Photo credit: Bob Rebello
Producing an entirely new human is not exactly a cakewalk; it takes quite a lot of work. While my friend Katie Wise of YoMama Yoga in Boulder says “There is no such thing as an unproductive pregnant day,” this is a whole new brand of productivity.
Most of us have been trained to show how hard we work in one of two ways: brilliance or physical discipline. Unfortunately, the rules of pregnancy are entirely different. Rather than divining marketing plans or pushing yourself to take an extra lap on the track, you now get to achieve the most primal and impressive feat, which includes new mental and physical preparation. Each step seems like a lot to chew on, but each phase from pregnancy to birth to motherhood prepares you for what is next and stretches you beyond your previous concept of self.
Mental Strength Training
Release Linear Time as You Know It: If you are a calendar gal with lists of what to do and buy and exactly how to allocate each minute, schedule a little free time this coming week where you will take off your watch, step away from technological things, and make a concerted effort to follow your body. A solo walk sans tunes and podcasts might sound torturous right now, but you'll find that once you get into it you separate yourself from time. This is crucial as you move through the birth process, because as plugged in as you are right now, your uterus obeys no man's clock. Neither will your baby.
Divide and Conquer: Emotions run high during pregnancy because hormones are coursing through you. Your baby gets a hormone bath each time you think of the accidental bender you went on when you may have been one week pregnant. Start to talk to your crazy self like this “Wow, I can't believe the one time I went to Vegas and got smashed was also the same time I probably got pregnant. I have likely done some irreversible harm to Spud.” Self two replies: “Sounds like you're wallowing in regret instead of working on your kegel exercises. Kudos for laying off the booze ever since. Now get clenching.”
Shields Up, Brace for Impact: Know your triggers. If your well-meaning mother in law insists on talking about your weight and you know that there is nothing short of alien invasion that will redirect her, plan your retort(s). It can be fun to plan all sorts of nasty rebuttals to her commentary like “Actually, I wouldn't know what a bowling ball looks like when balanced on two chicken legs, because bowling while eating wings sounds mighty unsanitary,” or, “So we're clear, if you call Spud 'portly' once s/he's on the outside, I promise to feed you to the Children of the Corn.” And then, plan your real strategy, “My midwife/doctor says I'm very healthy and I'm glad to hear you agree.”
Physical Strength Training:
Sometimes your provider will tell you to hold still for awhile, but if they want you to keep moving, here are some thoughts I have about that.
Shoot for a B-: If you were training for marathons before your pregnancy, you may want to scale it back just a tad. Because a good portion of your effort is going towards creating life out of kale salad, you needn't push yourself to accomplish any other magic. 80% effort is your new standard.
Prepare to squat: Squatting during birth is all the rage. Women all around the world do it instinctively, and you probably will to. This is a great time to practice your birth positions by strengthening your squatting muscles. Be careful to do this under the advisement of a birth provider or skilled prenatal yoga instructor *shameless plug* so that you don't injure yourself or negatively affect the position of your baby.
Melt: Learning to unclench every muscle in your body during and between contractions can make labor a whole lot less consuming. Particularly when you are performing a mental exercise, or have some level of stress in your mind/emotional body, soften your physical body and your mind will follow. Practice makes perfect, so start as soon as possible.
I'm one of those people who loves making your life easier (and I believe in you). I am an experienced registered prenatal yoga teacher and a lactation educator.
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