Hunter Clarke-Fields of the Mindful Mama Podcast spent years as a stressed out mom. She says she “muscled through” her first natural birth. She spoke with me about discovering a better way.
Hunter shared tips for birth and parenting, overcoming fear, finding time for self-care, and for practicing self-compassion when parenting squeezes you.
When I asked about her birth experiences, Hunter told me:
“I have a tendency toward anxiety and I have a tendency toward being sensitive so the first birth was really intense. I just remember hanging on to my husband and being like, ‘Get this out of me. I’m done!’ and using my muscles to push through. My second birth I thought, ‘Ok. I can do this. I can learn from it. I can make it better. I had a whole different attitude, like, ‘I can practice.’ It was a whole different experience. It was pretty awesome. Very gentle.”
As a mom of two, Hunter knows how challenging it can be to find time to practice. She suggests:
“Create a habit even if it’s super small like a three minute sitting meditation practice and a two minute yoga practice. Something that’s your own, where you’re staking a claim in the ground to your self care. It’s so essential. You’re saying, ‘This is my time. I’m going to cultivate this time. I’m going to create a habit where I deliberately care for myself. Where I’m very deliberate about nurturing my good seeds and about sending myself love and compassion.
If you can build something that’s really small but consistent, as your child grows and you can shave more time, that will feed you even more enormously. As they get to be two years old..you have your practice where you can come and you can start to reduce that stress response. You can reduce that reactivity.”
I asked Hunter to say more about self-compassion for parents. She said,
“We are so hard on ourselves as moms. We are a continuation of our parents and of our grandparents and of our culture. We are an amalgamation of all these things we’ve absorbed throughout our life.
We may decide, ‘Ok, I want to parent in this certain way and yet because we are a continuation our parent’s voice may come out of our mouth. We don’t realize when that happens– it’s not your fault. It’s not your fault that you were conditioned and you have suffering and you may have said something unskillful. You can choose to be a peaceful parent and then you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to mess up. You’re going to yell. And being hard on yourself and being blameful and shameful upon yourself is not the way to start to shift towards more compassionate parenting.
The way to shift towards more compassionate parenting is to actually use those moments where you’re inevitably going to make those mistakes and offer yourself compassion. You’re not going to be in the habit of offering it to your child if you can’t even be in the habit of offering it to yourself.
When you have an orange and you squeeze it, what comes out? Orange juice. Not pineapple juice, not cranberry juice or apple juice. When we’re in those moments when we are squeezed as parents, and you’re going to have so many of them… When you have those moments when you’re squeezed, what’s inside is what comes out. We have to practice that compassion inwardly.”
You can listen to the whole interview here.
You can find Hunter, the Mindful Mama Podcast, free resources, and more at HunterYoga.com.