The Five Point Plan to a Better Pregnancy and Birth

The Five Point Plan to a Better Pregnancy and Birth

Some of us will have a wonderful experience of pregnancy where we feel perpetually fit, active and happy.  Some of us will have an awful pregnancy where we feel constantly ill and quite low in mood.  Some of us will have a pregnancy that is somewhere between these two experiences. No two pregnancies are alike and however much you take care of yourself and your baby (babies) there is no fair equation.  My own pregnancy and birth (now almost fourteen years ago) were far from textbook perfect despite daily Yoga practice, a healthy diet and reading every positive birth book I could find, however; I gave birth to two beautiful, healthy baby girls and that for me is all that really matters as I look back.  

1. Sharing How We Feel

One of the core things that I have realized from my own experience and that of the women I have taught is that it's good to share.  It is important to vocalise when you are having a good day and when you are having a bad one.  It's not boasting to tell people your pregnancy is going well and it's not weak to let people know that you are struggling physically or emotionally.  It is all okay and in a worst case scenario if something goes wrong with your baby (babies), it is important to acknowledge that it is not your fault nor usually anyone else's either.  In life we all need to become able to express and understand our emotions and then rationally say why we are feeling what we are feeling but doing this is a learning process, pregnancy is a great time to practice to give this a go.

2. Keep Moving in Ways you Enjoy but Keep it Gentle

Most of us continue to work as long as we can during Pregnancy because we need to keep our jobs after maternity leave and because we want to maximise the time we can have with our new baby (babies).  We all know that our circulatory and respiratory systems work harder than usual during pregnancy.  The combination of weight gain and hormonal changes means that exercise at our pre-pregnancy level is more challenging now so it is time to slow down our usual activities but don't change them.  If you are a runner and love it, switching to a 'more appropriate' form of exercise during pregnancy will most likely frustrate you; so instead look at ways to extend warm up and cool down perhaps using simple Pregnancy approved Yoga stretches and perhaps reduce the length or intensity of each run.  This principle applies to other sports too.  Take your instructor's advice but as a general rule of thumb, keep moving; in ways you enjoy but keep it gentle. 

3. Now is a good time to take up Yoga but choose a suitable class

Now is a good time to take up Yoga but your needs if you are a beginner will be very different from those of someone who has practiced Yoga for some time before Pregnancy.  Choose your instructor carefully.  Attend several classes until you find one that feels right for you.  Many Yoga Postures are contra-indicated for a beginner during Pregnancy.  Your bones are more at risk at this time so intense inversions such as headstand (Sirsasana) are inadvisable however if you have practiced this daily for many years prior to pregnancy and do not have raised blood pressure the decision may be different.  Your instructor can advise you and listening to your own intuition will guide you in your practice. If you are suffering from SPD or Pregnancy related Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as with any other medical condition let your instructor know so you get the best out of your sessions.

4. Practice taking Life at a Slower Pace:  Less is More

Learning to slow down will be important once your baby (babies)  is born.  You can begin this now simply by closing your eyes, placing your hands on your belly and feeling the breath move in and out.  Less is more: have you ever had so much to do that you rushed around trying to achieve it only to find you had got so focused on how much needed to be done that in reality you achieved very little?  If this rings a bell (it does with me) then you need to practice slowing down.  Simply taking ten slow in and out breaths then mentally looking at what you need to achieve that week or that day, or that hour allows the brain to choose how best to get those things done in the most effective and most efficient way.  Working in this way will give you back a little time so that you can take time out without feeling that your personal schedule will not allow it.

5. Birthing is part of the Process...Go with the Flow 

Some of you may get the wonderful water birth with twinkling lights.  Some of you will not be so lucky.  Whatever the outcome of your birthing experience, it will change you as a person for the better.  You will have taken your body and mind to the very edge of what you imagined was possible.  My best advice is to prime your birthing partner about what you want to happen and anything in terms of medical intervention that you would not allow to happen.  Your birthing partner can then be your advocate while you get on with listening to your own body, the steady rhythm of your breath and being in the moment.  Birthing is part of the process and as with all things that we ultimately cannot control, it is easier on us if we do not swim against the tide but simply go with the flow.



Stressed?..Is your mental inbox exploding?

How does your filing cabinet look?

Here I am, perched on the edge of a fresh set of challenges whilst juggling so many challenging situations already. The logistics are whizzing around my head, flying at me from all angles. My desk looks like a burglary setting..papers scattered everywhere.  Life is not always easy.  Then I remember, my desk is a reflection of how my 'internal filing cabinet' (my mind) looks right now.  

So What Can I Do? I Can use Yoga....

I begin by standing quietly, eyes closed.  I observe where I am at, physically (do I have aches and pains and where are they), emotionally (do I feel upset).  I calm my mind by slowing down my breath.  I consciously inhale energy and release tension with my exhalation. I stretch to ease out the aches and pains that I have noticed and then I sit...

I Imagine my filing cabinet

This filing cabinet is my mind.  Today it has three drawers and I'm going to order it into:

1. happiest memories, 2. previous challenges 3. dreams

I am going to pull together the things that make me feel good about my life, then look at how I have approached challenges in the past.  I will look at why I overcame certain challenges and why I feel a sense of failure over others.  I am going to let go of the sense of failure and look at what has helped me to push through previous challenges positively, then I am going to remind myself of where I'd like to be in a couple of years.  Each drawer can contain sounds, scent, pictures, movies, words but I will only keep the very best examples, I will let all the others go.

So, did it help?

I begin to breathe more deeply and smile to myself.  I have enjoyed revisiting happy memories. I am reminded that I have succeeded in challenging environments before.  I have concluded that giving up is simply not an option because when I look into my dream drawer, the very things I am fighting to achieve now are part of the path to actualizing that dream.  The challenges are still there and they are no smaller than they were.  Many of the stressful situations are unfortunately beyond my control and I have to choose to simply go with the flow; but I can choose to enjoy life rather than feel overwhelmed.  My desk is still untidy but at least I know now where to begin...




The life laundry

Wouldn't it be nice if sometimes you could take all the chaos of your life, throw it in a large washing machine, switch on the rinse cycle and wash all your problems away?

Tempting as that idea may be, you're unlikely to find order by washing away your thoughts and life experiences. In fact, it could be the odd sock at the bottom of life's laundry basket that gives you just the insight you need to move forward.

So what should you be doing with the laundry of your life?

The philosophy of yoga (sorry, had to mention the 'philosophy' word) is to be aware of where you're at, even if you do not yet feel comfortable there. So rather than trying to cram the crumpled linens into the washing machine drum as quickly as possible, instead take the time to fling heaps of clothes around the room.

You see it's not about any sort of quick-fix. Because however appealing a pile of freshly laundered clothes may be, next week there will always be more washing to be done.

Next week... how to handle the ironing!