Today's Guest Post explores the idea of Meditation as a way of reducing levels of stress and anxiety during pregnancy. So grab a cuppa, take a deep breath and clear your mind whilst you discover how taking just a few moments out of your day to meditate can turn you into one calm and collected mummy-to-be...!
Pregnancy and Meditation
The image I’ve always held of pregnancy, naïve as I am, is one of unique loveliness and connection to Mother Nature. For some reason I thought it be very akin to a Spring Vogue photoshoot, where women spend their days padding about barefoot on immaculate lawns, glowing beautifully from within and showing off a very flattering bump. As soon as the first of my friends started getting pregnant however, I realised that Mother Nature laughs in the face of my expectations. “You’d be bloody lucky”, is her attitude.
That’s not to say that pregnancy isn’t lovely, of course. It’s exciting and wondrous, a time full of heart squeezing happiness. Also, of course, some lucky people just seem to sail through. The always perfectly composed, “I’m not sure what everyone complains about, my labour only lasted 30 minutes and I was in the gym working off the baby weight by the afternoon” sort of people. But for everyone else pregnancy, which is probably the most profound physical transformation you will experience apart from puberty (and puberty lasts for years. This all happens in 9 months), can present you with all kinds of challenges.
How Meditation Can Help
Meditation and pregnancy may not be two things you would immediately put together, but it can be a great and natural way to alleviate any of the bad bits you may face. Firstly, by reducing stress. Pregnancy can be particularly stressful because there is so much to prepare, and a million things that could worry you. Anxiety about your child, apprehension at the changes happening to your body, and fear of childbirth can all come into play, and because all these things are natural there can be an unhelpful attitude that you simply need to “woman-up” and get on with it.
Meditation can help you relax and calm these worries. It can cut the amount of stress hormones you have running around your system by a third, which is good for your baby as they don’t feel the influence of them as much. By soothing the area of the brain that is responsible for the stress response, meditation means that you feel calmer in general.
You can feel more positive and energetic, with your sleep improved and the rebalancing of hormones giving you a break from unpredictable mood swings. Studies have also shown that meditation can reduce immediate pain and help with long-term pain management, which could be useful for those who experience pain in their pregnancy.
Where to Start
Sitting quietly and focusing on one thing is not immediately easy, especially in a world where there are hundreds of distractions, so it’s a good idea to start small and practice, ideally aiming for about 20 minutes a day. You don’t need to sit in the lotus position or cross legged, (especially in the later months of pregnancy where getting up again will be a challenge!) whatever you find the most comfortable is fine.
Meditating in the morning can make it easier, as you haven’t had a chance to absorb information that may distract you, and a good gateway into the practise is focused breathing exercises. By breathing in deeply, filling up your chest, and then slowly exhaling, focusing on this action as much as possible (this gets easier over time, don’t be discouraged if your mind wanders) you can take the first step in becoming a regular meditator and experiencing the benefits it brings.
Have you ever tried meditation as a way to de-stess and calm your mind and body? Let me know in the comments below...!
Holly Ashby is a writer who works for Will Williams Meditation, a London meditation centre that aims to help people improve their health and happiness through the practice of Vedic meditation.