Monday, May 18, 2015

5 Tips for a Naturally Stress-Free Pregnancy

I remember my pregnancy fondly...for the most part. I know that nature has a way of blocking out the memories of morning sickness, back pain and falling-asleep-at-your-desk fatigue and leaving only the happy memories in order to convince us all to go on propagating the species. You can't fight it. It's science. I tried to have a stress-free pregnancy, but my Type A personality didn't always allow that to happen. Yes, I was the woman at 40 weeks and 2 days who was washing the cars and cleaning out the garage so everything would be in place before the baby came. I should have been practicing prenatal yoga or taking a nap on the couch, but instead I was cleaning every nook and cranny of my house like my baby would care one bit!
I also did A LOT of reading and research while I was pregnant. I felt like I had to learn everything about everything in order to make the best decisions for my pregnancy and my baby. This caused me a lot of undue worry and stress. It just isn't necessary. We all (women and men) have this awesome thing called intuition, we just don't often listen to it. If we did, I think we could save ourselves a lot of time and stress. Today, I am going to share with you 5 things I've learned that can help you alleviate the stress of pregnancy so you can enjoy a happy, healthy nine months while preparing for parenthood.

1.) Take a birth class

I could write an entire book about how wonderful my birth instructor was. She didn't give us false hope that having a birth plan meant a little labor and delivery fairy would come down from the heaves and make all your birth wishes come true. Instead, she helped us to determine what type of birth we wanted, empowered each of us to have the confidence that we were making the right decisions for our baby, gave us the tools to manage labor and delivery, and prepared us for any possible "hiccups" that may get in the way of our perfect birth. We followed a Lamaze-inspired curriculum, but it was not exactly a Lamaze class. I strongly suggest seeking out a class like this so that you will be prepared for whatever comes your way. It really can alleviate a lot of anxiety when you feel prepared for the birth of your baby.
P.S. - If you are in the Louisville area, this is the class I took from the lovely Angela Garvin.

2.) Trust your instincts 

Cloth Diaper Baby
Seriously. I could have saved myself a lot of heartache if I'd just gone with my gut on a lot of decisions we made about what we wanted for childbirth and parenting. One example is cloth diapering. I knew early on that I wanted to give cloth diapering a try. I hated the thought of throwing thousands upon thousands of disposable diapers into landfills (though we do use them occasionally) and some of them are made with some pretty gnarly materials that I didn't really want to be up close and personal with my baby's skin. I met a lot of resistance, though, from well-meaning friends, co-workers and even random strangers. People would tell me how difficult it would be, how I'd be doing laundry constantly, and that it was just plain messy. They made me doubt myself when I had no reason to be in doubt. Then came the hours and hours...and hours of reading about the pros and cons of cloth diapering before I finally came to a decision. And now, almost two years into our cloth diapering journey, I can safely say that dirty diapers haven't taken over my life. It just becomes a part of your life like everything else with parenting. And he looks so dang cute in them!

Birth Photo3.) Have a birth wish list (NOT a birth plan)

This goes back to that awesome birth class I took. She was very adamant that we have more of a birth wish list than a birth plan because, guess what?!? Your baby doesn't care if you want to give birth in your living room with peaceful music playing in the background and the scent of lavender in the air. He may decide you need a trip to the hospital because he wants to come out butt first. It happens. I think it is very important to be educated on the type of birth you'd like and have that information available to the team of people assisting with your birth, but you must also be realistic that things may not go your way. Once you can let go of that control, you will feel much less stressed. You have to come to a point of acceptance that things will happen the way they are going to matter how much you plan.

4.) Just say "Ommmmm"

I know that I didn't do enough of this when I was pregnant. Yes, I took naps at 5:00 when I walked in the door from work when I felt like I couldn't walk another step, but I could have spent a lot more time in a relaxed state than I did. When you are pregnant, your body needs rest because it is working so dang hard to grow that little baby. It takes a lot of energy to grow that little bundle of joy and you can help that process along by engaging in restful activities and getting plenty of sleep. A practice I didn't start until after having Avery was meditating. I use the Calm app and meditate for only 5 to 10 minutes most days, but it really helps to bring my mind to the present and relax me. A lot of people love the Headspace app, too, but I prefer Calm. They are both wonderful guides to get you started, though. I did practice prenatal yoga a few times a week and LOVED it. It helped me to feel in tune with my baby and relieved those typical pregnancy aches and pains.

Healthy Freezer Meals5.) Stock the freezer 

In the final weeks before Avery was born I spent just an hour or two a few nights a week preparing meals that we could put in the freezer and heat up at a moment's notice when the craziness of new parenthood inevitably ensued. It definitely gave me some peace of mind knowing we wouldn't have to worry about cooking in those first few weeks of navigating all this baby stuff. I prepped a lot of freezer meals that could be put in the slow cooker and made dozens of egg muffins for breakfasts. I am constantly recommending this piece of advice to pregnant women and even busy families because it is such a huge timesaver AND helps to keep you eating healthy when your body really needs it as you are sleep deprived and recovering from childbirth.

I hope you find these tips helpful as you navigate this journey into motherhood. I would LOVE to hear your top tips for a stress-free pregnancy in the comments!

"Pregnant Woman Caressing Her Belly" Image courtesy of Jomphong at