Lets face it, parenting is tough right now! Mothers and mothers to be have been dealt a pretty rough deal during all of this, with ongoing restrictions, new measures, closures of almost everything that provided that face to face support and connection, home birth services suspended with no date in sight on when the service might be reinstated (now re instated btw). Plans and wishes have had to be adjusted and changed over and over again and it's just not fair really, you deserve better. To say that the pandemic has drastically changed the landscape of birth and motherhood would be an understatement, of course the measures where put in place for your safety but that doesn't mean that they are not without great sacrifice, the ongoing restrictions in birth and beyond are taking a tole on the emotional and spiritual health of so many.
I am not here to deny you emotion, your feelings are real, legitimate and important. Anxiety is a completely normal response to a perceived threatening situation and it's completely normal to be feeling anxious and stressed right now. I definitely do not subscribe to toxic positivity, no one has to remember that there are worse off out there, be grateful for what they do have or deny any part of their authentic humanness. Negative feelings are just as valid as the positive and suppression is not helpful at all. Give yourself space for compassion, the tips below are just that, tips to help you practice a little more self kindness. You deserve so much more right now and to at least feel a little more in control.
- Avoid constant news updates, assign your birth partner or trusted friend or family member the job of giving you ESSENTIAL updates.
- Reach and and ask for support. I cannot stress this enough, your care team are there to support you and want to be there for you. Request as much phone and zoom contact as you need with your midwives, if you're unsure it's always worth asking. Consider hiring a doula, reach out to supportive friends and family. Join facebook groups and online support groups that you feel help you or provide some kind of needed connection. Although physical connection is limited right now there are still so many people that are there to offer support should you need it. You are not alone.
- Be kind to yourself! Know that your emotions are normal, do not judge yourself or be hard on yourself for your humanness. These feelings are just that, feelings, they are not you, they are not your fault, they are just feelings.
- Practice being present. What I mean by this is that if you catch yourself running away with a negative thought pattern like 'what if...' Take a deep breath, have a little shake and focus on something in the present. Really notice it, something you can control. Maybe a pregnancy affirmation colouring sheet, notice the process, the sound of the pencil on the paper and do not judge yourself if you become distracted, simply bring your self back to the process.
- Distraction If you find that negative thoughts are beginning to feel overwhelming find a simple, soothing activity. Keep it simple and self nurturing, a little craft, colouring page, baking, your favorite show or indulge in a little joyful movement. I do love a quick kitchen boogie!
- Focus on your whole well being. Take active steps to be well. Establish good sleep habits as much as you can, drink plenty of water throughout the day, eat well, protect your energy, this is as important as any other part of your health. Avoid people that raise your anxiety or lower your mood, I know it's not always simple so start small, mute/ unfollow unhelpful or triggering social media contacts. Practice doing NOTHING for just two minutes, just focus on a breathing exercise and when it gets easy up the time by just one minute. Make notes of the activities and tools that sooth and nurture you and make a point of practicing little and often.
- Connect on a deeper level with your pregnancy. It's easy to get caught up in the stress of the pandemic and forget to make time to honour this sacred time. Start simple, build a little altar and practice connecting here, lay your hands on your bump and send your baby love. Add beautiful, positive things to it, crystals, affirmations, things from nature, things that make you happy. Add a daily/ weekly card to it for guidance or inspiration. This is something that can be either for pregnancy or for motherhood. Meditate here, do yoga here or just focus on the beauty and practice breathing and being still here.
Treat yourself to the mothers wisdom deck or any lovely card deck that you're drawn to. Connect with other mothers however you can, connect with people that make you feel good and so no to people and things that don't. Trust your inner wisdom and intuition. You know yourself, your baby and your body better than anyone.
Create a vision board or mandala for birth. This is a simple way to tap into your inner wisdom and something that can be added to over time.
You can't control every stressor in life but some you can. I hope some of these tips help you find a little more self compassion in your life and remember that you are not alone.