Do you know how to float on your back in the water?
Imagine you’re doing it right now.
Remember the smell of the chlorine, the feel of the cool water hitting the side of your face. Your breath quickens a little until you find the sweet spot and you’re floating, facing the bright blue sky, not a hint of tension in your body.
It’s relaxing now that you’ve mastered it but do you remember first learning to float on your back?
It’s a really bizarre sensation and pretty counterintuitive if you think about it.
The water can be scary in the beginning and your first instinct when you’re learning to float is to want to hold onto something that’s going to anchor you because it’s hard to believe your body won’t just sink.
When you realize there’s nothing to hold in the pool, you start noticing the water getting in your ears. And then your eyes.
You feel your stomach sinking and you think, “This doesn’t feel safe!”
So you start splashing around, moving your arms and legs in every direction trying to find which way is up.
The only thing is: what’s the first thing swim teachers tell you when you’re learning to float?
Don’t splash around!
Our instinct to fight the fear of sinking is the very thing that would bring us down if we were actually in a life-threatening situation in the water.
If you want to stay safe in the middle of a pool or the ocean, you have to fight the urge to fight and find a way to relax so you can be safe.
The same is true during a high-risk pregnancy.
As soon as you find out that you have pregnancy complications, whether it’s a health problem for you or your baby, your body goes into fight or flight mode.
My personal opinion, as someone who’s experienced a very complicated pregnancy, is that moms with high-risk pregnancies go into fight AND flight mode.
Your body goes into overdrive trying to protect your baby.
You tense up without even realizing it, believing subconsciously that will keep your baby safer and in you longer.
The problem is that this very tension can trigger preterm contractions and other pregnancy complications.
Stress during pregnancy has been shown to increase complications such as elevated blood pressure, high blood glucose levels and low birthweight babies, even if they’re born at term.
Research has shown that stress is one of the biggest risk factors for preterm birth, even more than an incompetent cervix or preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM).
Let that sink in for a bit.
Your instinct to fight the fear, could be making your pregnancy more complicated than it already is. (Tweet that!)
Teach yourself to lean into the fear.
I’ll be honest, it will feel completely counterintuitive at first.
At first you’ll want to hold on to something tight or you’ll feel your breath quicken because relaxing your body will feel wrong. Like you’re not doing enough for your baby.
You might find yourself wondering, “what if I relax and I’m not prepared if something happens?”
You might try it for a minute, feel like it’s not the right thing to do and go back to tensing up.
Floating doesn’t come naturally to anyone.
You have to teach yourself to stay calm when every cell in your body is ready to fight. (Tweet that!)
First, accept that you’re afraid.
That may sound really obvious, but it’s something so many of the moms I work with struggle with because they worry naming that fear could trigger something bad to happen.
That may feel true, but it isn’t how our bodies work.
Naming your fear lessens the impact it has on your body instead of the other way around. (Tweet that!)
Acknowledge the fear instead of letting it hijack your thoughts until you’re stuck in the cycle of “what ifs”. Say to yourself “I am afraid”.
Then, take time to recognize what fear feels like in your mind and in your body.
Is it tension in your shoulders? Is it shallow breathing? Is it clenching your fists? Is it feeling your brain is on overdrive and you can’t get it to stop?
When you notice these sensations, remind yourself that you’re splashing in the water, when what you need to do is float. (Tweet that!)
Take long, deep breaths and release in your body to feel more relaxed.
Don’t fight fear. Fight for your baby.
Relax your body and learn to trust that no matter how counterintuitive it feels, it is what you, your baby and your pregnancy need right now for a healthier pregnancy and lower risk of delivering early.
Let yourself float, so you can improve your chance for a healthier pregnancy, lower your risk for additional pregnancy complications and give your baby a chance to keep cooking for as long as possible!
Not quite sure how to make this work for you?
Join our Community of Hope and let me know where you’re struggling with this and I will reply personally!
What’s the biggest trigger for your fear right now? Leave your thoughts below and I’ll help you conquer that fear.