So first thing is first I’m definitely not here to preach!!
I’m going let you in on a little secret and share a bit of my own story of smoking with you. I had started smoking at around 12 and was 24 when I got married and started trying to conceive and I actually never even planned to quit!
I don’t like to put pressure on myself you see – it just makes me want to rebel and do the opposite, so what I decided was that I wouldn’t smoke in pubic because that looks bad when you’re pregnant right? (sounds crazy and reckless if you've never smoked, yes I know. But I was young, and that's the truth of it)
So while we were trying to conceive I had decided to 'just cut down a bit' – maybe I was always more of a social smoker, but I found that if I knew I could sit down at the end of a long day & have 1 cigarette, then I wasn’t too fussed the rest of the time. What’s more I often found that when I did sit down for that cigarette I didn’t really want it, but kind of forced myself because I’d been looking forward to it all day!!!
So when I did get pregnant I found I just didn’t want to smoke at all, I think that for me, being able to cut down with no pressure meant I'd cut some of the habbit element, and most of the nicotine dependancy already - so with the added thought about growing another human inside me and wanting my baby to be as healthy as possible there was almost no effort required!
I often wonder was it those messages about black lungs that had sunken in on some level - who knows. What I do know is that it was the start to me beginning a kinder and more loving relationship with my own body. I’ve always been a bit of a self-saboteur, I don’t think I was taught very nice things about myself growing up, perhaps a little from parents, the rest from the media and our general culture. As a youth I didn't really care about, or actually even like myself very much, maybe that was the root cause of me smoking, does any of this resonate?
Well for the first time in my life, the health of my body mattered to someone else! So I HAD to get healthier – not for
myself, but for my baby – arghh! (But it's always easier when it's for someone else isn't it!)
Plus you know I did for the first time LOVE the changing shape of my body, the new curves, the awesome swelling and stretching of my tummy – maybe it was all those hormones swimming around in my system, but I loved every minute of that pregnancy & felt so energised, happy and my up & down moods totally levelled out!
I think a lot of this was to do with the fact I discovered yoga early on in my pregnancy. I learned tools to manage stress and anxiety, and that AMAAAZING long relaxation at the end of the session was to die for. It was really weird at first granted, lying down in a room full of strangers and trying to relax!! But not only does it get easier, its really awesome – being away from everyone and everything, doing this thing that’s enjoyable but really good for you on so many levels!! I couldn't believe how wrong I'd been about yoga before.
Previous exercise classes meant competition, trying to push myself further than the person next to me & collapsing in a sweaty mess at the end – don’t get me wrong I was physically in good shape and enjoyed being active, but the message I’d got on some subconscious level is that exercise is hard work, you should push yourself to your maximum to achieve ‘results’!
But now here was a new thing, a class that teaches self-love, being gentle with yourself, actually LISTENING to your body, not ignoring and pushing through!!
So anyway back to smoking!! I can’t say I’ve never smoked since, I still may have a cheeky puff if I’m out socialising & had a few drinks. And yes, in times of stress I am certainly tempted, and have succumbed on occasion.
However, I now have a whole arsenal of tools I can go to which help me out a hell of a lot more when I am stressed, and in this exciting quest of self-discovery and self-improvement I’ve found that in learning to love myself, I have attracted a whole circle of friends who love me too (something, definitely lacking from my old life) who are an amazing support too.
In summary – being pregnant wasn’t just an opportunity to be healthier & stop smoking. The lasting positive changes came from within me and rolled out to the rest of my life! Pregnancy, becoming a mother and the support from my new found yoga practice allowing me time to reflect and grow meant these changes didn't feel like walking up a mountain, or beating myself with a stick. Life is tricky sometime and smoking can be a crutch - unfortunately it's not a good one - we all need support and that is what yoga did for me - gave me the suport of other women and allowed me to find and grow those places of support and inner strength within myself.
Maybe your journey into motherhood won’t be so profound, maybe it will be more so. Either way, one thing is for sure and that is, that each time a baby is born so is a Mother. Here is an opportunity to be reborn, to recreate, reinvent yourself – not overnight, it is a process.
Yoga is a tool to reconnect with yourself, to manage stress and anxiety, to foster the mind body connection and to support you on your own life journey, wherever that may take you.
Emma's Antenatal provides non judgemental support to all parents if you would like to discuss how we can support you call Emma on 07922505272 or fill out the form below.