For many mamas-to-be the first trimester is an overwhelming and potential nerve racking time. Our bodies may very quickly no longer feel our own as the influx of hormones make us feel and behave in ways that distinctly do not feel like "you." The first trimester can be rife with emotional ups and downs triggered not only by the every shifting hormones but also the realization and consequential mental gymnastics that come with even understanding that we are pregnant and what the means.
Not to mention the fact that there is all this crazy stuff going on in our bodies (we're growing a freakin' human!) and yet there is very little to show for it on the outside. In fact, most people in our life yet may not even know. Add on top of that the wonderful side effects of the first trimester: nausea, bloating, low back pain and exhaustion and its no wonder we can feel out of sorts for these first three months.
As a postnatal yoga teacher, I saw countless new parents coming to class with tight necks, shoulders and chests from holding, rocking, carrying and feeding their new babies. I looked at the pain those parents were experiencing and vowed that I wouldn’t be that new parent. I would make time for myself, I would stretch, I would take care of myself.
Fast forward to 8 weeks postpartum, as I was getting back into some of my regular activity and the help of my partner and my mom was gone during the days. I was tight, I was sore and I WAS that new parent I swore I would never be. I had let go of my self-care routines, focused solely on baby, and was now paying the price in body pain. And was this really a bad thing in hindsight? Not necessarily, but what I came to realize is that I was keeping myself from releasing some of this pain because I had certain expectations.
When I was newly pregnant I found myself worrying all the time. Worrying about baby's development, worrying about what mysterious thing could happen to me during pregnancy and worrying about the birth. I had no idea what I worry I could be, but I sure found out. Between the knowledge I had coming into pregnancy and birth as a prenatal teacher, combined with reading and internet searches, I found worry could be an easy constant companion in my pregnancy. I also found very quickly that I needed a practice to help me navigate that. Below is a practice I used during my pregnancy to help with anxiety and worry (the great thing? we keep having those feelings as parents to so you can continue to use this practice postpartum).
Raise your hand if you've ever found yourself reading to your little one and wanted to chuck the book out the window? I've literally found myself reading a book to her at bedtime and said out loud, "This is the dumbest story ever!". Since she's only 6 months old right now, most of the reading I'm doing is to myself. She doesn't fully understand what I'm saying, so I've found its important for me to pick stories I like too.
We have the routine of reading books every time before sleep, both naps and bedtime so there are lots of books to be read. In our home, we've found this ritual before bed helps our daughter wind down and know that its time for sleep. Over time, the energy we've invested in creating this ritual has really served us. For us, we've also found that starting with more active books (lift the flaps or pictures of other babies) and then moving to more calming stories has been really helpful for her to work out her pre-sleep wiggles. Here's a sample of a "day in the life" of books we read:
In the last week, my little one's night time sleep schedule took a dive. She started waking up 3-4 times a night instead of her normal 1-2. After just a few days I was feeling strung out and like I was doing something wrong. I had read the articles and skimmed the books. At this age, a baby should be sleeping through the night. A baby should be able to soothe themselves to sleep...I felt like I was failing. And I would find myself at night getting frustrated with her, but more often than not, frustrated with myself.
After some internet research, looking for support I happened on an article that suggested that this could all be normal. Some babies don't sleep through the night just yet. And was she teething? Yes. Had we just started solid foods not to long ago? Yes. These things could also be impacting her sleep and I hadn't really thought about it. I just thought I was failing as a mom. Sound familiar?
I like to play music in my studio taught Prenatal Yoga classes and often after class a mama will come up and ask about the music I was playing. Many folks are seeking a playlist that feels authentic to them for their labor, and there are times where yoga music can feel particularly appropriate.
Some of the music I've included below is very soothing and calming, other music has a beat and is more uptempo. I've included favorite songs and a few of my favorite albums. The nice thing about yoga music is that, in general, there are few lyrics which can be helpful for many people during labor. A lot of folks report finding lyrics to be distracting. As you're putting together your labor playlist I encourage you to check some of these songs and albums out, and please comment with your favorites to share with other mamas.
Swollen feet and ankles is a common and uncomfortable complaint for many of my pregnant mamas. For many, this happens more toward 2nd and 3rd trimesters and can also be triggered by heat or other environmental factors. There are some folks that are simply more prone to swollen feet throughout their pregnancy, but a good percentage of folks will notice at least some slight swelling in the weeks before baby arrives. Part of the reason swelling takes place at this time is the body is preparing for childbirth, building up its stores of fluids with the knowledge that during childbirth many of these floods will be lost...ah, the wisdom of these bodies of ours! Regardless of the cause, swelling can be super uncomfortable. Here are some things you can do that may help bring you some relief!
I see a lot of mamas coming in to my yoga classes having been diagnosed as having a breech or transverse baby. Many of these mamas are diagnosed very early when babies are still moving around and finding their position, but some mamas are receiving this news at 38 weeks and beyond.
Up until about 35 weeks baby still has an opportunity to move and change positions quite a bit. After that time, movement becomes more limited and challenging. For folks who have been told baby is breech there are many things that can be done from acupuncture to chiropractics to spinning babies and more invasive procedures like version. Often folks will opt for something less invasive first to see if that is enough to encourage baby to move. Did you know that yoga is one of those things that can help?
I've seen this article and info circulating in birth and pregnancy circles recently and so many folks commenting "oh I'm on day 2 and this is killing me" or "I could barely get past day 4". Have any of you done this? Tell me your experience, I'm honestly curious.
It appears this article was written in 2016 and so is probably just making a resurgence as of late due to someone finding it on Pinterest or Instagram. I gotta say, as a prenatal yoga teacher and someone who has been pregnant myself, I have a BIG problem with this challenge for many reasons.
Happy international breast-feeding week everyone! As someone who recently started breast-feeding for the first time, I feel like things got off to kind of a rocky start. Did you have this experience? I felt prepared for childbirth, prepared for a baby but not so prepared for this thing my body and baby were naturally supposed to be able to figure out.
While everyone goes through their own individual struggles I do feel like there are a few things I can offer that I personally found helpful. There are some things that I really wish that I had on hand before in order to make my breast-feeding journey easier (so if you're pregnant now, its not too early to get these items! Trust me, don't wait till its too late!). Here's a list of things every new mama should have if they plan on breast-feeding:
Wisdom and insight with a dash of humor to help guide you on your journey through motherhood.