This past weekend I attended the ‘Sacred Pregnancy Retreat for Mamas’which was a two day program for expectant moms. You may remember me writing in a previous ‘Preggie Diaries’ post about the emotional roller coaster I was experiencing due to hormones and this huge life changing experience I was under going.
My doctor and husband tried to be as supportive and understanding as possible, but at the end of the day, some things like being pregnant can only fully be understood by other women who are experiencing it or have experienced it in the past. It was a God send when I saw the pamphlet for the retreat in the Gynae’s reception area after my last visit. I knew it was something I needed to do in order to understand all these emotions I was feeling that I couldn’t fully understand on my own.
The pamphlet described the retreat as, “This two day retreat holds space for pregnant women to connect with one another and their pregnancy experiences in meaningful and personal ways. We bring back the age old tradition of women sitting with one another during pregnancy and birth.” One would be forgiven for thinking this may have been a bit of ‘hippie tree hugging’ type stuff – but it definitely wasn’t – it was so much more…
Day one was quite hard, as we had to face all our fears and anxieties we’d had pent up inside and unable to express. It was quite amazing how even though we came into the room as strangers, we were able to open up and share how we felt.
The first exercise we did, we had to picture the person we trust and love most in the world (I pictured my husband) telling us exactly what we needed to hear.
We wrote these positive affirmations on a piece of paper, each member of the group read out one of the statements we wrote down as each of us sat in the middle of the circle. It sounds straight forward, but this simple exercise had some powerful results and brought most of us to tears.
It is in this vulnerable moment that one realises just how much as a pregnant woman you have new fears and old ones rear their ugly heads again and how much in this vulnerable state of pregnancy, we need love and all the support we can get in order to have a healthy pregnancy and ultimately easier labor.
That’s another thing – what I learnt on this retreat is, if you carry these fears and worries into the labor room with you it can result in you having a difficult labor. We under estimate how our emotional state can hugely affect our physical being.
Just chatting and learning each of these women’s stories was so inspiring and thought provoking, it’s amazing when you hear other people’s situations it always puts your situation into perspective.
The main facilitator Sofia Puerte, an organisational psychologist and mom of three was so amazing! She made everyone feel safe and comfortable and really took the time to get to know all of us (there were a total of 6 pregnant ladies in attendance). Having been through this process three times, she could really provide a unique point of view for her counseling methods.
My favourite part of Day one was writing a letter to my unborn son – this was so so incredibly special and emotional for me. Knowing that I would one day give this to my son to read. I urge you to do it too! Sofia said, it would be amazing if we wrote one every year for our children’s birthdays and either gave it to them every year or kept them and handed all 21 over to them on the 21 st birthday. If you haven’t written any yet, it’s never too late to start. It’s an amazing way to give your child insight into where your head was at as a young mom when they were growing up. Showing your kids your vulnerabilities can be hugely beneficial to your relationship with them.
We ended day one with a fear release exercise – we wrote our fears on a piece of paper, had the option to read them out loud before we burnt them and essentially ‘released them’. This was another ‘crying’ sessions for all of us but so so powerful. I left the first day feeling lighter and super calm, having faced my worst fears and anxieties about pregnancy and motherhood.
Day two started with a preggie specific yoga class, which was so rejuvenating and relaxing. I would have loved a nap after that! We then focused on our relationship with our partner and how we would nurture that. We sometimes forget that our partners don’t always know what to do to help us on this journey. While the will to help is there, it can sometimes be under valued and misdirected. This conversation with your partner is so important – speak to your husband/partner as to how you would like them to assist you on the BIG day and there after.
Another fun exercise we did was make a list of all the food we would like to eat over the days after labour. Assign this to someone to make sure they make it happen. For me, I am leaving this up to hubby and my mom to cook the food I will want most.
What we learnt as well was that one should have as little people around you in that first few weeks post birth as possible for your sanity and the sake of the baby. Babies are very very special beings – they pick up on the energies around them, and having too many people touching and handling them does affect their demeanor.
BIG POINT TO REMEMBER LADIES : One of the MOST important nuggets of wisdom from the retreat was this : You don’t want to have any interaction with any visitors on DAY 3 post partum – this is apparently when your milk comes in and hormones are raging – you’re basically a mess, so avoid any humans you don’t need around you.
It’s this kind of advice that the doctors won’t think to tell you, that sometimes the women in your life won’t think to tell you, but in an environment like this – it’s these handy tips and advice that was shared that’ll make all the difference later.
There was so much we discussed – far too much to mention in one blog post – so glad if you made it this far on this post and are still reading it!
We ended the day with a special ‘honouring/blessing ceremony’ which entailed the women who were running the retreat honouring us pregnant women by washing and massaging our feet and shoulders and feeding us the most delicious goodies!
We formed a bond as a ‘sisterhood’ with all the women who attended, one that we hope to continue and share in one another’s pregnancy and right of passage to motherhood.
I could not be more grateful and happy I attended this retreat as it really stretched me emotionally and psychologically and got me ready mentally for what I am about to under take – Motherhood. In our pregnant state we often discount our emotions and are so focused on the facts that gets presented to us at every doctor’s appointment. These are certainly important, but our emotional state is key as well to the overall process and the well being of our babies.
My advice would be – write that letter to your unborn child, even get your hubby/partner to write one too, form a pact with your partner with regard to your relationship and how you will nurture that once baby comes and keep a journal documenting how you feel from day to day – this will make for wonderful reading after the fact and potentially be valuable information to your daughter one day when she is in your position.
I would highly recommend all pregnant women to attend the next Sacred Pregnancy Retreat – it is truly life changing!
For information about future Sacred Pregnancy Retreats – go to their Facebook page: Sacred Pregnancy Retreat.
Or you can email Sofia : email@example.com
Happy Healthy Fabulous
Photography: Hemisha Bhana
Other pic of preggie moms : Stock pic
(Due to unforeseen circumstances we were unable to provide you with pictures from the actual retreat I attended.)