sugar cravings (and then getting caught up in the ups and downs of high / low blood sugar levels that come with them) or eating more junk food than you usually would. In my own personal experience I have found that eating a high sugar or low quality diet when I’m struggling with morning sickness really doesn’t help. I might feel like my body is craving a sugar hit but if I can avoid it and go for something more nourishing and energy sustaining I almost always feel so much better for it. Green smoothies and juices have done wonders for me when struggling with morning sickness and have a very high nutrient density. I’ve also found a hearty breakfast even if I don’t feel like eating balances me out for the rest of the day better than if I skip brekkie. Think nourishing wholesome, vegetarian wholefoods and you can’t go far wrong. Carry healthy snacks around with you such as nuts, home made muesli bars or fruit so you don’t get caught out and about with nothing nourishing to eat (this is a good habit to get into for when you have young children around too!)
2. Rest when you can
I found this so challenging in my first pregnancy and when I was a ‘new mother’. In pregnancy we often feel we have to keep going regardless of the messages our body may be giving us to slow down. Try to find time in the day to rest, even if you are at work – download a Yoga Nidra recording onto your MP3 players (try Guided Relaxation from Sharon Gannon at www.jivamuktiyoga.com) and lie down somewhere quiet to listen to it in your lunch break. If you are pregnant and working try not to overschedule your evenings and ‘down time’. The more you rest now the more you are building reserves in the energy bank for those challenging first few months of motherhood.
3. Be in the moment
This is such a cliché but nonetheless it’s true! It’s so very easy to wish pregnancy away. We’re anticipating meeting our little one for the first time, we may be feeling pretty yucky, and towards the end most women experiences a desire to ‘get this baby out of me!!’ that’s a sure sign labour will be coming soon. Amidst all of this try to take time to smell the roses. Pregnancy is a unique and precious experience and even if it’s challenging you won’t always be feeling the way you do. In our busy lives we often forget to ‘check in’ with how our bodies are feeling and even how we’re doing emotionally. Pregnancy might be a great time to start a journal or treat yourself to a regular massage or set up a meditation routine. However you do it it’s important to take time to connect and ‘just be’. Many studies have shown that pregnancy women who do this adjust to motherhood more easily.
4. Nest and nurture
Especially towards the end of your pregnancy take some time out to spring clean your home, make your environment beautiful and nurture yourself. Get a good friend to help you. Set up your kitchen with teas and herbs that will nourish you post-natally (when it might be harder to get out to the shops). You might also want to consider the beautiful ritual of having a ‘Blessingway’ around this time. Read ‘Mother Rising: The Blessingway Journey into Motherhood’ by Yan Cortlund for more information.
5. Let go of guilt
In the yoga tradition there is no word for ‘guilt’. I mean that quite literally – in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit there is no word that directly translates as ‘guilt’. Instead the idea of actions and consequences or results is emphasized. Guilt is a phenomenon of the developed world and also one that is quite linked to my generation of parents I think. It’s almost as though we have too many resources and too much information and no matter what you do there is a voice out there somewhere (or a little voice inside your head) saying you could have done differently and usually better. This as true of the journey of pregnancy as it is of the journey of parenthood. Give yourself a break! No good comes of feeling guilty especially when you are doing your absolute best in a situation.
Katie Manitsas is the author of ‘The Yoga of Birth’ and director of Jivamukti Yoga Sydney. She is mother of two young boys and a practicing doula. Katie runs a weekend workshop twice a year, also called ‘The Yoga of Birth’, which trains yoga teachers to teach pre-natal yoga. The training is taught by Katie and several guest teachers all of whom are leaders in their fields related to childbirth. If you attend the training a copy of the book is included free of charge. The next training runs August 24th and 25th 2013. Details can be found at www.jivamuktiyoga.com.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org.