We all know that being positive in our lives has a really beneficial effect on our lives.
It’s everywhere, ‘think positively & good things will come to you’, but how hard is it to actually do in real life. Add to that pregnancy anxiety, fear about labour & hearing a load of difficult birth stories, it can seem like it’s an impossible task.
I’m here to tell you that there are lots of resources out there to help you. So, here are 5 really simple suggestions to help you maintain your positivity so you can really enjoy during your pregnancy & birth. My suggestions are simply that, suggestions & there are cheaper options for each if you’re birthing on a budget.
1. Join an antenatal group
Meeting other people who are expecting at the same time as you can have a huge effect on the way you feel about your pregnancy. We are social mammals & would traditionally live in small communities as we don’t do very well on our own.
Being surrounded by other mothers & sharing concerns or experiences with others has a really beneficial effect on the way we feel about ourselves. Our modern lives don’t really help us with this, particularly during the pandemic, it can feel like you are completely isolated. The good news is, there are lots of groups that are now available online due to the pandemic so you can join in with something wherever you live. One plus side to the pandemic I guess!
Now that many of the restrictions have been lifted, many groups are now meeting face to face. If you prefer to meet in person there are outdoor pregnancy walks or coffee mornings you could join. Have a look at what’s available in your local area but if you’re in South East London the PIPS (pregnancy & parenting information) group is excellent. It’s an online community of mums & pregnant people but run by a lovely group of birth & parenting supporters. Have a look at the links at the end of the blog for more suggestions or ask a friend who’s had a baby what they recommend.
2. Practise relaxation
It might sound a bit strange if you don’t ordinarily set aside time to relax but the benefits of using relaxation techniques during your pregnancy can have huge positive effects on you & even on your baby. If you’ve never heard of epigenetics it’s well worth having a look into, as it is a really interesting field of neuroscience. It works on the principle that your genes can be affected by the way you feel & your environment.
This has an impact on you & your baby during pregnancy so while you may be thinking practising relaxation during pregnancy would do nothing for you, regularly making time & space to relax can actually have an effect on your baby’s genes. In really simple terms, the way you feel during pregnancy can prepare your baby for the kind of environment your baby will be born into e.g. relaxed mummy, relaxed baby.
You can practise relaxation for free & there are loads of relaxation tracks available on YouTube or you can spend a bit more money on something more specific to birth. There are loads of meditation apps out there like Calm, Headspace & Expectful which is an relaxation app specifically for pregnancy. All of these have free trials & if you find them helpful they cost a fixed amount per month or year. If you’re looking for more one to one support you could sign up for a hypnobirthing course like the one I teach.
Way of the Koi has lots of great relaxation scripts to listen to & techniques to use specifically during labour & pregnancy. Working with a teacher can also help you to commit to practising & if you have any problems, your teacher will have the experience to help you work through any blocks you might have.
3. Get out in nature.
This one is a great one & completely free! Spending time outdoors has been found to help with mental health problems including anxiety and depression according to the mental health charity MIND. When you are pregnant, getting out in the great outdoors can help you get more grounded.
Simply looking around you, noticing that nature is still growing & changing day by day can help you feel more positive. Not to mention breathing the fresh, oxygen rich air will improve your blood flow to your baby. If you’re having a tricky time or finding it hard to walk long distances in later pregnancy you needn’t go very far. Just a little stroll or sit in the park while you take time to observe nature & take some slow deep breaths can help reduce your anxiety.
You could also join a pregnancy walking group & get the benefit of meeting other mums or in the warmer months an outdoor yoga, Tai Chi or pilates class. Check my links at the end of this blog post for more info on where to find local walks.
This one might sound like a stupid thing to mention but did you know that getting hungry can actually contribute to anxiety?
When your blood sugar goes low you produce adrenaline & can make you feel pretty weird. Sadly adrenaline, while good at protecting you from threat or danger, is really rubbish during pregnancy as it interferes with oxytocin production.
Oxytocin is your best friend in pregnancy but particularly during labour as it stimulates contractions & much more. If your blood sugar stays low for too long your body also releases cortisol which is known as ‘the stress hormone’ When cortisol & adrenaline get together you’ve got a perfect storm for anxiety, so eating regularly can have a really positive impact on the way you feel. Remember that you need to eat more calories when you are pregnant too, the rough suggestion is that you need about 1,800 calories per day during the first trimester.
About 2,200 calories per day during the second trimester. About 2,400 calories per day during the third trimester so skipping any meals is bound to lead to anxiety & feeling ‘hangry’! Now I’m not suggesting you immediately head down to McDonalds & pile up on chips (occasionally as a treat is fine) but the most important thing to remember when you are thinking about blood sugar is to eat little & often.
On my course I talk in more detail about this, but my hot tip for keeping your blood sugar stable is to have protein rich snacks at the ready for the times when it might dip between meals. This could be nuts, seeds, a granola bar or my favourite when I was pregnant, an egg sandwich!
5. Get informed about birth.
If you’re not feeling very positive about birth & you’ve watched so many episodes of ‘one born every minute’ that you are freaking out about the whole thing it can be well worth actually finding out more about how your body works during labour.
You can do this in lots of different ways. There are loads of great antenatal courses out there to suit your budget. Your local hospital might even offer a free course but be wary of the freebies or cheap courses. It might seem like a good deal but they might put an emphasis on what can go wrong during birth & if you are keen to tap into the positive parts of your birth journey, the negative stories can really upset you. Taking a hypnobirthing or other antenatal course can be the answer to this as they are a great way to learn about how your body works during pregnancy & birth.
A hypnobirthing course will also provide you with tips & tricks to help you stay relaxed during your labour so your body can get on with doing what it needs to do. There are lots of great hypnobirthing books & online courses you can do if you’re on a budget but there is no substitute for working with a qualified hypnobirthing teacher.
If you sign up for a group course you’ll also get to meet other local expectant parents (see point 1) & you’ll get really good support from your teacher. I highly recommend a course like The Way of the Koi because it’s one of the only courses out there written by a midwife & hypnotherapist. I am of course biased as it’s the course I teach but seeing the clients I work with go from being anxious & frightened to feeling excited & positive about birth is just amazing.
These are just a few of my favourite tips for getting positive about your pregnancy & birth. There are many more & feel free to comment with your own suggestions. I’d love to hear what worked for you if you’ve had your baby. If you would like to know more about any of the suggestions I’ve mentioned here, check out the links below or just have a look around my website. There’s lots of information here & if you would like to know more then feel free to book a free 30 minute chat or sign up for my next hypnobirthing taster session.