In recent years, people have labeled just about any self-indulgence as “self-care.”
Not bathing for three days? Self-care.
Eating junk food for months? Self-care.
Buying unnecessary luxury items to impress others? Self-care!
While we’re not calling out anyone specifically (you do you!) certain actions, however, have led to a misconception about self-care. Sure there are examples of self-care activities that are both luxuriously indulgent and health-enhancing, but self-care isn’t limited to costly and unsustainable experiences.
When pregnant parents are presented with the idea of embracing self-care throughout their pregnancy, some recoil because honestly, “who has the time and luxury for that?”
We’re here to change your mind and to tell you that self-care should be a top priority, pregnant or not.
What is self-care?
If you’ve thought that this popular practice is a commercial machination you’re in for a surprise. Organizations and researchers have taken a health-oriented standpoint when defining self-care.
The World Health Organization says that self-care is “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
No mention of buying expensive face creams here! It’s about staying physically healthy and taking conscious steps to manage stressors.
In 2018, the BMC Palliative Care published a study defining self-care as the “self-initiated behavior that people choose to incorporate to promote good health and general well-being.”
The International Self-Care Foundation adds to these definitions “Health Literacy.” That is, any steps you take to better understand your health to inform your decisions about your body and well-being is a pillar of self-care.
And that is why, at Casa Natal, we’re all about making informed decisions.
Why is self-care important for pregnant parents?
Stress at high levels can have adverse consequences for anyone. People can get fatigued, bogged down, and sick because of stress.
Pregnancy can evoke its own set of mental health concerns. The lack of control or grasp of a situation can lead to fear, anxiety, and more negative emotions.
Severely stressed and pregnant is not the kind of life we hope for our mothers. That’s why fostering mental and physical wellness in this season of your life is essential.
Self-care allows us to set up preventive measures against physical, mental, emotional distress.
Tips for Pregnancy Self-Care
Now with a better understanding of self-care and what it entails, we want to share with you some helpful tips to start embracing self-care. Find what’s best for you!
- Receive Proper Prenatal CareThe first and most important step to pregnancy self-care is getting the best prenatal care available to you. During your pregnancy, you need all the support, guidance, and love to nourish yourself and your baby.
Prenatals shouldn’t be a short 15-minute appointment once a month. We believe in informed choice, and 15 minutes won’t cut it!
At Casa Natal, your midwife will take the time to talk with you, filling the gaps of your health & pregnancy literacy, informing you of all the details, and building a trusting relationship with you.
You still get all the medical care we need to ensure safety, but on top of that, we spend time learning about your birth preferences, fears, joys, and discomforts. You will come home with abounding assurance rather than confusion.
- Nourish Your BodyPregnancy can increase our cravings for all the delicious food we love. But most often, the food we want is unhealthy, not just for us but for our growing baby! Eating well is a self-care practice that will reward you endlessly with benefits. Discuss with a nutritionist what’s best for you – and avoid hopping on some diet fads.
Nourishing our body also includes getting in the proper amount of sleep and exercise. Some pregnant parents experience a decline in their quality of sleep during pregnancy. The changes in your body can make you restless. If you can, schedule naps within the day to refresh you.
Exercise can also help you sleep better (if timed properly). The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercises each week for pregnant women.
- Strengthen Your Relationship With Your PartnerIf you have a partner that has committed to co-parenting with you, now is the perfect time to strengthen your bond. Intimacy and closeness can increase positive hormones, hormones that you need to have for a successful labor.
We talk about the Love Hormone in our previous blog. Which you can read here.
Find strength and support from each other. Discuss all the concerns and feelings you are both having about your child on the way.
- Develop Coping SkillsCoping skills are not the same for everyone, but we all need them to manage the world that’s moving fast around us. One of the best tips for self-care we can give you is to establish strategies that you can easily visit when stress overwhelms you.
To develop coping skills, take time to reflect and remember your strengths. Brainstorm ideas that work best for you.
Some healthy coping skills are meditation, grounding, practicing gratitude, listing affirmations, visualization, and breathing techniques.
These are just a few of the self-care habits you can start doing today. Prioritize your health and safety in your pregnancy, embrace self-care & remember that at Casa Natal we are all about informed decision making!