Self-Kindness in Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a special time for women and families. It’s a normal and natural process, but it also can feel mysterious, magical, and challenging. The changes in a woman’s body, and the development of a fully formed baby from two tiny cells is an incredible process.
Gestating is many things, but “easy” is not a word I would personally use to describe it. Sure, it is perfectly normal, natural, and “automatic” for a woman’s body to produce a baby; women don’t have to put any concerted effort into gestation, it just happens! (After the initial act of getting pregnant, that is!) Nevertheless, pregnancy often doesn’t feel easy. The physical discomforts and emotional changes during pregnancy, and the physical and emotional feat of giving birth are both challenging and rewarding. The ultimate reward, of course, is the new life brought into the world– a treasure beyond description.
The reality is that pregnancy is not without its discomforts and challenges, throughout all three trimesters. During the first trimester particularly, many women experience nausea, vomiting, food aversions, and fatigue, often quite severe. (A relatively few number of women experience these challenges well past the first trimester, or even throughout their entire pregnancies.) Throughout all three trimesters, moms may experience heartburn, fatigue, headaches, constipation, lower back pain, swelling in the ankles and feet, shortness of breath, round ligament pain, and more.
These discomforts can make it difficult for women to continue with their usual daily tasks. Tasks such as work, childcare, and chores. In the first trimester, when many women are hardest hit, there is very little to “show” for all of that. It can feel like a weeks-long case of the flu, rather than the beautiful beginning of a new life.
Keeping a positive and peaceful state of mind is important. It is also wise to acknowledge your own discomfort and practice self-kindness throughout pregnancy. That means respecting your limits, asking for and accepting help, and taking care of yourself as well as you can manage.
Sometimes during pregnancy, women can become quite limited in their ability to function normally. It’s okay to be unable to contribute much to household chores at this time, even as a homemaker. It’s okay to have a very limited ability to play with and entertain older children, even as a stay-at-home-mom. Pregnant moms usually require a lot of rest. It’s okay to take it easy by doing only the bare minimum. It’s okay to allow others to help.
Maintaining a healthy diet in pregnancy is important, but when nausea, vomiting, and food aversions are a factor, this can become extremely challenging or even impossible. It is okay to simply do your best in this regard. Eat what you can, when you can, and treat yourself with compassion rather than guilt.
With all of these challenges, I encourage moms to accept that they are doing their best and that there is no shame in that. We can reject mommy-guilt and wife-guilt, and health-guilt, and chore-guilt, and any other kind of guilt! Instead, we can choose self-kindness and remember that this is a relatively short phase in our lives.
In Better Birthing online courses, moms learn how to stay healthy in pregnancy, but they also are encouraged to give themselves grace. Your best is enough! Stressing about what you should be doing, but aren’t or can’t, is never beneficial. Instead, practicing self-kindness can reduce stress, increase your emotional peace, and benefit your baby.
Pregnancy is a time of many changes, and accepting those changes with positivity and compassion allows this time to be more peaceful, joyful, and even transformative. It’s not always easy, but it is one of our incredible abilities as women, and in many ways it is an amazing gift to be able to bear life. Let’s treat ourselves kindly during the journey of pregnancy!
Do you want to be informed, confident, and empowered as you prepare for birthing?
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