Prenatal Meditation

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Pregnancy Meditation: The Benefits of Mindfulness

Most moms-to-be spend a lot of time worrying about their developing baby. But remember, it’s just as important during the next nine months to tune in to someone else’s cues: your own.

Maybe you’re exceedingly tired. Or thirsty. Or hungry. Maybe you and your growing baby need some quiet time to connect.

Your doctor or midwife may say, “Listen to your body.” But for many of us, that’s followed by, “How?”

Meditation can help you listen to your voice, your body, that small heartbeat — and help you feel refreshed and a bit more focused.

What Is Meditation?

Think of meditation as some quiet time to breathe and connect, be aware of passing thoughts, and to clear the mind.

Some say it’s finding inner peace, learning to let go, and getting in touch with yourself through breath, and through mental focus.

For some of us, it can be as simple as deep, in-and-out breaths in the bathroom stall at work as you try to focus on you, your body, and the baby. Or, you can take a class or retreat to your own special place in the house with pillows, a mat, and total silence.

What Are the Benefits?

Some of the benefits of practicing meditation include:

  • better sleep
  • connecting to your changing body
  • anxiety/stress relief
  • peace of mind
  • less tension
  • positive labor preparation
  • lower risk of postpartum depression

Doctors and scientists have studied the benefits of meditation on pregnant women and they have shown that it can help moms-to-be throughout pregnancy and especially at birth.

Moms who have high levels of stress or anxiety during pregnancy are more likely to deliver their babies at preterm or low birth weights.

Birth outcomes like those are a pressing public health issue, especially in the United States. Here, the national rates of preterm birth and low birth weight are 13 and 8 percent, respectively. This is according to a report published in the journal Psychology & Health.

Prenatal stress can also impact fetal development. Studies have shown that it can even affect cognitive, emotional, and physical development in infancy and childhood. All the more reason to squeeze in some meditation time!

What About Yoga?

A study in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing Trusted Source found that women who started a yoga practice including meditation early in pregnancy effectively reduced stress and anxiety by the time they delivered.

Women who practiced mindful yoga in their second trimester also reported significant reductions in pain during their third trimesters.

How Can I Practice Meditation?

Whether you want to get pregnant, just found out you are, or you’re preparing that birth plan, here are some ways to get started with a meditation program.

Try Headspace

This free 10-day program to learn the basics of meditation is available at headspace.com. Headspace is one of a growing number of apps that teach guided and unguided exercises on how to apply mindfulness to everyday activities.

The 10-minutes-a-day approach is even available on your phone or tablet. Headspace calls itself a “gym membership for your mind” and was created by Andy Puddicombe, a meditation and mindfulness expert.

Tune into Puddicombe’s TED Talk, “All it takes is 10 mindful minutes.” You’ll learn how we can all become more mindful, even when life gets busy.

Also available is “The Headspace Guide to … a Mindful Pregnancy,” which aims to help couples deal with the stress of pregnancy and birth. It walks you and your partner through the stages of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and going home. It includes step-by-step exercises.

Try a Guided Online Meditation

Meditation teacher Tara Brach offers free samples of guided meditations on her website. A clinical psychologist, Brach has also studied Buddhism and has founded a meditation center in Washington, D.C.

Read About Meditation

If you prefer to read about meditation before you start to practice, these books might be useful.

  • “The Mindful Way through Pregnancy: Meditation, Yoga, and Journaling for Expectant Mothers:” Essays that will help teach you to bond with baby, take care of yourself during pregnancy, and calm your fears about birth and parenthood.
  • “Meditations for Pregnancy: 36 Weekly Practices for Bonding with Your Unborn Baby:” Starting in the fifth week of pregnancy, this book tracks your milestones and provides guidance. It includes an audio CD featuring a 20-minute guided meditation with soothing music.

Meditation Techniques for Pregnancy and Labor

While others may accompany you along the road to motherhood, in many ways pregnancy is a solitary journey. It’s impossible for anyone—your partner, your friends, your family—to fully understand and appreciate what you’re feeling. The first kick, the first time your jeans won’t zip up, and the first contraction are indescribable, intensely personal experiences. Here are some meditation techniques to help you find peace throughout this exhilarating process (including labor), whether you’re a meditation newbie or om expert.

Pregnancy Meditation Techniques

Deep Belly Meditation

Place your hands on your belly, gently cradling the baby. Observe the sensations felt beneath your hands. (Do you feel warmth? Movement?) Breathe slowly, in and out. (If your mind wanders off, breathe deeper into your belly.) If a thought arises, let it float away, as if it were a cloud in the sky. Try doing this for five minutes each day, gradually adding more time each week.

Make It a Mantra

There’s a lot of power in our words. When we speak of something, we believe in it. It affects our consciousness, our nervous system, and our way of being. During challenging yoga poses, try saying “Strong mama breath. Breathe in for baby.” This same mantra can be used to help you through difficult times in pregnancy and during labor.

Try an App

Moms-to-be can use apps to help their meditation journey. One such app is Stop, Breathe & Think (free; App Store and Google Play). After users check in with their emotions, the app will begin a guided meditation of your choice. The end result is a clearer mind, reduced stress, better sleep, and improved focus.

Labor Meditation Techniques

Visualize a “Wave”

Fun fact: You can actually decrease the intensity of pain through visualization (meditation combined with mental imagery)—no doubt a useful tool to have during labor. Your plan: View each contraction as a wave in the ocean. Watch it slowly peak in intensity and then allow it to slowly come down. See yourself as a jellyfish, allowing that wave to wash through you.

Think: “Blossoming Lotus”

The lotus flower is a very sacred, pure, and deeply spiritual flower honored by many different cultures: Visualize your cervix as a blossoming lotus flower. Upon every contraction, visualize and chant, “Open, open, open.”

Relax Your “Third Eye”

Become aware of the space on your forehead between your eyebrows, known as the “third eye.” Directly behind it is the pineal gland, which is sensitive to light. It also produces serotonin, a hormone that affects the regulation of wake-sleep patterns and your energy levels. Whether you’re in labor, or just stressed, be sure to relax the muscles on your forehead between your eyebrows for maximum ease

Daily Pregnancy Meditation Mantras

Ups and Downs

Embarking on pregnancy is a lot like stepping into the ocean. You approach the mercurial water and slowly wade in, never sure when a wave will knock you down. Sometimes you’ll keep your head above water, swimming along with swift, sure strokes. Other times you’ll surrender, letting the waves wash over you. Give yourself to the powerful ebb and flow of nature and to the rhythms of your own body.

Creating a Miracle

When two sets of blueprints – one from the father and one from the mother – are followed, a unique product results. In your case, by one chance in 400 million, that unique product was you. – Alan F. Guttmacher

Sometimes people are casual about conception. After all, babies are born every second; what’s the big deal? But when you stop to consider the millions of perfect connections needed to form a child, you realize the miraculous nature of pregnancy. Every part of your child—heart, lungs, fingernails, eyelashes, and so on—requires a different blueprint. At every step everything must go just right in order for this unique product, your child, to come into being healthy and whole. Clearly this child is meant to be.

Affirmation: My child is a miracle!

Expectant Partner

Today, many expectant partners are fully involved in pregnancy. Some couples even use the phrase We’re pregnant! to announce the good news. But regardless of your partner’s level of involvement, your friends and relatives may focus their congratulations and attention to you. This can make your partner feel irrelevant. It’s common for expectant partners to feel overlooked in all the hoopla surrounding pregnant women. Your partner deserves to be acknowledged. Encourage your partner to offer opinions, accompany you to prenatal appointments, and express feelings, hopes, and dreams. Set an example for others by honoring the importance of your partner’s role. You’re not the only one expecting this baby!

Maintaining Friendships

Okay, so you feel a little superior. And a little sorry for people who haven’t experienced the wonders of pregnancy and parenthood. There’s just no way to make anyone who hasn’t been through it understand how “big” it is to have a baby. And even if you could, you wouldn’t want to make others feel bad about what they’re missing. There’s no reason to avoid friends who are having trouble conceiving or who have decided not to have children. Do your best to be sensitive to their needs, but remember that their support may be limited. Make a point of seeking out other expectant and veteran mothers with you whom you can really carry on about what a big thing this is.

Loss of Control

I feel invaded by an alien from another planet. – Expectant Mother

Do you feel as if your body is no longer your own? As if you woke up one day to discover an alien being running your life? It’s natural to feel both wonder struck and resentful at the constant presence and never-ending demands of your unseen child. You eat a brownie and provoke a riot. You try to sleep, only to be kicked again and again. If it seems as if you’ve lost control…well…you have. Surrendering to your baby’s needs is one of the spiritual tasks of pregnancy. You learn to give up control and give yourself to something bigger and more compelling. Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes it’s a struggle. It’s okay to feel resentful. You have lost a lot. But you’ve gained a lot more.

Unsolicited Advice

It’s hard to know how to react when your best friend repeatedly warns you of the dangers of medication during birth, when your partner lectures you on prenatal nutrition, or when your mother sends you the latest study on the dangers of daycare. You don’t want to be rude. But nine times out of 10 you don’t want to hear it, either. What can you do? First, consider the source. It’s one thing to listen to straightforward, respectful opinions from your partner. It’s another thing to mutely accept unsolicited advice from family members, friends, acquaintances, or strangers with agendas that have more to do with their issues than your welfare.

Don’t be afraid to take a stand when you need to. Simply say, “Thanks for your input, but I’d rather not discuss it.”

Couvade

Couvade is a heavily documented, seemingly inexplicable phenomenon in which expectant fathers experience pregnancy-like symptoms. According to various studies, 10 to 65 percent of fathers-to-be complain of nausea, heartburn, insomnia, weight gain, and even labor pains. A partial explanation may be found in the timing of couvades, which typically appears around the third week (when the reality of pregnancy sinks in) and resurfaces near the end of the third trimester (when birth is near). Perhaps couvade is a physical manifestation of emotional reactions to imminent fatherhood. Whatever its cause, the existence of couvade is a reminder that expectant fathers are profoundly affected by pregnancy.

The Homestretch

The third trimester of pregnancy can drag on and on. It may seem as if you’ve been pregnant forever. You may find yourself counting the days to your due date, anxiously awaiting your first contraction. Who’d have thought you’d ever look forward to labor? You may be ready to stop being pregnant, but that doesn’t mean your baby is ready to be born. Your baby would most likely survive if he or she were born today, but the last several weeks of pregnancy are critical. During these weeks your baby’s lungs grow strong, his or her brain cells develop rapidly, and your baby gets antibodies from you that protect him or her from infections as a newborn. When your patience wears thin, envision meeting your baby 10 weeks from now—perfectly formed, healthy, and ready to live outside your womb.

Perseverance

It’s hard to imagine surviving the rigors of childbirth. While you’re pregnant, you may wonder how you’ll get through such a physically demanding experience; after your child is born, you may find it impossible to believe you have, in fact, gotten through it. But you will get through it, because you don’t have any other choice. During labor and delivery, you’ll simply do whatever is necessary. Somehow—by sheer will, determination, and focus—you’ll give birth to a baby and live to tell the tale. Forever after you’ll be amazed and proud of your stamina and strength.

Humility

Though you’ve gone to great lengths to have a healthy pregnancy, you may feel humble as you realize the greater forces of nature at work in your baby’s development. Rocking the baby in the still of the night, you may feel humble as you come to understand that a unique and amazing being has been placed in your care. Sending your child off to kindergarten, you may feel humble as you accept that, no matter how protective you are, your son or daughter is vulnerable to life. You recognize the paradoxes of parenting: Your child is of you, yet he or she is an entirely separate person. You are your child’s protector, yet you can’t always keep him or her safe. You can cradle your child, but you must remember that his or her fate is out of your hands.

As you’ve likely heard by now, pregnancy is beautiful, exciting and magical… but it’s also incredibly stressful. Doctors appointments, shopping for baby supplies, getting the nursery together, and planning for maternity leave start to add up. Being pregnant can take a toll on your mental well-being as well as your physical health. One of the most effective ways to keep stress at bay and re-center yourself is through meditation. By setting aside just a few minutes of your day to be silent, focus on your breathing, and let go of all your thoughts, you’ll feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to tackle that never-ending to do list.

Even if you weren’t a regular meditator before, it’s an important wellness habit that can work wonders on your physical and mental health. With a growing belly, sore back and swollen feet, pregnancy meditation requires a few tweaks to be successful. But with these 7 key pointers, you’ll be on your way to a peaceful, more relaxed (and more comfortable) pregnancy. Plus, you’ll feel more connected to your baby than ever.

1. Find a Comfortable Position

Whether you’re a veteran meditator or a newbie, you’ll notice that your growing belly can make it tough to get comfortable and even tougher to focus on your breathing. Most meditation is best done while sitting upright, but that’s not always possible, especially when you’re in your third trimester. While those ‘rules’ are more like guidelines, don’t stress too much about how you used to sit or lie down per-pregnancy, just find a position that’s comfortable for you and most importantly, that doesn’t give you any discomfort or pain. Lying down is a great option, especially on your side with a pillow propped in between your legs. As part of your per-meditation ritual, try using Muscatel Stretch Marks Oil as a way to soothe your skin, protect against future stretch marks and relax with its calming scent.

2. Focus on Your Belly

As your belly continues to expand, you can tailor your meditation to focus on the growing little one inside of you. Try a deep belly breathing technique, where you place your hands on your bump and hold your baby. Really tune into what’s happening inside of your belly, and notice if you feel any warmth or movement. Breathe slowly, in and out, and breathe deeply into your belly. Start with five minutes a day, and work to increase your time each week.

3. Breathe Deeply

Although some meditation techniques require fast breathing, such as bellows breath (breathing in and out as quickly as possible through your nose), these methods aren’t always an option when you’re pregnant. It’s already easy to lose your breath when you’re pregnant, and these techniques can actually make you more dizzy and lightheaded.

Instead, focus on breathing in deeply. Start with your eyes closed, and breathe through your nose. Slow down your normal breathing, and continue with long deep breaths until your belly expands followed by your rib cage and then your chest. Exhale in reverse, emptying your chest, ribcage, and then your belly (you can breathe out through your nose or mouth, whichever feels more relaxing and comfortable). In the later months, you’ll notice less movement in your abdomen as you breathe in and out, but try to visualize the air entering you and filling your belly like it did pre-pregnancy.

4. Pick a Mantra

Not all meditation requires finding and repeating a mantra, but some people swear by these techniques for their calming and inspirational capabilities. When you repeat a phrase over and over during meditation, it permeates your self-conscious, and allows you to truly absorb the words’ powerful meaning. During pregnancy, try selecting a mantra that fills your need at the time. For strength, try “Adi Shakti,” which means power of the feminine. To let go of anxiety and live in the moment, chant “I am, I am,” which allows you to exist in the present and let go of future worries.

5. Try Guided Pregnancy Meditation

Meditation is a powerful practice that can transform your energy and stress levels, but sometimes it can be difficult to do on your own. Especially if you’re new to meditation, you might not have the tools to totally let go of distractions for a few solid minutes. This is where guided meditation comes in.

Find a local yoga or meditation studio you can visit to meditate under the guidance of a trained instructor. It’s even better if the studio offers prenatal meditation classes. If not, be sure to inform the teacher that you’re expecting, and that you might need to make required adjustments. If a local meditation class isn’t a possibility, download a guided meditation app to meditate in the comfort of your own home.

6. Check With Your Doctor

Although meditation has few negative side effects and almost always provides nothing but valuable health benefits, make sure you mention your meditation plans to your OBGYN. Your doctor will want to make sure it’s safe and healthy for you, and he or she might have some insightful tips to help you along the rest of your pregnancy. Also be sure to tell your midwife, doula, or anyone else who will be attending your birth that you’ve been meditating. Meditation tends to have an impact on labor, and expectant mothers who meditate may want to incorporate the techniques they’ve been practicing into their actual birth.

7. Meditate Often

Assuming you get the go-ahead from your doctor, feel free to incorporate meditation as much as you need into your routine. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to pregnancy meditation, so pay attention to how you feel after each relaxed session. Mix it up with different techniques and practices, too. Some methods will give you some much-needed energy, while others will relax and de-stress you. If you need to fit in multiple meditations a day, or just do it once a week, find a schedule that works for you and stick to it. The more you meditate, the more you’ll reap the mental and physical health benefits. Share

How to Meditate During Pregnancy

Pregnancy Meditation

Pregnant women have to cope with a number of emotional and physical challenges. Hormonal changes can lead to mood swings, increased appetite and nausea, to name but a few. Meditation during pregnancy helps mothers-to-be cope with these changes by fostering relaxation and re-centering. In addition to enhancing peace of mind, meditation helps reduce the stress that is often experienced by pregnant women while improving their concentration.

Mindfulness in Pregnancy

Research has shown that women who practice mindfulness during their pregnancy enjoy decreased anxiety and depression levels compared to those who don’t. Mindfulness also seems to increase positive emotions. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed during pregnancy – there’s often a gradual buildup of stress and anxiety – and this doesn’t benefit the mother or the baby, not to mention the partner.

Mindfulness has proved so beneficial that the book Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bareback, CNM won the 2014 American College of Nurse-Midwives Book of the Year and was a 2013 National Parenting Publications Award Winner. In an article published in Parents Magazine, Ms. Bareback suggests that expecting mothers can learn to “Let the baby be your mindfulness teacher from the very beginning. When you feel the baby moving, stop and come back to the present moment, if you can. Feel the baby in your belly, feel the breath as the belly rises and falls, and just be present with your baby.”

How to meditate during pregnancy

Meditation has proved to be an effective tool that can help women deal with the stress and anxiety that may arise during pregnancy. Here are a few of the benefits of practicing mindfulness when pregnant:

A more positive outlook

There are many things that pregnant women might feel anxious about: their health, the infant’s health, the pain of labor, their ability to adjust to the new normal, lack of sleep, etc. Pilot studies have shown that women who attend a Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting course tend to be more in touch with their bodies before and during labor and have lower rates of post-partum depression. Also, fear of labor and other common fears decreased significantly, helping reduce the stressors that can cause premature birth. It’s even been shown that fear is affiliated with longer labor – a catch-22 that mindfulness can help resolve.

Relaxation

For women who are expecting, it can be hard to find “me” time. Many work as long as they possibly can – right up until the water breaks in some cases. And there’s everything else to think about too. Meditation gives pregnant women much-needed space for self-care. Women who already have their own meditation practice will find that the continuity is vital to their well-being. For new mediators, guided meditation can be especially helpful since they can relax, follow the soothing voice, and naturally tune in to their breath and physical sensations as guided. Mindworks App offers reliable, accessible guided meditation sessions that nurture well-being and relaxation.

Body awareness

There’s so much going on during pregnancy that it’s easy to get caught up in endless story lines and possible worst-case scenarios. Taking the time to remain present and take stock of one’s feelings and physical sensations can be an enormous help during pregnancy, labor, and afterwards. In an article about mindful birthing in Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine, a mother explains that for her, one of the most helpful aspects of mindfulness meditation was noticing—and even enjoying—the gap between contractions. “That space between contractions was genuinely restorative,” she says.

Body awareness can also be vital in helping pregnant women notice early on if something doesn’t feel quite right. This allows them to inform their health care team and have the problem attended to in as timely a manner as possible.

Meditation benefits the whole family

Some pregnant women are on their own, while others are part of a partnership or family unit. When there are two parents, other kids, relatives or close friends who are actively involved in welcoming the unborn child into the world, making a point of meditating together can strengthen the connection in a very meaningful way. After all, in a partnership or family, joys and anxieties that affect one member will also impact the others.

Light a candle, give voice to your wishes for health and harmony, and experience some mindful minutes with those you care about. At the end, join hands and share the love.

By reading this article it’s clear that you’re interested in the practice of meditation and its results: making life more joyful and meaningful. And so are we! Mind works is a non-profit organization with a mission to share authentic meditation guidance to you and our worldwide followers. Click the link below to find out more about our limited time free course offer. You’ll discover:

  • How to work with mind and appreciate every moment
  • How meditation enriches your life
  • How to integrate meditation into your daily routine

How does meditation help during pregnancy?

Meditation can help reduce the stress that often accompanies big life changes like pregnancy. It can also help with pregnancy symptoms, including fatigue, mood changes and sleep disturbances. 

Studies have found that meditation and other mindfulness-based exercises during pregnancy may reduce anxiety, depression and perceived stress, though more research needs to be done. 

What meditation techniques should you do during pregnancy?

While many forms of meditation exist, the key to success in all of them is consistency. Choose an app, a video, a class or a book on meditation and get started. Here are a few common forms to try:

  • Mindfulness meditation is a form of meditation where you focus on the physical and emotional sensations that are going on in the present moment without judging how they make you feel.

Pregnancy can come with an onslaught of emotions. You may feel happy, sad, excited and worried all in the span of a few minutes. Pregnancy hormones, along with sleep disturbances and the life changes associated with welcoming a new member to your family, can leave you feeling stressed and even anxious in the midst of all the positives.

Whether or not you’ve meditated before, the practice can help you take stock of this emotional whirlwind. What’s more, meditation is great for both you and your baby-to-be. Not sure how to do it? This guide can help. 

What is meditation?

Meditation is a form of complementary medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. It involves focusing your attention for a set period of time, whether it’s on your breath, a mantra (repeated positive phrase) or the present moment.

When done consistently over an extended period of time, meditation can have a host of positive benefits for expectant moms.

What meditation techniques should you do during pregnancy?

While many forms of meditation exist, the key to success in all of them is consistency. Choose an app, a video, a class or a book on meditation and get started. Here are a few common forms to try:

You can also practice the following techniques with any of the aforementioned kinds of meditation:

  • Deep breathing. Short of getting a daily massage, one of the most effective ways to ease muscle tension, lower your heart rate and help you fall asleep is to breathe deeply and rhythmically. Try this: Lie down on the floor or on your bed with your feet shoulder-width apart. (After the second trimester or if you’re uncomfortable lying on your back, rest on your side with a pillow between your legs for support.) Breathe slowly through your nose for four seconds, keeping your mouth closed. Be conscious of your stomach rising as you gradually fill your lungs and diaphragm with air, then hold for one second before exhaling through your nose to the count of four.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. This technique, which includes body scanning meditation, may take a couple of weeks to master, but once you do, you’ll be glad you did. It’s like a natural sleeping pill, which you’ll really appreciate as your pregnancy progresses and a good night’s sleep becomes more and more elusive. Here’s how to do it: Lie down on your bed or on the floor and tense your muscles completely…then let them totally relax. Focus on one muscle group at a time and alternate between the left and right side of your body. One possible route is to start by tensing and releasing your hand and forearm muscles, followed by your triceps and biceps, then your face, chest and shoulders, stomach, legs, and finally, your feet.
  • Guided imagery or visualization. Remember when you were little and your mom told you to close your eyes and think of nice things whenever you got scared? Well, this is pretty similar. Just picture yourself in a place you find peaceful or relaxing — a tropical beach, a flower-filled meadow or wherever your own private bliss may be. Next imagine every detail of that place, from the sounds to the smells and everything in between. An alternative to this technique is to think of an image from a magazine or photograph and fill in every detail in your mind. Visualization takes some practice, but once you get it, you’ll find it’s a great way to quiet your mind, ease your tension and help you drift off to sleep.

Are there any risks of meditating while pregnant?

Meditation is typically considered safe for expectant moms. In some very rare cases, it has been known to cause or worsen the symptoms of some serious psychiatric conditions. Talk to your doctor if you have a serious mental health issue and let your meditation instructor (if you have one) know of any concerns.

Make sure that you’re seated comfortably during meditation. You might need to readjust your positions by adding pillows and blankets, especially as your body changes and your baby bump grows. 

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