This is a guest post by Kristy Rodriguez of Pure Nurture.
When you’re expecting, especially if it’s your first, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of information out there related to pregnancy, birth preparation and motherhood. The variety of “dos and don’ts” and all the contradictory information you’re likely to come across could keep anyone up at night. However, it’s up to you to filter out unwanted advice, leaving behind all that doesn’t feel right for you or your family.
Even though baby planning is necessary, and knowing what to expect will help you feel more relaxed and prepared, it’s important to not overwhelm yourself and take time out to enjoy your pregnancy and your life. How you do that is up to you. Sometimes you’ll need a little inspiration to help you relax when you feel anxious. Other times you may need ideas for feeling more energized when you’re feeling a little low or depressed.
Below are five super simple ideas to help you feel your best during pregnancy and ride those waves of emotions and moods like a pro. As always, take what feels best for you and leave the rest.
There are several helpful breathing practices that will help calm the body and mind. It is the easiest way to reset and engage the rest-and-digest response. The easiest way to access the breath and calm the mind is to count the breath. This is called “Equal Breathing.” To practice, sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes or softly gaze at the floor. Breathe in and out through the nostrils naturally. Begin to slowly count in your mind as you inhale. Now exhale to that same count, thus making the inhale and exhale even. Do this five to ten times, or for up to a minute. Remember, during pregnancy keep the breath fluid and flowing, never holding or restricting the breath.
A “mantra” is a repeated word or phrase. Choose a word or phrase that will leave you feeling calm and relaxed. For example, I am at peace, or I am calm, or I am relaxed. To begin, sit comfortably. Close your eyes or softly gaze at the floor. As you breathe in slowly, think to yourself, “I am.” As you breathe out slowly, think, “at peace,” or whichever mantra feels best for you. Do this five to ten times, or for up to one minute.
Sometimes when I need to relax, getting in the shower or taking a bath is the perfect reset. There is something calming about water, and it can immediately help to calm your body and mind. As you shower, feel the water on your head as it cascades downward. Enjoy this quiet alone time and imagine all your worries and stress flowing down the drain along with the water. If you prefer a bath, add some aromatherapy and bring an inspirational or uplifting book with you. Take this time for yourself, and make your tub a mini spa retreat.
Take a walk or just step outside. Feel the sunshine and breathe in the fresh air. Notice the sky and notice the sounds. This can be the quickest and easiest way to reset and feel your body and mind relax.
Whatever that looks like for you. Usually when we hear the word “indulge,” we think about eating whatever we want... However, what I mean here by “indulge” is more than what’s on your plate. What we eat is considered our “secondary food”—what fills our bellies and provides us with nourishment, nutrients and energy. “Primary food” is what fills our heart and soul, the aspects of life that make us feel energized, full and nurtured. Think of what fills you up in your life and bring more of that into your daily or weekly routine. Here are some ideas to get you started: a funny movie, date night, a night out with friends, going shopping (dress your bump—get something that makes you feel good when you wear it). Other ideas: Turn off the news. Phone a friend. Read a good book (non-pregnancy related). Practice prenatal yoga. Enjoy a cup of tea. Do whatever you know works best for you, or try something new.
Pregnancy is a special and unique time. You won’t always feel great, and that’s ok. Just as with most things in life, it’s a constant flow of ups and downs. Manage those waves with the things that work best for you and be open to trying new things. As you approach the birth of your baby and move onto the next chapter of motherhood, you can take these self-care tools with you. Taking care of your baby means taking care of yourself. Self-care is baby-care.
Kristy S. Rodriguez, pre- and postnatal wellness expert and advocate, is the owner and founder of Pure Nurture, LLC, a business devoted to educating and inspiring women to nurture and nourish themselves through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. As a Holistic Health Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher specializing in pre- and postnatal wellness, Kristy works with individual clients, as well as teaching classes and workshops, both in person and online. Connect with her at email@example.com or on Instagram and Facebook.