Posts in My Journey
You are Enough
You will always be enough

You will always be enough

How often do we hear this phrase said to us?  Weekly? Daily? Or not very often? Maybe never?  How about saying it to yourself? How often do you allow yourself to reflect on this, giving yourself the reassurance of knowing that you really are enough?  Society rules that we constantly strive to be a “better version” or “our best version” of ourselves, and this is brain-washed into us all from the moment we go to school, but what happened to just being content with who, what, where and how we are? If we are always striving to accomplish and achieve, then that carrot will forever be dangling and we may never understand or feel that we are enough.

So if we think about how little we say this to ourselves (unless you are a rare breed who cottoned-on to it years ago), then it’s worth wondering how we manage when we are at our most vulnerable; in pregnancy, birth and our 4th Trimester or parenting for instance.

Finding out we are pregnant brings about a wide range of emotions and is a unique experience for everyone.  We go from feeling immense elation to intense fear and all the rest in between. If the pregnancy is something you’ve been desiring, then you will have gone some way in your mind to “preparing” for the process of pregnancy and hopefully with a healthy baby at the end of it.  But even then, you may have doubts that it’s the “right time”, or if you have a career, if you’re doing the “right thing” by taking a step out of the rat race for your maternity (or even if you will have to end your career if it isn’t suitable to “motherdom”). .. So already, even if baby was planned, the doubts can and often do creep in, and naturally, that underlying feeling of “not being good enough” sits heavy under the surface of our daily grind.

If pregnancy was not planned, then it can lead us to making decisions before we are mentally prepared to do so and that usually leads us down the path of guilt, failure and shame. Emotions that every parent battles with, but may have the advantage of being more resilient than someone who inherently didn’t want that baby “right now”.

In pregnancy, a common running theme is that people feel they can’t be honest with themselves about the changes they may need to put into place with regards to their lifestyle choices.  Being realistic, if someone is in denial about how much a baby is going to affect their lives then invariably it will lead to a harsher awakening once babe is in arms, than if someone had taken the time to prepare mentally and emotionally for a baby to land in their lives.

If I had a £1 for every couple I’ve taught antenatal classes to over the years who decide to move house in pregnancy (one of the most stressful things to do when we are “supposed” to be keepin the cortisol levels to a minimum), because it’s not “good enough” to bring a new baby/child up in, I’d be a very wealthy woman!

During birth, many women believe they have to “perform” well, or “get it right”, and if they “fail” in their expectations of themselves (or perhaps that those close to them have made made them feel), then it’s very normal for them to feel like they are not good enough, or can’t/couldn’t give birth.  They lose faith and trust in themselves and their abilities to give birth which can lead to lack of faith in themselves as parents too. So what if we educated couples in pregnancy to let go of expectations and just be themselves? That they are enough, and most definitely “good enough” to give birth in any way or situation. Imagine how many women would cherish those moments more, content in themselves for doing their best, instead of berating themselves for not being enough.

In parenting, there is a universe of advice with well-meaning literature and “experts” all proffering the “best ways” to do pretty much everything.  However, the comparison monkey soon comes out when we see others managing marvellously when we are struggling to get it right. If we took a moment to not look externally for solutions, but within, trusting in our intuition and instincts when it comes to caring for our babies and children, then we would most certainly know that we are “good enough”, especially for our little ones, even if not for the rest of the world…

So my advice to everyone I meet, especially my clients, and also to myself is this:  “What would you say to your friend during this time?” No matter what circumstances they are finding themselves in?  Would you say, “Oh yes, I agree with you, you could be doing better!”, or would you smile, and kindly say “How about just being you for now. You are enough”.

There’s a latin saying that I was introduced to at school that says “Esto Quod Es”; which means “Be What You Are”. It’s a mantra that I live my daily. I hope it helps you in some way to find your inner worth too.

Sophie Burch is The Mamma Coach, on a mission to help pregnant couples and parents to have their best experiences no matter what, why, where or how.  As well as teaching Hypnobirthing Weekend Courses by the sea, she has a new online birth and baby preparation programme that integrates Relationship Coaching with Hypnobirthing, Mindful Birthing, Wellbeing and Self Care Coaching; a completely integral, therapeutic approach to Preparing for Birth and Baby. She also offers private therapy sessions for people struggling with anxieties, stress, low mood, depression and phobias, online and in East Kent.  Sophie has experienced birth 3 times, 3 different ways and has suffered with postnatal ptsd, post natal depression and postnatal anxiety, which is why she now does what she does and is passionate at helping and supporting anyone having a tough time.

Qualified in Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy, Hypnobirthing, Mindful Hypnobirthing, Baby Massage, Aromatherapy, Pregnancy and Holistic Massage, Reiki and Anatomy & Physiology, Sophie lives on the Kent Coast with her Husband, 4 Boys (including Twins), their Cocker Spaniel, Hamster and 2 fish! She loves nature, beach walks, music and laughter.

IG: @themammacoach

FB: @themammacoach

Hear the Lioness Roar

I am like a lioness. I am a Mother.
I am proud and I stand by my belief that Mother Nature designed me this way.

Tune into your Inner Lioness

Tune into your Inner Lioness

We all have it in us. It’s natures way. Why? To protect our young and ensure they are safe from predators, getting themselves into sticky situations, or just reign them in when they’ve over-stepped the line. Not only do we have a beautiful, deep, inner roar, but we have instincts second to none, that sniff out danger and raise our adrenaline levels so that we will fight to protect ourselves and our babies. We are no different to animals in this way.

So why be afraid of letting that inner roar out?

There is so much information on how to be or not to be the parent that supports our children and doesn’t screw them up for life. Of course none of us set out to be or want to be the one who affected our children’s behaviour to their detriment. Our desire is for our little darlings to grow up as kind, balanced, go-getters, showing compassion and empathy to everyone they meet, whilst succeeding in everything they lay their little eyes on. Yes? No?

Reining them in.

Reining them in.

However, the reality is that pressures are on us from every direction in our modern day society and to cut a long story short, that leaves us frazzled the majority of the time; resulting in our often quick-to-react automatic responses being harsh and leaving us and our kids weeping and guilty at our actions and reactions. The majority of the advice out there says, this is not the best behaviour or example to set our kids, and we instantly feel like we are failing.

What i’m getting at is there are two types of ROAR. One is as above; the pushed to the limit automatic reaction. The “Oh shit, I shouldn’t have said that” reaction. The other is the “Protector Parent” reaction. The one where you have had enough but are protecting them from themselves, or god forbid, falling into the road or off the banister, or out of the window! Then a ROAR is very much needed and it’s ok in my book to really let them know about it so that they won’t (or you hope they won’t) do it again!

There are many reasons why kids getting used to a good ROAR or two are a good thing:

Firstly, out in the world beyond your protecting arms, they won’t cope with seeing anyone shouting or worse, at them. Therefore, it’s helping with the following:

We are the protectors.

We are the protectors.

Resilience. We need to toughen them up (not too much mind), but on an emotional and physical level.

Respect. In the world we live in today, respect is still a vital life-skill to have. Not in the old-fashioned way, which was basically by instilling FEAR. But by demonstrating that authority has it’s place and is again, there to protect and guide our little cubs.

Core Values - to help to teach them what’s right and wrong. If we smile and say “yes” or just “don’t do that darling” to everything, then it’s not teaching our young cubs much about what’s right and wrong. Good and Bad. There’s a time and a place for a smile and a yes, and a time for a good old ROAR too.

Now don’t get me wrong. Yelling abuse at your cubs is NOT OK. Shouting at them using hurtful words is NOT OK. This has been proven to be damaging and of course, upsetting for them (and you). But a ROAR is not a yell. It’s a loud vocal/verbal noise that gets attention enough for them to stop and pay attention. It could also be a “Hey!”, “Listen!”, “Stop!”, “Enough!”, or “Back off!”.

I just like to do an actual ROAR. It gets the attention and does the trick, that’s for sure. It’s also quite funny really. So it doesn’t get the same fearful reaction that yelling at them does. Yelling often results in you saying things you don’t mean and that hurts. A ROAR stops that in it’s tracks.

Remember the 5:1 Ratio - More positive to negative makes for the right balance

Remember the 5:1 Ratio - More positive to negative makes for the right balance

According to Dr John Gottman, a world renowned relationship therapist, the balance needs to be at least 5:1 in terms of positive/negative interactions too. So if you do end up yelling or are a naturally “raisey-voice-kinda-person”, it’s worth making sure you do all the cuddles, kisses and apologising if you do have a tense moment. It’s important to tell your cubs you were sorry for raising your voice. Show them love and they will respect that and learn that we are not all perfect and that if they yell, as long as they mirror your actions, the cycle should continue.

The ROAR begins in pregnancy. Once we know we are pregnant and often instinctively before we find out, we are fiercely protective of our bodies. From traveling somewhere to how we take care of ourselves, that built in lioness is ready to pounce at any opportunity necessary to ward off danger and protect.

Obviously, if you find yourself being triggered by your cubs a little too much, then there are great ways to help train yourself to remain as calm as possible. For instance, practicing non-reactivity on a regular basis when, perhaps their noise levels are reaching breaking-point, is a life-saver (believe me, with 4 boy cubs of my own, i’m all too familiar with my triggers being switched by their noise levels!). So, next time they’re running riot around you and you feel your shoulders tense, why not take a few, deep belly breathes and tune into the noise instead of wanting it to stop. Listen to the noise with intent. Hear the varying pitch of their voices and as you notice them more, exhale fully and notice how you are feeling. Get down to their level and saying nothing, just continue to breathe deeply, then using a technique called noting, say out loud how you are feeling, continue to tune into the sounds around you and your deep breaths. Perhaps you could say, “I notice that this noise is making me feel tense and annoyed”. Repeat this several times and see what happens. Hopefully, the energy around you will calm, as will you and those cheeky cubs of yours!

Other ways of being protective: with the food we eat and what we feed our children. The Lioness in us goes deep into our subconscious and adapts our instincts and intuition on a primal level in our brains. Allowing us to have faster reactions and fine-tune our perceptions. Quite amazing really!

So before you give yourself a hard time for ROARING at your little cubs, or indeed anyone that brushes past your bump if you’re pregnant, be thankful we have an inner Lioness and give yourself a break. It’s natures way after-all!

Mindfulness for Mums

Mindfulness for Mums - Early Parenting

You may be reading this still pregnant, wondering (if this is your first baby) how you will think and feel as a new mother. If this is your second, third, fourth or fifth baby, you may still be questioning your abilities to cope with life as a mother to another child and how you will still find time for your other children. You may have just had your baby, and finding this blog because you are looking for ways to cope as a new mother. You may be looking for a way to simply live with greater ease as a new mother; learning and transforming one moment at a time.

You may have heard or experienced horror stories about lack of sleep bringing about fatigue like you've never felt before. Or babies cries being unbearable, or feeding becoming a big issue that leaves you sore and feeling at a loss to know what to do? You may be aware of the need to heal both mentally and physically after giving birth. This is true in some cases, and not for others. Indeed this continues into parenting. There will inevitably always be something to challenge you. But you CAN help yourself.... read on to find out how..

That soft kiss and tender love

That soft kiss and tender love

So what is Mindfulness for a start? And why are so many people turning to it for a more balanced and less anxious life?

"Mindfulness is a practice... it is a way of being rather than merely a way of being present and a good idea. It is thousands of years old and is about attention and awareness in the present moment... this practice has been shown to influence on one's health, wellbeing and happiness. It is about a gradual cultivation that unfolds and deepens over time. It's a gesture of kindness and self compassion really." Jon- Kabat- Zinn

Mindfulness practice does not take a long time. It is simply a method of mental training; It is about seeing the world, and your thoughts and feelings with greater clarity so that you can take wiser action to change the things that need to be changed or accept the things you can do nothing about.

Important to note! Being a Mindful Parent is not about being a Perfect Parent! You don't have to have any specific training or experience, but you do need motivation to practice.

Every parent and every baby is unique and not one method or parenting style suits all. Being a mindful parent involves little more than your baby being your teacher; learning from their cues and signals moment by moment. It's about creating ways to take time for your self care too, and giving yourself time to recognise and understand your stress triggers so that you can cope better when you feel anxious and worried. It's about using your breath to focus, your eyes to see and your ears to listen to what baby is telling you, even when they are crying incessantly and your instinct is to run or freeze. It pays dividends to just stop and accept that sometimes you don't know what it's about, you can't control it and you may not have the capacity or ability to fix it. So showing love and compassion in those moments (to yourself and your baby), is the most mindfully aware and practical thing to do!

A moment of loving kindness in nature

A moment of loving kindness in nature

Here are my Ten top tips to help you become a more Mindful Mamma!

  1. Breathe and Focus - Take 3 deep breaths from your belly. Notice how your body feels when you do so.

  2. Walking and being in nature, as often as you can but at least once a day, (even in the rain)!

  3. Talking/language - what are you saying out loud and to yourself? Is it kind? If not, stop it. Reframe it - reverse it/flip it!

  4. Environment - What can you see? See colours & textures. How does it make you feel?

  5. Touch - Your babies skin, hugs, soft fabrics, animals, water.

  6. Connect - to baby and your partner. Hugs, smiles, laughter, tenderness. Be in your bubble. It's about you and no-one else right now.

  7. Detach/Disconnect - from the outside world or social media if it makes you compare or become anxious. Also family members who make you feel this way too!

  8. Nourish - be kind to your body. Eat food that you intuitively want, not what you feel you have to. Be aware of what you are nourishing yourself with. Is it fuelling you or making you feel worse?

  9. Acceptance - Find that "OKAY-NESS". (see more on this below).

  10. Compromise - this does not mean giving up or giving in! It means finding your middle-ground and where you can accept life as it is. What good will it do to fight it? How will using your energy fighting it make you feel about yourself and others? What can you do to find compromise?

What is this "okay-ness"?

Becoming a mother often involves the letting go of the old you and welcoming the new you. You may not be able to do things the way you used to and that in itself can be frustrating. In these instances, be kind to yourself. The sooner you can accept that in your life, the easier it will be to enjoy actually being a mother. For many years, women have taken pride in the fact that they can multi-task, however it's now been proven that whilst this may be true, we can't actually give each task our full attention and best efforts. So being mindful of this helps us to slow down, and take one task at a time.

For example, be mindful of brushing your teeth, or washing the dishes, or chopping the vegetables. Be mindful of how your bedsheets feel, of the sound of your baby as they sleep. Be mindful of eating lunch even if you have to grab something as you're feeding baby. Be mindful of feeding baby; bottle or breast, you can still be mindful of that. Take part in the action. Giving each task a beginning and an end can also help, so that each task feels new and has a completion before you begin a new one. If your mind wanders off, (as it will), just bring it back to the task in hand. If you do this for yourself, consciously deciding to be present with each task, and motivated to be mindful, it will help to tame your mind and may begin to feel really rather pleasant! It may even help slow down that chattering worry monkey in your mind. You may also notice that by practising each task with intent, you are not concerned about what happened in the past, and what may or may not happen in the future. Even if you do not get to complete every task, all that matters is that you are going with the flow and trusting in your instincts and intuition. (More on those in another blog!).

Another point to note is that when a mind is tired and feeling overwhelmed, we often wish for the situation to be different, or to "be somewhere else". We dream of being back to our past selves, of days when life was simpler or places where we felt free-er and lighter of pressure. This is very normal. However, this is not doing us any favours is it? Sometimes, it may be useful to creatively visualise a safe, happy place. That is a commonly used tool to escape a moment of fear or pain. However, it's unrealistic to imagine we can apply this all the time. So, what's the best thing to do in these moments? When we recognise these thoughts, we can be accepting of them and return to the present task in hand. To struggle with that will often end up in a spiral of misery and self pity. Tension builds and we begin to resent our life situation. No-one wants that and yet, it happens all too often. So next time you find yourself in this vicious cycle, what do you need to do? Yes! Use your senses to focus, breathe, be in the moment, be present and accept that you may not be able to do anything about it for now. Give yourself time to recover. Then solutions may come to you more naturally.

Being aware is being mindful. You do not have to be sitting still and quietly like a buddha to be mindfully aware. Having time for your self care may seem like a long lost piece of your past or a long time away into the future, but it doesn't have to be this way. This time is with you wherever you go and whatever you do. What get's in the way of this is the desire to be somewhere else.

So what happens when those thoughts go to the "dark side"?

Most likely in times of ultimate stress, exhaustion and overwhelm, when we feel out of control. Those thoughts come at us like a cat on a mouse and generally shock the hell out of us. What do we do about THOSE thoughts? Believe me, we have all been there.

Firstly, as scary as they are, they are just thoughts. You have not acted on them. Yes, they may make you feel dreadful and guilty, but you are not a bad person for having them and as long as you don't actually act them out, so far what are they? JUST THOUGHTS. It is the energy we give them that causes the problems. So if we just recognise them for what they are, and perhaps say "this is just a thought", perhaps reframing it with a further affirmation, of "its my mind playing tricks on me because i'm tired, I am not my thoughts". Then, let it OUT. Talk to someone or write it down and rip it up. If they keep coming, go and see a therapist.

You will not be judged for having a thought.

So how do you become more of a Mindful Mamma?

  1. Let go of expectation and apply all of the above top tips...

  2. Learn to go with the flow.

  3. Be more present in every task that you do.

  4. Be accepting of situations you have no control over.

  5. Be kind, loving, compassionate, truthful and do your best not to compare yourself with others.

I'm a mum of 4 boys, a pregnancy, birth and baby coach and co-creator of a Mindfulness for Mums online Pack. I've used Mindfulness over the past 12 years to help get through times of worry, anxiety and depression and have taught my sons a few techniques to help them too! I hope this has helped a little.

If you are not feeling yourself over a prolongued period of time and are unsettled by your thoughts and feelings. Please speak to someone and get advice from your care provider or a professional. It's better to speak out than not at all.