Being Pregnant is no piece of cake. It is a stressful time; your body is changing, and your hormones are all spiked up. While you are managing through these tough yet delicate nine months, you have a new life inside you. Your health and actions affect the health of your to-be-born child. It is why you should take steps to ensure the pregnancy is healthy. One way to achieve a healthy pregnancy is to meditate.
What is meditation?
Meditation has been around for thousands of years. It is a widely used practice involving physical and mental techniques to achieve focus and a clear mind. There are many ways to meditate; some people prefer doing mindfulness yoga, and others prefer body scan or progressive meditation. All you need is to find a place – calm and quiet – and reconnect with yourself.
Benefits of Meditation
There are many ways through which meditation makes your pregnancy journey healthy. Let’s look into them.
Prenatal stress – stress experienced by the pregnant mother – affects the development of the fetus. Studies show that prenatal stress affecting the fetus can have long-lasting effects. It can also stunt the emotional, physical, and cognitive development in early childhood. Moreover, pregnant women who experience high levels of stress and anxiety are likely to go into preterm labor and deliver underweight babies.
Low birth weight or premature births significantly increase the risks of congenital cerebral palsy. Although cerebral palsy has no cure, some treatments and therapies can improve the quality of life. You can learn more about the types of cerebral palsy and the ways it can affect a child.
During pregnancy, your body’s cortisol levels are elevated. Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone and the main reason you might feel overly anxious during pregnancy. A daily mindfulness meditation routine can decrease cortisol levels. Moreover, Studies in Gynecology have found that women who participated in mindfulness yoga meditation felt less anxious and stressed near delivery time.
Lowers Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
The fetus gets its required nutrients and oxygen through the blood. The blood flow to the placenta decreases whenever your blood pressure increases, leaving the fetus starved of nutrients. It results in slower fetal development and growth, eventually leading to premature birth or underweight babies.
The increase in blood pressure is often a result of high cortisol or adrenaline levels. With meditation, you can decrease them and reduce the chances of inflammation. Additionally, research conducted by Harvard Medical School discovered that meditation increases nitric oxide levels in the body. This molecule relaxes the blood vessels and keeps the blood pressure under control. It ensures the health of your baby as well as of your heart.
Increases Your Resilience
Sore pelvis, morning sickness, restlessness, and much more – there are a lot of challenges a pregnant woman has to face. Although meditation won’t solve all these problems, it can help you become more resilient.
Study shows people who meditate are generally more resilient: psychologically and physically. By decreasing stress, meditation prevents your reaction time and cognitive processing from being affected negatively. This, in turn, prevents your decision-making and adversity-adaption skills from being compromised. Meditation will armor you for pregnancy and labor struggles and prepare you for your role as a full-time future mom!
Builds Deeper Connection with Yourself and Your Baby
Pregnancy is overwhelming at times. With so much happening to your body, it can be challenging to focus and understand your needs. Here, meditation allows you to retreat and restore your connection with yourself. With every deep breath, you can feel your muscles contract and relax, and your body eases out. You get in sync with your movements and develop a greater consciousness of your body and its needs. With increased awareness of your needs, you can reach out for the proper support at the right time.
Right now, your to-be-born baby is a part of you. Meditation can enable you to envision your baby: strengthening the mother-child connection.
Pregnancy means many sleepless nights. But we have good news for you: meditation improves sleep quality. The hormonal analysis found meditation increases the release of melatonin. Melatonin is the chemical responsible for a goodnight’s sleep. Incorporating meditation into your daily routine can also increase serotonin. Serotonin is the precursor of melatonin, meaning it initiates melatonin’s release. Moreover, a 2020 study conducted on sixty pregnant women concluded that light mindfulness yoga meditation improved sleep in the most restless period of pregnancy – the third trimester.
Helps with labor
Probably, the first things jumping to your mind when you think of labor are contractions and pain. Surprisingly, meditation can be of help here too. Deep relaxation meditation can stimulate hypothalamus glands to release endorphins. Endorphins work in the same way as painkillers. Wake Forest University’s research on brain activity found that mindfulness reduces pain perception significantly. In many cases, meditation has reduced the need for stronger anesthesia, drugs, and surgery, allowing most births to take a more natural route.
Lastly, the day of birth is chaotic, and labor sensations can overpower you, but this is where meditation-ingrained resilience comes in. Meditating between contractions can make you feel more in control of the situation and make any medical decisions with a clear mind.
Speeds Up Post-natal recovery
After the labor chaos ends and the new baby makes its way to mama’s arms, love overtakes the new mom. They are delighted and in love with their baby. However, despite these strong positive emotions, the wave of exhaustion, irritation, and realization of new nerve-wracking responsibility kicks in within a few days. These mood swings, called baby blues, are experienced by over eighty percent of new mothers. These emotions are often intense but wear off within two weeks for most mothers. However, some women can fall victim to postpartum depression, where the feeling persistently stays for months and impacts the mother’s mental health.
Mindfulness through meditation has proven to be an effective tool to fight off baby blues and overcome postpartum depression. Meditation after birth is more effortless if you practice meditation during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a joyful yet stressful journey for many. But you can make it happy, healthy, and stress-free for yourself just by incorporating daily meditation exercises. You can improve your mood and sleep quality by spending only a few minutes daily. Using meditation, you can keep stress and anxiety away while reducing the chances of birth injuries for your future child.