Hello this is your gut speaking!
Trusting your instinct in pregnancy, birth and motherhood.
So I have decided to write this post about self care. I have struggled many a time to find my own balance with this and if I'm completely honest, I have felt totally overwhelmed by daily life as a mama. While trying to balance work, training courses and family life, the thing I often failed to make time for was me. This got me thinking about the crazy juggling act that is part of life as a mother or parent. Neglecting yourself when times are tough is so easy to do but in my experience, makes life so much harder. Stress, worry and sleep deprivation do crazy things to the brain, to your physical body and to our overall ability to cope day to day. It seems as a mama we then go and apply more pressure to ourselves by trying to be every role we've ever had, all in one day.
I'm going to be really honest and say that Motherhood is amazing and fucking rock hard all bundled into one. It's no surprise that many mamas feel at their edge, depleted and at a loss. I have definitely felt this at numerous points on my mothering journey so far. To be honest I have been shocked at how easy it is for everything; emotions, thoughts and sense of perspective to unravel. Ultimately trying to plod on with all of this has for me only led to exhaustion. So put down the washing, stop cleaning, leave the birthday presents, grocery shop, or what ever else you have on your to do list. Stop for a moment, listen to what your body is telling you and make some time for you.
Learning to Listen
Learning to Listen to myself, my body and my intuition is something that has changed significantly since I got pregnant. The process of becoming pregnant highlighted for me a journey which had been bubbling under the surface for years. A journey of self discovery, of learning to listen to myself without question, and learning to recognise the hum of other voices without letting them drown out my own. I was on a path of self healing, cleansing and simplifying my life in an attempt to heal . I had flitted through endless plans focusing on nutrition, yoga and exercise interspersed with excessive partying and narcissistic behaviour (of course). Most of the time living these extremes left me in a state of exhausted confusion? Why did I do things that I didn't really want to and then even waste more time agonising over it?
I had decided to take some time away, by myself to try reset negative patterns, but I felt a dull ache. Something wasn't right, something was niggling and at the time I did what came naturally, I chose to ignore it. But ignoring it wasn't an option the niggle was in fact my body, my intuition if you will saying, sorry wake up, listen here, you're pregnant. At this point everything in my world flipped upside down. What about the plan? What about fixing things?
In the beginning of my pregnancy, confusion was a feeling I experienced daily. How could I be growing a person and be ready to bring an innocent and pure soul into the world when I hadn't sorted myself out. Surely 'fixing' myself first would be the ideal in this situation?
The one over-riding factor which came out of being pregnant for me was that the whole process and birth itself required me to question and then challenge my sense of self and then totally let go.
Loving what's there
On the list of things to do, loving yourself is all to often at the bottom of the pile. I feel this seems to be a similar story amongst so many people I know or meet. With the nature of everyday living and connectivity its very hard to shut off, detach from the outside world and focus inward. With so many easy ways to tune in and occupy our free time, it often seems like it is harder work to actually slow down, and just be with yourself.
For me being pregnant was definitely a time when this feeling of needing to know my truest sense of self became almost impossible to ignore. It was partly intrigue at wanting to see,feel and know my baby, experience what it was experiencing. I felt I wanted to watch it all from the inside out. In reality you obviously see physical changes when you are pregnant. The outer physiological changes are so present you can't ignore them and as women living with these changes day to day it is amazing how your body adapts and we mould our lives to fit around these changes. The internal changes were more subtle, more gradual and it was this I found both fascinating and terrifying to begin with.
So getting connected with self was a must for me in my pregnancy. I felt like as I was growing a whole person I was learning about every inch of myself. Some of it I recognised but some of it was shockingly new. The biggest thing for me during the early days of pregnancy was a rediscovery of my emotions. And oh my word where there a lot of emotions. It was like a daily roller coaster through every emotion I had ever experienced and some I never knew I had in me. I remember some advice i was given at this time to just observe the emotions, let them come and place no attachment on them. This was sound advise to which I live by now. Motherhood like pregnancy for me has brought this same cocktail of emotions. A pull and push feeling which can effect every inch of my being and bring feelings of exhilaration, frustration, pure joy and desperation all within a 10 minute period. I hear you- exhausting is the word.
Acceptance and letting go
So the point I'm trying to get at here is acceptance. I feel one of the single most important parts of this process of pregnancy and motherhood for me was about letting go. Letting go of any expectations or judgements I make about myself. Acceptance of what is, rather than what I think I should be, what I should have done, or would have done if I was a better person, mother, or partner. Acceptance of what is allows us to make space for self love.
This is single handedly the most powerful tool for supporting yourself. So Respect yourself and your body, get to know yourself and your body and learn to love whats there. By doing this you are nurturing your soul, your whole sense of self and you are creating a positive starting point for the baby that is growing inside you. It's creating an opportunity for you and your baby to have a positive birth that will enable bonding, growth and development to flourish and helping to minimise birthing trauma either physical, emotional or both.
So ask yourself this - How can you love, nurture and give support to your baby and your family, without first doing these very things for yourself?
It's too easy to say you're busy, don't deserve it or that it's somehow egotistical or narcissistic. Well it isn't. It's vital and its needed. To be all we can be, to give, to love and to live with heart we need to first start by loving ourselves. We need to make time to do it more and we need to start now. Mamas you owe it to yourself.
- check out my blog post about self care rituals coming soon and start showing yourself some love. Basically its like giving yourself a big fat bear hug!