Top 5 Practices for Shifting Mindset from Competition to “Training for Birth”
High-intensity fitness classes tend to draw a lot of “Type A” go-getters. These are people who can buckle down, put in hard work, and get it done. Pushing the limit of our capabilities through training and regularly testing ourselves through competition can be a great way to stay motivated and grow; but when we find out we’re pregnant, things change. We can no longer keep up with our non-pregnant self or the athlete next to us – nor should we try. In pregnancy, we are faced with the opportunity to embrace a new season, to slow down, and connect, but often we desperately try to cling to the non-pregnant mindset of competition.
At BIRTHFIT, we believe in “training for birth.” This can be very appealing to a driven, competitive person. In this way, birth (or labor and delivery) becomes our new goal – our new “competition” that is 40+ weeks away. While it seems that we have just replaced one fitness event with another, the ways in which we prepare both physically and mentally for birth require a different mindset.
Here are my top 5 practices for shifting your mindset from competition to “training for birth:”
- Have a plan
This one is appealing, isn’t it? If you like to compete, you probably like to have a plan to get where you want to go. Prenatal training is no different, in that you can set a course through each trimester that is specific to your needs. I highly recommend BIRTHFIT Online Prenatal Programming for this very reason. You can focus your energy on productive, safe, and effective training. If you have a plan, you are less likely to jump into an ill-advised training session on a whim or through an invite from a well-meaning friend.
- Practice holding things loosely
Remember how I said to have a plan? Well, you also need to practice holding that plan loosely. This skill will come in handy in birth, in those early postpartum days, and, not to mention, days with a baby and days with a toddler. The reality is that you can have the best training day laid out, but then a bit of morning sickness or lethargy will overtake you. Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a nap. (Seriously.) You may have a tendency to think of a skipped training day or a nap as “slacking off” or even a “failure,” but learning to hold things loosely can help you practice extending grace and compassion to yourself and your baby.
- Stay in your lane
Social media is a gift and a curse. Never before in history have we had instant access to friends, family, people we admire, and unlimited information on tiny computers in our pockets. That being said, there’s also a lot of non-sense, comparing, judging, and illogical chatter in our pockets. As you train through your pregnancy, resist the temptation to compare yourself to other pregnant people, your non-pregnant friends, or some notion of the ideal #fitpregnancy. Trust your plan. Stay in your lane.
- Practice gratitude
With a rapidly changing body, it’s easy to not recognize the figure in the mirror staring back at you – and sometimes the changes aren’t always welcome. Not being able to move as you once did and not having access to your favorite movements or workouts can be a source of discouragement. One way to combat negative thoughts, judgments, or comparison is to practice gratitude. Being thankful for your body, your ability to move, and this season of life will refocus your outlook for the better. Keep a gratitude journal, making note of a few things you’re grateful for each day!
- Relax and have fun
Taking a pause on an ultra-competitive mindset might just be the best thing you can do for yourself in the long run. If you want to return to competition after you’ve properly rehabilitated postpartum, you will be prepared to mentally go there. Taking the pressure off and enjoying other aspects of group training or movement apart from competition can feel like a breath of fresh air, after being competitive for so long. Try a yoga class, walk on a wooded path, get really strong with dumbbells, explore other movement practices, get off the treadmill, and get out of the gym. Pregnancy really does go by fast, so relax and enjoy what this season of life has to offer.
Laura Mattison, MS, CSCS, BIRTHFIT Coach, CFL2 @coach_lauramattison
BIRTHFIT Staff and Leader Director
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