For many women, pregnancy seems to last a lifetime. It's not until they have their baby in arms that they say things like, "I can't believe he's here already!" or, "My pregnancy flew by!" It doesn't take long to forget the many moments during pregnancy that seemed to drag on and on.
But what if, instead of wishing to speed up your pregnancy -- continually and anxiously awaiting the next week and the next -- you focused more on slowing it down? I don't mean literally, of course. Time will pass just as it always does, and the demands and deadlines of life will continue to need your attention. But what if you moved through your pregnancy with intention and mindfulness? What if you could really "savor every moment?" "Slow living," also known as the "slow movement," is a purposeful, cultural shift to slow down the pace of life by choosing to consciously experience the moment you're in, by choosing not to rush or multitask through your day, but rather to do things only at the speed that is required. In a culture that values fast food, fast cars, over-scheduling and mass productivity, slow living is not an easy choice! The payoff, however, is huge. Besides giving you the gift of being fully present in your life, living "slow" has been shown to have multiple positive medical and mental health benefits.
Slow living in everyday life would include things like, cooking food with unprocessed "real" ingredients, doing one task at a time to completion (studies have shown that multitasking actually is not better or more productive), paying attention to or "noticing" with your eyes, ears, and nose your environment at any given moment, starting the morning with three deep breaths, creating rituals like sipping hot tea in the afternoon or drinking a full glass of water in the morning before coffee, or truly listening to another person without trying to formulate an immediate response.
During pregnancy, slow living would look much the same, but could also include many actions that would help quiet your anxiousness and allow you to more fully experience and relish the short span of time.
8 Tips to Living a More Mindful Pregnancy Through Slow Living
1. Before you get out of bed each morning, take a long, slow deep breath (or two), place your hand on your belly, and give a positive message to your baby (out loud or silently).
2. As you drink water throughout the day, instead of begrudgingly refilling your bottle or cup and gulping it down as a "job," take a long, slow drink of water and feel the sensation of the cool water enter your mouth, slide down your throat, and into your belly. Imagine that with each drink, you are not only hydrating your body, but nourishing and hydrating your baby, too.
3. Carve out time to spend 5 minutes each day to sit quietly, alone with your baby. Place your hands on your belly if that helps you feel more connected. Close your eyes and breathe steadily. Envision seeing your baby, holding your baby, and sending love to your baby.
4. Take a regular prenatal yoga class, which will not only help your body physically feel better, but will also encourage a mind-body connection and conscious awareness.
5. Journal about your pregnancy. The act of journaling is in itself a process of slowing down and reflection, and the record of your experience and thoughts during pregnancy is a keepsake you will always treasure.
6. Learn to love the bathroom. Instead of becoming annoyed with yet another trip to the bathroom, take the time to slow down and appreciate your body for the hard work it's doing. See the task as a way in which you are gratefully taking care of your body's needs, much like you would nourish a hungry stomach.
7. Choose one meal a day that you can prepare from scratch, using unprocessed or minimally processed ingredients, and that you can eat without the presence of any electronics. Savor each bite of your meal and envision how you are also nourishing your baby with the meal.
8. Find time for self care. This could mean a massage or pedicure, but it could also be a slow walk outside, a cup of hot tea, a long bath or shower, or a phone call with a good friend. Take time to "fill your cup" during a time when your body's energy is being continually depleted.
What kinds of things do you already do to live "slowly" during life or in pregnancy?