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Fri, March 1, 2013
Pregnant and Overwhelmed: Self-Care Tips for Moms-To-Be
Some women dream of pregnancy as a time of miraculous wander and awe, while others dread the burden they must endure to bear children. However you may have imagined pregnancy before it began, now that you are in the midst of it you are likely experiencing a touch, or more, of all of pregnancy’s many impacts on your life; quiet moments you will treasure always, as well as symptoms you will gladly leave behind when this nine-month’s journey is over!
Pregnancy is a natural catalyst for self discovery and actualization.  Because of this one of the deepest acts of self-care for pregnant women is the fostering of your inner life, personal meaning, and purpose. While it may seem that nausea, exhaustion, pain, increased responsibility, unknowns, and/or endless demands on your time are causing you to feel overwhelmed, feelings of overwhelm may be more deeply reflective of malnourishment of your spirit. Space for growth and transformation is a fundamental need in pregnancy.  Here are five ideas for how to give yourself the lovely gift of self renewal and soul nurturance - truly balm for the myriad of emotions that accompany the pregnancy journey.
  1. Honor your fatigue: Pregnancy is exhausting! While some women feel nearly incapacitated by pregnancy exhaustion and others feel wonderful most of the time, nearly every pregnant woman has times when she is ready for bed a few hours earlier than usual, or afternoons when a cat nap is clearly in order.
There are many physical benefits to rest in pregnancy, but there is also a hidden gem in our need to stop and lie down; and this is the importance of stillness. Empty time is receptive time. When we allow our world to stop and our mind to wander incredible things happen; Emotions well up, brilliant ideas cross our mind, day dreams clarify our longings, we gain the wisdom it takes it mother our child.
When pregnancy sends you a signal that it’s time to rest, do so whole heartedly and make it as restorative as possible by picking a sunny spot, playing music that carriers you away, or begin your rest with gratitude. Heed the natural impetus to slow down and exercise the perfect excuse to take it easy.
Don’t worry about the aspects in your life where you do not have the freedom to rest, such as a work schedule that can’t be changed, but take control of the opportunities you do have.  Close your eyes at your desk, extend your lunch break by 20 minutes, decline a few social engagements, and most importantly don’t spend your resting time wishing you weren’t so tired or judging yourself for your lack of productivity. Embrace the wisdom and joy of slowing down.
  1. Connect with your sense of the universal or divine. There is something about pregnancy that fosters in us a sense of being part of the timeless and creative flow of life.  Giving birth is one of the great transitions in the circle of life. 
It is an equalizer. It is one of the experiences that transcends the incredible diversity of life experience between those who are wealthy or poor, from the past or into the future, and so on.  No matter who you are, becoming a mother is becoming a mother.  It is profound and common all at once. This sense of taking part in a shared experience is a deeply nourishing awareness, and an antidote to feelings of isolation, overwhelm, or inadequacy.
Self care in pregnancy involves allowing yourself to feel this connection. It often comes easier during this period and can be felt even in simple acts like taking a warm bath and imagining other pregnant women around the world bathing. 
If it does not come easily you may foster this sense of connectedness by reading stories, or by thinking back to other times or spaces when you felt more connected to the timeless or to humanity as a whole. Dawn or dusk, worship, silence, stargazing, wilderness experiences.... spend time in the places or doing the things where you have sensed this connection in the past.
  1. Identify what helps you come alive. Every pregnant woman needs energizers, and is well served by activities that help her feel a sense of expansion and vitality.  Pick your top three personal energizers and share them with your partner or a supportive friend. Ask them to hold you accountable to making time for these energizers, or better yet, have them be your energizer buddy who prompts you to do these often or does them with you.
My top three are gazing over expansive views either by water’s edge or from a peak, wearing an outfit that comes together just right and makes me feel attractive, and stimulating conversation with well-known old friends. What are yours?
  1. Give your pregnancy hopes, dreams, fears and frustrations a physical space. Clear an area in your home to make a place where you can place gifts for your baby, reminders of his/her conception, pictures of your growth, or items that help you anticipate your baby’s arrival. Make the space beautiful or calming. Allow yourself to come to this space with your inner life. 
If you are frustrated or scared, place journal entries, symbols, or artwork expressing yourself in this place.  If you would like to feel more connected to your baby, come to this physical place and speak inwardly to your child even if you are not sure what to say or don’t feel strong bonds.  If you are super excited put things in this space that feed your anticipation or courage.
Creating a physical home for your pregnancy feelings gives you the opportunity to process these feelings through ritual.  The very act of maintaining the space, whether you change it frequently or it remains constant, is a ritual.  Dust this area, keep it uncluttered or filled with purposeful items.
You can enrich this ritual by enlivening your space with a candle that can be lit or a mister which can be sprayed when you want to spend time here. Adding live flowers or a plant may be significant. Any item you would like to place here belongs, and the reason it belongs may be private or public, logical or instinctual, as you wish. Ritual may satisfy inner needs, be a symbol of respect, devotion, gratitude or acceptance, or strengthen intimacy and unity among those who share in or observe the ritual together.
  1. Practice human values. There are many human values such as truth, integrity, kindness, justice, and nonviolence. Most likely there are a few that are most important to you.  When we act according to our values we strengthen our character.  Strong character imparts clarity and confidence to a person.
In confidence a woman of strong character is able to navigate the many decisions and transitions of the childbearing year, and she is able to step into her role as the protector and advocate of her child. From this place of confidence we also find contentment and wisdom. There is a rich satisfaction in stepping into your own unique feminine strength - a strength which is born through the practice of good old fashioned values.
Are you compassionate? Show your empathy for another by taking care of them. Do you have a quick sense of fairness? Defend someone who is being mistreated.  Are you an appreciator of beauty? Create a photo album of the wonders you encounter. You will find that as you act on whatever character strengths you naturally possess you will feel better. Pick just one, or ask others what they see in you, and deliberately put that one value into action.

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