So you may have noticed that I’ve been a bit lax on the old blogging front recently.
And that’s mainly because I’ve been so busy actually doing things around Paris & I haven’t felt much like sitting down & tap tapping on my computer.
But, whilst I’ve not been keeping up to speed on my official blog here, I have been posting lots of little snippits of things me & my bump have been getting up to around Paris (and other parts of France) over on my Doula Paris instagram & facebook pages.
I’ve also been scribbling away in my diary, keeping track of all the interesting changes, feelings and emotions that have been going on throughout my pregnancy. And I’m looking forward to turning all of this material into proper blog topics on here soon!
Since I started my maternity leave recently I’ve felt a strong drawing inwards towards really taking care of myself & completely experiencing the fullness of this magical journey. So I’ve been taking lots of time for meditation, reflection, self-care & nuturing. I feel so strongly that this is such a unique and precious time in my life that I want to know all of it deeply and fully, and to take as much time as I can to pay attention to the many changes that are going on in my body and my mind.
So here’s some of the stuff that I’ve been doing recently around Paris that’s played an important part in my preggo journey so far :
Pregnancy Massage & ‘mothering the mother’
Despite my regular yoga-meditation practice, which helps me to dig deep & find my own source of strength & peace, there are definitely times when I feel too knackered for anything, and I just want to hand myself over to someone else, to nourish and take care of me for a few hours.
For this, Marissa Bai is my ultimate massage Mamma. Her ayurveda pregnancy massages are deeply nourishing & insainly relaxing, and each time I go to her I feel like I can fully let go and be taken care of.
Since the beginning of pregnancy, I’ve felt a strong sense of wanting to be taken care of, and I guess it’s what we refer to as ‘mothering the mother ;’ that mums need to be looked after too, so that they can take good care of their babes.
So once a week I waddle along to Marissa’s house near Nation, where she smothers me in soothing sesame oil, for the best part of 2 hours…and something magical always happens. I feel like it depends on what my body needs week to week, but these moments seem to somehow open up the space that I need to listen to what my body is calling for. Often it’s moments of connection with the little guy romping around in my tum, but other times I enter deep & powerful visualisations of birth & motherhood. Above all it’s my once a week reminder to say thank you to my body for the GOD DAMN INCREDIBLE job it’s pulling-off in carrying, growing, and sustaining this little human inside of me. Like seriously, WOW.
Prenatal Swimming, aqua-pilates, aqua-yoga…aqua-anything
Being in water has always been one of my deepest pleasures. I find it so soothing and meditative and I am definitely 100% water baby : my mum apparently chucked me into the swimming pool pretty much as soon as I shot out of the womb, and throughout my childhood I can remember sitting at the bottom of the shower basin all morning until somebody noticed and came in and dragged me out.
So naturally, as soon as I got pregnant I got googling on anything and everything water-based in Paris, and it turns out there’s rather a lot!
Luckily, I live right next to the Maurice Thorez swimming pool - which is a bit of a Hipster scenester swimming pool as they recently shot the very cool Indie-film « L’effet Aquatique » there.
My baby-daddy & I also go to the Saturday morning prenatal swimming class together there, which is run by RSCM swimming club but you’ll find that there are various different public pools around Paris that do similar prenatal classes for couples, if you get googling. I had to put myself on a waiting list quite far in advance for this one, so best to get signed up pretty much as soon as you see that positive line appear….
The urban spa ‘L’echappé’ also does a great aqua pilates class in their thermal pool twice weekly & although this class is not strictly for pregnant women, the instructor Margot is also a prenatal pilates teacher so she is pretty savvy about what to avoid when pregnant. It’s a beautiful spa with beautiful surroundings and it feels sooooo good to step into the warm pool & stretch, while the water takes off the excess load of a heavy baby bump. Bliss.
I haven’t been (yet) since I got pregnant myself - as it’s a bit far over the other side of Paris for me - but I also HIGHLY recommend Perrine Alliod’s aquanatal yoga class in Asnieres-sur-seine. I actually joined Perrine & her prenatals in the pool before I got pregnant myself and it was utterly gorgeous, click here to check out the blog I wrote about her classes & for more details.
Meditating : in the park, in my flat…anywhere & everywhere…
It’s always a bit wierd plonking yourself down and sitting zazen in public places, but conveniently I live a short cycle-ride away from the bois de Vincennes, which is a huge green space that’s big enough to find a little spot where nobody seems to care about the pregnanct wierdo sat under the tree meditating.
Also, the more I do it, the more I don’t really give a shit about whose watching. It’s been a natural part of my journey into motherhood realising that it’s important to turn off from what other people might say or think, and to do what my intuititon is telling me is right or good for me & my baby. So I may look like a bit of a nutcase, but I know this zen time is sould food for me & my babe…so, whatevs Parisians, trot on.
And there’s something uniquely perfect about meditating in the midst of the gentle hubub of the park….tuning into the comings and goings of the sounds of birds chattering, passing pushchairs and joggers, and the gentle whistle of the trees blowing in the wind.
My meditation practice has played such an important role in my journeying inwards during pregnancy ; it’s incredible how quickly any anxieties or troubles I have can simply dissolve into the ether after a few minutes of meditation. It brings me back to a place of deep trust, peace and gratitude for things as they are ; a natural confidence in the flow of life. When I’m stuck in the busybusy-ness of my rational mind day-to-day, I can easily slip into obsessing or worrying about little things, or wanting to ‘control’ certain aspects of my pregnancy, which I know deep down are completely out of my control. (as I have so often said over on my Birth blog, pregnancy & birth are ultimately unknowable and uncontrollable).
Meditatation provides me with this space, trust, and deeper faith in the inevitable flow of things which brings great release and freedom, and allows me to appreciate things as they are, and thus enjoy the day to day miniture miracles of my pregnancy more intimately. I honestly don’t know how anyone lives without it !
I really enjoyed teaching my weekly prenatal yoga classes during the first 6 months of pregnancy, and although it was tiring to teach, it was a welcome motivation for me to keep going with my own practice right from the first month of pregnancy. I also enjoyed the weekly exchanges with other pregnant women about the many changes they were experiencing week-to-week, at the different points on their journey. I always begin my classes checking-in with how everyone’s feeling ; it’s a way for women to gain perspective & solidarity on what stages we’ve left behind and what changes are still to come. Women coming together to share and speak freely on their mutual joys & struggles is something I’ve always found to be significant, and it’s one of my fave bits about teaching group classes.
By the end of my 6th month, however, I was definitely ready to sign-out of supporting other women and start to refocus my energy on myself. It was a pretty intuitive feeling that spoke up and said, « time to look after yourself & your little one now Jode, » and I feel incredibly grateful to have the kind of job which allows me to listen & respond to what my intuition is telling me, to retreat when I need to.
Since stopping teaching, I usually get into my own yoga practice at home, but I occasionally feel like changing environment and joining the energy of a group class, it also invites me to try out some new ‘moves’ that I don’t necessarily do in my own practise.
When I do go to a group class it’s often with Sharon Bales or Brigitte Rietzler , who are both beautiful prenatal yoga teachers and very much in line with my own practice of gentle, safe, and connected movement during pregancy, as opposed to the more mechanical, disconnected classes that you can get from teachers who aren’t fully integrated in the physical and emotional needs of pregnant women.
If you are looking for a pregnancy yoga class then I highly recommend both of these 2 top notch teachers.
Ive also been going to a pregnancy class at the Iyenga yoga institute in Paris – but that one is not for the faint hearted and more suitable for those who have a regular Iyenga practice before pregnancy.
Prenatal Yoga is such a glorious way to connect with your body and your baby, and I recommend it to absolutely everyone! It’s really not necessary to have done yoga before and many women take their first yoga class during pregnancy. Pregnancy is the perfect opportunity to try out some stuff and it’s often a time when women realise they need to slow-down and start taking better care of themselves. So enjoy ! And make the most of it…
I officially taught my last Hypnobirthing class last week & am now taking a break from teaching for a while. However my monthly Doula Paris classes are still up-and-running during my maternity leave, as they will be covered by a replacement teacher who has very carefully been hand-selected & mentored by me, so that I can assure that my students will be in very good hands in her classes!
I’ve been teaching hypnobirthing for a while now, and it’s been interesting to discover on a personal level just how useful and effective a tool it is during pregnancy & birth preparation.
I had a pretty rough early pregnancy, but when I was feeling super zonked-out, lacking energy & pretty low, all I had to do was reach over and click on a hypnobirthing mp3 to get a good dose of positivity. I especially rememeber certain hypnobirthing affirmations really carried me through the grotty bits of the first trimester.
In the second trimester my boyfriend actually joined in on one of my group courses that I was teaching, which was both cool & totally hilarous, and he now dutifully reads me some of the hypnobirthing scripts before we go to bed. I feel like it’s helping us both to get our minds in a positive and calm place for welcoming our baby into the world, and it’s also a nice moment to share together at the end of the day ; it’s made me realise that essentially, hypnobirthing has become the bedtime stories for 30-somethings awaiting their first child! And it often leads to one of us getting the giggles at some point, as certain words in the hypnobirthing scripts read with a thick french accent, are just well, wildly comical.
In my own personal practice I now very rarely stick to the birth-breathing or affirmation practices that are taught as standard during the hypnobirthing course, but having the background in hypnobirthing ‘theory’ as it were, has definitely framed and informed the visualisation & affirmations that I experiment with now myself. This is one of the great benefits of the hypnobirthing course ; it gives you a background and understanding of the kind of visualisations and breathing techniques which are useful for birth, which you can then go away and adapt and make more personal to you, if you wish.