How yoga taught me to slow down during my pregnancy
When you become pregnant, planned or unplanned, easy or difficult, there is an immense shift that happens not only physically, to grow hearts and lungs and limbs, but also mentally and spiritually. This shift, no matter how prepared you are, shatters your world and there is an opportunity over the next 9 months to rebuild it again, perhaps with a different perspective.
I always had a feeling that when I fell pregnant I was going to be ill and it wasn’t going to be an easy ride.
My mum and her mum suffered from Hyperemesis [Gravidarum, an extreme form of morning sickness] and I expected the same. And I was right, from the moment my body started growing my little human I was either bed ridden with fatigue, vomiting or eating to try to stop the vomiting.
Up until that point I had worked full time whilst running my yoga business (classes, retreats, SUP yoga) and my husband and I had just bought a townhouse and begun a full scale renovation (we rebuilt it on the inside and out!). We had also just gotten married and been on our honeymoon overseas. It was a big, full on, life changing 12 months and all of a sudden, on our return from our honeymoon, I was pregnant.
It hit me like a tonne of bricks and literally stopped me from running a million miles an hour to become bed bound and unable to move, sit up, lie down or walk. Closing my eyes made me want to vomit, driving in the car made me sick, it was relentless. I couldn’t stay awake, smells made me gag or be sick and my usual routines fell out of the window.
I tried for weeks to get through the day, to work, and then teach yoga by arming myself with constant snacks to keep my belly full and not feeling sick.
I went to acupuncture but my body just couldn’t do it. This little human was telling me to slow down, to let my body focus on nourishing it instead of focusing on running a business and working and having a social life. The transition was tough, the guilt of missing events, of not sharing on my social media, not being helpful to my husband at home or on the renovation was real. I had commitments, I missed my practice, I was fatigued and out of sorts and I often retreated to thoughts which made me panic that if I hadn’t eaten I would be sick and sometimes I didn’t know whether it was my pregnancy or the anxiety that was making me sick.
I gave up my yoga practice, I gave up my regular yoga classes, and instead I put my feet up and I slept, ate and did nothing.
It took some time, but I realised the more I didn’t listen and tried to push on, the more my sickness continued. The more guilty I felt. And so I stopped. I spent weekends on the lounge, I only went out when I felt I could and I slept as often as I could to allow my body to rest and build this tiny baby.
My pregnancy taught me that it was ok to retreat, to withdraw and to listen.
Eventually the sickness passed and the swelling began, so my hopes of moving my body in some way in the second half of my pregnancy diminished.
My legs pooled with fluid within 10 minutes of walking and so again I slowed down and spent my mornings taking a dip in the ocean to cool my swollen legs and body. I decided that it wasn’t worth pushing through and trying to do everything because I would end up being incapable of doing anything. And instead of feeling sorry for myself, I gave myself permission to simply grow my baby.
I ate what my body told me I needed, when I needed to, I moved when I felt I could, in ways that felt good. I taught when I could and my practice became less about my body then and there and more about preparing for birthing a baby and ensuring that postpartum, my recovery would be as easy as it could be. I retreated and let my focus be on allowing my body to shift and change as it needed to. I didn’t try to be who or what I was, I was simply me at that time, with a belly full of baby.
Kat holds our pregnancy safe Duo Kit containing our two body oils, Motherlover and Calm it, Baby
And so my pregnancy taught me that it was ok to retreat, to withdraw and to listen.
There was no need to force myself to be “fit” or “strong”. I was allowed to be slow because my body was working at a million miles an hour to develop [a] brain and limbs and a beating heart that would soon beat outside of my body. This lesson helped me immensely when Olive arrived, and for the first 6 weeks we hid inside, we slept when we could and my body wound itself back together after months of unravelling.
So for all of the mums to be and new mums and those who are praying to be mums soon, in each moment I encourage you to listen; and if your body and your baby are asking you to slow down, please do.
There is no rush, and there should be no expectation for you to be the same as you were. Don’t feel pressure to be “fit” or “strong”; growing a baby is a time to nourish in whatever way feels nourishing to you. And perhaps this lesson or practice of slowing first and then listening to what is needed will be a good practice, preparing you to watch your little human grow with patience, love and acceptance.