Many pregnant women feel like they are expected to feel blessed, always appear beautiful and be beaming with joy during their pregnancy. But in reality, for expectant mothers, being pregnant can be extremely difficult at times. It can be tiring, full of mood swings, emotions and pregnancy hormones, frustrating and challenging.
The good news is that, whether you feel amazing or exhausted, Sophrology can help guide you through both pregnancy and childbirth preparation. The essence of pregnancy is constant change, therefore, if you are ready to undertake a mindful self-care routine and receive support from the whole family, your pregnancy experience will reach a whole new level.
Mindfulness during pregnancy
When you practice mindfulness during pregnancy, such as simple breathing, relaxation exercises, guided meditation and visualisation, you are allowing yourself to connect with your consciousness, where all your inner resources lie.
Inner resources can be physical, such as relaxation, and vitality; mental such as focus, letting go, presence and thinking positively; or emotional such as feeling confident, grateful and free.
Being able to connect to your inner self and discover these hidden gifts is extremely helpful during this time of transformation when your mind and body are constantly adapting to the physical changes during pregnancy.
Sophrology is a comprehensive approach aimed at bringing mind and body into harmony. It was created by a Spanish neuropsychiatric, Alfonso Caycedo, who researched different approaches to balance consciousness following Eastern traditions (yoga, meditation) and Western science (relaxation, psychology, phenomenology). Sophrology is widely used by pregnant women for birth preparation in Continental Europe and we see it flourishing now in the UK and other English-speaking countries.
Pregnancy and Birth Preparation
Through a regular Sophrology practice, especially in the last trimester, you can further prepare for the arrival of your baby.
What are the benefits of mindfulness during pregnancy?
- You feel ready for any type of situation that might emerge on the day of birth and feel equipped to deal with any difficult situations.
- You learn how to deal better with the discomfort of pain.
- You feel in control, confident and positive.
- You can have a positive birth experience that will empower you for the rest of your life and give the best start for you and your child.
How can Sophrology help you after birth?
- Deal with the emotional ups and downs in those first months.
- Accept the transition to a new way of life.
- Sleep better.
- Feel more energised.
- Deal with family, expectations, beliefs etc.
- Bond with your baby and feel confident in your new role
Keep your stress levels low with mindfulness during pregnancy
Many women I see are busy ladies with great careers that they have built over the years with so much effort and sacrifice; once pregnant they sometimes feel it is difficult to cope with it all. Their body doesn’t have the same energy levels as they once had and they have very little time to rest as their workload remains constant.
During the 9 months of pregnancy, a woman comes to terms with becoming a mother. In an ideal world, she would take that time to integrate the changes she goes through and embrace each step consciously with mindful practices.
In reality, there is never enough time to look after ourselves, however, we must remember the adverse effects that stress has on the body. From weakening our immune system and making us more prone to catch viruses to interfering with our digestive system, for example, we might experience heartburn, constipation and cramping. Stress also affects our ability to sleep well so we end up feeling fatigued during the day.
The baby is literally bathing in a sea of hormones based on the environment women create with their lifestyle choices. Therefore, it is so important to keep stress levels as low as possible to make the baby comfortable and give it the best chance to grow healthily.
Check out our in-depth blog into Managing Stress & Anxiety During Pregnancy for more guidance and tips.
Pregnancy and wellbeing
Sophrology has a balancing effect on the body and mind. Breathing correctly, learning to remain relaxed, improving your sleep, and feeling confident are some of the benefits of mindfulness during pregnancy.
The exercises Sophrology offers are all practised in a state of dynamic relaxation with eyes closed as the brain goes into an alpha waves state.
According to a study (The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2009) from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), subjects were monitored with EEC electrodes before and after meditation. It was found that the alpha brain waves increase with mindful techniques, like meditation. Alpha waves are produced in the brain during periods of profound relaxation and allow the brain to rest and regenerate. Alpha waves are typical of waking states, while delta waves are typical of sleep.
Pregnancy, body shapes and body awareness
Our external appearance can also be a source of worry. When an expectant mother learns how to connect in a positive way to her body, her focus shifts from worrying about her shape to feeling empowered with the life created within.
Sophrology allows pregnant women to accept and embrace this special time of life and find it meaningful rather than scary. Sophrology has a lot of gentle practices that involve body awareness exercises, standing, sitting or even lying. Women can discover a new way to inhabit their bodies and listen to them.
This will be very valuable for the birth preparation phase, as you feel connected to your body and trust that it is able to give birth.
Along the way, some women worry about how they will reconcile being a mum, a woman and a partner and how all these roles will coexist in harmony.
A benefit of mindfulness during pregnancy is that you discover new inner resources and your roles as a woman often become much clearer. Practising Sophrology helps you feel empowered and open to new possibilities as you find ways for these different roles to co-exist.
Sophrology uses powerful visualisation methods. This intimate sense of trust we build with the practice allows a woman to remain connected with herself and trust that the world she will welcome her baby to is safe. Some women also discover that pregnancy is a great time to free themselves from family patterns or old beliefs that no longer serve their present situation and find it very freeing to feel a weight lifting.
The media and society put pressure on new mothers and expect them to bounce back into shape after giving birth, however, managing your weight should be a long-term process that needs to be manageable and sustainable.
It all starts with learning to let go of expectations and listening to your body while having recuperation as your main priority. Feeling rested means that you will have more energy to look after yourself and your baby. With Sophrology, we can help you feel confident and motivated to regain the shape you wish, and feel more positive as you set out to achieve your goals.
How can Sophrology help during pregnancy and after childbirth?
Just 10 minutes of Sophrology, either sitting on your chair during your lunch break or just before going to sleep, can really make a difference to your mental and physical wellbeing as the months go by.
Sophrology can help you learn the true art of relaxation and how to observe your thoughts without judgement. These simple body awareness methods, as well as breathing and visualisations, will support you through your toughest months and will lead you to;
- Feel more energised
- Relax and learn to address work or pregnancy issues
- Deal better with the discomfort of pain
- Prepare for stressful situations like speeches, travel etc.
- Learn to identify stress and let it go
- Start to connect positively and confidently with your baby
- Sleep better
As you approach 7 months into the pregnancy and start birth preparation, you will already have plenty of experience in connecting with yourself.
Don’t forget your partner
Of course, we mustn’t forget the role of our partners who may also be experiencing stress and anxiety during the pregnancy. Sophrology can help them through this process of transition, learning about their partner’s body changes and welcoming the arrival of the baby.
The sooner you start practising Sophrology, the better, so check out our range of online Sophrology classes.
Start when it is the right time for you, but don’t leave it to the last week!