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During the coronavirus lockdown and with further restrictions still in place, pregnant women have been unable to utilise the usual self-care perks they might enjoy outside of the pandemic.
From antenatal groups to pregnancy massage, pregnant women have had to forgo various antenatal services and perks.
As they’re still considered as “moderate risk” by the government because of COVID-19, pregnant women might find it calming to practice some self-care at home.
Self-care sometimes gets bad press for being overused as a term, but a lot of people have noticed how looking after themselves a little bit more during the lockdown has helped their mental wellbeing.
Taking this time out is even more imperative for expectant and new mums.
Given that it’s important to keep levels of anxiety down throughout your pregnancy, breathing exercises are a great place to start if you’re feeling panicked by the current situation.
In former TOWIE star Lauren Pope’s latest Yahoo UK pregnancy video episode, the 37-year-old chats with doula, Beccy Hands and midwife, Alexis Stickland, owners of The Mother Box and writers of The Little Book Of Self-Care For New Mums, about ways we can practice self-care in our own homes.
Pope, who is currently practicing hypnobirthing, says she’s encouraged to “breathe in through your nose for four seconds and then breathe out through your mouth for eight seconds.”
“That long, slow, glorious out breath is where we release oxytocin,” Stickland explains, saying that this release helps mums to bond with their babies postnatally.
Stickland also says it’s very important to be “really intentional” in the first couple of weeks after giving birth as it’ll set the tone for your postnatal experience.
Taking that load off and not giving yourself anything to do - apart from look after your baby - after birth is a really important lesson to learn.
“First week in bed, and second on the sofa,” Stickland adds.
Making a “nest” for your home is a really important thing to do in those first few weeks, and the extra and unexpected time to do this during pregnancy will hopefully make pregnant women feel ever calmer going into labour.
There are ways to cure the niggles that come with pregnancy, too. Pope discusses how she has suffered from both cramp and hip pain during pregnancy, two common symptoms.
“One thing that helps with cramp is epsom salt baths,” Hands explains.
“The salt has a drawing affect on the muscles so it draws out all of the sticky lactic acid and all of the by-products because your lymph system is slower during pregnancy.”
Epsom salts are quite a hero product for pregnant women because they also allow them to soak up the magnesium - which is something many of us are deficient in.
Want to give it a try? “Buy a big bag online, do three mug fulls in the bath and soak for at least 20 minutes before bed,” Hands suggests.
Aching hips is another symptom of pregnancy that isn’t talked about that much before you get pregnant and it’s something Pope has experienced throughout pregnancy.
“When you lay on your side your knee pulls down so you’re hanging off your hip all night.
“Your pillow between your knees needs to be high enough so that your knees aren’t dropping down but they’re in-line with your hips,” Hands suggests.
There are many great tips out there for reducing stress during pregnancy, but one simple and cost-effective way of feeling calm is by adding a few drops of lavender essential oil on a flannel.
“Put it on your forehead, back of your neck or hold it in front on your nose,” Stickland recommends, you can choose whether you would prefer it to be hot or cold.
Postnatally, geranium oil is great.
“Get a nice high-grade, good quality oil. Geranium is very good for settling and balancing postnatal hormones.”
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