By Gabrielle Nancarrow
And once upon a time – and still today, in many traditional cultures – a pregnant woman would be surrounded by her village.
A village of mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunties and friends who brought wisdom, nourishment, understanding and shared experience to comfort and empower her through pregnancy, birth, postpartum and motherhood.
In our busy Western world, we can feel pretty alone, especially when our families live far away or when we’re the first of our friends to become pregnant.
When I first sit down with a family, I ask them to think about the people they know they can rely on for support and we start to gather their village.
Occasionally, these lists are pretty short. They may only have one or two people they know they can truly rely on. If that’s also the case for you, that’s okay.
What’s important is that you know you have support from someone who can check in on you, drop off food and hold space during the radical shifts that pregnancy, birth and motherhood bring.
Who are these people for you? Write their names down and let them know you have included them in your tribe.
Nurture your needs
It’s easy to get lost in the excitement and anticipation of preparing for your baby’s arrival – buying clothes, setting up the nursery, researching strollers, organising maternity shoots and gender-reveal parties – that you leave little time for yourself.
But self-care should be top of your priority list during pregnancy just as it was during preconception.
Now is the time to pause, go slow and dive deep into your intuition.
Listen to your body and the messages it is sending you.
What are your emotional and physical needs at this moment in time?
They will ebb and flow as the weeks go on and your self-care routine will shift with them.
Make time for yourself, set strong boundaries, practise self-compassion and get comfortable with vulnerability and asking for help.
These are really hard things for most of us to do, I know.
- Start small by saying no a little more and see what it does to your time and energy.
- Rest when you can.
- Place your hands over your womb, breathe deeply and connect with your baby.
- Drink tea.
- Put yourself first and don’t feel guilty about it.
It’s so important to nurture your needs, mama.
This is an edited extract from The Birth Space by Gabrielle Nancarrow published by Hardie Grant Books
Photography by Ilsa Wynne-Hoelscher Kidd (@ilsa_whk), Lisa Sorgini @lisa.sorgini, and Hayden Trace (@feelinghomeagain)