With my first pregnancy, all I could think about was the little baby that was growing and developing inside of me. It was easy to get caught up in the excitement and anticipation of what he would look like, what his character would be, how we would raise him. I spent little time thinking about the way that I was nurturing myself during that time, and no one made a point to tell me that I should be considering myself as my body did this amazing work. We often hear about mothers losing themselves in their children, and I think that our culture’s lack of focus on the mother is what encourages that to happen. When I think about that phrase I think of a woman who is so depleted that she can’t find the joy in her daily life anymore. It is not uncommon for a pregnant woman to feel that she is just a vessel for her baby to grow in, and eventually just an apparatus to feed and soothe and manage. A mother’s role is often demanding, exhausting, selfless, but it is also immensely influential, and rewarding. In order to feed into our families we need to feed into ourselves. The most selfless thing that you can do is to set apart time to love yourself.
With this in mind, I want to brainstorm some ways that expectant mothers can nurture themselves. Self care looks different for everyone, because each person has different activities that inspire and energize them Think of this as more of a guiding exercise, than a list that you have to follow explicitly. As you think about ways to implement self care into your life, it is nice to carve out some quiet time to reflect on your physical body and the child growing inside of it. As you are enjoying a quiet activity, and your mind is wandering, take time to notice the changes that are occurring in your body. Appreciate the way that your body is changing to accommodate this new, growing, ever demanding person. Notice how strong and adaptable you are. Think about the ways that you will enjoy time together once your child has arrived. Try to imagine what their face will look like, and how it will feel to hold them close as they sleep. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves why we are subjecting ourselves to such discomforts, and these meditations can help to reframe our thoughts. Other ways to implement self care all include activities that you enjoy, that allow your mind to rest, and that nurture your physical self.
Here are a few ideas:
-Take a prenatal yoga class, which will allow you some time to yourself, and will also serve the functional purpose of preparing your body for labor.
-If you enjoy cooking, you can experiment with new recipes in the kitchen. This is my personal favorite.
-Treat yourself to a daily soak in the tub, or a dip in the pool.
-Coloring is a great stress reliever, I like to utilize this one before bed as a way to clear the mind and get ready for a restful night of sleep.
-Take walks, hikes, or bike rides
Stay tuned for thoughts on how to care for yourself after your baby has arrived.