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 “should’s and shouldn’ts” and contradictory information out there could keep anyone up at night. However, it’s up to you to filter out unwanted advice, leave all that doesn’t feel right for you or your family. Always take in the best and leave the rest. 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 to 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, riding those waves of emotions and moods like a pro. As always, take what feels best for you and leave the rest.
- Deep Breathing/Focused Breath/Pranayama: 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 the inhalation in your mind. Now exhale to that same count, thus making the inhale and exhale even. Do this 5 to 10 time, up to a minute. Remember, during pregnancy keep the breath fluid and flowing, never hold or restrict the breath.
- Short and Sweet Mantra Meditation: A “mantra” is a repeated word or phrase. Chose a word or phrase that will leave you feeling calm and relaxed. For example, I am at peace or I am clam 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 5 to 10 times, up to one minute.
- Warm bath or shower (Water reset): 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 in cascades downward. Enjoy this quite 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.
- Get outside: 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 ways to reset and feel your body and mind relax.
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 try 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.