HOW TO STAY EMPOWERED DURING PREGNANCY

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// HOW TO STAY EMPOWERED DURING PREGNANCY //

Call me naive, but when me and my partner first talked about starting a family I didn't really consider the 'being pregnant' part because I was so distracted by the new edition we'd have to our family in nine months time.

I also didn't really stop and consider my rights/choices regarding being pregnant, because I more or less took for granted that they would come as standard, along with lots of guidance, monitoring and advice. 

Now, it sounds harsh to say "boy, was I wrong!" but in many ways I really was. However, this hasn't necessarily been a bad thing, if anything I feel like it's just been more of a learning curve and one that I think a lot of women take into their next pregnancy if they decide to extend their families. 

So from one pregnant gal's learning curve to another, here is what the last few months of growing a human has taught me.

one.



Firstly (and this came as a bit of a shock!) but... it really is down to you to find out what your choices are during pregnancy and you do have the right to CHOOSE what is best for you.

This isn't because the midwives and doctors don't do an amazing job of supporting you during pregnancy, but simply because they don't have the time to spoon feed all us first-time mama's everything we feel like we ought to know.

As soon as I realised that no-one was really going to ask me about what we wanted from our birth experience, I decided to arm myself with the knowledge and reassurance I needed to keep moving forward. That's when I discovered The Positive Birth Movement, all thanks to a mum-friend who lent me her copy of The Positive Birth Book by the movement's founder Milli Hill. 

I'm not sure where I would be if this book hadn't fallen into my lap. It made me realise that there are plenty of decisions during pregnancy and birth that it helps to be informed about and it also helped me and my partner realise that every pregnancy and birth can be positive, even if it doesn't go the way you originally hoped or planned. 

Just that tiny bit of reassurance alone did wonders for any pre-birth anxiety I had and trust me, I had plenty!


two.



Secondly, CONNECTING with other mums really does help you stay afloat and feel empowered during your pregnancy and beyond.

Perhaps one of the loveliest parts of being pregnant has been the overwhelming support, love and generosity I've been shown by friends, family and even strangers. It's true that people seem to gravitate towards you when you're pregnant and despite the cranky preggo hormones that have you secretly cursing the next person who says "oooh, you're glowing" when you feel like a hippopotamus, it is actually really nice to feel that special! Like so many other mamas recently, I have been totally reliant on the support of our amazing online community, family and friends and couldn't have got through pregnancy and having a newborn without them ❤

So yeah, embrace the compliments (mood-permitting). Take people up on their offers of help *food on ya doorstep etc... Ask plenty of questions. Send that late night/early hours message for a bit of reassurance & solidarity. Communicate with one another and grow through what you go through. 

No two experiences are the same, but being able to lean on the support of other mums is vital if you don't want to feel alone and the more honest we are with each other about pregnancy and motherhood the better. 

You are not alone!


three.


Third and finally, don't forget to BREATHE. 

Never has this been truer than right now.

As someone who has struggled with OCD and Obsessive Negative Thoughts since being a child, I feel it was probably a bit blindsided of me to expect I'd get through this pregnancy without some level of anxiety or old habits making a reappearance. Statistically Mums who have struggled with anxiety before is very likely to have it reappear during pregnancy or post-natally. In my 3rd trimester I was told by my consultant that I couldn't use the Birth Centre at my local hospital like I'd originally planned because of a back problem and I very nearly lost my head completely... All this talk about choices and rights during pregnancy and there I was feeling like I'd lost all of mine.  

I had to take a step back and ask myself, how can feel empowered during pregnancy and birth if I've already subconsciously entered fight or flight mode? 

Thanks to Hollie De Cruz who runs the @theyesmumbirthproject I was able to apply the basics of hypnobirthing to my everyday life and reduce some of this anxiety.
Now *disclaimer alert* I had baby Ru two weeks early and had to be induced. My labour was 38 hours long and very traumatic in places, nothing like the soothing water birth I had planned in my head! However, without the hypnobirthing techniques I'd been learning in the weeks leading up to this, I couldn't have got through it. 

The calming/grounding techniques that hypnobirthing taught me meant I managed to stay at home for a large part of my labour. Those 10 minutes in the bath each day where I'd focus on my breathing whilst pregnant or turning to a certain smell or playlist when the noise in my head got too loud helped me enormously during labour.

I am forever grateful for Hollie's book Your Baby, Your Birth which helps explain what your body and your brain are collectively going through pre and post-baby. 
It is helping me on the road to becoming a more mindful mama.










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