This post was written by Holly Ashby. She works with the London meditation centre Will Williams Meditation, who help people discover the benefits of meditation.
Sometimes, it can be pretty hard to de-stress during pregnancy. For some (very unfair) reason, the moment of conception doesn’t automatically trigger a 9-month holiday, where we get to lie about eating chocolate and enjoying foot rubs. Instead, all the demands of life, from work to childcare, tend to go on as normal. Except there’s a whole bunch of worries, hormones and physical challenges added on top, just to spice things up.
We’re always told to be as calm as possible during pregnancy, but it can be difficult to work out where to fit in self-care and relaxation in a normal, busy life. And while we are (generally speaking) perfectly capable of operating as normal while baking a new human, it is important to take especial care of ourselves. So what are the most time-effective, normal-life-friendly ways to feel that little bit calmer?
Meditation is thought to dramatically reduce the levels of stress hormones rushing around our system, so taking up a pregnancy meditation practice is a great idea. Sitting down for around twenty minutes a day to meditate can feel like a big commitment of time, especially if you already have little children running around, but there are ways to fit this practice seamlessly into your routine.
For example, you can meditate on the tube, train or bus on your commute. The time you spend waiting for a doctors appointment or scan is another good opportunity, especially as it keeps anxiety at bay. When other children are down for a nap, or when your partner takes over their care for a few hours, are other spaces in which you can carve out time. You can even meditate in the bath (if you make sure you don’t fall asleep)!
Meditation is well worth it, as being less stressed often translates to more energy and focus – so you actually end up saving time throughout the day.
Let the Small Stuff Go
You may find yourself at the mercy of some powerful nesting instincts and seriously considering hoovering the driveway during pregnancy, but even if you’re used to being constantly on the go, you should give yourself the chance to rest. That means sitting down with a favourite TV show even if there’s a laundry pile the size of Mount Fugi to get through, and drawing on all your sources of support so they can think about the little things for you.
Your partner may have to take on more their fair share of the chores for a while, and family members may have to babysit just that little bit more often if you already have kids, but letting yourself rest is really important. This is especially true if you find yourself pushing through exhaustion and stress on a regular basis, as it’s a clear sign you aren’t getting the relaxation your body needs.
Perhaps the key thing to remember here is not to feel guilty. You are actually creating a whole new life to introduce to the world – which is pretty amazing, if you think about it. So nap with abandon, recline like there’s no tomorrow and laze wantonly, it’s good for the both of you.
Get some gentle exercise
Going for a walk or swim is a brilliant way to snap out of a negative frame of mind. Gentle exercise like this can also be a pleasant way to while away some time with any other children you may have – or indeed it can be the perfect opportunity to spend some quiet time alone. Having half an hour or so where there’s nothing to do but put one foot in front of the other and take in the scenery, or glide through water, can be surprisingly soothing.
There’s also some gentle yoga classes on Youtube aimed at pregnant women, although it’s important not to do anything too far outside your comfort zone while pregnant, so be careful not to overexert yourself.
Try out some complementary therapies
Whether you get your partner to learn a few massage techniques, or head to a spa/therapist who has experience working with pregnant women, getting a massage is like a brilliant stay-at-home holiday and hugely relaxing. Visiting a reflexologist who is trained regarding pregnancy is also something to consider – even if you aren’t fully convinced of the claims made about reflexology, it is undeniably calming.
Pursuits such as art therapy can be useful to, and you don’t necessarily have to go to a class. Perhaps if you have a hobby you’ve neglected, such as knitting, painting or music, pregnancy is the time to take it up again, or to throw yourself into something new.
However you choose to relax during pregnancy, taking the time to put yourself will prepare you in the best possible way for your new arrival.