I have to admit, I’ve been kind of a wreak this past week (and no, I’m not pregnant). On the outside, it looks like I’m managing everything okay, balancing caring for a toddler with activism and work and life, but inside I’m distracted, anxious, tense, and compacting all my feelings deep down so that I’m not just a walking mess. For those of us who share progressive values, these are truly upsetting times. Speaking as a Muslim woman, my community is on high alert and experiencing bewilderment, anxiety, grief and anger, and I know that we share our alarm with the broader community of people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and others.
Being pregnant during periods of anxiety, grief, and anger can be complicated. We know that the stress that we experience in pregnancy is also experienced by our babies. Cultural traditions worldwide recommend that pregnant women not look at or think about upsetting things. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality that we live in, or that of many of our sisters around the globe.
I think back to a lesson I learned from Karen Strange, a midwife and educator. She talks about the impact of stress on our babies, and suggests that when we experience a “stress event,” (say, reading the news…), that we take a moment, a deep breath, and then send a message like: “Hey little baby, that wasn’t about you. I love you, and I can’t wait to meet you.” She calls this a “love bath.”
We could all use a love bath.
Some stress reduction techniques that are wonderful in pregnancy include:
- Mind-body movement, such as yoga
- Acupuncture (amazing for stress)
- Herbal teas, such as chamomile, lemon balm, and skullcap, and valerian and passionflower for sleep
- Prenatal massage
- Walking in nature
And generally, be sure to nourish yourself. This doesn’t just mean good food and clean water, it means beauty. Listen to beautiful music, let your eyes rest on beautiful things, surround yourself with friends (and take a break from discussing politics), and seek out goodness, connection, and joy. You are the one who can control whether you get sucked under by this tide of dark absurdity, and you get to choose how much light to let in.