When I was pregnant and spending hours travelling to and from Kings Hospital where I worked, I spent time thinking about the changes I was about to face in my life. I reflected on my beliefs and values as I was about to find my feet as a parent and I came to the realisation that my introverted nature and the quiet confidence it gave me, really suited pregnancy and birth.
I read books and articles about birthing and trusting your body along with those about the qualities of introverts and found this content intriguing. It offered me comfort when making sense of how I viewed the world around me, especially at a time when I was bringing a new little person into it. I spent time reflecting on the positive qualities that introverts can bring to a situation and in particular, pregnancy. In this two-part series, I discuss some of the ways that I feel you can prepare your body and mind using the positive characteristics of quiet, solitude, creativity and inner-confidence.
I always felt that we live in a world that suits extroverts and wondered how (and why) the education system appeared to focus on groups and sharing activities while the quieter students in class listened while silently taking everything in. Life can be challenging for children who feel they have to adapt and conform to a world that enjoys noise and busyness.
Fast forward to adulthood and the same issues arise. Workplaces are filled with open-plan offices and people encouraged to attend team-building exercises and ‘share with the group’. But what about those who are quietly getting on with their work, perhaps not joining in vocally, feeling uncomfortable at the need to adapt.
I remember watching the TED talk by Susan Cain, which inspired me. It described people similar to me and I started to feel proud to be introverted. From the TED talk came an equally inspiring book called ‘Quiet’ and articles that spoke about the need to take a look at introverts and how they work. Rather than being seen as shy or perhaps standoffish, introverts need lots of time alone to decompress from the noisy world. The rich, inner life of an introvert doesn’t need lots of entertainment (unless it’s the quiet, bookish kind) and they can be very happy left alone with their thoughts.
Below I describe some ideas for you to try in your quiet time, ideas that will help you to create ‘A Quiet Nine Months’.
Take Time Out to Recharge
I appreciate that this is probably easier to do at the time of writing, during the Covid-19 pandemic when you are being forced to stay home, but perhaps you may be at home with small children. This situation makes it harder to take time away. My advice is to carve out time whenever you can and this is advice for those who have children, those who work silly hours and those who don’t. This is advice for everyone.
Make it a priority as you would make it a priority to see a friend. Aim for three times a day five minutes each. If you can make these mindful times a little longer, great. These little breaks are so good for you. I am telling you from years of experience bringing up four children but recognising the value in quiet time for mental health.
Create a Vision for Your Birth
Whatever this vision looks like to you. During your quiet time, read positive pregnancy stories and write the story of your birth as you wish it to be. Make it a sensual experience with a scented candle or some oils sprinkled on the page and sit and write. I talked about creating a little altar in your room in my last post, perhaps you could retreat to this to take time out.
Start from the first surges and talk about where you are and how you feel. Use all the senses to write this story. What can you hear (music, birdsong, nothing at all), or feel (soft pillow to lie against, a comforting blanket to wrap around your shoulders) taste (your favourite snacks). How strong and capable you feel. You have waited a long time for this and you are now ready. You can visualise for a caesarian section birth and birth by induction too. Use this story to inform your Birth Preferences too.
Birth Vision Board
Perhaps you could create a Birth Vision Board. All you need is a large piece of A3 card, some glue and lots of images from the internet and/or magazines if you have any old ones at home. This is your special time so enjoy the process. Lose yourself in Pinterest, finding images than resonate with how you would like your birth to be. If you have a small child with you, perhaps they could do one too. Cutting and sticking can be lots of fun together. Choose words that resonate with you. Affirmations that make you feel strong and capable.
Affirmations are short, personal statements that are written in the present tense with the subject ‘I’ or ‘my’. If you find it hard to write these, search on the internet and choose words and phrases that resonate with you. Once you have printed these off or handwritten some, perhaps you can paint some cards and write your affirmations down on the painted card? Maybe you’d like some stickers surrounding the words or images of you and your partner to make them extra special. You can find some lovely journal stickers on Etsy created from artists throughout Britain. It’s a great way of supporting small one-person businesses.
Virtual Baby Shower
As an introvert, the idea of being centre of attention may not feel like something that resonates but this is about making choices that suit you. A few close friends and some carefully chosen activities over an hour can be a lovely way to create a positive frame of mind. Ask a special friend if they can organise something for you, someone who knows you well and ‘gets’ you. Keep it short with a focus and enjoy the feeling of having a group of people surrounding you as you head towards motherhood.
Perhaps you could ask your friends to be part of a Facebook group for after your baby is born. Whenever you need some shopping or perhaps just a chat, you post in the group and one of your friends can pick it up if they are available. It helps you to feel supported and cared for at a time of isolation.
In my next post, I will talk about how I feel the qualities that many introverts share can help you during your birth and the hours after your baby is born. I will share my favourite books on why introverts rock too! Subscribe to my blog and keep up to date with my posts – reflections from one mother to another.
If I can help you access your inner quiet space through my work as a doula, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. St Albans Doulas is a collective of four experienced birth workers and we’d love to support you in a way that resonates with your way of being in the world. You can find us here https://stalbansdoulas.com/why-do-i-need-a-virtual-doula/
We can work out your way of receiving positive messages and education, whether than be through text messaging and Whatsapp. Perhaps you enjoy a Zoom conversation or telephone is more for you. We can work around your personal way of communicating to find a way forward. So get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.