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Please, rethink the ‘dating’ scan…

Ultrasound in pregnancy has become such a routine procedure that you may not even have thought to question this medical intervention. After all, it’s an exciting part of early pregnancy, almost a right of passage and the first way that many couples now announce their pregnancy – with that little black and white photo on Facebook.

I’m not going to talk about the potential physical side effects of ultrasound. That’s up to you to do your research but if you’re interested in knowing more, a good starting point is Dr Sarah Buckley.

What I’m going to talk about is why I would love you to rethink that early ultrasound. You might not have thought about this before…

Many of my clients are super keen for that early ultrasound because they need confirmation that everything is ok. At 8-12 weeks it can be too early for most women to show any physical signs of pregnancy. Sure, you might feel nauseous and like you have a permanent hangover, but except for that and tender breasts or having to pee more often, its not like you can tell you’re pregnant. There isn’t any discernible bump to prove that there’s a baby on board.

The first trimester can be a psychologically challenging time. There’s an unspoken rule that most women seem to wait until 12 weeks before announcing the pregnancy, a pact that reflects the fear of miscarriage in the first trimester. For many women, especially those who might have previously experienced miscarriage, an early ultrasound provides reassurance – they can see the tiny sign of a heart beating.

Unfortunately, a heart beating at 8 weeks doesn’t guarantee that the pregnancy will be ok.

There really is no reason to have an ultrasound at this early stage because it can’t make a difference to whether the pregnancy will continue or not. If the ultrasound detects no heart beat, your body will miscarry naturally in a couple of weeks. If the ultrasound detects a heart beat, you might still miscarry. Unfortunately it happens.

On the other hand, ultrasound is an intervention and not without risk. Despite the increasingly common and routine use of ultrasound in early pregnancy, the truth is we don’t know the effect of ultrasound on foetal development but we do know that guidelines advise against the use of ultrasound before 12 weeks unless absolutely necessary.

The reason I would love you to rethink early ultrasound has nothing to do with any of this. And nor does it have to do with the implications a dating scan will have on establishing an EDD and the associated pressure to be induced for every day that goes beyond that EDD.

What I would like you to consider is how a seemingly harmless early ultrasound has the potential to set in motion a chain of events that can effect your entire pregnancy, your birth and even mothering.

Every time you choose an external source to reassure you that everything is ok, you strengthen the neural pathways that teach you that the way to know what is best for you and your baby is to be found from an external authority. 

At the same time, when you choose to depend upon an external authority for reassurance you weaken the neural pathways that connect you to the inner knowing that all women possess – your intuitive body wisdom. 

It’s simply a matter of brain development.

As a modern woman, you’ve probably been taught that when you first think you’re pregnant, you do a pregnancy test. Now, generally at this stage you know you’re pregnant. The pregnancy test confirms what you already know. You don’t really need to pee on a strip, and you certainly don’t really need to have a blood test. You know.

This inner knowing that comes from inside and can’t always be explained is called your intuitive body wisdom.

Some women know the moment they conceive. I did.

Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of technological advancement as it applies to pregnancy and birth is that it teaches us to over ride this intuitive body wisdom in preference of physical measurements and tests.

So even though you know you’re pregnant, you don’t trust it unless a physical test or measurement confirms it.

Another way of looking at this is over riding the feminine, right brain abilities of intuitive knowing in favour of the masculine, left brain pursuit of analytical understanding.

Like all skills and abilities the more you use it, the more it develops. Use it or loose it.

Now, on its own an ultrasound in early pregnancy might seem a fairly harmless thing.

But, as the beginning of a journey that informs how you choose to approach your pregnancy either from a place of inner awareness and connection or from a point of seeking external authority, that has huge implications.

The more you learn to develop your intuitive body wisdom, the greater you develop connection to the parts of your brain that know how to birth and know what your baby needs, its instinctual.

These skills don’t happen overnight. In order to make it in the career world, modern women have learnt to become highly left brain, masculine dominant. These are the analytical, rational, logical neural pathways that you’ve practiced again and again since primary school when the focus was on maths and english rather then art.

Learning to develop your inner world, the right brain world of feminine intuition is not something our culture actively encourages. That’s because the feminine is the great mystery. She is the unknowable – the expansive reaches of infinite possibility – the creative conscious. It is this unknowable quality that fills the masculine, critical consciousness with dread. Rather then being able to surrender to the Unknowable, the critical consciousness in us all wants to be able to control, wants to keep us ‘safe’ by trying to manage the unknowable: to compartmentalise, analysis and rationalise. It is based in fear.

It is scary to be in the face of the Unknowable. Every woman who has stood at the threshold of birth and embodied the word surrender is a testimony to the word courage.

Natural childbirth is the ultimate surrender to the feminine pathways of instinct and intuition. Preparing for natural childbirth is learning to get comfortable with the unknown. It’s learning to relinquish the parts of your brain that seek to control and to expand your capacity to trust your inner guidance and act on it.

This is a choice that you must practice every day.

And these are choices that begin long before your day of birth. It’s the small but consistent actions that you take that shape your destiny.

Saying yes to a dating ultrasound scan might seem like no big deal, but before you make this choice I would invite you to rethink:

Do I really need this intervention?

What benefit does it offer to me and my baby?

What are the potential risks?

Why am I making this decision?

Is my decision based on fear or trust? 

What does my intuition say?


THE BAO MAI MERIDIAN

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine there is a special meridian, known as Bao Mai, that connects the Heart to the Womb. It is this Bao Mai connection that allows the inner communication between mother and child.

To strengthen your Bao Mai connection, place one hand over your heart space in the centre of your chest and the other hand over your lower abdomen, just below your belly button. You’ll find even just holding your hands in this position is centering and creates a sense of connection.

Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Breathing deeply, notice how your hands rise in unison with each inhalation as your belly and chest expand, and then how both hands move in unison with each exhalation falling back toward your spine.

Using your imagination or your visualisation, notice if you can sense a connection between your Heart and Womb. 

Repeat this exercise daily and learn to listen to the voice within.

Why you need to stop apologising for your self…

Tell me, how hairy are your legs?

The reason I’m asking is because one of the things I’m always aware of in my practice is how commonly women apologise for themselves.

“I’m sorry I haven’t shaved my legs”

“You’ll have to excuse the belly flab”

“My feet are pretty gross, sorry”

As you may recall from my previous blogs, I’m on the Self Love Train – a journey I’d love to encourage you to take too – and this trip of a lifetime is teaching me so much about subconscious behaviour patterns that are really detrimental to happiness, success and wellbeing.

This Self Love Train is quite a trip, and the insights along the way are definitely worth another postcard to you…

One very deep, core belief that I’ve discovered is a feeling of not being enough. As a result, there is then an unconscious drive to be doing, to be pleasing, to be seen to be achieving in some kind of warped attempt to justify my very existence and right to be here.

And I realise I’m not alone.

How often do you find yourself unable to relax because you feel you should be doing…something?

Or maybe your tendency is to over-deliver and go above and beyond what is asked of you, and even then still find yourself worrying at 3am if you’ve done enough.

Maybe it’s so normal for you to put other people’s needs ahead of your own that you don’t even know what your needs are!

Or maybe its always seems to be you who can’t say ‘No’ and ends up doing all the work?

Yep, guilty on all counts.

When you have a deeply held belief that you’re not enough, this belief will be driving all of your impulses. It’s like a constant striving to be something more, holding out for that gold star of approval – from your husband, your partner, your work place, your family – without realising that all you need do is breathe. And relax.

You are enough.

So what’s this got to do with your hairy legs?

Dr Christiane Northrup, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom speaks of this underlying sense of not being enough stemming from centuries of Western civilisation belief that the masculine is superior to femininity. As an obstetrician, she retells the common occurrence of women apologising to their husband for birthing a daughter rather then a son. She describes a deep cultural message that women need to apologise for being born female, and how the underlying sin of a female body infiltrates women’s expectations for themselves and the treatment they receive.

“Have you noticed how often women apologise?…No matter how many degrees you get in college, no matter how many awards you earn, somehow you can never measure up. If we must apologise for our very existence from the day we are born, we can assume that our society’s medical system will deny us the wisdom of our ‘second-class’ bodies. In essence, patriarchy blares out the message that women’s bodies are inferior and must be controlled.”

Fascinating stuff, and I witness the truth of this everyday in my work with women and their relationship to their body. It’s such a good explanation why women don’t complain after a birth without privacy, power or respect. We don’t expect it.

Now, before you get triggered by words such as ‘patriarchy’, I’m sharing this with you not to point the finger at the masculine or otherwise feed into the story of women as victims.

Playing the blame game only serves to keep you prisoner to your negative emotions. By making it someone else’s fault that things are as they are, blame hands your power over to someone or something else.

Whereas, when you take responsibility for your own wellbeing you are prepared to look beneath your immediate response to recognise how you might be creating the issue in the first place.

My point is to remind you that you are powerful. Power comes from awareness and the willingness to identify deeply held, underlying beliefs that shape your life.

It can be as simple as starting to recognise how often you do unnecessarily apologise for yourself, or noticing how common it is for you to make negative comments toward your body.

And to choose to not do that anymore.

This is the kinda core stuff to weed out when it comes to Self Love.

Imagine, just for a moment, that you truly felt in every cell of your body I AM ENOUGH.

How different would your life look?

Here’s to loving all of you, especially your hairy legs and belly flab.

x Peta

 

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Self Love: Your Internal Guidance System

What’s the one step you can take that will guarantee you always make the right choices in pregnancy, birth and beyond?

The answer is Self Love. 

This is the place to begin. Learning to love yourself is so powerful it’s really all you need to do. When you commit to learning to truly love yourself then from this place of deep self respect you’re naturally led to the choices, the behaviour and the attitude that is best for you and your baby’s wellbeing.

Not only that, Self Love and Self Worth are interchangeable. When you love who you are, you allow yourself to receive the abundance of love, support, wellness, personal fulfilment and success available to you. You let go of the self sabotaging thoughts, beliefs and actions that hold you back from living your best life.

Unfortunately most of us have been taught through life experience the opposite of Self Love. 

Most people learn at a very young age to seek love and approval from outside of themselves.

Whilst in the beginning you experience unconditional love, as you grow older you start to learn that certain behaviours meet with approval and other behaviour meet with disapproval. You start to learn that love and approval is conditional upon acting or being a certain way, and because Love feels good and you want to feel good, you learn to modify your behaviour and who you are in order to feel good conditional upon this or that.

As a result you reject the parts of your Self that cause you to feel disapproval or unlovable.

You lose connection to the beauty of who you truly are. This leads to choices, behaviours and actions that are out of alignment with your natural expression of Self.

Little girls in particular are taught to be ‘sugar and spice and all things nice’. Girls are encouraged to be ‘good girls’ and that means rejecting those aspects of their personalities that challenge how other people want them to behave. As girls grow into women this conditioned response to please other people means women frequently put themselves last. When girls aren’t encouraged to engage the assertive and aggressive parts of their personality, it may be hard for them during pregnancy or birth to speak up for themselves and assert their authority and autonomy.

Self Love is the process that reconnects you to the truth of who you are and teaches you to reclaim the parts of yourself that have been rejected throughout your life.

As you learn to love the whole of who you are, you are able to receive with greater abundance.

Self Love is the commitment to knowing that you are worthy of your deep love, forgiveness and approval unconditionally.

Self Love is your Internal Guidance System

When you use Love as your guide, you are always moving toward a state that feels good. It feels good because Love is associated with the expansive vibration of joy, abundance and alignment. It is your natural state of being, the truth of who you are.

Self Love is about always moving towards the thoughts and feelings and actions that allow for you to feel good. You choose Self Love because you care about how you feel and it’s from this place of self care that you allow yourself to receive all you need to be happy, healthy, loved and supported.

Self Love is about honoring your own divinity. That sounds kind of cliché, but it’s something worth thinking about. It’s a powerful act of creation to grow and birth and sustain a baby, and women have that power. Throughout time the Mother archetype has been worshipped as the creator of life, and yet today the value placed on mothering has fallen to an all time low.

In addition to undervaluing the role of mothering, our culture does little to prepare women to be strong and confident mothers.

For example, most of what’s offered as part of routine antenatal care teaches women that their bodies are not to be trusted, that birth is dangerous and that some external source knows what’s best for them and their baby.

It’s no wonder that when the baby arrives women experience doubt and confusion and uncertainty when every step along the pregnancy journey leads women to seek guidance and approval outside of themselves that they are doing it ‘right’ and that everything is ok.

Now, imagine a world where your routine antenatal care supported you to find the skills and resources within to trust yourself, your body and your intuition as you made the transition to motherhood. A model of care that built you up and helped you feel powerful as a woman. What would that look like?

Self Love is the answer.

When you use Self Love as your guide you are connecting to your Internal Guidance System, you are listening to the whisper of your Heart for guidance rather then looking outside of yourself for confirmation or approval. You do what feels good to YOU, and what feels good to you is always the right choice for yourself and for your baby – even if that goes against outside opinions.

Happy Mother = Happy Baby

The world of pregnancy, birth and mothering is full of do and don’t advice, something that preys on the vulnerability of women at such a pivotal time in life. Self Love teaches you to honour and trust your Self and to convey the personal authority that your choices are worthy of respect.

It’s so powerful to know you have an Internal Guidance System; that you have access to inner resources that will always lead you to the right choices.

The very first step is Self Love. It is the one practice that will transform your life.

Are you ready to begin?


Self Love Action Step…

Let’s start with an INTENTION.

For extra power, do this standing in front of a mirror looking deep into your own eyes. If that feels a little strange right now, skip this bit and just speak your intention out loud. You can always come back to doing it in front of a mirror later when you feel more comfortable.

Put one hand over your heart and the other over your lower belly. This connects your Heart with your Womb, a connection in Traditional Chinese Medicine known as Bao Mai that connects a woman’s creative centre with her heart’s desire (the secret to manifestation).

Take a few deep breaths to centre yourself and when you are ready say out loud,

‘I choose to commit to deepening my connection to my Self and to my unconditional Self Love. I deeply and completely love and approve of myself.’

Take a deep breath. Let it go…

Smile into your body and allow that smile to drop down into your heart and to your lower belly. 

Before you finish, take a moment to feel a sense of gratitude for your Self.