We haven't shared this news to our blog our social media yet, but I (Emily that is) am expecting a baby boy in April. This will be my first child. My partner and I are really excited to bring a chid into this world.
As an acupuncturist, I often help support women through their pregnancies and births. I studied women's health, fertility and pregnancy from both a western eastern medicine perspective while in Chinese medicine school. But as I'm finding out, it is impossible to fully understand this wild and unique journey until you experience it yourself. And even then it is full of mysteries and unknowns!
Nicole and I typically write posts with wellness tips and offer ideas about how to incorporate nourishing foods and habits into your life. However, when I sit down to write about pregnancy, I'm realizing that I have more observations or reflections to share at this point, not necessarily tips. So I thought I'd write a post about the lessons pregnancy has taught me so far. Hopefully some of you can relate! I will follow up with a post about healthy pregnancy considerations from a Chinese medicine perspective soon!
Everyone's experience is different
I've been struck by how individual the experience of pregnancy can be. As much as it helps to have the advice of family and friends, each woman's experience with pregnancy is unique. It can be somewhat isolating in a way, which I didn't expect. How you experience and deal with the stress, joys, excitement, anxiety, aches and pains, fears and love that come along with being pregnant and bringing a new life into this world are specific to you and your situation. So comparing your pregnancy - your workout regimen or lack thereof, your diet, your ability to work normal hours and stay up past 9pm - to what others are going through is not helpful.
Pregnant women are often portrayed as super women in popular culture, achieving athletic feats like running a marathon at 8 months pregnant, all while feeling amazing the entire pregnancy. As someone who is used to being active and a bit of a perfectionist, I've had to be conscious about stepping back from comparing my experience to others and honoring my own path.
I am now in awe of mothers
I have a new-found sense of awe and respect toward all mothers, including my own. I feel a stronger connection to my friends who have children and who have gone through this journey. The physical feat that is pregnancy and labor are not to be taken lightly. There are so many changes happening in your body, mind and spirit (and hormones!) in such a relatively small amount of time. For something that happens hundreds of thousands of times each day, it really does feel like a supernatural feat to nourish and grow a life within you.
Pregnancy is a lesson in vulnerability
I am also aware like never before the importance of my relationships. It has been so beautiful to feel supported by my friends, family and partner. Pregnancy has made me feel vulnerable in ways I've never experienced. I've had to learn to ask for help in ways I never would have before. I'm a very independent person so this has been a really powerful learning process and I am so grateful to have people in my life that I can ask for help.
Pregnancy is an opportunity to put yourself first
As women, many of us have difficulty in putting ourselves first. Whether it is ingrained in us from birth, conditioned by our culture, or a combination of both, this is a pattern I often see in my female patients, which can often lead to burnout and illness. I am finding that pregnancy makes you listen to your body in a new and observant way. After all, you aren't just taking care of yourself, but also a life that literally depends on you to be thriving and healthy.
While it is often possible to push through times of stress and suffer the consequences later, pregnancy makes it much harder to do so. There are days when you literally can't push through the exhaustion! And I think this can be a good thing. Throughout my pregnancy I've learned to listen to my body in ways I hadn't previously and reprioritize what is really important.
Pregnancy is full of the unknown
From an early age, I understood that I needed a certain amount of control in my life to feel grounded. I've played with the edges of this and dug into why this is. I've accepted it as part of me while at the same time worked to stay open to receiving the twists and turns and welcoming the unknowns. Being pregnant has really stretched me in this way. It is amazing how much we have control and power over in our modern lives - from our jobs, schedules and vacations, to our dinner reservations and meal delivery orders. Many of us, especially those without kids living in urban environments, are used to carefully crafting our weeks and months, with a sense of independence and purpose.
Pregnancy (and birth) is the one thing you cannot control. It is totally and utterly up to natural forces - outside the realm of planning. While this brings some anxiety, it is also one of the amazing things I've experienced. No matter how many technological advances we have in this modern world - pregnancy and birth are tied to natural rhythms, that demand you let go and open yourself to the unknown, and there is magic in that.
I would love to hear from you on this topic. What have you learned in your own experience in pregnancy? Share in the comments. Also, what would you like me to focus on for future posts? Chinese medicine perspectives of pregnancy and birth? Herbs that are safe during pregnancy? Or something else?