Meditating While Pregnant Was A Complete Game-Changer For Me. Here's What I Wish Everyone Knew
I came to meditation after losing my job at seven and half months pregnant. Although I wasn’t against meditation at the time, I wouldn’t say I was enthusiastic about it either. The thought of sitting in an uncomfortable position with a beach ball belly, doing what I could only perceive as nothing, didn’t exactly make me eager to get started.
But as a stressed and worried mom-to-be carrying a baby girl whose brain and nervous system were developing, I felt obligated to begin taking care of my own mental and emotional health so that I could help to take care of hers. Before getting started with meditation, I set up some ground rules for myself. I would sit only how I felt comfortable, meaning I could lie down on my side if I wanted to, and I didn’t put any pressure on myself to "get it right" as a meditator, giving myself full permission to be a true beginner.
With my rules in place, I jumped on the meditation bandwagon and got started.
To my surprise, after just a few days, my whole lens on life began changing. I felt at ease with my work situation, happy about this time off, and more energized to do the things I wanted to do before my daughter arrived. I also felt, for the first time, truly connected to my baby. I could see that when I became present with her during my daily practice, my stress and worry would naturally melt away.
Noticing how much this was supporting me through pregnancy, I couldn't help but wonder if it was helping my baby as well. This curiosity is what led me to discovering the science behind meditation and pregnancy, which to be honest, completely blew my mind.
Below are four evidence-based ways meditation benefits both moms-to-be and their growing babies:
1. Meditation reduces stress for mom and baby.
As I mentioned above, meditation helped lower my stress during pregnancy, but what I didn't know at the time was that it was protecting my baby as well. Research shows that high levels of stress and anxiety increase risk factors during pregnancy, and by keeping stress levels low, you give your baby a healthier environment to grow in.
2. Meditation increases chances of full-term pregnancy.
I gave birth just shy of my due date to a healthy baby girl. I was lucky to carry to full term and to deliver a baby with a healthy birth weight, both of which are important for her development in the womb. A study that explored preterm birth found that women who participated in a mindfulness training program were 50 percent less likely to give birth early than women with no mindfulness education.
3. Meditation leads to less pain during labor.
Meditation assisted me throughout my entire labor. It helped me breathe and be present, allowing me to focus less on any pain or discomfort that came my way. A study of a group of people who attended a four-day mindfulness meditation training found that they were able to decrease the intensity of a painful stimulus by 40 percent. Being able to use my mind to reduce pain not only supported me through birth but through postpartum recovery as well.
4. Meditation leads to enhanced immunity.
Meditation kept me healthy throughout my last trimester and my postpartum journey. This is important, seeing that moms-to-be are more susceptible to infections because their immune system is suppressed during pregnancy. This means that being on top of keeping your immunity high is a top priority. Thankfully, meditation enhances the body's immune function.
With all of this science supporting the benefits of prenatal meditation, I can't help but wonder why we aren't talking more about the importance of a woman's mind during pregnancy, as much as we speak about the health of her body.
It's my hope that as we move forward and learn more about the importance of a healthy mind during pregnancy that we provide the information and tools moms-to-be need to access and incorporate more meditation and mindfulness practices into their lives.
Want to up your meditation game during pregnancy? Here's everything you need to know.
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