by Marcia Keilen
Should you practice meditation during pregnancy? Of course, pregnancy is an ideal time to begin the practice of meditation. This is a time for inner reflection and self nurturing that benefits both mother and child. Meditation enables a mother to connect to her inner wisdom as well as that of generations of women who have been bringing babies into the world since the beginning of time. Everything that the mother does, thinks, dreams, feels, reacts to, eats and hears is also experienced by her baby. What better time to begin a meditative practice then during this momentous life event. The healing of the world begins with healing one’s self, and during pregnancy this self-healing spills over to impacting every moment of the baby’s development. What a marvelous gift to impart to every child born: a nurturing, loving, peaceful and compassionate environment in which the child develops and thrives.
Benefits of meditation for both physical and mental health.
Meditation is the perfect antidote to stress. Stress triggers a fight-or-flight response that not only affects the mother but her baby as they both share in how the mother reacts to specific situations. Stress causes the heart rate and blood pressure to increase, breathing becomes more rapid and shallow, and the body pumps out stress hormones in response to any stressful encounter. Practicing meditation counteracts these responses: the heart rate and blood pressure normalize, breathing slows and becomes quieter and stress hormone levels fall. The benefits of enhanced physical and mental health for the mother are also experienced by the developing baby. Meditation is considered a state of restful awareness. The benefits of meditation include being less reactive, less anxious, more creative and making more conscious choices. The mother becomes more fully present to each and every moment, which can be an advantage during pregnancy, the birth of the baby and throughout parenthood.
Examples of how meditation can positively enhance a woman’s well-being during pregnancy.
When a woman is connected to her inner wisdom she is more aware of how her choices affect both her and her baby. For example, she tends to choose foods that are more nourishing, gets enough sleep and practices other self-nurturing habits that encourage relaxation. She is more attuned to her body and feels the powerful sacred connection to her baby. She may choose to read literature that is uplifting, such as reading beautiful poetry aloud to her unborn baby. She finds moving her body and connecting to her inner rhythm feels good whether she chooses exercise such as walking, prenatal yoga or simply swaying to her favorite music. All of these things help prepare her body for the hard work of labor.
How meditation helps during labor and birth…
Women who meditate regularly have an easier time staying in the present moment which can be valuable in riding the waves of the contractions she experiences. She connects to her breath and takes her labor one contraction at a time, letting go of the previous contractions and not anticipating what may happen later on in her labor. She is confident in her ability to birth her baby. She tends to be more intuitive, listening to the cues her body sends her and responding in ways that feel most beneficial for both her and her baby.
And the benefits of a regular meditation practice continue long after the baby is born. Meditation gives each person a sense of inner peace and harmony. This inner peace and harmony spreads peace throughout the whole family. Thus the baby is brought into a loving, nurturing environment. What a gift to the world as change begins one person at a time and spreads out into the whole Universe.
Marcia Keilen is a yoga teacher, meditation teacher, a childbirth educator, writer, and blogger. You can find her blog at innerwisdombliss.com and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.