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This Mindful Body Scan Will Help You Tap Into Your Power During Pregnancy

Ashley Spivak
Certified Birth Doula By Ashley Spivak
Certified Birth Doula
Ashley Spivak is a Brooklyn-based certified doula. She is the co-creator of allbodies, a digital platform for modern health education, and the co-author of Why Did No One Tell Me This?. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Newsweek, and Teen Vogue.
Pregnant Woman At Home
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Navigating life in the age of the coronavirus is incredibly tough—and it gets even more complicated when you're navigating it for two. In this excerpt from their new book, Why Did No One Tell Me This?, doulas Natalia Hailes and Ash Spivak explore how pregnant people can tap into their innate power during a time that feels disempowering. This excerpt is a reminder that while you can never control the state of the world, you can always control your reaction to it.

Remember, we never actually have control (and especially not during pregnancy). We can always only influence and set the stage the best we can to succeed, with the best people to support us along the way. We never know the exact path, so we can only focus on how we move through it.

And anytime we want to shift, to better ourselves, be bigger, we need to go inward along the way. We need to contract in order to expand—hello, coping techniques!—because life is hard and scary at times, and there are growing pains we'll experience and lessons we need to learn along the way. We need to tune in to the compass inside of us.

We know listening to what your body is telling you can be scary since most of us have a zillion reasons why we have a complicated relationship with it. But here's the thing about the body: If you can learn to trust it and feel safe in it, it can actually help you build up your connection to your gut, as well as ground you when your head or emotions feel too strong or out of control. So we need to build back up that trust so our head feels safe letting our body take the lead. How? Start listening and practicing! The following exercises were designed to help you do just that.

Throughout the day, check in with the sensations that arise in your body. (We even suggest going so far as recording them.)

How do certain places affect those sensations? Certain vibes or the décor of a room? Certain people? The time of day? The food you eat? What are the sensations you feel when you know you are angry, sad, excited? What sensations do you feel when you like something? What goes on when you don't like something? And go the other way too—if you feel a sensation in your body first, ask yourself: Where are you? Who are you with? Can you discern what is causing those sensations to arise?

It's different for everybody, but here are some of the ways your body may talk to you: hunger, bloating, aches, or pains, etc. Of course, some sensations will be directly related to your pregnancy (thanks, baby!), but you'll likely still be surprised by the patterns you find. Take note!

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Once you have an idea of the language your body uses to talk to you, explore your relationship with your body. 

Find a private, quiet place to do this one, and get a pen and paper ready. Read through the exercise below before you begin.

1. Find a comfortable position and close your eyes. Take nice, long inhales and exhales.

2. Keeping your eyes closed and breathing deeply, begin to scan your body, starting from your head and ending at your toes. To scan your body, call to mind each individual part of your physical self, both internal and external—head, jaw, shoulders, throat, lungs, uterus, stomach, cervix, legs, toes, etc.

3. As you scan, take notice of what pops up for you as you address each part. Look for any colors, images, people, smells, body sensations, thoughts, or memories even if they seem irrelevant. Note any resistance and any parts you wanted to skip over.

4. If you feel any resistance at certain parts or tension, see if you can use your breath to help release it by sending a long, audible exhale in the direction of the tension.

5. When you are done scanning, open your eyes and write down any emotions, sensations, or points of interest that came up for you. Once you've reflected on your scan, ask yourself the following questions to find your blocks:

  • Did you have resistance to this exercise overall? Was sitting and being with your body difficult for you to do? Were you able to be still?
  • Did anything surprising come up?
  • Is the language you used to describe your parts, thoughts, or memories positive, negative, neutral?
  • Which body parts felt strongest? What did you celebrate about yourself? Where are your power plants?
  • How much of the language, imagery, and ideas that arose come from a place of judgment? How many of them are actually true to you today? Are any of them not about your body but someone else's?
  • Did anything come up that might be good to share with your birth and support team?
  • Based on this information, are there ways your support team may be able to make you feel safer during the perinatal period?

This article was co-written by ​Natalia Hailes.

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