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We see the glowing faces and cheerful personalities of a pregnant woman but we know from this month’s theme it isn’t all hunky dory always. Last week we discussed psychosis in pregnancy, so isn’t it time we focus on things a woman can do before, during and after pregnancy to help look after herself better?

It’s ok to be slightly selfish when it comes to looking after yourself, because you are worth it, and pregnancy can be a time where you forget about looking after your own needs. Rely on yourself to cheer you up first and foremost.

You may be overjoyed at the thought of having a baby, and then just as quickly wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. It’s a time where you feel your hormones and emotions are all over the place but take a deep breath and remember you are not alone. Although you may have another life inside of you, it important to not forget about your own life, that is also valuable and needs looking after. The hormonal imbalance coupled with mood swings, frequent urination, headaches and back pain do not make pregnancy an easy experience to savour.

Not only is your body growing but so should your knowledge concerning the changes within and around you – share it with those closest to you so they have an idea too. Read books, discuss with your midwife, and research online – you may even come across mum-oriented forums with tips and information. Like knowing around four months and onwards, the baby in the womb can hear outside noises – get yourself heard by conversing with the baby as well as by reading or listening to the Qur’an.

Sleep or lack thereof may also become an issue, use this time to pray as it may coincide with tahajjud (voluntary night prayer) when ad’iyah (supplications) are readily accepted. Try to eat and sleep well, taking short naps and including foods good for both you and the baby. Practice relaxation techniques and positive self-talks for times when you feel overwhelmed or down as well as reaching out to your Lord, who has made you capable of this, by doing lots of dhikr (remembrance) and istighfaar (seeking forgiveness) to ease the process.

Yes, the baby in your belly is a blessing but it is also mentioned in the Qur’an that it can be a time of weakness,

“His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years”

Qur’an 31:4

It’s good to be confident but you don’t have to do it all yourself, because you and your baby’s health matters. So you should do what makes it easy for you, by asking for help and reaching out to those close to you like your spouse, family and friends – you need to be surrounded by comforting and optimistic people. Furthermore, stress produces a hormone called catecholamines which can affect the nervous system of the baby.

It’s easy to let the hormones do the talking and rule your mood, but take charge and be patient, there may be moments and days where you get quite grumpy and grouchy with everyone around you, but allow your loved ones to know how you’re feeling rather than bottling it up. Mood swings, tantrums, emotional outbursts to an extent are all common but if you think they are getting out of control, mention it to your doctor. Depression, postnatal and during pregnancy, is often unexpected, unavoidable and troubling for both the mother and family. Research has highlighted the prevalence of depression during the transition to motherhood. This is why health care services need to be alert for signs of depression, and to ensure that mothers and their babies receive the full care and support they need. So if you’re feeling down, make extra effort to find reasons to be positive. Be a persistent positive thinker and ask people around you to help you think positively so you are not surrounded by negative vibes.

Whatever self-care routine you aim for yourself, remember that it won’t only benefit you, but also those around you. You are the person who will teach your baby, and there’s no time like the present to start sending them encouraging messages through caring about yourself. Harness the power of habit in your self-care routine and create a list of self-care options and try to do one thing each day from your list. By establishing this habit, when life gets busy, you’ll be more likely to make self-care a priority, even after pregnancy.

Pregnancy is a chapter of a woman’s life where you know but don’t quite know what to expect; each pregnancy is individual so what works for one may not for another but there are lots of good self-care tips out there that could work for you. We hope all those pregnant or trying to be, have a healthy and safe pregnancy with an easy delivery – may they be the coolness of your eyes, Ameen.

Do you have any pregnancy self-care tips to share with others? Let us know!

Hamida Moulvi

Hamida has a BSc (Hons) Psychology degree, having studied modules concerning Emotions and Mental Health. She is passionate about giving back to the community as it is important to benefit others - every little helps, in inspiring changes and raising awareness, especially within Muslim communities where many cultures can believe mental health isn't a real problem. She has a love for the way Islam guides, inspires and heals (HasbunAllahu w ni'mal wakeel) and is also interested in languages, being multilingual. She believes words have a powerful impact whether that be in written or spoken form, and that we are all here to learn, implement and share so helping write articles would achieve this also.

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