When you are expecting a baby, your mental and physical well-being is often considered secondary to that of the life growing inside of you. However, taking the time to nurture yourself will have many positive effects on both you and your baby’s health. Pregnancy is a perfect opportunity to indulge and engage in self-care; all while doing what is also best for your baby. Here are some tips to help you maintain your balance throughout your pregnancy.
Eating for two can be tricky. From cravings to aversions to nausea, your relationship with food is just one of many changes brought on by pregnancy. If you need to be more expansive or selective in your eating practices while pregnant, view these changes as an opportunity to cultivate flexibility, which you'll most certainly need after baby arrives. Eating nutritious foods, listening to your appetite, and taking prenatal vitamins are important steps to ensure a healthy diet. Also essential to gaining optimal nutrition is the practice of mindful eating. How we eat is as important as what we eat. Eating with awareness is an excellent way to connect with yourself. Start with a peaceful environment. Allow yourself to experience the flavors, sensations, aromas, and memories evoked by each bite of food. Notice how your food nourishes your body and your baby.
With all the highs and lows in your energy and emotions, it is normal to feel overwhelmed during pregnancy. Although we cannot ensure that our lives are stress free, we can learn to stay centered during the ups and downs. Reducing your reactivity to life's challenges is important for your baby's development. Learning to be mindful of situations that trigger stress is essential to reducing it. One exercise you can adopt to help manage stress is journaling. Taking time out of your day to turn your attention inwards has many benefits. Writing in a journal can you help you identify and release stressful and negative emotions. Furthermore, taking note of the things in your life that bring you joy will help you manifest peace. Two journaling exercises to try are:
- Write and Burn: Write down your negative feelings. Reflect and give yourself permission to let go of those emotions that no longer serve you. Burn the paper to symbolize the release.
- Gratitude List: Write down 5 things that you are grateful for each day. It can be as simple as a hot cup of tea.
Meditation is another extremely valuable practice to help manage stress. Taking the time to quiet your mind has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and has immense benefits to your developing baby. A regular meditation practice can help you prepare for the challenges of labor and the life changes after childbirth. From a biological standpoint, meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety, increase endorphin production, boost the immune system and balance brain chemistry. Another wonderful benefit of meditation is that it can enhance the connection between mother and child. You only need minutes to bring your awareness within, focus on your breath and quiet your mind.
Yoga is an amazing way to stay fit and balanced during pregnancy. Consider it a gift that you give to yourself and your baby. Practicing gentle stretches and poses (asanas) can help you bring balance to your changing body as well as prepare for a positive and healthy labor. Yoga poses can help relieve many discomforts of pregnancy as you release tension in your body. As you practice, you will learn how to surrender to places where you feel tight or out of balance. Not only does yoga help you connect with your body, it also teaches you how to connect with your breath. Learning breathing techniques (pranayama) is an incredible tool to have for pregnancy, birth and beyond. Another bonus of prenatal yoga is the community. As you attend class you are certain to meet and connect with other moms-to-be. Your prenatal yoga class will provide you with a sacred and safe place to share your experiences, learn from others, and form bonds that will continue far beyond your yoga mat. There is still time to sign up for our new prenatal yoga series here!
Dahvia Dalton is our newest instructor. Dahvia began her yoga journey in 2001 as a way to relieve stress and stay fit during her demanding job in film and television production. During her pregnancy she practiced prenatal yoga daily and found it so inspiring that she decided to take her love of yoga to the next level. After having her son, Dahvia completed a 200 hour Vinyasa Yoga teacher training followed by a 300 hour Yoga Mentorship with a focus on Prenatal Yoga. She is also certified as a Postpartum Yoga teacher. Since 2012 Dahvia has been teaching Vinyasa, Gentle Vinyasa, Prenatal, Postpartum and kids yoga classes. She also teaches wellness workshops that focus on mindfulness, meditation and yoga at community centers for low income families. All of her classes emphasize pranayama, meditation and gentle yet challenging exploration of movement. Dahvia feels honored to share her passion for yoga and wellness to all of her students.