During pregnancy, it’s important to take time to nurture yourself.
By Justina Perry
We live in a busy and fast-paced world and it can be difficult to find the time to relax during pregnancy. Yet self-care is so essential and these precious months are when you need it most. Here are some simple tips that you can practise on a daily basis to help ease a number of ailments and help you stay relaxed throughout your pregnancy.
Easing away aches and pains
Instead of sitting on the sofa in front of the TV, try to sit on a gym ball, as this will keep your spine flexible and aligned and so help alleviate back-ache. It will also help take the pressure of the baby’s weight from your sacrum, helping relieve any tension in that area.
Make sure you are sitting in a stable position with your feet firmly planted on the ground, with your knees a little wider than hip width apart. Practise making gentle circles or figures of eight with your hips. This also helps to get the baby into the optimal position for birth.
Heartburn is a common ailment for many pregnant women and this simple exercise can help alleviate the discomfort. All you need to do is to find a comfortable spot on the floor or on a chair. Now take some deep breaths, bringing your hands in a prayer position above your head. This will help create space in the chest and diaphragm
area and help reduce the acidity in the oesophagus, which is the cause of heartburn.
Practise this as often as you can for instant relief.
Time for some tummy love
A gentle tummy massage can be a lovely daily ritual, not only giving you some ‘quiet’ time to talk to your baby but also helping to keep stretch-marks at bay.
Your baby’s skin is fully developed early on in pregnancy, so he or she can already sense your touch. Touch can play an important part in communicating with your baby even from these early days.
Find a comfy spot to sit, with your back well-supported. Apply a little pregnancy-safe massage oil to your palms. Place on your belly and massage over the tummy, making a smooth heart- shape over your bump. Visualise your baby, breathing deeply with each heart shape. Repeat several times. This is also a lovely massage that your partner can perform to help them bond and connect with the baby.
Adapting to being a new mum
After you’ve had your baby, it is important to give yourself time to adjust to being with your precious new baby as part of a family. There is often pressure to get back to ‘normal’ but allow yourself time to heal and adapt to being a new Mummy.
Your newborn will sleep as much as 20 hours a day but in short bursts, not a long stretch. Try to rest when baby sleeps to catch up when you can.
Breastfeeding, although natural, can take time to establish, so give yourself plenty of time to learn the best techniques that work for you and be patient. Get advice from your health visitor or contact The Breastfeeding Network.
Feeding around the clock
Expect to feed your baby every one to four hours so make yourself comfortable. Ensure you have a comfy sofa or bed with plenty of pillows for support, a good book or magazine and a bottle of water to stay hydrated.
Soothing your baby
All babies cry; it’s the only way they can communicate their needs. We are warned that we will spoil our baby, but this isn’t possible. The only thing your baby needs is you and the best way to soothe your baby is to re-create the sensations of the womb. So swaddling, carrying and rocking him are all natural soothing techniques. If you are concerned about their wellbeing, speak to your GP or health visitor.
Time to just be with your baby
Recent studies show that as many as 75% of women suffer from some kind of anxiety or depression during pregnancy. Visualisation and meditation are powerful techniques to help keep you relaxed and positive. This simple exercise will enable you to let go of all the busyness and tension of everyday life and give yourself time for what is important … you and your baby. Practise it daily or whenever you feel anxious or stressed.
◗ Rub your hands together and place them either side of your tummy or over your baby.
◗ Close your eyes and focus your mind on your breath. Take some deep breaths in and out.
◗ Say to your baby ‘hello baby, I am mummy ‘ (or daddy).
◗ Imagine; what does your baby say back?
◗ Now take a long, slow deep breathe in, breathing in happy feelings and thoughts.
◗ As you exhale, breathe out fear.
◗ On your next inhalation, breathe in calm.
◗ As you breathe out, breathe out anxiety.
◗ Now tell your baby they are warm and safe.
◗ Tell your baby he/she is beautiful.
◗ Now just be in this moment, sending your baby a silent message of love.
With thanks to Justina Perry, founder of MamaBabyBliss and a leading wellbeing expert for pregnancy, new mums and babies.
MamaBabyBliss offers Stretch & Relax and Baby Massage classes across the UK. Find the nearest class.