Prep for Your Delivery by Practicing Resilience and Boundary Setting

Pregnancy is the perfect time to focus on self-care.

Pregnancy has a way of becoming all-consuming. It begs us to focus on ourselves. It’s a time when outward energy changes and inner awareness peaks. During my first trimester, I went on a baby moon to Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia. I'd wanted to visit for years- I was finally there. I'm typically an active, exploratory type of traveler.  But honestly, I didn’t care a lick about exploring. All I wanted to do was sleep in my hammock. And that was exactly what I did (save a few little walks on the beach).

This shift happens in waves and at varying intensities. It’s like a molting of old skin.

The first step to perinatal self-care is tapping into your memories of resiliency.

When in your life have you surprised yourself? Survived something you didn’t think you could? Beat some odds? Resisted a temptation? Excelled.

Think deeply about that.

Here are a few narratives of resiliency that floated into my memory and helped me feel strong during delivery. 

  • Two-hour daily soccer practices in sweltering humid 100-degree Memphis heat for years.
  • Competing on a D1 collegiate track team despite a non-comradery culture.
  • Traveling solo internationally.
  • Using a weed-eater for the first time as a 12-year-old, without ever giving up, despite little landscaping pebbles flying and cutting into my bare shins the whole time (foolish...but resilient)
  • Learning to value life and time, rather than feel disheartened by my grandmother’s experience with Alzheimers.
  • Leading various community-based arts and gardening projects, despite not having any start-up resources or even experience. Just passion and commitment.

Once you’ve thought of your own stories of resiliency, I invite you to write them down. Share your thoughts with a friend, partner, or doula. Honor yourself and your life. This is a super-personal, highly effective form of self-affirmation.

I went on a walk recently with a local, extremely respected OBGYN here in Chattanooga, TN. She's been practicing for over 30 years. I asked her to compare the mindset of mothers going into labor now, vs. mothers who were going into labor at the onset of her career.

Her response was that women now seem to have less experience, or at least recognition of their resiliency, which then creates a greater sense of fear and anxiety around birth.

I found that answer fascinating. How can we remedy that? It is my guess that women now aren’t any less resilient than in prior eras. It’s that we don’t let ourselves talk about it or feel it.

We need to hear stories of resilience to feel less alone, inspired and connected.

One of my favorite parts of Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, is the part where she talks about self-care.

She describes the mounting chaos of their lives. How she was working as a hospital programs director while contributing to a dawning national political career for her husband, and compassionately raising 2 children. She and Barak went to therapy. She talks about her “pivot point”:

“Like a climber about to slip off an icy peak, I drove my ax into the ground...For starters, I recruited myself to be healthy.”

She started exercising in the mornings and, in her words “this new regimen changed everything. Calmness and strength, two things I feared I was losing, were now back.”

She also talks about boundary setting. Rather than struggle to accommodate her husband’s unpredictable schedule so he could tuck the girls in at night, she communicated that dinner would be at 6 and bed at 8. It was his job to “catch up with us”.

What boundaries are you wanting to set? 

  • What people are you comfortable with in the Labor and Delivery room?
  • Are electronic gifts for your kiddos OK? Starting at what age?
  • Do you want your child’s picture on Social Media?
  • Will you set designated time to phone a friend?
  • Gift yourself a 30-minute walk each day, no matter what?
  • Is there an area in your life that you feel resentment around? If so, what are some ways you can mitigate those feelings and turn frustrated energy into contentment?

Boundary setting is self-care and self-respect. 

But this is hard for many people to do. Especially if you enjoy being around people or caretaking.  Or if you feel obligated to meet the expectations of those you love and care about.

For me, it’s hard to switch from the “good student” mindset. I fear being selfish yet I have overachiever tendencies. I’m working on it. Like everything, it’s a journey.

Honor yourself. Prepare mentally and emotionally for the transition into parenthood. Mind, body, and soul are all connected. If you’d like to talk about how to feel more resilient within your own skin from a physical standpoint, that’s my specialty! I’m happy to be a sounding board and figure out and support what will work for YOU! I’m a women’s health doctor of physical therapy (DPT) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). Nothing makes me happier than listening to your stories, thoughts, and goals, and harnessing all that for good. Drop me a note at [email protected].

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