Monday, May 10, 2010

The Power of Self-Care

Recently I have had the privilege of collaborating with Birthblessings Doula Services. As defined by the American Pregnancy Association, a doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical and informational support to the woman who is expecting, in labor or has recently given birth. The doula's role is to help women have a safe, memorable and empowering birthing experience.

Being around these dedicated, enthusiastic, and supportive women resulted in contemplation about mothering in general. I realized one day that while a woman is pregnant her most important task is taking exquisite care of herself both physically and emotionally. For example, responsible expectant mothers begin taking prenatal vitamins, stop using harmful substances, eat healthy meals and snacks, visit their physicians on a regular basis, and prepare themselves, as much as they possibly can, for the birth experience.

The most remarkable thing about this entire process is that besides taking care of herself, the expectant mother has very little involvement in the miraculous development of the child. Without the mother’s instruction or advice a profoundly complex being is developed in the course of 40 weeks. Let me repeat, all the mother has to do is take care of herself! Of course we know that the pregnant woman often has to cope with physical discomfort, fatigue, swollen ankles, as well as a wide variety of emotions. Nevertheless, she is not involved, except through her ability to care for her physical and emotional needs, in the child’s physical, and intellectual development prior to birth.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that the ability of the mother to care for herself physically, emotionally, and spiritually is just as true once the child is born. Before you think that I have totally lost my mind, consider the following: If a mother is ill she cannot meet the needs of her child. If she is suffering from grief, depression, trauma, or anxiety, she cannot be available to her child to support their emotional and physical development. The same is true if the mother is overstressed, overworked, with many unmet emotional needs. The more a mother cares for herself the better able she is to act as a vessel to hold her children’s emotions and tend to their physical and intellectual needs.

So why is so difficult for mothers to allow themselves the necessity of self-care? Is it due to our culture’s teaching that a mother is self-sacrificing or the notion that we must work really hard and be in control to achieve our goals? Whatever, the reason, I invite you today to ponder what parenting might look like if mothers/ parents truly took care of themselves. More importantly, I invite you to identify needs that are not being met and how those unmet needs impact your ability to be truly available to your child.

I think this notion of self-care is so important that I have developed the Parenting Rejuvenation Station. Basically, I am a self-appointed “parenting doula” who, like the birth doula, provides emotional and informational support to the parent. If you would like more information about the Parenting Rejuvenation Station please visit http://www.dianecantrell.com/index3.php?id=55 . If you are pregnant or just had a baby please check out Birthblessings Doula Services at http://www.sabirthblessing.com/ .
            Here’s Wishing Anyone Who Provides Care To Our Children, Or Support To A Parent

                                                                   Happy Mother’s Day
                                          Please visit my new website at http://www.dianecantrell.com/