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Learning to enjoy your pregnancy

 

It would be foolish to say that relaxation techniques are enough to make you forget what you are going through. However, most parents felt that their pregnancy could be enjoyed to some extent, and should be, to celebrate the life inside them.

A mother who has decided to proceed with the pregnancy should strive to live her pregnancy to the fullest. It will be a source of joy and memories in the long term.

The following examples range from everyday tips to actual techniques. Not all of these techniques will be suitable for every woman and they are only offered as possible examples.

  • Going for a walk

  • Exercise will help to clear your mind and ease bodily tension.

  • Phoning or visiting a friend

  • Networking and sharing our problems with a friend decrease stress levels.

  • Delegating household tasks

  • Remember that everyone can help with the household chores, including young children who learn to tidy up or set the table.

  • Taking a personal daily break

  • Allowing yourself to take at least half an hour per day, for yourself exclusively, will help you relax

  • Having a laugh

  • A good laugh with a friend, whether while watching a comedy, reading a funny

  • magazine or telling jokes will also help you to unwind.

  • Getting a massage, a facial, or having your hair or nails done

  • You may feel like a totally new person and regain energy.

  • Finding a new hobby or activity

  • You may like to consider taking up an instrument, an artistic activity or anything you

  • find uplifting.

  • Reading or writing inspiring literature / poems / journals

  • These may uplift you, give you energy, and to some extent allow you to feel your inner emotions.

  • Visiting a peaceful place: Some may like the beach and others might prefer the countryside. Regardless of your preferences, staying in a peaceful spot may bring you stillness as well.

  • Transforming your surroundings

  • Make sure your house and general surroundings are positively charged to boost you rather than bring you down. This may include the lighting in the house, the tidiness, music, scents and the general appearance.

  • Meditating: Meditation is the art of focusing your attention while breathing deeply and perhaps focusing on one image. It brings you calmness by keeping your mind on positive thoughts.

  • Aromatherapy: This is the use of oils and scents to relax the body. Some people use oil burners or scent sticks in the room; others wear a few drops on their clothes.

  • Eating well :Eating well means more than eating healthily here. It is about enjoying a meal that we like, for instance enjoying a nice salad or a pizza but the idea is to feel good after the meal rather than sluggish or gloomy

  • Breathing exercises :Breathing exercises are most likely the simplest and the most straightforward technique for relaxing and collecting your thoughts. It involves taking slow deep in-breaths through the nose and breathing out slowly through the mouth.

  • Physical relaxation: Probably the second easiest of them all; it requires drawing yourself into a very comfortable position and loosening up (generally lying down with a pillow). Like most relaxation techniques, it also requires you to take deep breaths and to focus on relaxing your body, part by part until you are totally stress-free. It may also include focusing on optimistic and positive thoughts.

  • Guided imagery: Visualising images that have a personal hopeful and optimistic meaning. The purpose is to associate those images with elevating thoughts in order to feel relaxed and stress-free.

  • Zen: Zen is more than a relaxation technique; it is a way of life that involves being relaxed about things that you experience. It also places a strong emphasis on peace, love, self-awareness and control.

  • Relaxation audiotapes: This involves listening to a tape of repeated statements, which are motivating and inspirational and very often leave you in a state where you are so relaxed that you could fall asleep. The audio accounts range from body relaxation instructions to uplifting mental visualisation.

  • Learning yoga: Yoga is a spiritual technique that helps to unite body and mind, and may entail uniting with a higher being. Yoga exercises involve deep breathing and specific positions. The key to yoga is to find a balance between body and mind.

  • Reflexology: This is a technique that involves touching specific body parts in order to stimulate specific organs. It is supposed to bring serenity and healing.

  • Prayer and reflection: Many people instinctively pray or reflect when they experience trials, even if they never did before. Death and dying usually encourage people to reflect on a higher level of being and can therefore open prayer channels. This helps some people to feel that they are not alone and to share or deepen their experience at another level.

  • Faith: Some parents have expressed their faith in God after losing their baby. It made them feel at peace to believe that their child was too pure for this earth and practising faith was for them a way to accept their child’s fate from an optimistic perspective.

  • Acupuncture: This involves putting needles under the skin on specific spots. It is supposed to help the body relax. However, this should only be done by trained professionals and if you are in doubt check with your doctor or local professional association.

  • Hypnosis: As above, only trained professionals, who are often psychologists, should perform hypnosis. It usually involves being relaxed and following directions in order to explore your emotions.

Some of these techniques will appeal to one parent while having no meaning for another. Of course, relaxation methods are all about personal choices and suitability. If any of these help, I would encourage you to practise them.

Sometimes trying to relax during a distressing time can be strenuous and seem impossible. Allow yourself to relax and to have cheerful moments even when you are constantly being reminded that you are carrying a child with a medical condition.

Exercises

  • Gymnastic ball exercises :Sitting on the ball raises your hips higher than your knees. This encourages your baby to settle into an optimal position for birth. Second, the softness of the ball absorbs your weight and helps to prevent and relieve back strain. Kneeling over the ball takes the weight off your back and is great practice for labour, while sitting on the ball is ideal for practising your pelvic-floor exercises and rolling with the ball encourages rhythmic movement and pelvic mobility. Finally, natural movements with the ball help to tone your internal and external pelvic muscles.

  • Pelvic-floor exercises: sit upright on a chair with a hard, flat surface and squeeze your pelvic muscles tight; hold for ten seconds and relax them slowly. You can work your way up from five to sets of ten, done two or three times each day.

  • Upper body exercises: Lift or hold some weights until the muscle begins to fatigue. A simple way to start is to carry a medium-size food can, while you do something else such as walking or talking to someone.

  • Relaxation exercises: Lie on your left side, with knees, hips, shoulders and elbows slightly bent; make yourself comfortable with pillows in a quiet place. Breathe slowly and deeply. Focus on an image of your baby growing healthy and strong. Some people choose to listen to uplifting music; others buy narrative tapes designed for guiding them through the relaxation journey.

  • Back stretches: Get down on your hands and knees, keep your arms as well as your knees apart, and maintain straight arms. Tighten your abdominal muscles and pull in your buttocks muscles and round your back while breathing in. After five seconds, relax your back into a neutral position and breathe out. You can work up to a series of three a day.

Bonding with your unborn child

If you are expecting a child with a medical condition, emotional withdrawal during the pregnancy can seem like a form of self-preservation. As parents, you are protecting yourselves from all the emotions you may be feeling, such as grief, anger, sadness and apprehension about a situation beyond your control.

What usually comes naturally in ordinary pregnancies can take a lot of demanding work to establish when you are carrying a child with a critical condition. Some parents are frightened that creating a bond with their baby will make the separation harder to bear. They believe that by pulling away emotionally, they will lessen the pain. The reality is that parental love cannot be controlled or limited.

Another point is that parents often visualise a baby they do not know or who scares them. That same child may remind them of the heartbreak they are experiencing. I sometimes hear of parents’ astonishment after their child’s birth when they describe feeling immediate love towards their baby despite his condition.

The daunting ideas they had turned out to be false and, although their baby was sick to some extent, he or she was still just as perfect for them. Also, unfortunately, the pain felt after the loss was just as intense whether they withdrew emotionally or not during the pregnancy. The only difference is the kind of memories they have of the pregnancy.

There are several ways to bond with your unborn baby and I would encourage all of you to try and explore which ones suit you best:

  • Talking, singing or playing music to your baby: From 16 weeks onwards, your baby has developed reactions to sound and can recognise your voice and will respond to the different noises you make. Feel free to talk about anything, from cheerful subjects to the condition itself.

  • Touching your baby: By touching your baby through your abdominal wall, you are communicating. Many parents described playing a gentle game of ‘kicking back’, in which they pushed the baby and the baby pushed back in return.

  • Following your baby’s physical development: Whether this is weekly or monthly, by following your child’s progress, you are most likely to start visualising him or her at different stages. By imagining your baby, you start giving him an identity.

  • Massaging your belly: Once again, this is about contact and visualising your child will be natural considering that closer to the end of the pregnancy you and your partner will actually be able to feel distinct parts of your baby’s body (foot, bottom, head).

  • Involving your partner or other children: Involve them in the physical pregnancy, discuss the baby and what he has ‘done’ today.

  • Writing to your baby: You may want to put your feelings down on paper. Whether in a journal, in a letter or simply in a notepad, make sure you tell your baby how you feel; how you feel about him or her, how you feel about the diagnosis, how you feel about your future with or without him. Although this is highly emotional, this technique will release your emotions and it can help you greatly in the grieving process.

  • Giving your baby a name and using it: By giving your child a name, he or she becomes your child rather than a sick foetus. He or she becomes a part of your family and a sibling for your other children. He or she becomes a reality both for you and for your surroundings.

 

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“I did relax while carrying Christopher. I sang to him, thought about him, sent loving thoughts and energy to him. I think that is part of the reason he hung on for so long. The doctors truly thought it was a miracle that he lasted six weeks longer than they thought he would.”

 

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“I found being outside a lot made me feel better. I planted a lot of wild flowers and tended the roses everyday. It made me feel better to see something growing and blossoming.”

 

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DISLAIMER:

The PDS Australia website, its content and any services offered to anyone are provided for informational purposes only. None of the foregoing is a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a Doctor or Mental Health Clinician  or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding pregnancy or grief and loss issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the PDS Australia Site.