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Wednesday, 04 December 2013 08:04

What Are Your Core Beliefs About Pregnancy?

Core beliefs are things that we believe about life that are etched into our subconscious mind. Many times we do not even know that we have these core beliefs; let alone that they are running aspects of our lives. As a woman, we receive many messages about pregnancy throughout our lives from our families, friends, the media, and our culture. By the time we find ourselves pregnant we have certainly developed some core beliefs about pregnancy.

Core beliefs are very powerful messages. They deeply influence how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. When we have positive core beliefs, we approach things in a positive way. When we have negative core beliefs we are likely to approach things in a negative way. We are likely to find evidence to support our core beliefs, and exclude evidence that does not support our core beliefs. Therefore, we find ourselves in a cycle where we are reinforcing our core beliefs. We continue to attract the people, attitudes, and experiences that support our core beliefs. This is why it is so important to discover what your core beliefs are.

If your core pregnancy beliefs are positive, and are working for your greater good, bravo! But if your pregnancy core beliefs are negative, you may find yourself in a cycle where you are reinforcing those negative beliefs.

You have the power to change your pregnancy core beliefs, and we will work on that later. But first you have to know what your current pregnancy core beliefs are.

So how do you know what your pregnancy core beliefs are?

An easy exercise you can use to discover your pregnancy core beliefs is to write a list of all of the things you have heard about pregnancy. They may be things that your mother told you about her pregnancies. They may be things you’ve learned from watching TV, or reading magazines. They may be things you’ve learned from friends. Just give yourself the time and space to write out a list of things that come to mind when you think about pregnancy.

Here are some sentence starters that can help you get going. Put one of these sentence starters at the top of your paper and see what comes to mind. Then move on to the next one, and so on.

Pregnancy is ______________.

Pregnant women are ______________.

Pregnant women can/cannot ____________________.

Pregnant women should/should not ______________________.

Once you have your list, you can separate it into positive statements and negative statements. Often our negative statements use terms like always, never, should, should not and cannot. They may also include negative words such as difficult, painful, ugly, etc.

Looking at your list of negative statements about pregnancy, ask yourself whether these statements are impacting your pregnancy in a negative way. You will need to get honest with yourself, but be gentle. You are uncovering things that you didn’t know were impacting your mindset around pregnancy. Now that you have uncovered the belief, you have the power to release the negative belief that’s causing problems for you.

In order to release a negative belief it can help to understand where this belief has come from. For example, you may have seen, “Pregnant women are moody and irrational” on your list. Why do you believe that? You’ve seen this stereotype on TV, movies, in books, and magazines. Possibly, when your mother was pregnant with your younger brother, you remember her crying a lot and yelling at you for no reason. Between the stereotyping in the media and your personal experience as a child you have developed and reinforced that belief.

Now think about your pregnancy. You have been moody and irrational. That’s what you have believed about pregnant women, so you have embodied that belief to some degree.

Following this process has helped you to discover your core beliefs about pregnancy and identify your negative core beliefs. I will help you release your negative core beliefs and replace them with positive beliefs in my next article

If you’d like help with any specific negative core beliefs, please share below.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013 18:19

Pregnancy Fears Can Be a Gift

When I was pregnant with my first daughter I wanted to learn everything I could about being pregnant.  I wanted to be sure that I was doing all of the right things to nurture my baby. I wanted to know about my baby’s growth and development. I wanted to prepare for bringing my baby home. However, there was one part of the books, websites, and magazines that I would always skip. The section on labour and delivery.

I was seriously afraid of giving birth. I had seen all of the TV shows and movies where the lovely pregnant woman turns into a complete lunatic once her labour begins. She is not only in the worst pain imaginable, but she is angry and she wants to kill her husband for 'doing this to her'. On the other hand I was also terrified of having an epidural and medical interventions. I knew that I wanted to have a drug-free birth but I wasn’t sure how that was going to work. I honestly just wanted to avoid the topic altogether.

As my baby grew it was clear that I was going to eventually have to come up with a plan for her birth. One day, as I was reading “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” I saw a tiny paragraph about 'hypnobirthing'. It said that hypnosis could be used as a pain relief technique during labor and birth. That option really appealed to me. I started to research hypnobirthing. I read stories from women who had used hypnobirthing, and found out more about what the course had to offer. I was lucky to find out that there was an instructor that taught classes about five minutes away from my office. My husband and I took the hypnobirthing course and I was surprised to see that not only did the course teach us the actual technique, it taught me the cultural and historical reasons why I associated pain with birth, how fear during birth causes increased pain, and the importance of 'self-talk' and the language we use around birth.

My fear of birth and my fear of epidurals and medical interventions led me to look for a way to birth that made me feel empowered. For that I am grateful, and I look at my fear of giving birth as a gift. After the classes I felt very prepared both mentally and physically. I was no longer afraid of birthing my baby. I believed in myself and my ability to birth my baby. And when the time came, I was excited rather than fearful. One of the hypnobirthing affirmations I used was “I am so excited that my baby is finally coming to me”. And I was. I was more excited than fearful.

Pregnancy fears are common and I trust that there is a reason for them. You are now responsible for another life. Your life is changing dramatically whether it’s your first baby or your fifth! You may have fears about your body, your baby’s wellbeing, your mental health, how your life will change once the baby is born, finances, relationships, or birthing to name a few.

But keep in mind that the fear response was developed to help us. In the early days of humanity, we needed to have a very extreme fear response because we were facing a very dangerous world. And although we aren’t running away from predators anymore, fears are still here to tell us that something isn’t right. But we need to take the time to figure out what that something is, and what we can do about it. If we don’t do that we can get caught up in a cycle of chronic stress and our bodies suffer from the impact of the continual activation of the fight or flight response.

We cannot avoid stress completely, but it’s best to learn to manage our stress and fears. When we are pregnant, it’s especially important to assure that our stress response isn’t thrown into continual overdrive. There are many ways to decrease stress such as gentle exercise, meditation, rest, massage, reading, writing, affirmations… the list goes on.

But when you are dealing with fear, one thing that I have found helpful is to reframe your fear as a gift or a lesson. You can say to yourself “I know that life is always working for me. As such, I choose to see this fear as a gift. I am open to understanding what this fear is trying to teach me.”  That alone may help you take the next step. You may realise that your fear is trying to tell you to take a break, or take a birthing course, or see your health care provider.

The important thing is that you do not allow yourself to get caught up in the cycle of fear. By reframing fear as a gift or a lesson you are setting yourself up to take control over your emotional response.

Have you had fears during your pregnancy? Can you reframe any of those pregnancy fears as a gift?

Tuesday, 17 September 2013 03:35

Keeping A Pregnancy Journal

Keeping a journal during pregnancy has many benefits for a mother-to-be and her baby. A journal provides a record of this sacred time that can be treasured for life. Journaling gives you a safe place to express your feelings, set your intentions, express gratitude, and connect with your baby.

It’s never too late to get started. Whether newly pregnant or close to your due date, a journal can benefit a pregnant woman and is a practice that I recommend keeping up throughout your lifetime.

Here are my seven tips for keeping a pregnancy journal.

1.   Get a Journal

Choose an attractive notebook or a specially designed pregnancy journal. If you are a visual person you can decorate your journal by drawing or cutting out baby related images. If you’ve had an ultrasound you may want to use the image of the scan on the cover.

2. Decide on a regular time for writing

Decide on a time that works best for you to journal and make it a habit to do your writing at that time every day. If you feel overwhelmed by writing every day, you might choose to write every second day, or once a week. Keep your journal nearby so you can write in it at any time that you feel inspired.

3. Write about your feelings

A journal provides you with a safe place to write about your feelings. You can start your journal by freely expressing what is on your mind. When you take the time to ‘debrief’ about the day’s events, things that you have had in your subconscious mind tend to come to the surface. This is great; it means that your conscious mind can deal with the challenges you are facing. You can make decisions and choices based on what you want, not on what your subconscious mind is in the habit of doing.

4. Record what’s happening in your body

Keeping a record of the changes that your body is going through during pregnancy can help you in many ways. If you have additional pregnancies you can refer to your journal to see what you felt last time around and what you did to alleviate some of your discomforts. It also reminds you that you’ve already survived at least some of the things you’re going through now so you will be reminded of your strength.   

Keeping track of what’s happening in your body can give you perspective. We tend to use the words ‘always’ and ‘never’ when in truth, we are not ‘always’ or ‘never’ feeling a certain way. For example, you may feel like you are ‘always’ tired, but your journal may indicate that you feel a burst of energy every day after breakfast. Now that you know this, you can start to schedule things that require more energy during that time period.

5. Express your intentions

Have you taken the time to think about what you would like your pregnancy to be like, or have you just learned what pregnancy is supposed to be like? Chances are you have had many expectations of what pregnancy is like from watching TV, movies, and talking to other women. Our culture tends to focus on the negative aspects of pregnancy. When we expect pregnancy to be miserable, we are setting ourselves up to experience a miserable pregnancy.

Take some time to focus on how you would like to experience your pregnancy. One way to do this is to write positive affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements that you write in the present tense, as if you are already experiencing what you would like to have in your life.  Always focus on what you do want, not on what you don’t want. For example, if you’re feeling sick and miserable you could affirm “I choose to have a healthy, happy pregnancy.” You should not affirm “I don’t feel sick and miserable” because your subconscious will weed out the ‘don’t’ and will focus on the ‘sick and miserable’. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe your affirmations at first. With repetition and focus, affirmations can help you attain a positive mindset.  

Some more examples of affirmations are:

“I am confident, strong, joyful, and at peace during my pregnancy”
“I enjoy being pregnant”
“I exercise in ways that are healthy for me and my baby”
“I have the love and support of my family and friends during this pregnancy”

6. Express your gratitude

Expressing gratitude each day will help focus your mind on the good things in your life. To start with, write down three things you are grateful for. You may be surprised at how many things you are able to list once you focus on the positives. You don’t need to find something significant to be grateful for. It could be as simple as “I am grateful that my favourite pair of maternity pants was clean today”. The more ‘little things’ you give thanks for, the more you will notice the good in your life.

7. Connect with your baby

Writing to your baby is a beautiful way to connect before your baby is born. You can share what you’ve written when your child is old enough to appreciate it. Some ideas for writing to your baby include:

  • Write to your baby about the family that s/he will be joining
  • Tell your baby about the type of birth you would like to experience
  • Share your hopes and dreams for the type of relationship you would like to have with your child
  • Express your love for your baby

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to keep a journal, so just get started! Taking the time to journal during pregnancy will get you into a good habit of taking time for yourself, which is something that you will value through your pregnancy and into motherhood. 

Published in Memories

I’ve had excessive anxiety throughout my lifetime so it was no surprise that when I became pregnant for the first time I became very anxious about birthing. I didn’t want to have an epidural and in researching the alternatives I found Hypnobirthing which helped relieve my anxiety around birthing. The course included audio birthing affirmations that I listened to time and again and when it was time to birth my baby I was so calm that the hospital staff thought I had an epidural when I had no pain medications whatsoever.

When I became pregnant with my second child I had recently come through a very difficult time in my life. I had overcome panic attacks and severe anxiety. I was finally feeling great. However, the pregnancy triggered a lot of ‘what if’ questions. I started to get very anxious about the possibility of miscarriage. I had no logical reason to worry about this, but anxiety isn’t usually logical.

I did not want to go back to having severe anxiety and panic attacks and thought affirmations could help. However, the affirmations for birthing didn’t have what I needed. Affirmations for overcoming general fears weren’t what I was after either.  I just wanted audio affirmations for pregnancy. I couldn’t find any that were pregnancy specific so I decided to record my own. I also wrote down a few of my favourite affirmations such as “My baby is healthy and strong” and “My baby is developing according to nature’s perfect plan” and I put these along with a few others on a sticky note next to my toilet so I could see them and reinforce them every time I needed to use the toilet (being pregnant this was rather often!).

The affirmations for pregnancy that I developed were very helpful. Once I got over the anxiety that I would miscarry, I used the affirmations to help with my overall mood and energy. I decided to share my affirmations with other women who may be going through what I was going through. I professionally recorded Affirmations for Pregnancy and released them on my website and on iTunes. I sincerely hope that they are helping other women as they helped me. 

If you’re new to the concept of affirmations, they are simply thoughts that you are affirming to yourself. They can be negative (as the obsessive thoughts of anxiety often are) or they can be positive. People often don’t realise that the thoughts they are affirming in their minds are very negative.  Take some time to listen to your self-talk. If you identify many negative thoughts, take action to make your thinking work for you instead of against you. Some examples of affirmations that are good for pregnancy are:

  • I choose to feel good during my pregnancy
  • My baby and I are healthy and strong
  • Meeting my own needs allows me to meet the needs of my baby
  • I have the right to make choices about the birth of my baby

I have a list of pregnancy affirmations that I share as a free gift when you sign up to the mailing list on my website www.affirmationsforpregnancy.com. You can print it out and put it somewhere you can see it often. You can also can write your own affirmations.

Some tips for writing your own affirmations include:

  • Be specific about what you want to happen or how you want to feel
  • State your affirmation in the present tense, writing about it as if it is already happening.
  • Even if you don’t believe your positive affirmation at first, stick with it. With practice you will begin to benefit from repeating the affirmation.
  • Say your affirmations aloud. If you can say them while looking in a mirror they are even more powerful
     

 

Affirmations are just one tool that can help with anxiety. You can find more help for prenatal and postnatal anxiety and depression at http://www.postpartum.net/Get-Help.aspx

Published in Pregnancy

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