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.