Sophie was a first time mum from Belfast. She was pregnant with her first child and was six months in when she wrote this… For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a mum, and now that I am starting the seventh month of my pregnancy I am almost there! I have looked forward to being pregnant for a long time, and have over the years, found myself indulging in reading articles, books and any other medium I can get my hands on to find out as much as I possibly can about pregnancy, birth and babies. As a YogaBellies teacher, I have spent so much time around pregnant women and new mums and now I am in the same position. I really feel that I have grown as a teacher and my personal experience has added to my knowledge and empathy.
Pregnancy for me has been a wonderful experience but I also feel that it has not been easy and makes me admire women who have had 3 or more babies! I have loved being able to experience so many new things that I have never experienced before, such as that first positive pregnancy test and telling my wonderful husband our amazing news. For the first few weeks, I felt that I was harbouring the most wonderful secret and I was getting so excited about being able to tell everyone. I kept looking at other pregnant women’s bumps and almost wanting to let them know that I was part of their “club” too but I kept quiet in those early weeks.
The first few weeks were a time of quite considerable stress for me. I felt very vulnerable as I couldn’t tell people before 12 weeks “just in case” something went wrong, and around 6 weeks, I unexpectedly started to bleed heavily and I feared the worst. Thank goodness the baby was strong and decided to stay with us and settle into its home for the next 8 months or so, but I really started to question this silence that has been placed upon us by society during the first trimester.
The pressure that was placed upon my husband and me when we feared the worst was crushing. It made both of us realise that we loved our baby from the very start; as soon as we got that positive pregnancy test result. Of course, our love has grown over time, but it really was there from the very beginning and when we saw our tiny little baby at our 12 week scan. It was such an amazing and life changing experience. I just remember being so overwhelmed that baby was back flipping and somersaulting around in there and I couldn’t feel a thing!
As the weeks went by, I noticed a beautiful roundness in my belly, and I waited with anticipation for those first kicks. I started to feel something around 15 weeks but wasn’t too sure what it was as it felt like little bubbles popping in my tummy. Around a week later I was sure that it was our little baby testing out its legs. I remember my husband being upset that he couldn’t feel the kicks when he placed his hand on my tummy at that stage, but he didn’t have to wait long! I think it is so very hard for men to truly bond with their babies in that early stage, because all they see is their weary partner who has perhaps been vomiting continuously for the past number of months. They feel no kicks, their bodies aren’t changing, all they see is their partner changing, and during the first trimester it is usually for the worst! Fortunately I didn’t get one moment of morning sickness but was overwhelmed with tiredness, something that I really struggled to come to terms with.
I have always exercised and been fit and had a healthy appetite, and during my first trimester I felt as if I didn’t know myself any more. I had no energy, my yoga mat lay on the floor almost neglected and all I wanted to do was sleep. I really felt that I was struggling through each day, simply going through the motions before I could get back to bed again and sleep once more, not the Sophie that anyone knew. I woke up one morning around 10 weeks pregnant and felt as if my world had come back to life again. My energy levels were up, my interest in food had returned and most importantly for me, I was able to get back to my yoga practice!
Something which I find difficult with being pregnant is that you are meant to get on with life as if nothing is different. You get up; you go to work and plough on with life. The difference is that everything is different! That is why I adore teaching pregnancy yoga because it is the one time in the week that mums get together to celebrate this incredible time and the journey that they are currently embarking upon. It is very hard to focus on the task at hand whenever your little one is tap dancing inside of you, bouncing on your bladder or swinging on your ribs in everyday life.
I love being pregnant, and I can’t wait to see this tiny little person in a few months’ time. To feel someone growing inside you is a life changing experience. When baby is born and in my arms, I know that I will still miss that feeling. I have loved nourishing my body with foods that are beneficial for both of us, and loved our daily yoga practise together helping to guide us towards our birth, building and a sense of strength, stamina and also calmness and ease. I truly do not know how I could cope throughout pregnancy without yoga to guide me. It has been my absolute saviour as it always has. It has been so empowering to know that the yoga that I am practising at this time is for both of us, and that with each breath I take I am breathing for my baby too. Yoga has kept me calm and contented and made me so aware that my baby is a part of me and that I need to be calm for the both of us.
I have enjoyed so much preparing myself for the birth, something that I started to do as soon as I found out that I was pregnant. It baffles me that women plan their weddings to the nth degree to ensure that the “most important day of their lives” goes off without a hitch, but they don’t prepare to the same extent for the arrival of their babies. Yes women may attend antenatal classes and listen to what midwives have to say but many are much more excited about their new prams or their baby’s beautiful little clothes. Of course this plays a considerable part, but so much focus is placed upon when the baby is here, and not the birth, the most important aspect of how the baby actually gets here. People who prepare for weddings and train for marathons and birth should be treated in the exact same way.
My preparation for the birth has consisted of reinforcing my excitement about the occasion of my physical birth. I can safely say that I have no fear whatsoever about bringing our baby into the world, I just can’t wait to experience childbirth as I feel that it is a moment to be celebrated and looked forward to as opposed to dreaded and feared. Throughout my pregnancy, I have never ceased to be amazed at how my body knows exactly what it is doing as it grows our baby and prepares my body for its arrival. The female body is truly miraculous, and women are so strong and powerful to be able to achieve this. I feel a sense of completeness now, almost as if I am allowing my body to fulfil the purpose for which it has been created.
Despite the fact that I have loved my pregnancy, I have also struggled with acute back pain from an old injury that pregnancy hormones have brought out. This has made it difficult at times and I have had to work very hard to not let my physical back pain mentally get the better of me, but once again the yoga has helped me to focus my mind and honour myself at the moment. I have always been the sort of person who ploughs ahead and perhaps my back pain is a way of showing me that I need to slow down and savour the moment because pregnancy is so short and I will never experience this pregnancy again. Pregnancy is a gift that keeps on giving, and I can’t wait for the gift of our baby to come gently into this world and into our arms.
Sophie Keil was YogaBellies Teacher of the Year in 2013 and runs YogaBellies, AquaBellies and Birth ROCKS sessions in Newton Abbey and Bangor. For more info please click here.
This blog is adapted from the revised edition of Birth ROCKS by Cheryl MacDonald, available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.
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I’m an inclusive, not scary, totally normal yet heavily qualified yoga instructor and founder of YogaBellies® and the Birth ROCKS Method. I’m trained in self hypnosis and meditation and what I love is helping women (ALL women) enjoy yoga without having to whisper all the time and wear fancy activewear that cost a month’s rent.
I believe Yoga is for everyone.