Lately I’ve been forced to slow down, a lot. Not that I’m a particularly energetic person in general, don’t get me wrong, but I do like to keep busy and I feel guilty if I’m not doing something productive.
I’m now almost in my third trimester, time really is flying by! And I’m almost 36 and I’m quite honestly, exhausted. A little trip out to the shops or the doctors will exhaust me for the rest of the day. It doesn’t help that I’m also plagued by pregnancy insomnia from time to time and I’ll have nights where I’ll wake up for the toilet and its just impossible to get back to sleep.
Its funny how easy it is to feel guilty about doing nothing, why is it? Perhaps because as a society our worth seems to be measured on how productive we are. So if we need to slow down, it feels wrong somehow. We feel lazy. I feel that its time to let go of that guilt because self care is so important for our physical and mental health. You can’t pour from an empty cup and all that.
I think that in pregnancy, its especially important as so much energy goes into growing a little human. Think about that for a moment – you have a tiny human growing inside of you, they grow so rapidly from a tiny bunch of cells into a fully formed baby and that requires a lot of energy! In a few short months you will go from being responsible only for yourself or perhaps your other children too, to being fully responsible for a brand new baby. Time and sleep at that point will be of a minimum so make the most of any time you have in the months leading up to the birth for looking after yourself.
If you are like me, you might be on a budget and visits to the spa or pregnancy massages aren’t really an option, lovely as it would be. The following are some suggestions that anyone can do and costs are free or minimal.
- Home pampering session. This can be as simple as having a lovely warm bubble bath. Dim the lights and put on some candles, play some of your favourite music and read a book in the tub or just close your eyes, relax and enjoy. Maybe include a face or hair mask, paint your nails afterwards, apply lovely moisturiser or just anything that makes you feel that you’ve pampered yourself a little. It doesn’t cost much for a bottle of bubble bath or if you prefer natural products you could use some magnesium flakes or essential oils (just make sure they are safe for pregnancy).
- Go for a walk. I know this might sound like it contradicts everything I said earlier about being lazy but honestly its one of the easiest and cheapest forms of exercise possible. Just 20-30 minutes of walking makes all the difference, I find its great just for getting some fresh air and clearing my head. I do find it hard to motivate myself to go for a walk, especially when its cold outside but I never regret it when I do. I enjoy putting in my earphones and listening to a podcast while I walk. Or even better, leave your phone at home and just walk and listen and look at all the sights and sounds. I always return home feeling fresher and motivated and more creative. In pregnancy, wearing layers of clothes is a good idea as its easy to get hot and also some decent flat shoes or trainers. Reward yourself with a lovely hot cup of tea or hot chocolate when you get home again. If walking isn’t your thing, how about pregnancy yoga or swimming?
- Make time to read. One of my favourite things to do is to curl up with a good book. I suggest making it into a lovely ritual, its perfect for these cold dark evenings. Books can be expensive to buy new but now is a great time to join your local library as you’ll probably find it a great resource for pregnancy and baby books, as well as a place to take your little one to – a lot of libraries offer baby music and reading groups which are free and good fun. I mainly borrow books from the library or else I buy them cheaply from charity shops – I bought four novels for £1 yesterday from my local hospice shop which I’m sure is affordable for most people. What I enjoy doing is getting cosy on the sofa with a blanket and a hot drink. To make it even nicer, I put on some relaxing music and a candle and it all just feels so cosy and relaxing. I love that feeling of delving into my own little world and I know that times like this will be rare very soon so I’m enjoying it now.
- TV or movie time. Make the most of being able to watch shows you enjoy before Peppa Pig or Cbeebies takes over! Make it fun, invite your partner or other kids to join you – get some snacks and a big blanket and snuggle up together. I’ve decided to watch one documentary a day instead of wasting time on Youtube and its surprisingly enjoyable if you like that kind of thing! We also watch a family film together on a Friday evening as a nice end to the week. Even better if you get some pizza!
- Relaxation/meditation. This is another one that I have to force myself to do for some reason but it always feels good. Get yourself into a comfortable position in a quiet room, either upright in a comfortable chair or lying down in bed. Find some relaxation or meditation music that you enjoy, there are loads on Youtube that you can play on your phone. I highly recommend listening to a guided meditation as a starting point especially if you find that like me, your mind starts whirring as soon as you try and relax. Or if you are planning on hypnobirthing you could listen to your hypnobirthing CD’s and mantras. I find this a great thing to do just to learn to relax your body and if you can’t sleep at night, its great just to spend time resting. Learning some deep breathing techniques will also be of help during the birth.
- Doing something creative (from the comfort of your sofa!) – maybe like me you enjoy drawing and this can easily be done while resting on the sofa, no need to create a masterpiece, just some coloured pencils and a sketch book are all that’s needed. Maybe knitting or crocheting something for the baby. Or get one of the adult colouring in books – a lot of people find colouring in really relaxing. Perhaps if you enjoy writing you could start a blog, this can be done for free or fairly cheaply. I enjoy writing my blog but I also keep a personal journal in a big notebook and its something to look back on in years to come. Other creative things are baking and cooking – if the urge to cook strikes you, make double the amount so you can keep it in the fridge for a day when you don’t feel like cooking.
- Speaking of cooking, an important part of self care is eating well. I’m finding it really hard to feel motivated to cook dinner at the moment as i’m so tired by that point and thankfully my husband has been taking over some nights. But eating well doesn’t always have to involve cooking elaborate meals. I’m making sure I keep plenty of fruit in the kitchen so there is always something quick and healthy to grab if i’m hungry. Stock up on healthy snacks like oatcakes, rice cakes, hummus, nuts, pre-made soups and also don’t feel guilty about indulging in something yummy. I’m all about the croissants at the moment!
These are just some ideas of things that I do and I feel that its so important to take time for yourself, create and build daily rituals that can be carried on even when the baby arrives. Let go of the guilt of caring for yourself and take care of your mental and physical health. It will help to reduce stress levels, create a more positive mindset and looking after yourself is a great lesson to teach our children too.
Please leave a comment as I’d love to hear what your self care tips and rituals are.