This is just a little something I've put together that has kept me deeply connected to my foundation during such a time of continuous change in my body, heart and in the new ways of experiencing life...and GROWING life! I’m sharing with the hopes that it might be helpful to another momma in the making or at least stimulate some ideas to explore in the way of self-care. Really, this could be used by pretty much anyone but if you are pregnant, be sure and check with your pregnancy care-taker (midwife or OB) if you have questions.
All of this information pulls from what has been beneficial for me personally based on experimentation, intuition and knowledge/training/experience from my expertise of teaching yoga professionally, being a licensed Aethetician and actually experiencing pregnancy. I hope you enjoy :)
Homemade Lemon scrub.
This is so simple and inexpensive. Take a cup or so of sugar and fresh squeezed lemon so that you have a paste.
*Add a little bit of water and a touch of your favorite cleaners and massage onto your face. Rinse and repeat. Make sure you keep it away from your eyes. I like to let this sit on my face and neck for a few minutes while I read or shave so that the natural acids in the lemon can work to dissolve the superficial dead skin on the epidermis. I also make sure I bring plenty of sugar with me so that I can scrub the rest of my body (what I can see or reach at this point that is) while I'm at it. Follow up immediately with moisturizer so that your skin absorbs it instead of attempting to moisturize when the pores are closed.
Enjoy a Cup.
This is an an Ayurvedic original that is used to gently remove ama or toxins from the system as well as aid in digestion among many other things. In the Ayurvedic tradition, warm (technically it's not recommended with boiling water) lemon water is to be sipped on first thing in the morning, every morning.
Here's a short and informative article on some of the many benefits: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/
*Fresh raspberry leaf tea.
A few friends of mine told me about this early on in my pregnancy. Raspberry Leaf Tea is usually one of the main ingredients in “mother’s tea” varieties since its purpose is to support the uterus (traditional Medicinals makes one but for the most benefits, fresh is best. If you are in the Austin area, the Herb Bar sells this super cheap) and is said to help ease contractions during labor but also to help keep the uterus toned (helpful for both labor and recovery thereafter).
Bring any kind of "milk" to a boil. Let it climb the pot a few times especially if it's dairy milk so that it can break down the protein molecules making it easiest to digest (Due to the number of hormones/pesticides in commercial milk, Organic is by far best and a non-negotiable in our home when the rare occasion arises that we go for dairy). Be sure you stand over it and watch your temperature. For the most flavorful results, work with fresh ingredients but if you’re in a hurry or want to make life easier, you could toss in a chai spice bag. Add a cinnamon stick, cardamom pods (I don’t de-pod them but I do crack the shell open) and sliced ginger to your liking. I let the flavors marry for about 5-10 in the pot then I pour it all into my mug so they continue to mingle. I’m sure if I spent more time (remember, you have to keep an eye on it) it would be more flavorful but this is plenty and satisfying for my husband and I both Add in sweetener at the end (especially if using honey since its qualities become toxic when it's cooked).
(Note 1: While you could add a tea bag, I purposely did not include that in this recipe.
Note 2: All of these spices have medicinal qualities that are too abundant to list here. Do a search when you have some time.)
*For a cold option:
I love to make cucumber or orange water by cutting thin slices and tossing them into a pitcher of filtered water. Chill and enjoy.
Each evening, I sit down with my dedicated journal and write "Today I am grateful for" and list at least 5 things. There have been days and even a series of days when I didn’t write due to the craziness of the day, my pregnancy sleepiness or any other number of reasons. So when it occurs to me I sit down, add up the days and have no problem listing the same number of things I have been grateful for over the missed period of time. It allows me to reflect on the simple blessings in life and really keeps things in perspective. I've found that since I have made it an evening ritual as opposed to writing when I think about it, it's become much rarer that I miss writing daily.
My husband bought me this zafu-zabuton meditation set for Christmas http://www.samadhicushions.com/Buckwheat_Zafu_Meditation_Cushion_Set_p/c-521-set-r.htm. Every morning upon rising, I roll out of bed, go to my dedicated meditation space, make an symbolic gesture/offering by lighting incense and candles at my altar (this can be made up in a shoebox with a pretty piece of material and a beautiful photograph or memento of any kind by the way) and I sit for 10 minutes. On some days, I will sit twice but definitely first thing in the morning. Sometimes I use mantrayana (mantra meditation), sometimes I silently repeat an affirmation (lately it goes something like, "my body knows how to birth my baby naturally and effortlessly" or "my body births naturally with strength, ease and instinct" and sometimes I just focus on my breath.
Having taken a 10 day vow of silence where we meditated for 11 hours a day for 10- days straight in 2007, this is no longer about that or how *long I sit. For me, this is about a consistent, regular and dedicated practice that I've come to depend on especially when I consider the fact that my world is about to get a little hectic and unpredictable bringing a child into my life. It's a practice that takes times to develop like anything else and is one that has kept me anchored and has strengthened my intuition and presence. As a matter of fact, my husband has been witness to the benefits of a regular and consistent meditation practice and often sits with me. I recently ordered him the same meditation cushion set so he doesn't nab mine when he does :)
Note: I recommend having two places to meditate in your home. My meditation practice is very personal and private. When my in-laws stayed overnight with us recently, I opted to sit at my "Mommy Altar" that lives in my bedroom by the window instead since my main meditatin space is out in the open. While they are different, both are simple set ups but incredibly sentimental and meaningful which draws me to them rather than just being "decoration" like many "altars" I've had in the past.
Juice it up.
I absolutely love my micro-nutrients! There are few things that give me a surge like freshly juiced greens! The secret in my home is to add an apple to the mix. You could juice anything but here's a basic, delicious and nutritious recipe we have come up with that seems to be a staple in our home:
An entire head of Rainbow Chard
3-7 whole carrots or a few handfuls of baby carrots
If we have it on hand, I also add celery and/or cucumber which adds a fresh flavor but I really like to aim for dark, nutrient-filled greens primarily. Put in an reusable jar, shake it up and enjoy. I like mine extra cold so I'll often juice and then put it in the fridge and drink it a few hours later but always within 24 hours.
Note: We prefer organic for many reasons, especially these days. A user-friendly reference on pesticide levels can be found here : http://www.thedailygreen.com/
The list and levels begin on page 2.
While I have purposely only read only 2 (one was SUPER short!) books in relation to pregnancy/babies cover to cover, I get that many will be inclined to spend all of their time reading baby books. If you're a momma in the making, baby books might be included in your mix but be sure to read comfort books as well. That means something different to each person of course so pick your passion. Take some much needed and deserved time for yourself right now. Who knows when we will have uninterrupted time to do so in the near future.
Spend time with girlfriends and other momma friends.
This has been one of the sweetest parts of my pregnancy. There is something about connecting with other women during such a feminine time. My girlfriends have held space for me, loved on me and even mothered me like none other. They have so genuinely held me up and supported me and have shared their wisdom as peers who have gone before me as deeply spiritual women who can relation to what my personal experience has been. There is saying, “We become who we hang around." It’s for this reason that I have felt so understood being surrounded by my girlfriends because we have much in common anyway in the way of spirituality, belief systems and how we choose to navigate our lives. So there’s more listening, receiving, nurturing and supporting… and less explaining.
Get Moving…or slow down.
Pregnancy isn't the time to begin a physical activity so if you were not previously active, taking up a pre-natal yoga class is one exception that is suitable to begin during pregnancy. If you were previously active, listen to and trust your body and keep doing what you do. If nothing else at all, head out for a morning or evening walk and get some fresh air into your lungs. Not only is it good physically but it will increase endorphins and you will feel better for it!
That said, every trimester has been so incredibly different in my experience. I’ve been practicing and teaching yoga for over a decade and have been a CrossFitting for 3 years so my body was definitely conditioned to continue. While I have done both throughout the majority of my pregnancy, the time did come when I needed and wanted to stop. I still practice some yoga but it’s VERY different in what I do and duration yet it's so incredibly satisfying and perfect every time...because I'm honoring my needs.
The most important thing to remember is that every pregnancy is so unique. Having had some training in pre/post natal yoga and having taught classes in these areas, I would do it totally different now. Simply being trained in this area is not at all the same as being in the pregnancy experience itself. I wholeheartedly believe that this is a journey one must go on to fully understand how it feels on on the physical, mental and emotional level. While these classes can be beneficial under proper circumstances, there is not a class, teacher or pre-natal book that can possibly teach (especially if they've never experienced the journey themselves) what the wisdom of your body can teach you if you are dialed in. No matter how conditioned you may be for something physically, pregnancy trumps all. Don't beat yourself up over it either. Love yourself for it. Listen to your body. It's crucial that you honor your inner knowing on this. It's the way Nature has intended it to be during this time.
Say "Thank You".
Pregnancy has connected me to The Mother like nothing in my life ever has. Through carrying life, I have been so blessed to experience Mother Earth, Mother Love and my own Earth Mother who left her body in 1994 in ways I will never be able to convey. It’s connected me to the powers of Grace, my own innate divinity and on the deepest level, my breath of life. The gratitude I feel, on many days, overwhelms me to the point that all I can muster is a heart-felt “Thank You”.