Thursday, February 08, 2018

Baby Now- the pregnancy series

I've just packed our little girls hospital bag after washing all her clothes, cloths and blankets. It's probably the only time I've loved doing laundry and folding all those tiny little outfits into tiny little drawer dividers. It could be up to 11 weeks before she arrives but knowing that if she comes at any point we can quickly grab all her essentials and have everything ready for when we get home makes me feel prepared and at ease. It's good to think in advance, plan ahead and get on top of things for when your little one comes. Being on the ball can be a great comfort and make you feel as though there isn't a huge list of things to do when everything is finished or prepped ready to go well in advance. It is planning for the future but I want to talk about slowing down to be in the now.

With the complication of 'baby brain' you may find yourself asking 'what was I meant to be doing now' as our mind can often go blank at the most awkward of times, thanks bump! But does your mind often race or wonder? We can often be less than present in our daily lives. How many times have you missed the plot of the movie you're watching because mentally you are somewhere else, trying to remember something or worrying about the future. Our thoughts can be intrusive to our current focus and sometimes rather demanding. 

Time is split in past, the present and the future. Although it is important to reflect on the past and hold onto precious memories, the past has been and gone. As organised and comforting as it can be to be prepped and plan for the future, constantly thinking of what's next and what might be can cause stress and worry when in reality the future isn't here yet and is very subject to change. The most important time is now, what is happening right now at this moment, what needs dealing with immediately or in the very near future and for the fun part what do you have the chance of fully enjoying and experiencing at this moment in time. Here are some things to ponder....

The Past
Our perception of the past can be a little warped as over time our minds will naturally add bits, forget others, exaggerate, take into account our emotions and opinions on the matter and depending on our current mood be seen in different lights. On the positive side we can learn from the past and the past can hold wonderful memories. On the negative side we can dwell on the past and let it affect our present and future. We might judge our decisions on something that happened a long time ago and feel a fear of history repeating. The problem is the past cannot be changed, undone or in a lot of cases completely forgotten. They say if you spend too much of your time and energy living in the past you can have a feeling of depression and constantly relive the past by it creeping into the present. It may feel as though you cannot move on from something or that you don't want to move on as you are holding onto something dear you no longer have. If you are living in the past because it seemed so much better for you then this can also be damaging. Those feelings and memories can be remembered with great joy but don't let it make you feel as though it will never be that good again. It is possible, when doing this, to miss all the wonderful things that are happening right now. Reflection is a way of personal growth and a learning tool but being stuck in the past makes us less present, less focused and less able to concentrate on now.
Are you finding it hard to focus on the moment because of something from the past? If it constantly keeps jumping for your attention then it may need addressing before you can move forward. You might need to talk something through with a person or sit down and think about how something made you feel. Writing a letter to yourself can help with this as you can brain dump all your thoughts and feelings out of your mind and onto paper. Somethings are easier to forgive and forget and we can analysis them ourselves. Others need more help. If you cannot move forward from a previous event speak to your midwife, GP or health visitor for help and support. Remember the power of conversation. A cup of tea with a friend and letting everything out may be just what you need to help you move forward.

The Future
The way we see the future can be greatly affected by our past and present. If something bad happened we worry it may play out again. If we are not in a good place at the moment we can see the future as being bleak and remaining this way. We can also feel excited, optimistic and ready to move forward. So much so that we wish time away and want the end result now. A negative view of the future brings anxiety and an over enthusiastic view brings complacency. Backup plans and forward thinking help things run smoothly and having a goal that isn't so rigid can bring a great sense of achievement once it is met, even if it needs to be adapted. I'm thinking of the dream birthing plan in this situation! 
You can research and make decisions on the perfect birthing plan only to have it not go that way at all. If you have thought of alternatives for just in case and focus on birthing the baby (in some way or another) more than thinking the birth plan is the only way of making this a happy delivery, then you are less likely to feel disappointment, upset and anxious if and when the plan changes.
The future helps us focus and at some point we do need to look into the future to set goals and help us prepare. Pregnancy is a great example of this way of thinking. You need to project into the future and think of how things might change and what expenses you will have to do this. Some things arise as and when such as waking up to find non of your bras fit or you suddenly have indigestion after meals. Others can wait until the third trimester such as the birthing plan and preparing your home for babies arrival.
You may find to fully focus on what needs doing now and what you are currently experiencing you like to leave everything else to the last minute. You may have demands that take up all of your time and focus constantly. Doing everything at week 38 of pregnancy is risky business so spread things out. Spend a few minutes thinking what you can get done within this month or week and what can't be put off. Make a to do list, give yourself a deadline and do it. It's not the time to spend searching the net for the best primary school your unborn child will attend but it may be only three days away from your deadline to inform your employer of your maternity leave.Once you know what needs doing you can feel more confident about how to spend your time. You can link tasks together to save time, such as doing your food shop straight after your midwife appointment as it's on the way home. 
You can also budget. Look at the money you have now, when you will receive more, what you need to save, what you can spend and the things you need to purchase. Look further into the future to make sure you are putting enough by for future expenses. You may be fine working your finances out month to month for now but then find your car insurance is due and you haven't been putting money by previously to cover this.
You can break your larger to do list down into daily to do lists, or set yourself one big task per week to stay on track. Make your lists achievable and give yourself enough time to rest. You may be able to do twenty tasks in one day but will it be at the expense of burning yourself out and then feeling tired or unwell for a few days after? You may finishing everything quickly and choose to get more done in advance but again if you have free time why not spend it on yourself. Relax, rest, treat yourself mama because you deserve it!

After the weekly or monthly planning session that is the thinking part done, we don't need to spend everyday thinking what next and what if. Add immediate tasks to your lists where needed but apart from that you can just do rather than think. 

If you would like to read more about being in the moment, you may like Frazzled Book Review

Mini Challenge: Make yourself a to do list for over the next two weeks. Work out what needs doing first or immediately and put those at the top of your list, make note of appointment dates and times, write a few things that could do to be done within the next two weeks (things to keep you on schedule) and write one thing that would put you ahead of schedule at the bottom (it doesn't matter if this has to be carried over to the next list.) Now you have a timeline of to do's work your way through them as and when needed.

Much love,
Becky & Bump xx

Monday, February 05, 2018

Baby Boost- the pregnancy series

Pregnancy may cause you to feel a little deflated at times. Although a wonderful feeling it can have its downs as well as the ups. You can become irritable, uncomfortable, fed up or a little low in mood at times thanks to those pesky hormonal changes. It's common to feel worn out too especially if you are struggling to sleep. So how can you lift your mood during pregnancy? Let's bring back some calmness and general happiness to those mamas to be!

Well Balanced Diet
Feeling sluggish, bloated or lacking in energy (although common in pregnancy) may also be down to diet. Are you getting enough nutrients and eating a balanced diet? I'm not the greatest at this at all! All I want is carbs, which although they are a great energy boost, your body needs each food group to get the right fuel it needs. Your midwife or health visitor can help you with your diet throughout pregnancy and as a new mummy to make sure you are both healthy and happy.

Just Keep Swimming
You may have been told by your midwife that you are safe to carry on with your current fitness regime or activity which is a great way to help boost your mood. Alternatively a safe way to exercise while pregnant, even if you didn't before, is to swim. It will boost chemicals in your brain to make you feel happier and more relaxed and gives you an energy boost. You can make swimming as intense or relaxed as you like to meet your needs. The water takes pressure off your joints and back, especially when you have a big bump to carry around. You can choose the time of day you prefer and whether you want to go alone or with a friend. Some local pools offer an antenatal swim class that you may enjoy.

Speaking of exercise do you have a local antenatal yoga class? It might be an option you'd like to try. Speak to the instructor to begin with if you are struggling with any joint pains or certain movements. Let them know to what level you have practised yoga before or if you are a complete beginner. A good instructor will tailor the class to each individual and give you alternatives to positions. Most importantly listen to your body and if something doesn't feel right, causes discomfort or you feel unsteady then stop.

Some Me Time
Take some time just for you. Indulge yourself! Whether you want to buy yourself a little treat, pamper yourself in the bath, spend some time doing your hair and makeup, go for a walk in the park, meditate, sit with a book and a cup of tea, watch your favourite film.... whatever it is make that slot of time all about you. Think of something you enjoy doing and make some uninterrupted time for it. Treat yourself!

Talk It Through
If you feel low, stressed, worried or like your pregnancy is a struggle then let it all out! Write it in a diary, phone a friend or invite someone round for a good chat. Whatever makes it feel like everything is off your chest.

Indulgent Pregnancy Perks
A bump photoshoot, a pregnancy massage, a bump casting, a baby shower, a 4D scan, bump body painting... none of these are a necessity and most aren't cheap either but they are indulgent treats that you can only do whilst pregnant. For myself there's a high chance that this little one will be my only baby so I think why not. If you have the spare cash and really want to indulge in one of these then go for it mama!

Quality Time/ Date Night
Whether it's a group of friends, a family member, your partner or your best friend why not have a date night together. See a movie, walk the dog, have brunch, spend time in the salon, go on a shopping spree for baby necessities, visit a museum.... whatever is 'your thing' to do together why not go do it. You'll end the day smiling and relaxed.

Hug It Out
I've said it before in this post on cuddles read The Power Of Cuddles here and I'll say it again, sometimes the best mood booster is to have a hug! 

Call The Midwife
If you feel you are struggling with low mood, stress, anxiety, fatigue then please speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP as soon as possible. They are there to support and advise, not to judge, and the sooner you address this the easier it will be to help combat.

Mini Challenge: pick something that makes you feel truly happy (no matter how small) and schedule it in for sometime in the next few days. Treat yourself, you deserve it!

Much love,
Becky & Bump xx