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Pregnancy_meditation

Even if you’ve never actually practiced meditation, now that you’re pregnant it would be worthwhile for you to consider it. Apart from numerous health benefits to both you and your baby, there are no side effects or negative outcomes of practicing meditation during pregnancy and as they say in the classics “It can only be a good thing”.

But I Don’t Want Anything to Change!

Pregnancy is nothing if not a time of immense change. Changes in body shape and physical wellbeing are some of the more obvious. Mood swings are common as is a sense of losing control, especially during labour and delivery. Pregnancy meditation can help to support a sense of control and power. It also boosts feelings of strength, both in emotional and physical ways.

Giving in to change can be immensely difficult, more so for some women than others. For those who are used to being in control of both themselves and their career and generally having predictable outcomes, then having a baby can really create unique challenges.

Meditation can also help to create a quiet oasis of inner calm and centredness when feelings of tension threaten to overwhelm us.

But I don’t have Time to Meditate

Make time to mediate. In our busy lives there is always something which needs doing, a job calling us or a deadline to meet. Prioritising meditation, along with other aspects of self care, is vital for reaping as many benefits as possible.

One of the many benefits of pregnancy meditation is that you don’t need to be an expert. In this competitive world, we can all be guilty of avoiding situations in which we may feel less than perfect. However, with pregnancy meditation, no one will be judging you on your performance.

As long as you feel calmer and a little more peaceful after a meditation session, then you’ve reaped the benefits. And your enthusiasm is likely to have a contagious effect on those close to you.

What is Meditation Anyway?

There are lots of definitions for the term meditation. Essentially it means to stop all physical activities and concentrate on breathing and our sense of self. Trying to create a feeling of calmness and mindfulness as well as being “in the moment” are the aims of meditation.

Another aspect to meditation is a focus on the breathing – both when inhaling and exhaling. Visualising the breath as it enters and exits the lungs is said to help slow heart rate and bring significant benefits across all body systems.

Benefits of Pregnancy Meditation to Mothers

  • Boosts feelings of peace, calm and tranquillity.
  • Physical and emotional rest. Pregnancy meditation can help with insomnia and generally improve the duration and quality of sleep.
  • Building better mind, body and spirit awareness.
  • Pregnancy meditation has dual benefits as it relaxes both the mind and the body and for some, their spirit.
  • Physiological benefits such as reduction in blood pressure, a slowing down of heart rate, improved circulation and boosting oxygenation.
  • Recharging energy levels – this is especially beneficial for pregnant women who are still working and/or caring for older children.
  • Creating some “me” time. When giving our all to family and work it can be very difficult to find time for ourselves. Feelings of resentment can build when we give too much without receiving anything back.
  • If pregnancy meditation is done in conjunction with yoga, Pilates or other exercise, there can be less risk of needing an assisted delivery. Check this for more information on natural birth.
  • Pregnancy meditation helps to deal with hormonal mood changes. If you’re feeling a little labile, then finding some inner peace through meditation will help you feel you haven’t lost control of your mind!
  • Meditation may help to boost immune function. Avoiding illness is always useful but especially so during pregnancy.
  • Endorphins are natural “feel good” hormones which also help to reduce physical pain. Pregnancy meditation may help to increase circulating levels of endorphins which assist with labour pain.
  • Can help with enhancing the relationship with partner. When meditation is done together, it can create a high level of connection. Check here for more information on becoming a father.
  • Pregnancy meditation can also help generally during labour and delivery. Check here on labour delivery.

Benefits of Pregnancy Meditation to Babies

There are lots of claims made about the positive effects of pregnancy meditation on an unborn baby. However, hard scientific evidence is yet to prove many of them.

Be open minded about statements which report a decreased incidence of abnormalities and birth complication because of pregnancy meditation. There’s generally a reason why things sound too good to be true.

  • Your baby will benefit from your calmness. Maternal stress hormones do cross over the placental barrier, however, unless levels are consistently high there’s generally no ill effects. But there are still mutual benefits to pregnancy meditation.
  • Emotional connection and bonding can be enhanced through pregnancy meditation. In a busy day, finding time to just sit, reflect, concentrate and connect with your baby will undoubtedly bring you joy.

Pregnancy Meditation in the First Trimester

This is a time when early pregnancy symptoms can overwhelm the most robust of women. Nausea, indigestion, changes in sleeping pattern and urinary frequency mean that deep restorative sleep may be a far off memory and quite literally, something you can only dream about. So finding the opportunity to deeply relax though meditation can provide a welcome alternative when your reality is less than comfortable. Check here for more first trimester information.

Try to visualise your baby growing and its organs forming. You may already feel a sense of emotional connection with your baby and view meditation as an opportunity to communicate with your little one.

During this three month period your baby’s senses will all be developing, including their ears and auditory system. So music, gentle humming or singing to your baby if you’re so inclined will not be wasted.

Pregnancy Meditation in the Second Trimester

This is the time when many pregnant women “glow”. The early days of nausea and exhaustion have settled and you’re likely to be feeling alot more positive.

Use this time to visualise your baby as they are growing, gaining weight and moving around. Imagine your baby’s little face and consider what their experience is in their watery world. Place your hands on your tummy and see if you can feel their limbs. Talk quietly to your baby if you want to, or just send little mind messages to them.

This is the trimester when for the first time, you will feel your baby moving. For women who’ve had a baby before this will be around 15 weeks but if this is your first baby, it may be closer to 18 weeks. Check this for more second trimester details.

Pregnancy Meditation in the Third Trimester

Make a comfortable nest of pillows and cushions which provide your body with the support it needs. Visualise your baby trying to find an equally comfortable position in your uterus, which is becoming increasingly restrictive. Soon this watery home will become too small for them.

If you’re finding you’re increasingly uncomfortable, visualise a time and place when your body held no pressure or pain, aches or tension. Check here for information on pregnancy back pain. Talk to your baby and be sensitive to their responses to your voice.

Place gentle pressure on your tummy and communicate through your fingers and the palms of your hands. Think about your baby’s birth and all that you hope it will be.

With every breath in visualise strength, light and a sense of calm. During your labour, you will call on the skills you have practiced. Check here for more labour information.

Pregnancy Meditation Tips

Find a sitting or lying position which is comfortable for you. Make sure you go to the toilet first and have a drink of water. There’s nothing like physical discomfort to really put a damper on a meditation session.

Take your phone off the hook and turn your mobile to silent. This is a time for you and your baby -and the rest of the world will just have to do without you for the next half hour or so.

  • Aim to mediate at the same time each day and quarantine this time. This will help you to keep up a regular pattern and avoid other tasks creeping in and taking over.
  • Find a quiet and distraction free spot. Set up a seating area or somewhere you can lie down and be really comfortable. Remember though, the aim of meditation is not to go to sleep but reach a state of deep relaxation and peace.
  • Make sure the room you choose is well ventilated and is a comfortable temperature. You’re unlikely to get the full benefits if you’re shivering or sweating.
  • Experiment with different lying or sitting positions. Depending on your stage of pregnancy and symptoms, you’re bound to find some positions are better than others.
  • Make sure your mediation spot is away from the distraction of television, radio, computers and phones. This is very important, so you aren’t disturbed.
  • Be patient when learning about meditation. Like anything else which is new, it can take some weeks to become used to what’s involved.
  • Don’t try too hard to eliminate all thoughts from your mind. If they do crop up then let them float into your consciousness and just as easily, let them flow out. Ruminating on worries will only create more tension and stress.
  • Don’t feel you need to explain yourself to family and friends. Some people “get” mediation and others view it as some vague hippy pursuit. Those who matter won’t need any explanation and those who don’t matter, don’t count. So just do what is right for you and your little growing baby.
  • Consider meditating with a friend, perhaps another pregnant mother. You could investigate getting a meditation tutor or practitioner to guide you through what’s involved and share the cost.
  • It may take a few moments for you to feel you’re in relaxation mode. Don’t stress, practice makes perfect so stick with it.
  • You may find you can feel your baby moving when you are mediating. In a busy day, this may be the first time you are really conscious of your baby’s movements. Place your hand on your tummy and aim to feel a sense of connection between your brain, your hand and your baby.
  • Close your eyes during your meditation sessions. This will help to block out any external stimulus and keep distractions to a minimum.
  • Consider buying some yoga CD’s, downloading apps, putting on a DVD or listening through your earphones to yoga instructions.
  • Avoid meditating when you’ve just had a big meal, otherwise you’re likely to drop off to sleep. Similarly, avoid meditating when you’re overly tired, hungry, thirsty or distracted by something more pressing.

Overall, be positive about the benefits of meditation. Even if you’ve never done it before, consider it a learning experience.

Pregnancy meditation can only bring you and your little baby benefits, so go on, give it a go.

This article was written by Jane Barry, midwife, child health nurse, freelance parenting consultant, copywriter and director of www.mybabybaby.com.au

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