During pregnancy your brain function and capability changes.
Unfamiliar lapses in memory and forgetfulness. Not so good. Expanded creativity and heightened intuition. Pretty amazing.
It’s not perhaps immediately obvious how the changes which occur in your pregnancy can help in a work environment – where deadlines, details and discipline are the norm – but if you consider how beneficial thinking laterally, blue-sky, visionary thinking is amongst our great leaders you can start to tap into the unsung heroism of the pregnancy brain.
Changes can start to appear reasonably early in pregnancy, later for some depending on how trained your mind is to focus on logic and detail.
From the reading and research I have done, it appears everyone who is pregnant, has pregnancy hormones which slow down left-brain activity. Making it physically harder and less natural, however smart you are, to maintain focus on the logical, rational and the detail but opening you up to a plethora of new ideas and insights.
One of my most inspirational clients told me that during her pregnancy, she experienced the strongest sense of calm and inner feeling of great “knowing-ness”. A complete change from her pre-pregnancy behaviour where she checked and triple-checked every detail. After her baby arrived this feeling continued and when she returned to work her colleagues loved her serene and soothing presence.
When meetings were getting heated or reaching a impasse she would offer insights that just seemed to naturally flow into her consciousness. She stopped worrying, focusing and getting caught up in the details and the “why not’s”, and opened up to the solutions and the “how about this approach..”.
Because of her strong desire to be a mother and her overwhelming instinct to protect her unborn child, she had no desire for conflict, less attachment to the outcome and as a result opened her mind up to all sorts of creativity and new solutions.
This isn’t to say she didn’t care. Not. At. All. She remained passionate, loyal and committed to her team and her company, but she was open to the transition and the changes she was going through and excited as to what was starting to unfold.
As a result so were her team and she was a valued member throughout her pregnancy and on her return to work less than six months after becoming a mother.
She was and still is, a happily high flying, successful mother and she planted the seed for me that we are missing a trick when it comes to pregnancy and overlooking The Pregnancy Advantage that women can experience and colleagues can enjoy – especially in business. It’s not to say she doesn’t have to make compromises, that changes have not needed to be made, but her pregnancy and transition to motherhood continues to be seen as something that was hugely beneficial all round.
In her bestselling book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life, Arianna Huffington says: “Too many of us leave our lives – and, in fact our souls, behind when we go to work. Our current notion of success.. was put in place by men, in a workplace culture dominated by men. But it’s a model of success that’s not working for women and, really, it’s not working for men either.”
In a meditation program, Arianna shared her thoughts that quite often “women, in particular, feel they have to work harder and longer that men in their field, in order to prove their worth.” I’ve certainly been told by many of my clients that this is how they feel, especially during their pregnancy and when they return to work they have to “make up” for being on maternity leave.
Sheryl Sandberg in Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead says: “For some women, pregnancy does not slow them down at all, but rather serves to focus them and provides a firm deadline to work towards.” She cites her childhood friend who “never felt so productive” but admits for her “pregnancy is very difficult, making it impossible to be as effective as normal.” She suffered very badly with morning sickness.
My experience is when women become pregnant, aside from the physical changes, their brain function does change – but this can be a gift.
A recent observation by Deepak Chopra that “Our future depends on spirituality and science working together” echoes the principles written over 20 years ago in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success – A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams which I feel sums up the new way we need to be looking at success, business and personal paths to happiness.
Deepak says: Success in life could be defined as the continued expansion of happiness and the progressive realization of worthy goals. Success is the ability to fulfill your desires with effortless ease. And yet success, including the creation of wealth, has always been considered to be a process that requires hard work and it is often considered to be at the expense of others. We need a more spiritual approach to success and affluence, which is the abundant flow of all good things to you. With the knowledge and practice of spiritual law we put ourselves in harmony with nature and create with carefreeness, joy and love.
Obstetrician, Dr Amali Lokugame discovered in her own pregnancy and cited in her book, Heart in the Womb that pregnancy hormones can “open a portal into greater right-brain activity, which offers women amazing gifts of consciousness that are normally suppressed in everyday modern life. Contemporary women often rebel against this state of mind, as it is particularly difficult to succumb to it whilst working and it is not well supported by modern society. There are cognitive therapies aimed at facilitating this consciousness through practice and conscious effort; however, nature itself endows this state to pregnant women – if only they are able to surrender to it.”
Whether you want to look at accessing your right-brain creative thoughts as connecting to spirit, source or just your own innate wisdom the bottom line is there are breakthroughs to be made.
As Lord Davies said in his initial 2011 Women on Boards report “Corporate boards perform better when they include the best people who come from a range of perspectives and backgrounds.”
I believe this includes women and mothers.
I believe we need to really understand and work with the physiological and psychological changes that occur in pregnancy and see them as an advantage and of benefit to all, especially where we are trying to ensure gender diversity. Embrace these changes rather than try to hide them.
I have created a Signature 7-Step Pregnancy Advantage Method to help realise the pregnancy advantage to bring about a more intuitive and heartfelt business consciousness.
The future is bright. The future is two thin blue lines.
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