As a doula I encounter all different kinds of expecting mothers. The diversity in my city is a wonderful thing. Something I've noticed speaking with expectant mothers, no matter how prepared they are they all feel like they're failing in some way. "Am I reading enough?" "Do I know enough?" "I'm not doing enough labor exercises!" "All I want is cake and not leafy greens!"
These thoughts and worries rattling off are normal! Suddenly our bodies aren't our own. We're sharing physical and spiritual space with a new life beneath or ribs. While it is such a beautiful experience, it's oftentimes one of pervading anxiety and doubt too. "Can I be a good mom?" I remember having these thoughts too. I remember googling the side effects of Red40 after inhaling a bag of strawberry twizzlers during my third trimester. It was my first pregnancy and I remember feeling worried that maybe I'd doomed my baby to some terrible side effect. (She's 7 now and fine, if you're wondering ;) )
Pregnancy is our first lesson and our first glimpse of the emotional labor of motherhood. I hate to tell you, but the worrying doesn't stop when baby is earth-side. This is why self care in pregnancy is so important. Establishing healthy self-care habits now will help make the journey into parenting a little easier.
So start now! Make a list of things that reenergize you and when you feel yourself reaching your limits of stress, pull out the list and utilize one of those resources. Better yet, plan in advance your self-care. Some ideas to get you started:
- Take a walk. Either alone or with your partner. Getting fresh air and out into nature is so healing to our bodies and minds.
- Take a fancy bath. Make an event of it. Add in epsom salts, lavender, bubbles, light some candles. Pamper yourself!
- Journal. Get your thoughts out and onto paper.
- Have a date night with your partner or treat yourself to a nice dinner out. Hey, I'm a yoga-pants and mom-bun mother but I still LOVE getting dressed up and going out for a while. You deserve time to yourself or time connecting with your partner!
- Plan a movie night for yourself. Popcorn, candy (twizzlers with a side of red40?) the works. Watch the chick flick your action movie dude denies you.
- Go electronic free for a few hours a day. Turn off the phone, close the laptops. Sit on the floor with your pet and play. Or spend time reading without distraction. See where your desires take you when there's nothing to pull your attention away.
As mothers, in pregnancy and beyond, it's so easy to focus 100% on our children and totally forget about ourselves. What we have to remember is that we cannot pour from an empty cup. We can't give our children and partners the best love that we can if we are under-resourced and stressed. So really, by giving to ourselves, we are giving back to our families.
Take care of yourself, mama.