I teach a prenatal yoga class weekly in the Charleston, SC area, and we start every class with some type of ice breaker question. These short conversations are my favorite part of class because there are so many things that the pregnant mamas laugh about together, heads nod, and there’s a chorus of “ME, TOO!” with almost every new point. I’m smiling just thinking about the relationships that are made during that first 5 or 10 minutes of class. But, as you can imagine, we end up sharing a lot about aches and pains, challenges, and general annoyances that come along with being pregnant. I think it’s good to get those things out in the open and for the mamas to realize that they are SO not alone… but I also am a firm believer in the power of thought. I believe you manifest the things you think about the most (whether you mean to or not). I never want the focus of a class to be on the negative aspects of being pregnant, but rather on the power, the magic, the holy-shit-there-are-TWO-hearts-beating-inside-my-body-right-now-how-cool-is-that? realizations, the pregnancy perks. So, I make sure to ask a few questions that cause the mamas to stop and reflect on the completely awe-inspiring miracle taking place in their bodies instead.
See also Find Your Mama Mantra
My very favorite such question is so simple: What’s the BEST thing about being pregnant?
My own answer is always the many surprises that came along with pregnancy… Will there be one line or two on the pregnancy test? Oh, my goodness, I didn’t know it would look like a BEAN! Is it a boy or a girl? Where will I be and what will I be doing when I finally go into labor? There are so many surprises to look forward to when you’re expecting. AND someone else has to clean the cat box out, which is a huge bonus.
I get some great answers from mamas every time I ask that run the gamut.
I finally have BOOBS! Everyone smiles at you. People get up and give you a seat. The expecting mother parking spaces.
There Really Are a Lot of Pregnancy Perks
But the last time I asked this question of my prenatal yoga class, one mom-to-be gave an answer that struck me as so profound and beautiful, I just had to share.
I’m paraphrasing here, but the general idea was:
I am more confident in my body than ever before. I’ve always been a little bit self conscious about my tummy, and this is the first time in my life that it’s a GOOD thing for it to be big and round. I’m not trying to hide it. I’m not worrying about what I eat as much. When I want a treat, I eat it. It’s been a liberating.
For a moment, I was speechless (and if you’ve ever taken one of my yoga classes, you know I have a hard time NOT running my mouth the whole time). This is not the conversation we’re used to hearing about a woman’s body during pregnancy. I imagine most think of pregnant women as being uncomfortable with their changing bodies—the extra weight, the shifting center of gravity, the pregnancy waddle (which, by the way, I think is the most adorable thing in the world!). But I completely related to her words. I remember feeling a lot more confident when I was pregnant—I mean, how could I not? So many people treat you like you’re special, after a while you begin to feel special yourself.
I am so glad she brought up her new-found confidence. I LOVE that she’s feeling that way, and I believe it will serve her throughout her pregnancy and beyond.
While I didn’t feel exactly the same as my student when I was pregnant, I did put less pressure on myself to look a certain way or accomplishI was kinder. I did more to keep myself healthy and calm because, for the first time in my life, it felt like there was a greater purpose—it wasn’t just for me, but for the good of my little baby bean, too! The kinder I was to myself, the better I and more confident I felt in my skin.
And while I had a HUGE learning curve after I gave birth to my daughter and many I-don’t-know-what-the-heck-I’m-doing moments in those first few months (well, OK, years!—I’m still figuring it out), I believe that my yoga practice in the years before was a huge help to me in finding my footing, as a new confidence, as a new mom.
Of course, this doesn’t apply just to pregnancy. No matter what phase of life we’re in, what we do (and how we care for ourselves!) affects the people around us. When we’re kind, compassionate, and gentle to ourselves we have a positive impact on the people around us—our families, our coworkers, even the people we pass on the street! And all the good things that expecting moms do for the good of their unborn children, the healthy food, the exercise, drinking plenty of water, the yoga classes, the massages!, would still have the same great benefits to all women—especially those who are caring for small children.
So, I think I’d like to change my answer: The best thing about being pregnant was the permission I gave myself to be kinder, gentler, and more loving to myself in all areas of my life. Because I realized the amazing, transformative power of always making time to take care of YOURSELF, too. That was a huge positive change in my life, and it’s one that I feel so strongly about I’ve made it my mission to share with every pregnant and new mom I encounter in my yoga classes (and, yes, sometimes just at the park and wherever else I happen to see them, too!).
What are (or were) your favorite pregnancy perks? Please comment below and let us know!
*Featured photo by Sara Neff