5 Things I Always Tell Pregnant Women About Meditating
Meditation is such a powerful practice at any time of life—but it's especially wonderful during pregnancy. As a mom of four, I've found that many of the common challenges that come up while you're pregnant are quickly resolved by incorporating meditation into your daily routine.
For example, if you’re feeling tired because you got up five times to pee in the middle of the night—meditate and feel refreshed. If you're feeling overwhelmed by all you need to get done before the baby is born—meditate and find a new take on how to get it all done. If you are feeling moody, frustrated, depressed, or just not yourself—meditate and feel more balanced.
Meditation during pregnancy is basically the same as meditating at any other time of life, except there are a few special instructions that make it more comfortable and effective. As a meditation teacher and pregnancy coach, here's what I recommend:
1. Meditate in whatever position is most comfortable.
Most forms of meditation instruct you to sit upright. But when you're pregnant, you can meditate in any position. Sitting upright is still great, but you can sit or lie in any way that feels comfortable. This especially comes in handy if you wake up nauseous. Just continue to lie in bed and meditate until you feel settled, or your amazing partner brings you a protein-packed smoothie.
It's also wonderful if you have trouble falling back to sleep in the middle of the night. Just get comfortable and meditate. Even if you don’t fall back to sleep, you will get the deep rest that your body needs.
Plus, this gives you the opportunity to figure out how you feel the most comfortable. Do you feel most comfortable with a pillow between your knees? Maybe you prefer two. How do you like your head and neck supported? Does it feel good to hug a body pillow and feel your arms supported?
Finding your greatest comfort will allow you to deeply relax and effortlessly release stress. And knowing your most comfortable position will be great during labor. You'll know exactly where to place the pillows for support so you can relax and meditate through the contractions.
2. Try out different techniques to see what works best for you.
Many types of meditation suggest that you regularly use the same technique. It's through consistent practice that the body and mind learn to trust that they will get what they need. Predictability is key in loosening and releasing stress. When you are pregnant the best predictable routine is to meditate often. Your body and mind will begin to trust that you will meditate whenever you need it.
I love all forms of meditation and practice different techniques every day, depending on how I am feeling. When I’m worn out or overwhelmed by all the things I have to do, I practice a mantra-based meditation. When I am feeling regretful or frustrated, I use a guided meditation to forgive myself for mistakes I’ve made in the past. When I’m feeling worried about the future, I practice breath meditation to bring me into the present moment.
As you practice more, you’ll figure out which techniques are easier for you and bring you comfort during specific challenges. You will know which techniques help you to feel relaxed and which ones help you feel energized. Practice often.
As your belly grows you'll begin to see and feel how meditation affects the baby, too. Your baby can feel when you're stressed, excited, and relaxed. Your baby gets saturated in your emotions. The more you meditate, the more the baby gets to swim in your good feelings.
Most of the time meditation is all about you—relieving your stress plus making you feel good. But now meditation is about you and your baby. It's a time when you are quiet and in the moment with your baby. It's a bonding experience in the deepest, most intimate form. You will begin to know yourself and your baby more.
Without putting your attention on it, you will notice how the baby’s movements change when you meditate. Some of my babies got really quiet during meditation while others got very active. In every pregnancy, it was obvious that the baby could feel I was meditating because of the way they moved.
3. Focus on deep breaths.
Now is the time to relax. Energizing practices are wonderful, and you can still use them, but skip the fast breathing. Breath of fire and bhastrika pranayama (fast alternate-nostril breathing) are very powerful but can make you lightheaded and dizzy when you are pregnant.
If you want to practice breath meditation, it's better to use techniques that follow your natural breath or extend your exhalation. These methods are great for bringing you to the present moment and helping you deeply relax.
4. Meditate as often as you need to.
When you're pregnant you are growing and changing so much so quickly that you may feel like you cycle through feeling overwhelmed, tired, and moody several times every day. Your body, mind, and soul are working really hard expanding to meet the needs of you and your baby. It’s stressful—good stress but still stress.
If you were practicing meditation before pregnancy you may recall that most techniques ask that you practice only once or twice a day for a specific length of time. This is because when you meditate you release stress and releasing too much stress too quickly can be overwhelming.
But when you're pregnant you can meditate as often as you like. This is one of my favorite parts of pregnancy. You are taking on stress at a faster pace, and you can quickly and easily release it, too. When I’m pregnant, every time I feel a wave of emotion or fatigue wash in, I meditate, let go, and move on.
The extra meditation is so valuable for preparing for giving birth, too. As you meditate more and more, you will find it's easier to quickly find your calm no matter what has thrown you off balance. When you are deep in labor you'll know the way to that calm, quiet, stillness within. You'll be able to go there and relax while your body does the rest.
5. Tell your health care practitioner about your practice.
Make sure to tell your doctor, midwife, or anyone planning on attending your birth that you’ve been meditating throughout your pregnancy. Babies born to meditating mamas tend to be super relaxed at birth. This is normal. They often don’t cry but rather just relax and stretch out into the world.
This is especially noticeable if you meditated through labor. Instead of feeling stressed through labor, the baby was given the steady message to relax. When they are born, they just look relaxed—some doctors and midwives aren’t used to seeing such chill little babies, and they get concerned. But the baby is happy, healthy, and feeling good.