Pregnancy – A spiritual journey or a pain in the butt?

Apparently being pregnant, is the most exciting time, the most beautiful time, the happiest of times. Apparently being pregnant, means you’re supposed to walk around just simply glowing, and world can keep telling you on repeat how amazing you are for bringing another child into the world, and people will just keep smiling at you…

You find out your pregnant, and when you get around to telling people you’re greeted with an ever increasing crescendo of shrieks. You’re surrounded by faces with beaming smiles who are expecting you to be beaming back, everyone is touching you and crowding you, yet inside you haven’t quite worked out how to feel or respond, so say nothing, and now the group thinks you’re a weirdo because you don’t seem to be sharing in the same level of celebration as the surrounding group.  

But what if you’re not having a spiritual journey whilst being pregnant? What if you’re just, you know, neutral?

We all will respond differently to finding out we’re pregnant. There’s those who are jubilant and those who cry, those who are anxious, those who are hopeful and there’s plenty of crossing over and overlap along the spectrum from despair to sheer overwhelming joy. Due to our fluctuating hormones I’m sure many feel like they’re sliding up and down the scale at different stages of the pregnancy!

Whilst I’m not walking around cupping my belly saying this is the most amazing precious time of my life, nor I’m walking around with aches pains, crippling desperation, and a feeling of hopelessness. I’m actually in the middle. Don’t get me wrong, this week I’ve been a little emotional. But overall, I’m neutral. I haven’t reached the excitement stage, too busy building a business, but nor am I waking up dreading it as I’m fit and healthy and haven’t had any problems (so far). I haven’t bought any baby bits and I live in a rented flat so I’m not planning on painting or creating a nursery (we don’t even have space for a cot).

It’s a peculiar response I know. Maybe we’re more use to the extremes of the spectrum. We’ve all known people who are ridiculously happy and excited and we all know people who are having a tough time. Perhaps it’s harder to understand someone just sat in the middle.

I would call myself pragmatic.

I’m responding in a practical way. I’m focusing on organising my business, whilst I’m physically still able to.

I’m also cautious because I know anything could happen and so until the baby arrives I do fear getting overly excited.

I know I’m healthy and fit so I’m not stressing about that and as a trainer I know what to do that’s right for me, and although I train other pregnant and post natal women, I’m now putting my own skills to practise as I train myself.

Being pregnant is one aspect of life. A huge one of course! And of course I want a happy pregnancy because ultimately I want a happy life.

But when you read articles on ‘being happy in pregnancy’ and hearing ‘it’s the most joyeous’ time, maybe I’m too British, makes me cringe. I so it really depends on your definition of happy and your association with the word as language is so important as it is throughout our lives.

I am happy in my life and I want my friends and clients to be so too. This for me doesn’t mean you have to always be at 100% total euphoria. There is a spectrum with everything, and my happiness during this pregnancy comes from being me, understanding acceptance, staying healthy, continuing to work and grow a business, adapting to this new relationship with husband when we become 3, and learning about the stages and how that makes me a better trainer for others.

But that’s just me. For others it’s about buying every baby toy and painting the spare room.

So how to be happy in pregnancy?

Like with everything in life, when you focus on the things you can control, like fueling your mind and body in the right way; you’re on the right track. Chuck in a great support network and you’ll in prime position.

Mindset. Wherever your starting point is when you found out you were pregnant and we’re all different, you will need to work hard to channel your mindset to ensure you do have a happy pregnancy, in the same way, you will want a happy and fulfilling life when not pregnant. They’re one and the same. But being pregnant can throw up plenty of uncertainties and insecurities that you may have been masking before when your weren’t not pregnant.

Each trimester will present its own set of obstacles to overcome and by laying good strong foundations you’ll be in the best possible place to tackle them. So whether it’s morning sickness that is crippling you, or more seriously the fact you weren’t sure if you even wanted children; or maybe it’s the anxiety around the finances or home, or simply the arguing over the choice of names, knowing that your happiness, and your strength to get through this time, and in all troubling times in life lies within, is in itself, empowering. When you think hormones have the better of you, remember you’re in control.  Nurturing a positive mindset isn’t this ‘woowoo’ concept. It also deserves it’s own huge blog post. But without working on this first, how in life can anything else follow. Simply being aware of how you feel right now is a good starting point. and then chosing to pick the path of strength (even if it’s a difficult path), will allow you to have the best possible pregnancy and life.

HEALTH

Use this time as an opportunity to put yourself in the best possible health. So whether you were already healthy, eating right and exercising or you’re using pregnancy as an excuse to get fit, then embrace this moment. When we fuel our bodies and mind with the right food and movement, we’re in a much better position from within, to tackle the difficult times. The more you eat and live in a healthy manner, the healthier and happier you’ll be. Someone said to me the other day ‘but i’m scared to reinvent myself’. No one is saying reinvent yourself over night or next month? It’s taking small actionable steps. One at a time. So if getting to grips with your health is scary, speak to a professional about small steps. This isn’t about going hell for leather on a fitness regime that is not what I mean. But putting the ground work in now one step and a time. No one likes feeling tired, irritable and constantly fatigued so we have to help ourselves starting with the right nutrition and movement plan for us as individuals. When the baby is born it’s going to be challenging and the more we can understand how health, what we eat, how we move, and how we think directly influences our actions, feelings and state, the more we’ll make it a priority. More specifically on this to come in the Facebook Pregnancy group. Always seek advice from a professional before embarking on anything new, but if health wasn’t your priority before, this is a great time to start thinking about how you eat, move, and how you look after yourself. Treat it as a great chance to learn, educate yourself and not just a crash course in dieting.  

Just BE

Many have told me to embrace pregnancy, and whilst I’m up for going to all the pre-natal classes, I wouldn’t say I’m embracing it.  Acceptance? That’s probably a better word. Don’t get me wrong there is plenty of gratitude around the pregnancy & my health, but I suppose it’s more of an acceptance of the situation. If you allow yourself to just be, accept the accept the changes and work with them not against them, then you’ll be happier. Even accepting that your exercise regime will change will ensure you stay positive. I’m accepting that I’m in this current situation, and whilst that presents financial worries it’s not helpful to layer up every problem as one.  I accepted that in my 1st trimester I wanted to eat more carbs and chocolate milkshake than my normal diet would encourage; I’m accepting that my relationship with my husband will develop and adapt, as we grow from 2 to 3; that my selfish nature of doing what I want and when I want, will adjust. I’m learning to accept that when people in classes I teach say ‘oh my god you’re getting so much bigger’ or when my father in law goes to touch my belly, it’s all said and done out of a place of love, kindness, excitement, curiosity even, but not malice. I don’t know how I’ll feel after the birth so let’s not worry about that now; I’m accepting that as of today I’m 24 weeks and 2 days that I have a long way to go, that I don’t know anything about babies and that’s ok; that right now It’s not a priority to read every book, I’ll save that for September.

Breathe & Relax

Too busy to relax? Too busy to breathe? Most people say they’re too busy for most things, but if you don’t put yourself first now and get into these good habits, potentially setting yourself up for problems later. This is a chance to focus on you! Enjoy it!

With relation to breathing, a pelvic floor expert told me she could tell I did a lot of fitness as I wasn’t allowing myself to move my belly and was in a permanent state of bracing. Dancing, being a Pilates teacher and vanity means I was always bracing. She has encouraged me to really breathe deeply. Being pregnant is not a time to be holding your belly in and some decent belly breaths will do you wonders!

We breathe in and out all day long but actually learning to breathe and relax is so important. In life, when times are tough simply stopping and properly breathing can have an incredible positive impact on your mind & body, changing your state and bringing you back to the present moment. You’re able to tackle those obstacles with a renewed energy and life becomes just a little bit simpler. How you find your method to breathe and relax is up to you. Whether It’s yoga or meditation, attending a class, or practising alone, find something that works for you. I’ve enjoyed the relaxing floating in water in my aqua natal classes and concentrating on the breath in calm pregnancy Pilates and yoga classes. I find that being in a class format allows me to focus on breathing, as I like being the student in a class. But there’s plenty of tools out there to breathe and relax at home.  I also love taking myself off for long walks listening to a podcast but find what works for you and make it a priority. Sometimes just going to bed isn’t enough (although do get plenty of sleep too!!) Sleep is so important, but so is what I call ‘active relaxing’.

Enjoy the process

For some, as soon as they found out they were pregnant they were buying baby things and organising baby showers and making plans. If that works for you then great! That’s not me. But that’s not to say I’m not enjoying the process, we just all respond differently. I’m enjoying my pre-natal classes; I’m enjoying hearing my friend’s babies stories; I’m going to enjoy our weekend away just before the baby is born. So whilst I’ll not be saying ‘I love being pregnant’ I’m taking each step as it comes which is my pragmatic way of ‘enjoying the process’. So again wherever you are on the spectrum of positivity and embracing the process, just take it one step at time.  

Talk to someone!

If you’re in a stable relationship, then great! If you’re on your own, make sure you have a good friend to talk to or even a therapist. Being able to talk to someone about your fears, anxieties as well as hopes and dreams during this time is essential. I’m lucky I have a loving husband who understand the emotional complexities for us women, and he’s also a paramedic who has delivered babies before so I’m covered on the emergency front haha but it’s having someone to talk to, so you can explain simply ‘I feel a bit emotional today and I don’t know why’ (*cough, that was me last night) . Whether it’s the finances or the changing of the body that concern you, having someone to talk to, will be a great asset!

Delegate work/ make a plan

I am self-employed and my husband has about 6 jobs, so we need to plan, delegate and understand each other’s expectations for what is going to happen for the rest of the pregnancy and after. You might both be in high powered corporate jobs, or you might be the bread winner, so leading on from talking to partner, is talking about work, finances and the plan. What do you expect to happen, want to happen, & is it ‘aligned’ with each other’s thoughts? There’s no right or wrong way to do this in 2019, but the more difficult scenario will be where two people’s expectations are at odds! So use this time to have open discussions. Us women usually have lots of other women we can talk to, or have listened to their stories before yet men haven’t had this so much, or chose not to, so it’s important to me that I speak to my husband and let him in on what I am thinking, and feeling. It’s also for him so he doesn’t just have the burden of ‘I must provide’. As two self-employed people without maternity or paternity pay we have to work in our own unique way to make this work.  Just word of warning — don’t embark on this chat on the same night you have opened the conversation with ‘I’m feeling emotional’. Save it for a more rational evening!

So what in a nut shell to do?

Chill out.


Don’t over complicate everything. Don’t over complicate your exercise, your food. Don’t stress out about every minute detail. If listening to friends is stressful don’t do it, if you find you’re learning loads from them, great! Don’t see everything as one big giant bundle of stress, break down everything, what is today’s obstacle to solve?

Educate yourself so you can eat and live a healthy life most of the time, and you’ll be on the right path to living a healthy, happy life, whether you’re pregnant or not.

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