There’s always a period of adjustment when my partner arrives with his two children for the weekend. They are younger than mine, lively, and as in all blended families, the dynamics change when everyone is thrown together after a period of of being apart. Last Friday Christy’s youngest sister also arrived unexpectedly to visit with her niece and nephew. We haven’t seen her since Christmas so it was good to catch up.
I had planned to make homemade pizzas and enjoy a family movie night. As the evening went on it became evident that not everyone was into the idea. Christy wanted to watch the big rugby match (yawn…), and both my tween and teen locked themselves in their bedrooms with their electronic devices. Neither of them could be persuaded to watch a “baby movie”. It’s true that finding an appropriate film to hold the attention of young people ranging from 8-14 is almost impossible. Yet, I still cling to hopes of recreating scenes like when my kids were younger and we all sat contentedly around the fire, enjoying each other’s company without the constant ping! of Snapchat notifications.
Covered in flour, I continued kneading dough while clenching my jaws. I could feel my mood darken and my face must have reflected the storm brewing within. I became more acutely aware of my backache, sore feet, and end of the week exhaustion. I was no longer happy to work in the kitchen alone and demanded help in a not so subtle manner. Christy’s sister isn’t known for tact and made a throwaway comment, saying, “I’m scared of pregnant women!” It wasn’t hard to between the lines.
The next day I woke up irritable, hormones raging. My teenage son was disagreeable which didn’t help. My 8 year old stepson couldn’t have been sweeter, but even that annoyed me. He’s fascinated by the baby and repeatedly asks if he/ she is kicking. I usually welcome his interest and think it’s adorable when he asks in a serious voice, “Do you think the baby is a Ninja? Could it be practicing taekwondo? I suppose there isn’t enough room in there.” On this particular day he wanted to constantly touch my bump and shower me with affection… when all I craved was space!
By the time the youngest ones returned to their mom on Sunday evening, after a long day of them bickering with each other, my nerves were a mess. Later, when my oldest son phoned from America, we had a fraught conversation regarding his college applications that sent me into a full-on meltdown. My backache intensified and I knew I needed to take some “me time”.
I’ve had a subscription to Ekhart Yoga for the last year. Most months I feel guilty for not using it, but I was so grateful when I logged onto the site that night. Esther used to teach in my town before she returned to Holland, and the sound of her voice was instantly soothing. I chose to do a chest opening class for the first and second trimester which also included standing poses. By the end of the session, I felt much better and vowed to incorporate more asanas into daily life.
As my pregnancy is progressing, I’m experiencing more of the common ailments that develop as the baby grows. I’m beginning to tire of listening to my own complaints, and I suspect my partner feels the same, although he wouldn’t dare admit it aloud. My experiences over the weekend inspired me to create a plan to cope with the final trimester leading up to labor. If you, too, would like to avoid lapsing into the “scary pregnant lady” mode, read on for tips to take better care of yourself. Maybe you don’t have time to incorporate all of these suggestions into your self-care routine, but you might like to try one or two ideas. Feel free to let me know what works for you in the comment section!
Yoga aims to create balance in the body. As I mentioned, there are various online sites offering free or paid for yoga sessions if you can’t find a suitable class in your local community. The benefits are holistic, meaning they affect you on a physical, mental, and spiritual level. Yoga is a great method for learning to slow down and relax. I find that it relieves tension and creates space where energy has been stuck. Many people approach yoga from a purely physical perspective, hoping to improve flexibility and strength. It might take them by surprise if they aren’t prepared for emotional releases which sometimes accompany the physical changes. Yoga has helped me to cope with back, neck, and shoulder pain. After I performed the chest opening exercises, I felt much softer and became aware of how vulnerable I felt. Overcome by tiredness, I went to bed early Sunday night and had a little cry under my duvet. Sometimes we just need a little assistance letting go of a difficult day, week, month…
Speaking of tiredness, I haven’t been able to sleep properly for the last week. I keep waking up at least an hour before my alarm, not to mention nocturnal trips to the bathroom. Apparently pregnancy insomnia is an actual condition affecting a lot of women. While I don’t have difficulty initially falling asleep, the quality of my sleep seems poor lately. Even though I bought a fancy pillow to support my legs and bump from Mothercare recently, I’m still uncomfortable at night.
Naps have become a lifesaver. My daughter may be embarrassed that I sleep in the car while I’m waiting for her to finish her pony riding and piano lessons, but 10- 20 minute power naps set me up for the rest of the day.
Another remedy I use is dōTERRA lavender oil. I add it to my diffuser at bedtime and drift away inhaling the pleasant scent, known for calming anxiety and aiding sleep. A soothing cup of chamomile or your favorite herbal tea an hour before bedtime may also help.
The best stress buster of all is aerobic exercise if you ask me. I teach dance-fitness classes and have so far been able to keep up with my usual routine, with slight modifications. Walking and swimming are most commonly recommended for pregnant women. Generally the rule is whatever fitness program you were following before pregnancy is safe to continue with, but it’s not advisable to try something new. Exercising during pregnancy has many benefits, such as maintaining a healthy weight, reducing constipation, and increasing energy. It often boosts your mood, helping you to feel happier and have a more positive outlook.
Today I went for a 90 minute full body Swedish massage and it was pure bliss! Christy gave me a voucher at Christmas which I’d been saving. Even if your partner is kind enough to offer regular foot rubs like mine does, it’s not the same as having a professional knead your muscles into submission. Disposable cash isn’t always easy to come by, but if you can save a bit each week, why not treat yourself to a nurturing massage?
If you’re suffering from aching feet at the end of the day, roll a tennis ball on the floor and massage all the pressure points on the soles of each foot. It’s an easy way to unwind. Also try to lay on your back with your feet up against the wall. This restorative pose will help with any swelling.
Pregnancy hormones often affect skin and hair. I’ve changed my facial routine and I’m happy with the results. I started to develop milia on my cheeks, which isn’t uncommon for mature skin. One way to prevent these little white cysts from forming is to exfoliate regularly. I’ve developed a weekly routine that involves using a natural exfoliator three times. Once a week I have an 8 minute facial sauna to deep cleanse before applying a nurturing mask. (Simply add hot water to a bowl with a drop of essential oil for your skin type and cover your head with a towel. A selection of facial masks can be purchased at chemists like Boots or in the beauty section of TK Maxx). The rest of the week I use a natural Weleda cleanser and toner both morning and evening. Always follow with a good moisturizer and eye cream. (I prefer Clinique eye products). Skin care doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many recipes online to create products to suit every skin type. Experiment and see what works for you! Before long you will have a natural glow that matches the twinkle in your eye.
Drinking enough water will also assist you in achieving healthy, clear skin. On average pregnant women need at least 10 cups of fluid a day. I don’t drink enough which may be why I’m having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions already. Other benefits of drinking water include:
- Prevention of constipation and hemorrhoids
- Prevention of urinary tract infections
- Helps prevent headaches, cramps, and dizziness
If you’re experiencing indigestion, try not to drink anything with meals. Also eat smaller quantities more frequently.
It’s important for me to recharge by unplugging from social media for a day or two when I start feeling overwhelmed by the news of the world. I’ve become somewhat of a political junkie, reading article after article online while having virtual heart palpitations. I think it’s important to stay informed and engage in social activism when possible. However, there are times when I’m consumed by issues that are largely out of my control, which can result in a sense of powerlessness and despair. I question the wisdom of bringing another child into the world- between climate change, the rise of racism and nationalism, economic disparity, and so on- and I feel sad about the mess today’s youth are inheriting.
When it all becomes a little too intense, I need to shut down my computer, turn off my phone, and focus on simple tasks at home. It helps to spend some time alone reading an inspiring novel or memoir. At the moment I’m enjoying A Year of Marvellous Ways. It’s also important to spend quality time with loved ones. Meet a friend for coffee and cake, see a movie, or go for a walk in nature. Taking a short online sabbatical can do wonders for restoring energy and faith in humanity!
What works for you? If you’ve any tips of your own, please share them in the comments section.
Photo Credit: Pregnant Warrior With One Knee Up by Bonbon. No changes have been made to the original image and the creator holds full copyright.