This morning I led a mindfulness session for a group of mums to be. They all had their own excitements and concerns about having a baby. There were some new mums to be, and some who already had children, the addition to their lives is going to mean something different for each one of them. Mindfulness can help in so many ways. Whilst most of us get caught up in preparing the equipment we are going to need day to day not many of us pause to think how we are equipped to cope with the experience.
Baby blues kick in for lots of new mums during the week after giving birth. It is thought to be yet another result of changing hormones. Mindfulness can really help us to cope with the difficult emotions that arise.
When I had Noah, my baby, I remember being concerned about getting post natal depression and I had been pre warned and so was on the lookout for the baby blues too. I have no history of depression but I wondered how it would all impact on me. One of my main concerns was that I was used to doing a huge amount of exercise and I thought perhaps I would struggle without my regular fix of endorphins. As it happened I think giving birth gave me a huge dose of adrenalin. The trouble is that you still have to come down from the adrenalin high and this is when our thoughts can give us a hard time.
For many of us when we have a sad thought, or a thought we don’t like, we can get caught up on it. With baby blues almost any thought can trigger us to feel down. It may be as simple as feeling down about being so worn out and seeing no prospect of a good night’s sleep again. It might be missing a relative who you wish was able to share this special time with you. It may be the realisation that you are suddenly committed to looking after another being for ever! Having a baby is life changing and these feelings are completely normal. Sometimes it can really help just to know that what we are experiencing is normal. Once you know this you can stop worrying about having the thought in the first place and that can be a weight off your shoulders.
If the thoughts seem like they are taking over and making your mind hectic and stopping you enjoying life then you need to learn to create some head space. You should see your GP if you are suffering these sorts of problems but mindfulness can also provide real help. It is a great way to help you focus on the moment and it can prevent you being swept away by worrying thoughts. If you can practice some mindfulness techniques before you have your baby it will really help because then your mind will be used to it when you try it again following the birth.
Pre baby try this…
Set a Timer for 5 minutes.
Sit on a chair with your back upright and close your eyes.
Focus on your breath.
Feel each breath enter and leave the body.
Start to count your breaths. One for the in breath and two for the out breath and keep going until you get to 10.
Each time your mind wanders away from the counting gently bring your attention back to the breath and begin counting again.
Repeat until your five minutes are up.
This is a really effective way to start training your brain to focus on what you want it to focus on. It will relax your mind, body and baby and this is really important in the latter stages of your pregnancy.
Post baby getting some peace and quiet may not be so easy. It can be really helpful to have a few tools up your sleeve to help you to cope.
Each time you sit to feed your baby make it a break for you too. Put away any distractions. It can be so easy to be on face book, texting or emailing whilst you feed. You will probably be bombarded with people wanting to visit and to be in touch but set aside this time when you are feeding just for you and your baby. Just as your body is getting rest as you sit, your mind also needs a break. Focus your attention on the rhythm of your baby feeding. Feel the movement of their breath as it enters and leaves their tiny body. Each time your mind wanders come back to noticing these sensations.
At times the pull to do something else may be really strong. You may be itching to grab your phone and text your best friend back. But stick to your plan and give yourself that time to calm your mind. It will do wonders in terms of relaxing you and when you relax so will your baby. The more often you do this the better you will become at it and the more easily you will be able to focus enough to do it. Over time you will reap the rewards as your baby picks up on your calm state and begins to copy. You will be amazed how quickly you will see this happen.
Why not come on a Revitalise Day before your due date to get you on track with being calm and focussed before your baby arrives. You will leave equipped to make a great start on becoming mindful so that when your baby arrives you have a head start.