We are pleased to have a guest blog from Kristal Brown this week. Kristal is a mum, writer and the director of Positive Peeps, an online store for positive lifestyle products, wellbeing events directory and blog. You can connect with her via Instagram and Facebook.
In this article, Kristal addresses the importance of practicing presence in pregnancy and birth. I am so grateful that Kristal has decided to share her experience with us so that we can learn from her journey. Please read on to find out Kristal’s five tips for greater presence in pregnancy and birth and be sure to visit Kristal’s Positive Peeps Blog for more articles to inspire, nurture, and motivate you.
When I think about the lead up to the birth of my special little person, there’s a little voice inside of me that says, “I wish I knew then what I know now.” And it’s not in wishing I was more prepared, more educated, more rehearsed – in fact it’s quite the opposite. I actually wish I knew less.
Don’t get me wrong – I am so happy and blessed to have had what I would class a positive pregnancy and birthing experience. What I mean by “knowing less” would be in practicing more presence – being more aware at each stage of my pregnancy, instead of putting so much weight on feeling like I needed to know it all.
In this need-to-know-all mentality, we hear stories and watch movies that create expectations even before conception, and we would be forgiven for fearing the inevitable delivery. While it’s normal to feel fearful, it’s damaging to our minds and our bodies – our two most important allies. We place so much pressure on ourselves to read all the books, join all the clubs, glean advice from friends and fam, attend antenatal classes, have the nursery perfect, tick off each item on the baby shower gift check list, have the quickest route to the hospital mapped out, and the list goes on.
What if we could come from a place of comfort and contentment that everything will work out the way it’s meant to? What if we could accept that we would know what we needed to know when we needed to know it? Learning to shift our focus to simply ‘being’ can free up mental space to enjoy every moment of our pregnancy, allowing ourselves to be immersed in the incredible act of growing a baby, honouring ourselves and our bodies, every day.
Just as trust is foundational in our daily lives, trust is the key here too. No matter how much preparation you do, if you don’t trust in the natural process then things are less likely to flow. Trust your instincts. Place trust in divine timing and acceptance of being present. Most importantly, trust in your body’s innate ability to already know exactly what it needs to do.
Part of the privilege of having a child is the acquisition of hindsight (right?!) and in knowing what I know now, here are my five tips for greater presence in pregnancy and birth:
Journal daily. Write for yourself. Write to your baby. The earlier you start, the greater connection you are going to feel with bub. A journal also creates a non-judgemental space for any feelings, happy or confronting, that come up for you during the course of your pregnancy. There will be emotional times ahead, and if you don’t feel like divulging to your partner, family or friends, then a journal can be the perfect sacred contract. Oh, and you can look back on it when bub is born to recount the journey (and the weird and wonderful baby names you were originally entertaining the thought of!).
Be kind to yourself. Nourish yourself regularly. And by this I mean more than once a week (shock, awe!) Your body is growing a human for goodness sake! Get a massage, some acupuncture or take a day off work to just sit and rest. There is less guilt attached to indulgent activities when you’re pregnant – you will never get an excuse like it again! Fuel your body with fresh and healthy food. Act like your baby is already here. What would you feed them for breakfast? Try to make informed decisions about what’s going down the hatch, but don’t be too hard on yourself! I kept a permanent space for Tim Tams in my cupboard!
Forget about what other people have said. It IS possible to manifest a calm and positive birthing experience. Affirmations are an incredibly powerful tool to help you achieve this. You can buy some, or write your own. What experience do you want to have? What empowering words resonate with you? Stick them on everything – your diary, by your bed, in your phone, places you find yourself spending more time (my favourite place to peruse them was the back of the toilet door!) The more you start affirming, the more you will start to shift your mindset about your impending birth to one of confident, calm and comfortable. True story – it actually works
Exercise is like fuel for a positive mindset – we need it to keep moving forward. Physical movement becomes so much more important during pregnancy. Move daily – a small walk, some preggy yoga, pilates – whatever it is for you, your body will thank you for it post-birth. After exercise, thank yourself for finding the energy and motivation to move. Just remember to breathe, and take it more mindfully than usual.
Be silent. Be still. Light some candles in a dark room. Place your hands on your tummy and connect with your baby. Try to practice daily, taking this relaxed feeling and deep connection with you as you traverse the highs and lows of pregnancy and post-birth. Oh, and the meditating doesn’t have to stop when bub arrives! Katie Brown has created a cd Guided Relaxations for New Mums (link to http://www.positivepeeps.com.au/store/guided-relaxations-for-new-mums) to allow you to chill out with your baby while feeding and snuggling, helping to claw back balance and get some relax time in for yourself.
Each of us has the ability to consciously prepare for a positive birthing experience, without placing an overwhelming amount of pressure on ourselves. Of course, there can be factors out of our control that can interfere with our best wishes. However, if we look at positive pathways to remove the expectation of fear surrounding birth, then we can allow our bodies to do what they are designed to do, with far less resistance.
When we redefine the expectations around “expecting” and what that means for ourselves, we can quash any fear and replace it with acceptance, love and gratitude for the miracle that is unfolding.