Treating Yourself During Pregnancy

In part three of this article, Jennifer Louden guides you through more of taking care of your pregnant self.
by Jennifer Louden

Should you... or could you?
Investigate the shoulds in your life. Every time you catch yourself saying or thinking "I should do that," you have probably identified an area of your life you can let go of. Try changing the should into a could and see if that helps you see new possibilities and choices for streamlining your life. "I should go shopping for Jack's wedding present" to "I could go shopping for Jack's wedding present."

Cutting to the chase is really about having the courage to set limits and be firm when you do so.

If you could...
Self-nurturing springs from doing what makes you feel good. But sometimes we forget what makes us feel good in the flurry of responsibilities. Explore the questions below by writing everything that comes in your head. Forget about reality for a moment. Or, if writing feels like too much effort, use the question as a starting point for daydreaming.

  • To really truly, enjoy your pregnancy, what would you like to do? (Examples: Take off some time from work, buy several nice maternity outfits, eat lots of ice cream.)
  • Are you doing it or will you do it? If not, why? Is there anyway you can truly enjoy your pregnancy even for five minutes today?
  • When you contemplate the phrase "being good to myself during pregnancy" what occurs to you? (Examples: Being gentle with myself, not reading the newspaper and otherwise screening out the world, getting lots of attention, sleep, sleep, sleep.)
Use the answers to these questions to make a list of what you want to do to nurture yourself during your pregnancy. Glance at this list every few days to remind yourself of the possibilities. Add to it when new ideas occur to you. Push yourself to transcend limiting thoughts like "I work; only women who don't work could do that" or "I have kids so I can't." Please give yourself at least a few of the things you enjoy.

Post-partum...
Consider the phrase "being good to myself postpartum." What occurs to you? Make a list and keep it handy for nap times and free hours when, not knowing what to do with yourself, you end up watching the baby sleep.



Zen and the art of peeing
Pregnancy presents even the busiest woman with built-in comfort time, ripe opportunities to weave relaxation into your life, tune into your inner self, and give yourself tidbits of pleasure.

Try:

Taking a mini-relaxation break when you pee. Making relaxation a habit prepares you for labor, when knowing how to relax and get out of your own way can make a huge difference. When you sit down to pee, consciously relax your shoulders and jaw. Close your eyes. Inhale deeply (unless you are in a stinky bathroom) and say silently to yourself a centering word, for example, peace (or chocolate or orgasm, the choice is yours). Then exhale through your mouth. Repeat until you are ready to vacate your throne.

More mini-moments to yourself
When you take your prenatal vitamins, whisper an affirmation to yourself. Try "It is an honor for me to be a mother " or "I am a mother in my own unique way" or "I know I will go into labor when my body, and my baby, are most ready for a safe labor and birth."

When you feel your baby kick, take a moment to think of something you have done recently you are proud of and heartily congratulate yourself. Small accomplishments count as much as big. Nor does it have to be anything associated with your pregnancy. Getting a report written, refinishing a rocking chair, eating enough protein, remembering your sister-in-law's birthday: unconditionally compliment yourself.

When you exercise, take a moment to praise your body, especially if you feel fat, uncoordinated, or ill. Visualize the increased oxygen in your blood flowing to the placenta and being transferred to your developing baby. Remind yourself your body is keeping two beings healthy and alive. Congratulate yourself on getting active, even if you only did three leg lifts and then had to have some peanut butter brittle to keep your strength up. It still counts!

Before or after your pre-natal care appointments, do something special for yourself. It can be as trifling as sitting in the shade of a tree and eating frozen yogurt or as extravagant as a new maternity outfit followed by a pedicure and two hours browsing in your favorite bookstore. If nothing occurs to you, use any time you spend waiting for your doctor or midwife to ask yourself, "What would make me feel really good right now?"

When one of the discomforts of pregnancy strikes, perhaps a burp of indigestion or a cramp of constipation, ask yourself, "When is the last time I did something nourishing for myself?" Turn the discomfort into a reminder to treat yourself well.PregnancyAndBaby.com


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