Do selfish mums have better births?

Words by Ray


Making time for yourself dear Mamas-to-be, how is it going for you? It can be hard right? To find the time. Perhaps you are a first timer and you feel like there is so much to do before the baby arrives. Yes you’ve made time for a haircut and perhaps even a manicure but are you really finding time for meaningful relaxation? Time truly focused on you and the growing life inside of you? Perhaps this isn’t your first rodeo, and with a toddler (or two) running around plus all the other things you have to juggle you barely get a moment to go to the toilet alone, never mind find the time relax. 

My mum friends and I are very fond of the saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ and as a pregnant lady, as well as doing all you are doing with work or raising your other kids, you are also GROWING A HUMAN BEING. take a moment to think about all your body is achieving on a daily basis. You are mind blowing. But as amazing as pregnancy is, it’s also bloody tiring! While we are pregnant the need to sleep can at times be overwhelming and it’s important to listen to our bodies. It’s also important to slow ourselves down - put away your phone, sit or lie somewhere quiet and notice your breath Try it for 5, 10, 15 minutes today. Time for just you and this little life inside of you can be rare. So savour it and make space for it. It won’t happen by its self. 

In her book The Oxytocin Factor, Kerstin Ulnas Moberg says ‘The traditional situations that tend to promote peacefulness, relaxation and intimacy have become less common in our society; and the less often they occur, the less often our inner biological system of calm and connection is activated’. I really believe that because so little emphasis is put on the benefits of relaxation in the culture, many of us are in danger of forgetting how to do it. We need to treat relaxation like a muscle. We need to practise and hone it. The more we do that, the deeper our relaxation will become and the more easily we will be able to access that lovely warm cozy feeling. 

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We also know that relaxation is important for our babies development as it means lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the mother which means optimal brain development for the baby. It’s also important to make time in your busy lives to really consider this new life that will be joining you soon, to bond with them, notice their movements and imagine what they’ll be like. How will your life change? how might you change?

Relaxing during your pregnancy isn’t only important for your baby it’s also important for your birth. Accessing a truly relaxed state of mind during pregnancy has been recognised as beneficial since the time of Aristotle and Hippocrates. Our brain has a pesky habit of getting in the way of our birthing bodies. We exist in a culture where the fear of birth is very real and often very deeply ingrained. We have been drip fed bad story after bad story about it through out our lives. When we are pregnant this can become our unconscious blueprint for what our birth experience will look like. It can be hard to feel relaxed about. But by retraining our brains, learning what our bodies are built to do and practising relaxation we can access a much calmer place, even during birth. This relaxed place can carry us through to the birth we want, a detour of what we expected and even the toddler years once our baby is here!

So stop thinking of relaxation as an indulgent treat and begin to think of it as a duty you have to yourself, your body and your birth. Find yourself a pregnancy relaxation class, yoga or pilates class, spa or anything else that tickles your fancy where you can make regular time for yourself.  If you can start to make ‘self care’ something that you see as valuable and really, really important you will bring that into your life as a mother. And if you can find even the smallest time - a bath, a 30 minute lie in, some tv while the baby sleeps, a large glass of wine - to do nothing but relax (even if the baby is still lying on your chest) your brain and your soul will thank you. I’ve never met a mum who didn’t need that time. Many who weren’t getting it, but none who didn’t feel the need for it. If you can start that habit now, you’ll put your future self in a much happier place. 

If you are local to Faversham we are starting some pregnancy relaxation classes of our very own at the beginning of November. Spaces are going quickly so get in contact if you want to book. More info here. All we ask is that you bring your own pillow. We'll provide the blankets, snacks and relaxed space.