To create a life is a beautiful gift. Without even thinking or trying, a woman can essentially house a human life (or more than one!) inside her own body for a period of approximately forty weeks. Imagine how difficult this task would be if a woman needed to sit completely still for an entire day while thinking, “Grow the baby’s right arm! Now the left arm!” Without a checklist, I, most certainly, might forget something very important (or even lose my place and accidentally grow two right arms). What a miracle, then, it is for this process to be able to unfold internally without any assistance from us!
Yet, just because we don’t need to actively participate does not mean that we are not affected by the process. The blessing of life can come with a few special side effects, one of which is a category to which we shall refer generally as “The Lethargy.” The Lethargy is truly the result of many things, including “morning” sickness, achy joints, bloating, weight gain, and a legitimate need for rest because of all the things your body is doing. Certainly, the best scenario would be for a woman to take 40 weeks of paid pregnancy leave (plus an additional 52 weeks of paid maternity leave, of course) to be able to support all of her body’s necessary changes. However, until the law catches up with our bodies, most of us have to continue to go to work while enduring The Lethargy. Luckily, however, there a few things we can do to handle it gracefully.
Acknowledge What Your Body Is Doing.
I will share with you that I am currently in the second trimester of my very first pregnancy and am juggling that miracle along with working a full-time job. Before I became pregnant, I was studying to become a prenatal yoga instructor, and was therefore reading all of the books and other materials I could about fertility, prenatal care, and postpartum care. So, when I became pregnant, I thought I was ready for “morning” sickness—which, for me, turned out to be 24/7 sickness that lasted from about 5 weeks to 10 weeks. To get through it, only one thing helped me: to remember why I was sick all day. If you know for sure that you do not have the flu, or some sort of stomach bug, morning sickness is an excellent reminder that your body is working hard to establish your pregnancy. The likelihood of a miscarriage is highest in the first trimester, and most of us are not showing during that time, so if you are blessed enough to experience morning sickness, try to think of it as a delightful reminder that there is a little life inside you that is working hard to stay with you. That reminder helped me through several weeks of discomfort.
Create Luxury Where You Are.
This is a reminder for everyone, even if you are not pregnant. Luxury is not a product sold exclusively at resorts and hotels. It is something that you can create wherever you are, and often for very little money. Close your eyes and think of the things in your home that make you feel warm and cozy. This might be a special pillow, or a favorite pair of socks, or a fragrance that makes you feel particularly alive. I work at a desk all day, so in my office, I have a small space heater, a mini-essential oil diffuser, a pitcher of water, a box of my favorite granola bars, a bag of my favorite dark chocolates, a pair of fuzzy socks, and my favorite hand lotion. If you work at a job where you are on your feet all day, perhaps wearing your most delicious pair of socks and carrying your favorite lip gloss in your pocket will do the trick for you. Be creative—and a little daring. And do not give a second thought to the idea that creating luxury is a selfish thing—your baby can feel it when you are happy, so you are really doing this for two people!
Move Each Day.
There are going to be days when you do not feel like moving, and if you can, I do encourage you to rest as much as possible. However, moving your body in some way will help to keep it strong, supple, and as ready as it can be for delivery. I highly recommend yoga to accomplish these goals. Through a yoga practice, led by a well-trained prenatal yoga instructor, you will be able to three extremely important things: (1) lengthening and relaxing your muscles, (2) strengthening, without straining, your muscles and bones, and (3) using your breath to create relaxation and comfort at any moment. No matter how you will be giving birth to baby—whether by caesarian section or vaginally—keeping your body strong, yet relaxed and supple, and learning to breathe through discomfort, is a practice that will serve you very well.
Choose Nourishing Foods.
This is not the part of the article where I wag my finger at you about eating junk food. But do remember to balance the satisfaction of your not-so-healthy cravings with foods that will nourish you and baby. I have found that preparing a smoothie each morning with spinach and/or kale is a great way to start my day healthfully. I never feel as bad about a slice or two (ok ok, or three!) of pizza in the evening when I have made a conscious effort to eat mindfully throughout the day before that.
Rather than “meditation,” let’s say that I recommend developing a practice in which you sit comfortably for several minutes while breathing mindfully. You might call that meditation, and you may already have a strong meditation practice. You might find that sitting quietly on your sofa with a cup of tea while observing the sun rise each morning is sufficient for you. Just think of this as your time to enjoy one of the few completely quiet moments you will have for a long time after baby arrives 🙂
Moms, do you have any tips for having a healthy and balanced pregnancy? Please share!
Also see: How to Be Vegan During Your Pregnancy
Photo: Philippe Put via Flickr