This week I want to tell you a story about a new mum. Let’s call her Chloe.
Chloe is so excited and happy to be pregnant. But now she feels her life is spinning out of control. She would love to feel free, but she is scared to let go …
Chloe is 32 years old. For many years now she has had everything in her life nicely under control. As a child Chloe had to move house a lot, and she craves a settled life. She works hard and efficiently as a City PA, leaving home at the same time every morning. She is married to Mike, a kind and calm man. Her house is beautiful, her relationships well ordered. All this makes her feel safe.
But now Chloe is twenty-three weeks pregnant, and things are changing. To start with, it took over a year for Chloe to fall pregnant, so she couldn’t plan anything much. Chloe had so much vomiting and nausea in early pregnancy that she has arrived late for work several times, and it’s been difficult to keep on top of all her responsibilities. She isn’t sleeping well. She’s been so tired that she’s had several arguments with Mike over nothing in particular, and last week she fell out with her best friend, Sarah.
Chloe is worried in case something goes wrong with her baby. She’s worried she is putting on too much weight. She’s been told her pregnancy is “high risk” because she had some health problems in the past. She never sees the same midwife for her appointments. Thinking about the birth scares her, because she’s afraid she will be totally out of control. She feels that everything is unraveling.
So what happens next?
Pregnancy and birth shake up all the routines and systems we put in place to make ourselves feel safe. Chloe is in danger of spiralling further into a feeling of panic and helplessness. Because body and mind are intimately connected, Chloe’s anxiety means she might have a more difficult birth experience. And this in turn may undermine her sense of self-worth and her identity as a mother.
Luckily, Chloe’s story has a happier ending. Chloe’s best friend, Sarah, came round the next day to make up after their row. She was really worried about Chloe. Chloe had a good cry and told Sarah how she was feeling. After a lot of listening and hugs, Sarah persuaded Chloe to go and see her GP. The doctor listened carefully, prescribed some short term medication to help Chloe sleep, and arranged some therapy appointments for her to talk through some of the issues from her childhood.
Connecting with body and baby
The following week, Chloe saw a really lovely midwife who arranged for extra home visits after the birth. She also suggested hypnobirthing classes and pregnancy yoga. Chloe and Mike prepared together for their baby’s birth. They learned to meditate and chose their favourite blend of oils for aromatherapy massage. The yoga sessions helped Chloe feel a real connection with her baby and her own body. She began to allow herself to breathe and relax.
Chloe’s birth didn’t go totally to plan. It took two days to get into “proper” labour, and then she needed the ventouse suction at the end to help pull baby out. But Chloe felt safe and prepared. When things got difficult and she wasn’t able to be fully in control, Chloe knew that she was loved and supported and everything would be ok. And it was.
Sometimes it’s all right not to be in control
Chloe and Mike welcomed baby Mia with peace and joy and love. Being a mum is challenging. Mia doesn’t understand plans or routines. But Chloe is learning to enjoy living in the present moment. She is discovering that sometimes it’s all right not to be in control. And that life is beautiful exactly as it is.
Getting the support you need
Stories like Chloe’s are common, but they don’t always end so happily. As a yoga teacher, health visitor, midwife and mum, I am dedicated to helping mothers discover their own strength and freedom. Sometimes women benefit from having lots of different support around them. Never be afraid to ask for what you need. You are stronger than you think.
The Calm Space Yoga will be offering pregnancy and postnatal yoga classes and one to one listening and support sessions from October 2018. To join our mailing list and for more information, go to http://thecalmspace.co.uk