Yesterday I saw a bit of a preachy post in a Facebook group aimed at pregnant women at large. The gist of the post was that all pregnant women must slow down. In the past week, this post-natal worker had observed a small number of women go into early labour or experience bleeding, and she put it down to them being stressed and too busy. As a result, pregnant women need to slow down in September – irrespective of what they have on their plates. Everything can wait. It was in our and our baby’s best interests.
I laughed out loud when I read it. Tell that to my clients, my book publisher, my family and the educational system in general who were rudely planning a two-week school holiday in September. Didn’t they know I was 28 weeks pregnant and therefore must slow down?
While well-intended, being bombarded with messages like this can make women feel guilty when the reality of our lives don’t match up to ideal expectations. The modern woman is busy by nature, with multiple responsibilities, especially if we already have children who are mostly dependent on us.
So after my laughter died down and feelings of irritation over the messaging came to the surface, I started thinking of ways that busy pregnant women like me could still meet our responsibilities and get the space we need to connect in with ourselves and our babies.
- Managing your energy
In our busy lives it can feel like we don’t have enough time to do everything we want to do – especially have time for ourselves. Yet, I want to throw it out there that the answer may not lie with time but with energy.
Our time is a finite resource – each of us have 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week. However, our energy levels are replenishable. We all have ways in which we can expand and renew our energy. There are two ways to go about this:
- Expend your available energy in the way that best suits you
- Find ways to re-energise
In expending your energy, you may wish to observe the different ways you are spending your energy each day and then start prioritising what is important to you. You might be able to cut-back the things that aren’t essential or don’t make you feel good or fulfilled. When you cut back on those unnecessary activities, you can spend energy (and time) on things that feel good to you – maybe having a nap, getting some exercise or doing whatever it is that lights you up.
For me, social media is always the first thing to go – as I feel that it can drain me of time and energy, all for little reward or fulfilment. Also I don’t mind if the clean laundry piles up on the spare bed all week, or, if for the next few months when my belly is too big to bend over, the weeds don’t get pulled in the garden.
In giving up those activities, then I am free to enjoy a nice cup of tea, while sitting out in the spring sun on my front steps. My bare feet planted firmly on the grass below, grounding my being. And during that time, I appreciate the sounds of nature, the flowers in my garden (I try to ignore the weeds) and connect in with bub with a bit of a belly rub and chat.
In finding ways to re-energise, this is also a personal thing based on what lights you up and makes you feel happy. For example, you may like to get out for some exercise, do a yoga class, spend time laughing and goofing around with your kids, go for a coffee (alone! What bliss!), do some breathing exercises, meditate or go for a walk in nature.
If you need help to free up your responsibilities or have someone look after the kids for an hour while you get some time to yourself, don’t be afraid to ask.
- Just breathe
If you are feeling too stressed and busy to do the above inner work (and hey, I’m not judging you, as I’ve been there plenty of times), then taking 10 deep breaths can be just the reset your mind, body and soul needs.
Deep and conscious breathing resets your whole body, as it gives a message to the brain to calm down which in turn sends the same message to the body. Conscious and deep breathing can help reduce the production of stress-making hormones, reduce blood pressure as well as your heart rate.
A simple exercise to try is breathing in to the count of four. Hold, and exhale to the count of eight.
Those are just some simple ways to still lead your fulfilling and busy life, but still give yourself some space to slow down and connect in with yourself. It’s not by any means an exhaustive list, and you may have some ideas to share in the comments. We’d love to hear them.