Connect with your baby in meditation
First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy! It is a beautiful and miraculous time for a woman but that’s not to say that it doesn’t have its challenges and discomforts that go along with your growing baby bump.
Meditation is a tool that can be used during your pregnancy (and beyond) to ease some of the physical discomforts, aid in better sleep, reduce tension and stress and help ease depression. What makes pregnancy meditation so special is the deepening of the connection to your unborn baby. That time is sacred.
Using pregnancy meditation techniques during your labour, no matter what method is used for delivery, will help connect you to what your body is physically needing, calm your central nervous system and relax your muscles.
If you haven’t practiced meditation before, you may be asking what is it before you try it? It’s a practice of taking some time out (as little as 5-10 minutes) on a regular basis (daily if possible) allowing yourself to get quiet and focusing your attention during this time on your breath, body sensing, a repeated phrase, a guided visualization, or staying in the present moment mindfully. I find it helpful to know that meditation does not mean that you have to stop all thoughts from entering your mind. Controlling your thoughts is like controlling the weather, you will only get frustrated if you try! When meditating, we are aware of thoughts that arise and then let them go. Another will come, and we let that go. Constant chatter in the mind is common. When we become aware that we got led away by a thought and swept into the story, the moment it is noticed, we can choose to come back to the meditation, lovingly and without judgement and start afresh. By using our breath and/or body sensing we can anchor ourselves in the present moment. We give our mind a job, something to do of our choosing and this allows for the mind and body to calm and relax. For our pregnant mamas, it allows you to drop into a space of stillness and connect with your baby in a deep and intimate way. Your relationship with your son or daughter has started and it’s a wonderful way to bond. In my own experiences in pregnancy, the connection can be profound.
Meditation in pregnancy
In all three trimesters meditation can help with easing physical discomforts (little tip: if you suffer from acid reflux, meditate seated or a reclined position) by using your breath to relax muscles and calm your central nervous system. If sleeping becomes difficult a guided sleep meditation can offer relief. During your pregnancy your body changes and can seem to morph into something other than what feels like ‘you’. Body sensing in meditation gives mothers a tool to feel these changes from an internal place which can then be eased with breath and focus. Meditating during your pregnancy offers a positive labour preparation as you learn to use your breath, body sensing or guided visualization to calm and relax your mind and body. Reducing stress and anxiety throughout pregnancy helps mother and, of course, helps baby as they are exposed to the stress hormone cortisol running throughout her body. What’s good and healthy for mama is also good for baby.
Fear or anxiousness around your labour and delivery can also be softened with a regular meditation practice. You will learn and have tools at hand to engage when these thoughts arise. When we are in fear, our muscles contract. In labour we want to go with softening and allowing our muscles to relax and open. Using your meditation techniques to keep your central nervous system relaxed and in the rest and digest stage will help as your body prepares for the delivery of your baby.
Meditation to help during labour
During labour, pregnancy meditation can equally be beneficial, especially during pre-labour and as you move into active labour. It’s best to have started your meditation practice during your pregnancy so when labour starts your mind and body can drop into it effortlessly. Meditation is referred to as a practice which needs consistency to best receive the benefits. Listening to a guided meditation and engaging deep breathing during labour can help with relaxation, pain management and lessen any anxiety.
I was in labour for the third time where I really learned the power of directional breathing. I was in the midst of the hard pain stage with no epidural and my midwife was directing me on how to breath deep down on the exhale into the bottom of my pelvis. At that point, it just clicked and I got it and it took me from unbearable pain to manageable pain. Lesson learnt and I’ve used it ever since to direct my exhale to any pain arising in my body to help manage it.
That being said, pregnancy, labour and delivery can be discomforting, challenging and painful. It’s best to have all the tools available that work for you to ease and manage these difficulties; breath work and meditation is a great one to have!
Depression in pregnancy and post-partum happens to about 20% of mothers. It’s just as important to look after our mental health as our physical and emotional. Some studies show that mindfulness-based exercises during pregnancy and can help alleviate depression during that time but more research needs to conducted. If you suffer from depression or start to feel it may be affecting you during pregnancy or post-partum, talk to your health care provider. Seek support during this time in your life.
If you have any doubts if meditation is right for you during pregnancy, please seek medical advise.
With gratitude, Theresa