Our starting point is how our bodies and minds connect to create the world that we experience physically. For example if we feel fear, our heart rate increases, our muscles tense and we are ready to fight or take flight. This is the result of hormones that act on our body in relation to what we experience in our brain in the form of thoughts and emotions. In this case the hormone is adrenaline but there are many other hormones that act on our bodies as a result of what we are thinking and/or feeling. These hormonal actions take on a special significance during pregnancy because of what we think or how we feel . The subsequent actions on our body’s systems can also affect the baby both during pregnancy and once born. For example, if we feel stressed and anxious, the baby is more likely to be stressed and anxious. Conversely, if we feel calm and nurtured the baby is likely to be calmer.
In Opti-mum we aim to provide a series of ‘tools’ that will help you to recognise how your complex hormonal system is affecting both your mind and your body. This may help you to address issues that are potentially preventing you from providing an optimum environment for your baby and assist you to ultimately achieve and sustain a well-balanced lifestyle. In order to do this, we use a holistic approach to introduce tools that can help to work towards this sustainable lifestyle; supporting the growth and development of both the baby and the new parents. After all, this isn’t simply about the birth of a baby, this is about the birth of a mother, father and the birth of a family.
- Our keystone tool is the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the art of being able to take time to switch off our ‘internal chatter’ and give ourselves a revitalising break in our often busy lives. It helps us to bridge the mind/body divide by providing space to reconnect, restart, reboot our system and strengthen focus, intention and essentially self esteem. Mindfulness in pregnancy offers the additional opportunity to take time to connect with the baby at a deep level. Mindfulness stems from the practice of meditation but can be used in a secular as well as a spiritual practice. The scientific evidence supporting the health benefits of using mindfulness is incontrovertible and it is a learnt skill that will bring lifelong benefits in terms of health and wellbeing.
- One of the major benefits of using mindfulness is that it encourages us to take a slower approach to life. Our fast paced world presents the potential for challenges to our health and wellbeing such as higher rates of chronic illness including heart disease, diabetes and mental health problems. In the Opti-mum programme we explore the benefits of a slow, simple and gentle approach to childbirth and parenting.
- Using the qualities of art in the form of images and activities, the Opti-mum sessions encourage activation of the “right” brain which is the creative part of our brain, helping us process emotions. By switching to this part of the brain we are more likely to release hormones such as oxytocin, the hormone of love and trust; the very same hormone that produces positive parenting responses.
- Nutrition plays a significant part in supporting a healthy pregnancy and ‘building’ a healthy baby and so you will learn about mindful whole food in our programme. A mindful approach to how we eat as well as what we eat is foundational to our health and wellbeing and again this applies equally to the baby.
- Becoming pregnant and having a baby makes us reevaluate many things in our lives. This is a time when many people begin to consider the world that we are bringing our children into. We will look at how we live and some simple new ways of living that make a lighter footprint. We introduce a more environmentally responsible approach to parenting by looking at alternatives and explore what we truly need in order to raise a healthy thriving child.
- Physical movement is an integral part of a healthy body. Pregnancy is a time when there is often a change required in the type of movement as the body grows and changes. Body awareness and movement are woven into cultures throughout history to facilitate ease of birth. Opti-mum programme aims to facilitate this transition and invite a greater sense of freedom by exploring movement options.
The belief, resulting expectations and actions of a support person on a woman in her birth journey can define the quality of her experience and this knowledge is central to being a solid support partner. The Opti-mum programme provides tools for your support partner to empower them to be the ‘ultimate support person’ as well as prepare them personally for their own journey ahead. We at Opti-mum believe that one of the greatest human desires is to connect with others and we are passionate about building community so that women and men can connect and share their experiences. We are each able to plant seeds with our differences and find safety in our commonality. The difference between loneliness and love is simply community… so come and join us! We sincerely look forward to meeting you.