How to Surround Yourself with Supportive People
When it comes to pregnancy, birth and raising children, the people in your life have great influence over your decision making: your partner, your family, your in-laws, your friends and your business associates. All the people found in these circles of influence have varying degrees of impact on your life decisions. Many of us do not realize how influenced we are by our friends and family members. When we are pregnant, somehow, everyone you know and love feels that it is their duty to help you make your decisions on how to birth your baby, who your caregiver should be and what to do with your baby after he is born.
Other people’s opinions about your pregnancy and childbirth can be intimidating and extremely frustrating, especially if you haven’t made up your mind about the decisions that have to be made. Throughout this blog, we would like to present the different circles of influence that you have in your life and to help you put them into perspective.
If we were to ask you about the people in your life who drain you of your energy, you could probably list off at least two. Family members, friends and co-workers can be supportive of your birth choices… and they can be totally insensitive at times. The difficulty is realizing that at some points in your life, it might be necessary to distance yourself from people who do not support your pregnancy or birth choices.
There is a time after birth when you feel vulnerable, especially after your first baby’s birth. You are learning the new skills of parenting while you function on little sleep. Your body is recovering from a lot of hard work and hormonal ups and downs. At this time in early motherhood, you have very small energy reserves to deal with criticism from energy draining people, especially if your parenting skills are being questioned.
Journal Exercise: Identify the Supportive People in Your Life
This exercise is designed to help you figure out the energy boosters and the energy drainers in your life:
Step 1 - Take some time to list in your journal the names of all of your family members, friends and co-workers in your life who you see on a regular basis.
Step 2 – Highlight in one colour all of the people on your list who your love to be with and help you to feel good about yourself.
Step 3 – Highlight in a different colour the people who make you feel frustrated, angry or sad.
Who are Your Energy Boosters?
Energy boosters are friends and family members who genuinely care for your well-being and keep you strong. They make you feel happy, joyful, light or relaxed. They have a definite positive influence on you. These are the people who you ask for advice or for help, especially during your pregnancy and after your baby is born.
Who are Your Energy Drainers?
Energy drainers are the people in your life who make you feel weak or uncertain, or who need you to give some of your energy to them. When you think about a person and if you experience an uncomfortable feeling in your body, such as:
Aches, pains, tightness in muscles around the face or neck
Tightness around your jaw
A heavy feeling around your heart
If these people are in your life for a reason: your co-workers, family members, etc. and you find them to be difficult. You might need to put your relationship with them on hold for a while, if that’s possible. Don’t cut them entirely out of your life, but choose to spend minimal time with these people during your pregnancy or just after your birth.
Please note: it needs to be stated that if you are choosing a path that is harmful to you or your baby, such as using drugs, drinking alcohol or not taking care of your physical needs, some of the people in your life may nag you about your life choices. While you might find that they are energy drainers, their intent is to help you by challenging you to quit your self-destructive behaviours. These people are really energy boosters in your life.
How to Gently Set Boundaries
As women, many of us have been conditioned to be a good girl. We were taught to be nice and to do as we were told, and for many of us, our good behaviour did get us lots of praise. Many women find that setting boundaries is challenging because we have to step out of our inner nice girl image to say, “No, I’d rather not do that.”
If saying no to difficult people in your life stresses you, ask yourself, “Is this person, this place or this activity good for me?” If the answer is yes, by all means, enjoy yourself! If the answer is no to any part of the question, decline the invitation with a simple “no, thank you.” If you need help to say no gracefully, here are a few suggestions that you might want to use:
Respectful Responses You Can Use to say No
I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t work for me
I’m sorry, I’d rather not
I need to take care of myself
This activity takes more energy than I have to give
My stress levels are higher than I’d like and I need to slow down and rest
I’m tired and I need to rest
I am simplifying my life because of the baby and this is something I can’t do for you
What you’re asking of me is more energy than I can give right now
The baby needs me to rest right now
My pregnancy hormones are asking me to rest right now
I have other commitments
We have made other plans
Your pregnancy will be easier if you decrease any stresses that you have in your life, and people can create a lot of stress. Once you figure out your energy boosting people, spend more time with them. You will feel better and enjoy your pregnancy more.
Dr. Melanie Beingessner is a pregnancy and pediatric-focussed chiropractor, a breastfeeding counselor, an infant massage instructor and a mom of three awesome kids.