The emotions we experience during pregnancy can be far-reaching and diverse.
For some future mothers it provides unprecedented excitement, joyfulness, and accomplishment. But for others it can be extremely challenging, bringing its own unique set of stresses, anxiety and chronic fatigue.
Why Pregnant Women Should Meditate
We all undoubtedly want the best for our future new-born, as a mother it's our primordial instinct to free ourselves from all kind of unexpected health struggles, problems that we could really do without. Meditation is well known as a practice for relaxation, but it's also an unexpected source of energy. A natural remedy free from medication that's available to all expectant mothers. You may not have considered it yet, but pregnancy may just be the best time in your life to try it.
needs more sleep than a pregnant woman? Energy and vitality are vital to run a smooth pregnancy simply because one body lives for two. Pregnancy brings chaos into your hormonal system and can subsequently lead to various physical and mental discomforts that may affect the quality of your sleep. These can be: Â Emotional turmoil and stress that can affect deep sleep Â Hormonal alterations responsible for hot flushes and heartburn Â Increased need to go to the bathroom leading to continual waking Â Multiplied daytime snoozing
Researchers of the National Sleep Foundation in Washington have found that regular meditation practices provide our cerebral system with a much deeper state of relaxation than ordinary rest. It can elevate our levels of alertness, tonicity and orderly brain function. In 2005, after a 6 weeks meditation treatment, the sleep efficiency of patient suffering from sleep disorders jumped from 30.87% to 69.87%, and daytime sleepiness reduced by 28.3%. Even more surprisingly, they found out that new-borns whose mums meditate tended to sleep better, fuss less and are naturally more easy-going. Helping you to sleep more soundly even after the baby is born.
Reduced Anxiety & Stress
Pregnant women are subject to higher levels of stress and for good reason: they are growing a new
life. Whether is it the stress of feeling responsible for the health of a new child, or anxiety related to becoming a mother with all the changes to your own personal lifestyle, stress is a common and a perfectly natural response.
When your hormonal system is totally turned upside down, the main hormone that's responsible for the chronic stress and anxiety response is cortisol. Known as the stress hormone and used during our flight or fight response, it diverts all energy to where our bodies need it most during times of crisis, namely our muscles. Prolonged exposure to this hormone can actually be harmful, and our bodies must be trained to lower this hormonal surge back down to normal levels. Sadly, mothers can have their stress response solicited so often that it may fail to return to normal state. Not only is this translated into higher stress, but also it can also significantly weaken the immune system, increase blood pressure and increase anxiety.
When we meditate the brain calms down and relaxes overactive areas of the pre-frontal cortex. It produces more Alpha and Theta waves, developing the nervous system's ability to reduce cortisol levels. Meditation can be a very effective natural remedy for anxiety during pregnancy.
Whether you have temptations for sweet, salty, fatty or just basically junk food, no woman escapes the
allure of food while bearing a child. Pregnancy is a nutritional challenge both for the mother and baby. During pregnancy all adequate nutrients are drained from the mother's body, therefore a healthy diet is vital to provide the new born with all the sufficient nourishments it needs to grow healthy and strong.
An unhealthy diet can lead to future health related issues such as asthma, diabetes, obesity, and above all birth complications. While meditating you actually take control of your mind and brain and can train them to develop new behavioural patterns. As shown by a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, women practising daily meditation and Â« mindful eating Â» show significant decrease in their cortisol level, they do not overeat and maintain a healthy weight during their pregnancy.
Meghana Kalta, a daily meditator, explained how relaxation practices helped her during her pregnancy: Â“Yoga and meditation were my handy tools which helped me all through my pregnancy. Women have all sorts of cravings during this time but I would crave for fruits Â– oranges, mangoes - and other health food. My body would completely reject chips or other junk itemsÂ”.
Becoming attuned with your body and not only you will have a healthier pregnancy, but can also have health benefits on your baby.
Self-Improvement & Inner Peace
Besides all the little
woes that can accompany a pregnancy, it is important not to lose sight that it is also a spiritual and inspiring stage in a woman's life. It is the point to which you can truly affirm yourself as an accomplished women, willing to put in practice all the life experiences you have gathered to raise your family in the best way you can. Walking into the motherhood is a synonym for devotion, patience, wisdom and love, and the best source of nourishment - after advice from your relatives and friends - is your own inner voice and intuition.
Experiencing your inner-self by practising daily meditation is a good way to refocus on yourself, allowing your mind to escape from day-to-day stresses and concerns. It will help you develop greater mindfulness, energy and vitality necessary to cope with your new role as a mother. Reconnecting with yourself regularly you will start to develop greater sensitivity and serenity, leading your own family towards the best possible future.
While pregnant your body and immune system are lessened and your chances of
contracting disease can actually increase. This change causes different parts of your immune system to be hyperactive and others totally numbed, hence more vulnerably to infections and serious illnesses you want to prevent yourself and the baby from.
Stress is considered to be the main factor in weakening the immune system; it triggers our body and encourages the over production of various steroid hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. It has been shown by a study implemented at UCLA on HIV positive patients that meditation greatly weakened the secretion of these two hormones, strengthening the immune system and maintaining the production of the defective hormone (CD-4) responsible for the disease. In contrast, the non-meditation patients experienced a sharp reduction of the CD-4 hormone resulting in the virus propagation.
Daily meditation can strengthen both your own and your babies immune system, you'll have all the necessary tools to push away any sneaky infections.
Whether it is your back,
your shoulders or abdominal pains, pregnancy can actually uncover parts of your body that you would have never presumed to exist!
On average pregnant women carry 25 to 35 pounds more during month nine of the pregnancy. Your body is dealing with more weight than it normally does, resulting in muscles pains and added pressure on blood vessels and nerves.
While you could consider painkillers as the easiest alternative, meditation offers a medication free alternative that can help lower levels of pain and discomfort. Interestingly many painkillers stimulate endorphin production, the hormone responsible for pain reduction, and meditation encourages the secretion of the same endorphins.
Pain management can be controlled naturally through the practice of deep relaxation, stimulating the hypothalamus glands that release more endorphins and lower levels of pain. It is your body's natural painkiller and it's free.
While some women might not experience any depression during pregnancy, a study conducted by the NHS showed that 1 in 7 women experienced post-natal depression and about 85% of them experienced less serious emotional effects called Â“baby bluesÂ”.
Yes, seeing your baby face for the first time feels like the most beautiful day of your life, but the hormonal imbalance can have an opposite effect to this emotional peak. A myriad of unidentified feelings can arise after 9 months of running a challenging day-to-day life. It's important to be ready should the Â“upÂ” turn into a Â“downÂ”.
Specialist advice may take the form of prescribed medication, take some time off work, exercise and/or rest. Ultimately though these feelings will pass but meditation can help us get there more quickly. A study by Dr. Cassandra Vieten from the California Pacific Medical Centre Research Institute looked at the effects of meditation on prenatal stress and mood, demonstrating a 20-25 per cent reduction in stress levels and anxiety in pregnant women.
Relaxation can revert our hormonal system back to what nature intended. It helps our mind synthesise and distribute the correct amounts of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline. By calming the mind we 're much more capable of coping with fatigue and irregular sleep patterns. Our mood begins to improve and stability can be achieved.
Daily meditation can help you regulate and rebalance your natural system back to normal, and thus help you to readjust with your new environment. It is also a great tool to help you see clearer in a mass of shuffled thoughts, helping you recognise feelings that are not yet clear.
Meditation can be an extremely beneficial throughout your pregnancy, and it may make life a little easier for you, helping you to enjoy one of the most magical moments of your life.
by Marie Boucaut who works for Meditation in Brighton helping individuals to lead the happiest, healthiest life they can by providing classes and courses for Meditation in Brighton, London and Geneva.