By Amber Greviskes
Pregnancy can be stressful. Your body is undergoing changes that may leave you physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. You’re taking classes to prepare for your baby’s arrival, decorating your nursery, and juggling already-existing obligations.
But, according to Ramani Durvasula, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, there is no better time to build mindfulness than during pregnancy — especially because it can become a habit before your bundle of joy arrives.
“This is the one time in life your body is doing precisely what it was made to do, and a wonderful time to connect to that body,” Durvasula said.
Do you want to start creating mindfulness, but don’t know how? Try our tips to get started.
- Unplug from the web. The pressure to post belly photos, ultrasounds, and minute-by-minute updates can be distracting. Use that time to find ways to relax. Pregnancy shouldn’t be a competitive sport. It should be an experience, Durvasula said.
- Keep it short. People can be overwhelmed by the idea of sitting quietly for 20 minutes, but you don’t have to meditate for long to see benefits. Instead, Dina Proctor, a life and business coach, teaches a method of meditation where she encourages her clients to meditate for three minutes, three times a day.
- Determine what works best for you. Jacqui Blue, a mom of five, used art as a way to connect with her unborn children. During each pregnancy, she worked on scrapbooks for her kids, painted, and wrote letters to her growing fetus. If you’re not artistic, try listening to classical music or soaking in a bathtub with a book.
- Use natural waiting and stopping times. Each day, there are many times when our world starts and stops — waiting in line at the grocery store, between meetings, or when you’re early for an exercise class. When it does, check in with yourself. Close your eyes, put your hand over your heart, and pay attention to your breath, said Leslie Ralph, a clinical psychologist and mother.
- Pay attention to your new body. Many meditations involve focusing on sensations. In the later stages of pregnancy, focus on the baby's movement, changes in your body, and images of your child while slowly inhaling and exhaling, Durvasula said. This will help you create another connection with your child.
- Complete a body scan. If you’ve never done a body scan, follow New York psychologist Melissa Otero’s instructions. Start by bringing your awareness to the top of your head and feel the weight of your skull. Notice the muscles of your face. Feel the length of your neck and weight of your arms. Follow your breath as it flows through your torso, filling your chest, ribcage, and belly. Imagine that you’re nourishing your baby with each inhalation and hugging your baby with each exhalation. Then, bring your attention to the weight in your hips, legs, and feet.
Remember, practicing mindfulness is a daily act. The more you practice, the more you’ll reduce stress and anxiety while improving your ability to live a happier, more balanced life.
- Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D.
- Jacqui Blue
- Leslie Ralph, Ph.D.
- Melissa Otero, Ph.D.
- Dina Proctor