Sophrology in pregnancy and birth preparation
Pregnancy is considered to be that amazing time when you are expected to feel blessed, beautiful and beaming like in the cover pictures of pregnancy magazines! But for some of us, being pregnant can also be difficult at times: it can be tiring, scary, frustrating or challenging.
The good news is that, whether you feel amazing or exhausted, the essence of pregnancy is constant change. Therefore, if you are ready to both receive help and help yourself, you are very likely to be able to transform your experience to a whole new level and often surprisingly quickly.
Using simple breathing, relaxation exercises, guided meditation and visualisation, you can follow a structured method that will allow you to connect with your consciousness, where all your inner resources lie.
Inner resources can be physical (eg. relaxation, vitality), mental (eg. focus, letting go, presence, thinking positively), or emotional (eg. feeling confident, grateful, free).
Being able to connect within and discover these hidden gifts is extremely useful during this time of transformation when mind and body need to constantly adapt to the physical changes, while your life changes and you acquire a new perspective through pregnancy.
Sophrology is a comprehensive approach aimed at bringing mind and body into harmony. It was created by a Spanish neuro-psychiatrist who researched different approaches to balance consciousness following Eastern traditions (yoga, meditation) and Western science (relaxation, psychology, phenomenology). Sophrology is widely used during birth preparation in Continental Europe and we see it flourishing now in the UK and other English-speaking countries.
On pregnancy, working and stress levels
Many women I see are busy ladies with a great career which they have built over the years with effort and sacrifice; once pregnant they sometimes feel it is difficult to cope with it all. Their body hasn’t got the same energy levels it used to have and they have very little time to rest as the workload they have is high.
During the 9 months of a 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.
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 (therefore making us more prone to catch viruses) to interfering with our digestive system (for example, we might experience heartburn, constipation, 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, which is the environment the woman creates with her lifestyle choices and 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.
However, when time to let this process unfold is limited and stress levels are high, a new approach may be needed. Why not try Sophrology?
What I can do for you
Just 15 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 sense of well-being as the months go by.
I will tailor a Sophrology practice for you using simple body awareness methods, breathing and visualisations that will support you.
This positive approach can help you to:
• Feel more energised
• Relax and learn to address work or pregnancy issues
• Deal better with the discomfort of constant 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.
Dealing with the difficulties you have here and now, step by step during your pregnancy are useful tools as you prepare for birth. As you approach 7 months into the pregnancy and start birth preparation, you will already have plenty of experience in connecting with yourself.
Pregnancy and my future as a mum/ as a woman/ as a partner
Along the journey, some women worry about how they will reconcile being a mum, a woman, a partner and how all these roles will coexist in harmony.
Finding a positive way to deal with these roles with Sophrology is not about going into long term, complicated analysis.
By practising the method step-by-step, as you discover new inner resources, your roles as a woman often become much clearer. Practising Sophrology helps you feel empowered, 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 in 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.
Pregnancy and body shape/body awareness
Our external appearance can be a source of worry.
By learning to connect in a positive way to the body, feeling it and learning to positively inhabit it, connecting with the life that is created within, a pregnant woman’s focus often shifts from the worry about her shape to feeling empowered with the life 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 body and to listen to it.
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.
Pregnancy and well-being
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 positive outcomes Sophrology can bring.
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) where subjects were monitored with EEC electrodes before and after meditating, it was found that alpha brain waves increase with 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 and birth preparation
Through a regular Sophrology practice especially in the last trimester, you can further prepare for the arrival of your baby:
• You feel ready for any type of situation that might emerge on the day of the birth, and feel equipped to deal with difficult situations
• You learn how to deal better with the discomfort of constant 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.
After birth, continuing your Sophrology practice can help you to:
• 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
After giving birth
Although the media and society expect mothers to bounce back into shape after giving birth, managing your weight should be a long term process that needs to be manageable.
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.
Your partner deserves attention too!
We mustn’t forget the role of fathers, who may be experiencing stress and anxiety during their partner’s pregnancy. Sophrology can help them through this process of transition, learning about their partner’s body changes and welcoming the arrival of the baby.
Sophrology for pregnancy and birth preparation plan
A typical Sophrology plan for birth preparation includes 6 sessions.
Other options are available if more sessions are required. Sessions’ recordings are available to help with practising in between sessions.
When to start
The sooner you start practising Sophrology, the better
Start when it is the right time for you, but don’t leave it to the last week!
For more information please email [email protected]