There has been a lot of talk about self care lately - how we need to make time for and look after ourselves. How very true! But while even small acts of kindness towards ourselves are an obvious necessity, the REASON WHY they are needed so much is deeper rooted. From early childhood, our society encourages high achievement and promotes feelings of unease, stress, tiredness and disconnection as a skill that is necessary for success in life.
Now you’re pregnant and suddenly, the world tells you to relax.
We are being told that feelings of stress and tiredness are normal, especially in high pressure jobs. Stress and deadlines help you to get things done, being constantly on the go means you are on track to success.
Talk about mixed messages. In truth, relaxation is not just a nice pregnancy perk, it is key - to a healthy pregnancy, positive birth and calm postpartum. But it’s hard, so easily said and so difficult to achieve. A busy life style, older children with needs and hobbies, a demanding job. As a side effect of it all, we have lost our ability to relax and it’s taking a toll on our health both physically and mentally.
So, stop putting pressure on yourself to relax!
Instead, try these simple first steps:
Once a week, have yourself some " Me Time”
Do something you absolutely love to do and maybe haven’t done in a long time. If you’re drawing a blank here, take the time to find out more about yourself.
At least once a day, concentrate on doing one thing only. No multi tasking.
For example, don't cook dinner while talking on the phone at the same time, or use your phone while waiting in a queue.
Spend some time outside
Go for a long walk, or even just around the block. If the weather is good, take your cup of tea outside with you and sit down.
Reduce screen time
If you want to watch TV, choose programs with a slow pace that do not add stress or worry for you. When was the last time you read a good book? Or turn on the radio and sing along.
Play and be creative
Remember what you enjoyed playing as a child? Give it another try, whether it is playing cards, building Lego houses, drawing or colouring books.
Take a relaxing class
There are a multitude of classes available to choose from in most areas: pregnancy yoga, hypnobirthing, meditation, baby reflexology or massage. Don’t know where to start? Contact me and I’ll hook you up!
Plan ahead for meals
You are what you eat. Nutrition is paramount and even more so in pregnancy. Take the time to plan meals ahead, make them simple and delicious. You might even want to consider batch cooking for the early postpartum time. If this is something you would prefer someone else to do, contact me. Postpartum Doulas do that!
Rethink your priorities
Prioritising your pregnancy or postpartum can often be achieved by reviewing your budget. You might be able to indulge yourself in a very relaxing way:
Consider going on earlier maternity leave to enjoy the last weeks of your pregnancy
Go on a short holiday or to a specialised pregnancy spa with your partner/best friend before baby comes
Make space in your budget for a monthly massage
Hire someone to help with housework. If you are already doing that, add more hours!
Nothing relaxes like peace of mind. Having someone on your team who is there to reassure you, encourage you, research your options with you and support whatever decision you make is a second to none service. Make use of it!
Skip the Baby Shower and have a Postpartum Party!
Being heavily pregnant, the last thing you need is the stress of hosting a baby shower. Instead, Postpartum Parties are starting to become a thing! Ask your friends to come over at a convenient time (for you!) AFTER the baby is born - when you can have a glass of bubbly with them - and bring food, maybe put on a load of laundry or vacuum the kitchen. If they still insist on giving you cute little baby outfits, by all means!
Discover what relaxes you.
Find the people that put a smile on your face, the places that make you feel like you want to go there again and activities that connect you with yourself. Learn to actively practice relaxation - the benefits are numerous: shorter labours, lower risk of complications, reduced likelihood that interventions are needed and reduced risk of postpartum mental health issues are just some of them.
“The time to relax is when you don't have time for it. “