Have a hygge winter pregnancy
This winter, take your nesting to a new level by practising the Danish art of hygge, which will help you cherish this special time. Best of all, it doesn’t have to cost a thing, writes Melany Bendix
THE DANES KNOW HOW to handle a long, cold winter. They bring light into their lives by breaking up the dark months with hygge (pronounced hue-guh), the art of creating or feeling a special moment, either alone or with friends, at home or out. You can’t buy hygge, or order it in, or fake it – you can only feel it. “Hygge literally only requires a conscious appreciation, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but to recognise and enjoy the present,” explains Alex Beauchamp, a Danish media strategist who shares her love of hygge through her blog hyggehouse.com. So how do you bring a bit of hygge into your life? Simple, says Alex: through actions and small rituals that bring about joy and intimacy – two important emotions for a happy, healthy pregnancy. “The concept of hygge is a brilliant one and should be embraced by women and men alike – universally,” says doula and hypnobirthing educator Charlene Yared West of Relax Into Birth. “Its importance [in pregnancy] cannot be emphasised enough,” agrees Gayle Friedman of the Sunshine Health Academy, who is a doula who also practises prenatal and postnatal aromatherapy massage.
PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE
Having a hygge pregnancy this winter can be as simple as taking a few minutes each day for relaxation, visualisation and positive affirmations, says Charlene, who runs a monthly course, Relax Into Birth, designed to help pregnant women do just that. “These practices are designed to help women become more aware of their bodies and babies and how perfectly designed the process is. Once they understand how powerful they really are, it can really enhance their sense of self-confidence and eliminate fear around the process of birth,” she explains. “I see this as a daily dose of hygge, which will condition the mind and body towards a happy expectation of labour and birth, no matter if it ends up as a natural or caesarean birth.” Yoga in pregnancy is another way of practicing hygge daily, says Gayle. “Yoga helps women to connect to their bodies in pregnancy. It should not be a time of over-using, over-toning or even over-strengthening the muscles–it is a time of softening and stretching the muscles to make it easier for birth… Daily yoga practice helps mothers to breathe through labour, birth, life and parenting with a sense of wellness and a sense of being able to cope.” Regular massage is another way to relax and stay in tune with your changing body, she adds. “Emotionally, massage can help the mother relax and help her to connect to her own body and to her baby. Connection is so important and often taken for granted. If a woman is too busy with work or other issues requiring her attention, she might not pay attention to her physical or emotional needs, and this can come up in the birth and be problematic.” Hygge can take many different forms, though, from taking a bubble bath (unless you’re in Cape Town!) to lighting a candle every evening, taking a daily walk, keeping a pregnancy journal or listening to a song and doing nothing else except listen. And don’t forget to make your own “hyggekrog” – a cosy corner or nook, where you can get comfy, have a cup of tea and just be. Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong way to practice hygge – do whatever you like to create a warm and cosy atmosphere where you can savour your pregnancy this winter. YP