A teacher of mine once said that pregnancy is a woman’s initiation into motherhood and I could not agree more. Being a mother now, I see how pregnancy taught me the patience, perseverance and acceptance that is so vital as you move into this transformational time during a woman’s life. You essential blossom from being the maiden to being the mother.
Below are some suggestions for healthy mommas out there who already have an existing workout routine and no complications with their pregnancy. If you are high risk or new to fitness, then I recommend a more gentle route to keep your baby safe and healthy.
Meditate – meditation was a huge part of my pregnancy from the beginning. While my partner and I had discussed becoming parents together, we were surprised to find out how quickly we were able to get pregnant. I was flooded with emotions right away. Everything from excitement and joy to anxiety and fear. After a few long sessions with my meditation teacher, I was able to carve the pathway for an empowered and healthy pregnancy. This, I believe, anyone can do, and will greatly benefit from the results you receive from a daily meditation practice.
Yoga – I believe Yoga is one of the most transformational practices that cleanses the body from head to toe and taps you into source. During the beginning days of my pregnancy, I was plagued with morning sickness. Thus, I took a restorative approach to my practice to feel into the changes rapidly taking place inside of my body. By trimester two, I wasn’t able to run anymore. It felt like I had a fanny pack around my waist and the impact didn’t feel right for me so I amped up my yoga routine and started to focus on stabilizing the joints which prepared me for trimester 3 when my belly really started to grow. From this point forward, it was all about the hips and opening up the pelvic floor for a natural birth.
Eat well – While I did not give up everything they tell you to avoid during pregnancy, I did modify my diet quite a bit. I found out I was pregnant in October which meant the holidays were around the corner. Due to the morning sickness, all I wanted to eat was bread and carbohydrates and you know what, I let myself do that for a while before introducing greens and smoothies back into my diet. I stayed clear of caffeine and alcohol because they didn’t feel good entering into my system. I asked myself everyday, is this good for me and will I feel good after eating it? By answering these questions, I was able to make a conscious choice about what I put into my body before acting off impulse. I replaced refined sugars with honey and fruit before turning to cookies and ice cream. I know there are a lot of blogs out there that tell you that you can eat whatever you want during pregnancy and it’s true, you can splurge a bit, but I believe this is the most crucial time to be careful about what you put into your body because your baby absorbs all of those nutrients.
Work out – a balanced exercise routine is key, especially for bendy bodies like me. I really benefited from HIIT and gym work outs with my husband during my pregnancy. He led me through some exercises that helped to stabilize the hips so while my pelvis was shifting, I felt strong and secure. It also felt good to sweat everyday to clear my mind and reconnect to my body. Working out was a great bonding ritual for us, where we could spend time together and feel great supporting one another. I definitely recommend balancing out your exercise routine with some light weights and/or strength training. It will also help you in the final months to have strong legs and a stable lower back to carry the extra baby weight.
Communicate – there is no hero card for going through this process on your own. I, myself, can be fiercely independent but it was worthwhile for me to open up to my partner and my friends about what I was going through. My friends showed up for me in unexpected ways and I even created a new network of soon-to-be mothers by attending prenatal yoga classes. My husband supported me and showered me with love every time I needed a break or went through an emotional episode. You change a lot over the course of 9 months and to communicate what is going on to your partner and friends can really strengthen your relationships.
Butter up your body – I started putting oil on my tummy the day I found out I was pregnant. I used this blend called ‘Mothers Blend’ from Whole Foods that has cocoa butter and coconut oil to prevent stretch marks. It worked wonders for my pregnancy and may work for you too. I was also recommended shea butter by a few friends who swore it kept everything well hydrated throughout their pregnancy. This practice of oiling up your body is known as abhyanga in Ayurveda. It is not only a self healing ritual but it also promotes self care and love. When we take the time to care for our bodies, our babies feel the love deep within the womb.
Sleep – I didn’t realize how little sleep you get with a newborn until after my baby arrived. Everyone recommended getting extra sleep and taking naps while I was pregnant and I am glad that I listened. My contractions started around 11pm a week before my due date and I am glad that my partner and I were well rested to take on the long night of laboring and, the next morning, birth. You can’t really stock up on sleep per se but you can enjoy a few night of uninterrupted zzz’s while you still can.
That’s all, and really, that’s enough. Managing your pregnancy and all the ups and downs that come with it are enough to add onto your plate. As women we try to manage multiple things but I would highly recommend slowing down during your pregnancy and taking the time to tune into your intuition. When your baby comes you will be called to tap into that inner knowing to respond to your baby’s needs. The more time you can take to develop that inner trust, compassion, empathy, patience and understanding – the easier it will be to manage the changes that will continue as you move into motherhood.
Also – and this was huge – honor that this is a 9 month process of transformation. You will experience the greatest joy of your life when your baby lands on your chest, but for now, enjoy these moments to care for him/her in the womb. When something shows up, such as a pain or discomfort in the body, remember that all things are temporary. We tend to look at pregnancy as one big unit but it is a process of self discovery and inner development with changes taking place everyday, most of them without you knowing. If your back starts to hurt or you start to feel anxious, remember that this too shall pass, and come into a state of inquiry on how to heal the discomfort. You do not need to have all of the answers and sometimes what you’re looking for can either be resolved by looking within or medicated by asking a family member or friend. Sending lots of love and peaceful blessings your way.