self care

It's okay to take a time out.

The world feels really scary for so many people right now. The news, social media, they're reporting things that can be hard to read, especially when you have a new baby or are expecting to bring one into the world soon. When we are carrying a baby, if we're already parents, we all eventually have the realization that the world's children are our children. We uncover new depths of empathy. This can make the news very hard to watch. It's totally normal for new parents to experience grief and feelings of anxiety during times like these. 

It's okay to take a minute to just breathe. Find serenity and peace where you can. Please don't forget to take time for self care right now. It's okay to do that for yourself and for your baby. The world will be here when you get back.

Doula support for Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and Los Angeles parents, helping with stress relief and support during your pregnancy. 

April is National Stress Awareness Month

Relaxation during pregnancy is so important and sometimes it seems so hard to achieve. Whether you are feeling anxiety over your birth, just busy getting ready for your new little one, or running around after older siblings, there's always something that seems to get in the way.  Here are a few ways to lower your stress level during your pregnancy so you can all rest a little bit easier. 
 

Massage and chiropractic care.
 

Pregnancy massage and chiropractic care, when appropriate and approved by your provider, are great ways to lower your stress levels and deal with some of the physical discomforts of your changing body. Finding a massage therapist who is trained and certified in pregnancy massage is important, as they've been taught special techniques to safely work with the pregnant body.  If you can combine this with some friends and a spa day (current recommendations say that saunas and hot tubs are out during pregnancy, as are many essential oils, sorry!) all the better. Pamper yourself with a mani pedi. Get a facial. Enjoy the soothing atmosphere.  I particularly love the Glen Ivy Hot Springs and Spa in Corona, CA. It's a bit of a drive, but between the delicious and healthy dishes in the cafe, the sparkling pools, the Grotto and the array of spa services, you will emerge feeling rested and rejuvenated and you won't even miss the hot tub. 



Don't be afraid to put your feet up! 

 

I know, you may be busy, but try to find a few minutes every day to just put your feet up for a minute. Make a cup of tea or some sparkling water if it's too hot, and close your eyes. Some soothing music, a good book, whatever you need. It's important to take these moments in our busy daily lives. Your growing baby needs all the rest you can get. Consciously relax your body. Focus on your breathing. When I can carve out a few minutes to relax I like to pop on a short, soothing, guided meditation from the Buddify app. 
 

Rest and stress reduction during pregnancy both help keep you and your baby healthy. A visibly pregnant caucasian woman in a blue dress relaxes on a patio chair. 

Get close to the water.

 

Even stepping into a warm shower can help you relax when you're in a state of stress. Got a few extra minutes? Take a bubble bath with something relaxing, like lavender bath salts (if you're ok with the smell). Here in LA it's generally not a terribly long drive to the beach, depending on the time of day. Just walking along the sand listening to the sound of the water can heighten your calm and promote a sense of well being. If you've got older kids, letting them run off some steam in the sand and play in the water can also contribute to everyone's relaxation later on! 

 

Get your body moving.
 

Everybody knows that exercise is good for you, but exercise also helps you deal with your stress levels a little more effectively. A gentle walk, stretching, a pregnancy yoga or tai chi class, or going swimming are all great forms of exercise for pregnancy. Bonus, they help keep your heart and body flexible, strong, and healthy for your upcoming labor and delivery. 

Gentle exercise such as walking, stretching or pregnancy yoga are important for a healthy baby and a healthy body. Exercise can help your delivery go more smoothly. 

It's important to take time for self care during your pregnancy and to consciously manage your stress levels. You deserve to be the most relaxed you that you can be, and so does your baby!  If you're still overwhelmed and need a hand, consider hiring an antepartum doula to help you out before your baby comes. From handling light housekeeping and meal preparation, providing informational and emotional support, helping with comfort measures for advanced pregnancy, an antepartum doula can be a great tool in your stress management toolbox. 

You have an all inclusive pass, new parents. It's okay.

I was horrified this morning when a business, one that supposedly helps and supports new families, posted this on social media:

“Just because you're a mom with little ones doesn't mean that it's OK to walk around with wrinkled clothes on being all frumpy looking…. Having children doesn't give you a "look like I just rolled out of bed pass."

Really?

How about, no. Thank you. 


It's no secret, we live in a culture that tries to make women, their bodies, their needs, and their lived experience, invisible.

I’ve lost track of how many magazine articles I’ve seen, lauding this celebrity parent or that for “getting their body back in just 6 weeks” or “being bikini ready after having a baby.”  The problem is, and anyone who has given birth to a baby will tell you this, is that you don’t, actually, get your pre-baby body back. Ever. Your body is irrevocably changed by the process of pregnancy and the forces of giving birth, whether that's vaginally or surgically. You might have plastic surgery, exercise the pounds away, and hide most of the external markers of motherhood, but your body, your mind, and your spirit are all, still, forever, changed. That means your life is forever changed. You shouldn’t have to hide that, and you shouldn’t have to feel ashamed of the changes. Yet our culture sets these unreal expectations up and berates new parents for not meeting them, all when they are at their most vulnerable.  

Getting comfortable with your post-baby body and your post-baby life is a big deal! 


As a birth and postpartum doula, a professional who works with new parents and young families, what I care about is this.  Has the person I'm talking to had something nourishing to eat yet, today? Are they getting any sleep (notice I don't say enough sleep, just any sleep) and are they getting any support from their family, friends and community? 

It's the first thing I ask them.  9 times out of 10, the answer is, “I grabbed half a stale bagel which I ate standing up over the sink/over my child’s head while they were nursing/on the way to work. I haven’t had more than 2 consecutive hours of sleep a night, my partner is working double shifts/overtime/7 days a week, my parents live 3000 miles away and had to go home last week, and I feel exhausted.”

The last thing you want, when you are stretched that thin, is for someone to give you a hard time over what you’re wearing or whether or not you managed to pull a brush through your hair.

Don’t let celebrity and pop culture gas-light you or shame you for your experience. Or parenting "experts" either! Believe me when I tell you, it IS a big change and it’s okay for your priorities to shift after you have kids. Practicing good self care is a challenge when you have children. Yes, it’s necessary and it is worth doing for yourself, but you get to define what that looks like and you get to define how that works for your family. And sometimes meeting those needs means asking for help, when you’re in over your head.


The very last person who should be judging you is the person you are paying to help you. 
 

New parents, parents of small children, I salute your yoga pants, your pj’s, your leggings. You have a pass to wear whatever the hell you want to wear, and I really only have one question for you. Well, two. Are you getting enough to eat? Did you get some sleep last night? 


How can I help?