5 Mindfulness-Based Strategies for a Happy, Healthy Pregnancy

It’s OK if you haven’t felt utterly joyful during your pregnancy. Many factors can contribute to pregnancy stress, such as never-ending shopping lists for the baby and unexpected work complications—not to mention your rapidly changing body.

Regardless of your specific stressors, know that you’re not alone. Around 18 percent of women report depression, and another 21 percent deal with severe anxiety during pregnancy.

The good news is, you can learn to manage some of these stressful factors during your pregnancy by utilizing mindfulness. Mindfulness can help you have a healthier and happier pregnancy and ultimately benefit your newborn’s development.

Why is a ‘mindful’ pregnancy so helpful?

Practicing mindfulness during pregnancy can significantly serve you by reducing your stress levels. Naturally, you’ll be feeling anxious during your pregnancy—you’ll soon be introducing new life into the world, and there’s much responsibility that comes with the decision.

In 2014, a study of 47 pregnant women participated in mindfulness classes to help manage their pregnancy anxiety, while the control group within the experiment read a pregnancy book. The group who learned mindfulness techniques reported more significant decreases in their pregnancy-related anxiety.

There may also be a connection between mindfulness and your baby’s development. In a 2015 study, mothers who used mindfulness techniques to manage their pregnancy anxiety at the start of the second trimester birthed babies with fewer developmental problems. By the time the babies turned 10 months, they had less trouble adjusting to new environments or settling down when overstimulated.

If you think you’d like to embark on a mindfulness practice to help reduce your pregnancy-related stress and potentially aid your baby’s development, the five tips below will help you make your practice effective.

Ease into mindfulness

If you’re interested in mindfulness, ease your way into the practice. Pregnancy can be overwhelming enough, especially when you have to deal with concerns about ptyalism and how it can increase morning sickness symptoms. Adding an extensive meditation routine will just contribute to your stress, instead of reducing it.

Instead, simply try to be mindful of your surroundings. For instance, don’t just go through the motions as you shower, but be aware of the sensations and breathe deeply. If you feel your mind wander, that’s OK—gently redirect your thoughts back to your actions and try to be present in the moment.

Other good times to be mindful include while eating, brushing your teeth, drinking water and taking a walk. These activities will help you prevent issues like ptyalism, high blood pressure and even miscarriage. You can easily incorporate mindfulness into a busy schedule when practicing it alongside your regular activities.

Let the baby be your guide

A fantastic way to approach mindfulness is to let your baby be your teacher. When you feel your little one kicking, pause what you’re doing and be aware of the movement. Place your hand on your stomach and be present with the baby, feeling both your and your child’s breath—a miraculous and meditative moment. Practice mindfulness with your baby’s movements a couple of times a day.

Try various mindfulness exercises

Once you master everyday mindfulness, you can add extra techniques to your routine. One great exercise to incorporate into your day is the body scan.

Use the body scan to get in touch with your physical sensations. The scan will walk you through your entire body, isolating any pain or discomfort in your muscles that you may unknowingly hold. This exercise will welcome you to let go of the tension and relax your body.

Another fantastic exercise is the 4-7-8 breathing technique. This form of measured breathing allows you to focus your mind and manage your stress. Here’s how you practice the technique:

  • Find a quiet place to sit.
  • Making a whooshing sound, exhaling completely through your mouth.
  • For four counts, inhale through your nose.
  • For seven counts, hold your breath.
  • Exhale your breath for a total of eight counts.

You can complete this technique until you feel a reduction in your stress levels. Breathing exercises are highly effective at pulling you into the present and making you mindful of your surroundings.

Practice gentle Yoga

Another excellent way to incorporate mindfulness into your life is by practicing Yoga. Gentle Yoga poses can be highly beneficial for pregnant women, by increasing circulation and flexibility and even improving one’s ability to fall and stay asleep.

Try one or all of these exercises to help you become more mindful and healthier:

Child’s Pose: Most women deal with back pain at some point in their pregnancy. To alleviate this pain, gently lower yourself on all fours. Bring your toes together and stretch your knees wider than your hips. Next, extend your arms forward and push your hips and heels back. Slowly rest your forehead on the ground. Breathe in and out, gently sinking further into the pose as you relax. Focus on your breath and ground yourself in the moment.

Cat Cow Pose: Start on all fours, ensuring that you place your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. First, inhale and lift your tailbone and chest to move into cow pose. Then lower your belly to the floor. Relax your shoulders from your ears. Exhale to move into cat pose and round your spine up. Push your hands and legs firmly into the floor and arch your back to the ceiling. As you’re in both positions, breathe slowly, stretching your torso and back. Focus on how your body reacts in the moment, while being mindful of your breath.

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Woman sitting on tree branch meditating

Bound Angle Pose: Start in a seated position and allow your pelvis to move forward. If you need additional support, sit on a cushion or folded blanket. Next, bring the soles of your feet together. To deepen your stretch, bring your feet in towards your hips. Take a deep breath to root your lower body before stretching and lengthening your spine. You can hold your toes for a deeper stretch or place your hands on your shins or ankles. Keep the pose for one minute, being mindful of your breath throughout.

When you add Yoga to your daily routine, you’ll be able to see immense benefits to your emotional and physical well-being. If you have any specific questions about whether certain Yoga poses are safe to practice during your pregnancy, talk to your OB.

Use a mindfulness app

To take mindfulness a step further, you could download an app to get reminders to practice meditation techniques throughout your pregnancy. Additionally, mindfulness apps provide access to a ton of different meditation resources.

One app, MyLife, invites you to check in with your emotions daily, and then provides personalized mindfulness activities, including Yoga, guided journaling, meditation and breathing exercises, based on your needs.

The benefit of a mindfulness app is having all sorts of resources available in one convenient location. Various mindfulness apps exist on Google Play and the Apple App Store. Some are free, while others require subscription services but provide a customized approach.

Mindfulness and a more peaceful pregnancy

Pregnant woman with hands on belly

When you add mindfulness into your daily routine, you’ll notice an improvement in how you handle pregnancy stress. Start by easing into mindfulness—notice how your baby moves inside you, be mindful of how you eat or brush your teeth, and then add breathing exercises or Yoga. By adding mindfulness to your life, there’s no doubt you’ll have a healthier and happier pregnancy.

Medical disclaimer: This page is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Please refer to the full text of our medical disclaimer.

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image 1: Pixabay; image 2: Pixabay

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