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.
What is mindfulness?
There is a lot of misunderstanding as to how to define mindfulness, and many people define it in different ways. Basically, mindfulness is defined as:
- the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
- the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.
- a quality that every human being already possesses, it’s not something you have to conjure up, you just have to learn how to access it.
You could learn mindfulness by yourself, looking at youtube videos, reading about it, or signing up online. However, to fully understand how it works best for you, you may want to sign up for initial classes. Once you have learned the basics, you can practice mindfulness regularly at home.
There is no better time to build mindfulness than before and during pregnancy — especially because it can become a habit before your bundle of joy arrives.
Start creating mindfulness and 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 the benefits. There are methods of meditation where you meditate for three minutes, three times a day.
- Determine what works best for you. Work with friends or your kids on scrapbooks and paintings or letters to the growing fetus. If you’re not artistic, try listening to classical music or soaking in a bathtub with a book.
- Use natural wait and stop 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.
- 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. This will help you create another connection with your child.
- Complete a body scan. If you’ve never done a body scan, follow these 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 the 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.