I had tried meditation in the past and it never really stuck for me. The difference now is knowing that thoughts aren’t the enemy of meditation, effort is.
Research shows that your emotional well-being is extremely important during pregnancy. Incorporating a prenatal meditation practice into your daily routine can be an incredible tool to help you have healthier, happier babies, while making the experience of pregnancy much easier and more enjoyable, for everyone.
When I became pregnant my emotional well-being was never even discussed at my doctor’s visits, and when it was touched on in the pregnancy books I was reading, it was the usual “expect to feel hormonal”. The shift that occurs when you’re pregnant is as much emotional as it is physical. For me, it seemed that just as my bump grew bigger, my anxiety grew stronger.
I knew the stress I was feeling couldn’t be good for myself or my growing baby, so I decided to give meditation a try and found Expectful -a platform that makes it easy for expectant and new moms to meditate. I was shocked to experience an almost immediate relief emotionally. Within a few short days, I had more energy, experienced less stress and was feeling more connected to my baby, myself and my husband.
Here are 5 scientifically backed ways that meditation can support a pregnancy:
1. Positive Effects On Infant Development.
Studies show that babies that are born to moms that meditate tend to have a better temperament. They can self-regulate themselves sooner, and get into negative states less often (1). Having a happier baby is good for your mental state, and can make transitioning into motherhood a bit easier.
2. More Likely To Go Full Term.
A study that explored preterm birth found that women that participated in a mindfulness training program were 50% less likely to give birth early than women with no mindfulness education (2). Up until you are considered full term at 39 weeks pregnant, your baby’s brain, lungs and liver are still maturing. Going full term allows your baby to fully develop before you welcome him or her into the world.
3. Reduced Stress and Anxiety.
Practicing regular meditation can significantly reduce stress and anxiety. Through meditation you can learn to maintain an inner calm regardless of your external circumstances (3). Pregnancy brings on a lot of an uncertainty and unwanted stress. Although some stress during pregnancy is normal, continuous stress has been linked to long term negative effects on you and your baby down the road.
4. Reduced Pain During Labor.
A study done on a group of people who attended a four-day mindfulness meditation training found that they were able to decrease the intensity of painful stimulus by 40 percent (4). Pain reduction is a helpful tool during birth and labor, and it’s also beneficial during pregnancy and recovery when your new baby needs you more than ever.
5. Enhanced Immunity.
Meditation enhances the body’s immune function. (5) A healthy immunity can help keep your body healthy during pregnancy and protect you and your baby from immune-related issues after delivery.
If you’re unsure how to meditate, it’s important to keep one key principle in mind… thoughts aren’t the enemy of meditation, effort is. Just like the heart beats involuntarily, the mind thinks involuntarily. When you sit to focus on your breath or a mantra, thoughts will naturally arise in your mind, and this is completely natural. Simply notice your thoughts, let them pass and refocus.
Think you’re too busy to meditate? Dr. Robin Berzin says you’re not, and offers these 7 great tips to hack your own excuses.
If you’re not pregnant but think you might want to be some day, here are 5 Things You Should Know About Fertility.
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Are you pregnant or new to motherhood?
Expectful is a digital platform that makes meditation easy for expectant and new moms. Each one of our guided meditations has been created to support you throughout your pregnancy and motherhood journey.
Our simple idea is to make meditation as common as prenatal vitamins because it has so many benefits for you and your baby. Go to expectful.com and sign up for your free meditation trial.
Anna Gannon is the Community & Editorial Lead at Expectful, a company with a groundbreaking meditation program for pregnancy and parenthood. She is also a seasoned NYC yoga guide and a new mom who is passionate about helping other new moms find the tools they need to create a wellness routine that fits their lifestyle.
- Maternal mindfulness and anxiety during pregnancy affect infants’ neural responses to sounds – Pubmed.
- Meditation for preterm birth prevention: A randomized controlled trail in Udonthani, Thailand. International Journal of Public Health. Vol 1, No 1 pp 31-39.
- Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention during pregnancy on prenatal stress and mood. – Pubmed.
- Brain mechanisms supporting the modulation of pain by mindfulness meditation. – Pubmed.
- Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. – Pubmed.