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Practicing self kindness is possibly something that many people do too well or very poorly.
So how do we strike a natural and fair balance without being completely self indulgent or narcissistic?
Self-kindness and self-care is the most unselfish thing you can do for those around you. If you aren’t kind with yourself, you cannot be kind with others. Practicing self-kindness is so important for a pregnant or new Mumma. This may seem really obvious, as all of these things are, but we need to remember that if we are well, all is well with the new being growing inside (or beside) you and of course with those around you.
Being pregnant is the perfect time to practice self care and kindness if you haven’t done so before. Many women feel that there is a huge to do list of necessary accomplishments before the baby comes. We will often push ourselves to our limits and try to fit a lot in before the birth.
Giving birth is such a huge and intense physical challenge so we need to rest rest rest as much as we can. I remember when I was visiting a friend in the later stage of my pregnancy and she virtually forced me to recline on her banana chair. I was resistant, explaining that I was fine standing. She said, “Mel, this will be one of the last times for a long time that you will have this luxury, so make the most of it!” True words were spoken and I promptly reclined and enjoyed.
Being pregnant or being a new mum is not the time to prove you are a super hero. You already have that status! By some twist of fate and miracle, you are about to birth a new being earth side and that is pretty awesome as it is!
Some points to lead you in the direction of self care are:
1. Apply kindness to you mind, body and spirit. Set an intention each morning about how you will address these three core areas. For instance, you may focus on a more consistent meditation session, feeding yourself nourishing food, taking time to be alone or making sure you arrange an adequate amount of sleep even if this means asking for support.
2. Take a look at your boundaries. This is something I struggle with all the time. It is really important to set boundaries with yourself and with others. Often, when I say yes to people, I do really want to help but then I find myself feeling annoyed, depleted of energy or just plain disappointed in the end. Likewise, sometimes saying no can cause feelings of guilt. Ask yourself the question: When saying yes to ( insert person’s name) am I also benefitting? Of course there is benefit in simply being of assistance with no reward, but I am talking about times when you feel stressed or depleted in times of service.
3. Become self-centered. Related to the point above and I know some will say that this is plain selfish or indulgent behaviour, but I think as women, we feel a lot of guilt about putting ourselves first, asking for what we want or acting upon our needs.
When I first became a mother, between breastfeeding (which seems to take hours at first) and lack of sleep and fixing a quick snack, I found that it was difficult to do simple everyday routine tasks like brush my teeth! It sounds silly and perhaps I am just a dreadful time manager but upon reflection, I think that I felt I wasn’t worthy enough to take even the few minutes that a good tooth brushing episode required. I resentfully watched my partner attend to all of his own hygiene and personal needs and was screaming inside for him to say “Hey, I’ll hold the baby while you fix yourself a coffee, or brush said teeth, or even have a shower!”
Now, my partner is an amazing person but in our house, those first days of fatherhood did not arise with the urgency or bond or gravity that motherhood presented for me. He is going to hate me for writing is here, but during those first few weeks, he managed to enjoy a great summer/ paternity break and even managed to read a couple of novels!
So, if you find yourself in a situation such as this, YOU need to take that bull by the horns and take responsibility for those small self-care and kindness rituals that are really important.
4. Be as gentle with yourself as you are with your new child. Would you chastise your child for ……? Motherhood is a journey of expansion and growth so don’t put yourself down as you make mistakes along the way. Try to look for the lesson and just keep moving.