Although this post has been written specifically for the pregnant person in mind, the ideas I talk about can be easily translated for anyone. I have said on a number of occasions when asked how I am, I respond with a pithy statement. As an introvert, I have been preparing for this moment all my life! This isn’t meant to be flippant or insensitive, it is my reality. Time alone is something I relish and I would like to spread some positivity and a little happiness at a time when both appear to be in short supply.
Today, I’d like to share my Top Ten Self-Care practices for pregnancy and beyond.
1. Creating a Safe Space at Home
I felt that this should be number one as you will be spending most of your time there during the current pandemic. This isn’t a post about cleaning and tidying, do not fear! I’m talking about creating an area that is yours, perhaps somewhere where you can retreat to. It may just be a little altar in the corner of the corner of your bedroom with items that hold meaning to you. Pictures, affirmations, crystals. Whatever works for you.
The idea behind having a safe space is that you know it is there and you can go and retreat when you feel like the world is getting to you. I love having candles on my altar and my current favourites are Handmade in Harpenden, Bous and Pure Thoughts.
I am a sensory person and I love the idea of filling my five senses in order to creating calm and order in my life. So music is a big part of that. Spotify has been a godsend to me. I have some favourite go-to’s in terms of playlists.
Spotify: Browse: Sleep: Dreamcatcher is a current favourite.
Spotify: Browse: Chill: Breathe is lovely too.
The artist I use in my reflexology practice is Marina Raye and I like ‘Rainbows for Breakfast’. I also use ‘Jessita Reyes’ as the music is quite similar. Margot Reisinger is also good for my treatment room.
When I am sitting in Bumble, my little garden sanctuary listening to my playlists, I enjoy painting abstracts. This is a peaceful activity and all you really need is some watercolour paper and paints. You certainly don’t need anything expensive to make marks on the paper. It’s the activity that counts.
Maybe you can paint different coloured spots or triangles on the paper?
What colour resonates with you?
How does it feel to let loose with a paintbrush and no one judging the art you produce?
Perhaps you could see if your local art shop is delivering supplies and spend some time enjoying the moment with your paintbrushes.
I have talked about my favourite oils in four previous posts (click here) and it goes without saying that I am a big fan of aromatherapy. But you don’t need to invest a lot to start a collection of oils. I am currently enjoying the blends from Holistic Kitchen as I love the quality of the oils, the beautiful branding and the fact that the company is a small UK based business. They have two specifically for pregnancy (Bloom) and birth (Birthing Blend) but there are many others that are equally as lovely. Just check that they are suitable for pregnancy before applying to your skin in a carrier oil.
I could write an essay about meditation but there are many practitioners out there who are able to write about the subject. Being aware of your senses, as I have described in this post is a mindful approach to meditation. Taking five minutes out of your day, or even twice a day. Setting a reminder on your phone. Find your quiet, comfortable space, check in with your baby, listen to your music and light a candle. Nice deep healing breaths.
I heard an analogy that having these mindful moments in the day is like a runner spending time thinking about their run before the gun goes off. If the runner doesn’t know where they are going, or how fast the pace is, the run will not go well for them. Meditation is like this. Sitting in quiet contemplation alone is pressing that big red reset button. Allowing the thoughts to come in and flow out while you breathe. Make time for meditation today.
There are lots of pregnancy books that I could recommend but this isn’t a post about pregnancy books. Sitting down with a book can be in itself a mindful activity. Perhaps you have a garden where you can sit with your book and listen to the birds? Or smell the flowers? Feel the sun on your face? What kind of book would uplift you at this time? Remember that you are looking to increase the positive hormones at this time and all the things that I talk about in this post are there to help you find a positive, happy, confident mindset before you have your baby.
I have written many posts on the benefits of journaling. Please click here to visit the old posts if you would like to know more.
8. Walking in Nature
I appreciate that this is more of a challenge than it has been in the past but it’s worth talking about here during these strange times. Getting out for 30 minutes a day is so important for pregnancy for a number of reasons. The exercise helps to keep you fit and healthy and the gentle nature of walking is a great form of exercise for pregnancy. Being outside in the open air can help you to feel connected with nature. Listening to the birds, watching the trees sway in the breeze. Or feeling the rain on your face and the wind in your hair. Remember to choose your times wisely as you don’t want to be out when the paths are busy with lots of people.
9. Boundary Setting
Ah, boundaries….boundaries. Where do we start?
What has happened to WhatsApp? It’s exhausting!
Ping!….message from the antenatal group….Ping!…..message from your mum….Ping!……your friend sends you a funny meme….Ping!….work needs you to look at some documents your manager has sent through. Ping!……..aarrgghh……
Boundary setting requires you to become clear about what you can and can’t do. What you want to do and what you really don’t want in your life. Start with home. Do you want your partner to take more responsibility with the domestic duties – ask them to help but be very clear and specific about what you’re looking for.
Social media. What apps do you have on your phone? Do they need to be there? Can you access them from your laptop during a set time so you aren’t tethered to your phone all day.
Moving onto WhatsApp and Zoom, our two new best friends. How can we socially distance from the content?! Set boundaries around who you want to hear from and what you want to read. You have choices, you don’t have to listen to everything. Your friends will love you regardless of whether you respond straight away or you take a little time-out from the relationship until this has blown over. If they don’t understand, well….you know the answer.
10. Lastly, find your joy.
There is a lot of negativity in the world at the moment but it doesn’t mean that you have to get bogged down with it. Make space for some of the things that you have read about in this post and disregard the things that don’t work for you. Get really clear on what makes you happy and that will encourage the flow of endorphins, the feel-good hormones.
St Albans Doulas
If I can help you to find your joy then don’t hesitate to get in touch. St Albans Doulas is a collective of experienced birth workers reaching out to those currently pregnant or postpartum in a Facebook Group called ‘Your Virtual Village’. Free to join and full of like-minded people. It’s a pleasure to support our Tribe during these times. You can find out here how we can support you virtually during pregnancy and birth. We’d love to hear from you www.stalbansdoulas.com.
If you would like more information about the beautiful illustrations, please contact artist Olivia Braylin at firstname.lastname@example.org