5 Lessons About Self-Love I Learned From Pregnancy

I almost feel guilty for saying it, but I haven’t really enjoyed being pregnant yet. It’s brought on a lot of anxiety, my first trimester was plagued with morning sickness, and I barely had the energy to put decent clothes on let alone write a new blog post. While I’m grateful for the blessing of pregnancy, it’s been hard to comprehend that my body is changing in ways I can’t control and don’t always understand.

[Read: 15 Health Tips for Moms (The Work for Dads, Too!)]

I am happy to say that each day I continue to feel better and better. I’m thrilled to be enjoying the warm weather and have let go of worrying if the baby is healthy (thankfully passed the crucial 20-week mark!). New symptoms still bring up some “oh no, what is that?!” moments, but I’m dealing with it by enjoying the present moment, making the most out of my days and no longer allowing myself to get hung up on negative pregnancy and birth stories.

Here are some of the key lessons I’ve learned about self-love during my pregnancy. Even if you have never been pregnant, I think you’ll find some of this can relate to you at any stage in life.

[Read: Gretchen Rubin Says Habits Can Be Happiness-Forming]

  1. The best way to overcome anxiety is to focus on a new outcome.

I envision myself with a happy, healthy baby feeling relaxed, beautiful and calm. I literally create a vision of this, breathe deeply and let myself feel joyful as I bring it to light. This technique can work for pretty much anything in your life when you’re unsure of how to get from point A to point B. Whether it’s wanting to be in a loving relationship, get a better job or just feel more at ease…. Close your eyes and take a few minutes to envision yourself in this way. It will change your feelings in the present moment and allow them to seep into your life. And don’t worry. The details will take care of themselves. Don’t lose sight of the forest through the trees!

  1. Your body really does know best.

I always thought pregnancy would be awesome because I could give into every craving! But I’ve been incredibly surprised to learn what my cravings actually are. I’ve bought ice cream and potato chips only to find myself sick of it after a few bites and noticing how they make me feel worse than ever. Instead, I’m craving healthy, plant-based foods that I can’t get enough of!

[Read: Sometimes Putting Yourself Before Others Is Vital: 4 Examples]

My body was rejecting all the processed stuff I was trying to give it and reminding me what it really needs. I’ve had to become hyper-aware of the importance of self-care during this time while also being realistic about it. Zumba class just isn’t going to happen right now (maybe one day), but at least I can get out for a 20-minute walk with the dogs or go to a gentle yoga class. We have to start somewhere, so start by focusing on the small wins.

  1. If you’re going through a difficult emotional situation, it’s best to deal head on.

I was personally dealing with some painful things in my life, and with all the hormones flying around they came at me tenfold! Normally if I was feeling well, I may have avoided these emotions in a number of ways. I could stay as busy as possible. I could drown myself in work, or I could go out and have a glass of wine with my friends. But since I was physically feeling so awful, I couldn’t do any of those things to avoid my emotions.

[Read: 3 Ways to Build Resilience for Life’s Inevitable Hardships]

Instead, I took the steps I needed to move through it. I sought out help from others. I did a lot of journaling. I re-connected to my spiritual self through meditation, and some days would just lay on the couch and allow the feelings to be there and flow through me with some self-reflection. I also surrendered to the process and reminded myself that “this too shall pass”.

  1. Sometimes all you can do is surrender.

During the first few months of pregnancy, I could do little else than lie around on the couch, watch old Netflix reruns, catch up on some reading and helplessly watch as my husband made dinner or ran errands. Bless him!

[Read: 5 Steps for Dealing With Disappointment] 

As a normally busy, active woman this left me feeling both helpless and worthless. At first I tried to struggle against it. I’d make plans and try to push through my work only to feel exhausted and depleted. Eventually, I had no choice other than surrender. Knowing that this would all be over soon and that taking care of my body was taking care of this baby, I allowed myself to rest and relax and enjoy the process without wishing it was different.

  1. Self-love is understanding the meaning of unconditional love and directing it towards ourselves.

I was listening to a recording by Wayne Dyer as he was talking about unconditional love. He mentioned how love is the force behind all things, the stuff that everything is made of, and that we can all heal each other and relationships through unconditional love that it is always: patient, kind, filled with gratitude, is forgiving, does not anger and does not hold onto resentments of past wrongs.

[Read: Energy Matters: 5 Ways It Affects Your Life]

It got me thinking about self-love. What about when we feel we have done something wrong or behaved poorly? What if destructive guilt or anger is towards ourselves? I believe this is the true meaning of self-love. When we can take that unconditional love, often directed towards others, and direct it towards ourselves. To be more forgiving of our own emotions, actions, wrongdoings and suffering and show compassion infused with kindness. That is where the healing begins.

I reminded myself that part of this unconditional love is gratitude. Being grateful for the things that we want to show up in our lives, but also being grateful for the things that don’t, or even for the challenging times. So rather than complaining about not feeling well, or having unmet expectations of what I thought pregnancy would be like, I’ve decided instead to express overwhelming gratitude for the very fact that I get to participate in this miracle of life. That alone is something to celebrate.

[Read Maria Shriver’s latest essay]

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About the Author

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Alexis Meads is a Professional Life Coach, Writer and Wellness Counselor. Alexis received her M.A. at Harvard University and went on to get her coaching certification and create AlexisMeads.com and the Crazy Wild Love Academy. Featured in Huffington Post, Maria Shriver, I Am That Girl and other media outlets, she is known for her authenticity and inspiration. Alexis specializes in supporting women to gain confidence through achieving their goals and creating a sense of wellness. She’s also a new mom and enjoys helping other mothers navigate this beautiful life transition.When she’s not working with private clients or delivering online programs, Alexis can be found cuddling with her baby, hiking with her dogs or cooking up a storm in the kitchen!Get your FREE copy of her guide: Helping New Moms Create Their New Normal at http://alexismeads.com/gift

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