Meditation: Fertility, Pregnancy and Parenthood
Pregnancy is usually a happy time in people’s lives. But it can also be a very stressful and difficult time. When things are tough, and when your mind isn’t able to deal with anxiety, it can lead to problems in your life. That’s when you need tools to help you through.
Meditation and Mindfulness
According to the Buddhist Centre, meditation is a means of transforming the mind. In Buddhism, meditation is the most important thing we can do, because it means we are taking responsibility for our own state of mind, which can in turn alter our whole way of being.
There are many different techniques and tools to meditate, and by no means do you have to be part of the Buddhist faith to practice meditation. It can benefit anyone and everyone! There are many different types of meditation, but the foundation of all the different practices are the same. It is to cultivate a calm and positive state of mind.
Meditation and mindfulness take practice and are definitely not something you can master overnight. Meditation is used to rewire and change your brain, something that takes time and patience.
Anxiety and Depression on The Rise
It is no secret that the amount of anxiety and depression in our society has increased immensely. We lead busy lives and have barely enough time to take care of our bodies, let alone our minds.
According to one randomized control study conducted in 2013, a mindfulness meditation program was able to successfully reduce anxiety in individuals diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. They concluded that meditation might also improve stress reactivity and coping for these individuals.
Studies have also concluded that meditation can help with postpartum depression and depression in general.
This is extremely significant in this day an age where a lot of people suffer from these ailments and medication alone cannot help.
More from Babytalk: Postpartum Mental Health
Expectful is an amazing app to practice meditation in pregnancy and when trying to conceive, with hopes of alleviating some of the stress that comes along with being pregnant.
Meditation is beneficial for anyone at any junction in their lives. During pregnancy, it can be especially beneficial due to the uncertainty and unpredictability of the situation. The designers of this app have come up with a simple way to allow pregnant women to meditate. Their goal is to make meditation in pregnancy as common as prenatal vitamins.
Expectful says it best:
“At Expectful, we see the tremendous impact that mental health and well-being have on the journey to motherhood.
To us, the mind-body connection isn’t just an idea — it’s the key to navigating the physical, mental and emotional aspects of every stage of motherhood from the moment you decide to conceive.
With our meditation toolkit, we’re making it easier than ever to create health and well-being through the power of mindfulness, and creating a world in which meditation is as common as prenatal vitamins.” – From the Expectful website
The app has been designed to tackle three periods of your journey to parenthood. It has meditations pertaining to fertility, pregnancy and parenthood.
I will briefly discuss each part of this app and the proven benefits of meditation for each period. The scientific evidence for each stage is taken from the Expectful website, where each study is referenced.
Meditation for Fertility
There are many benefits for meditating while trying to conceive. Your mind and body are intrinsically connected. While trying to get pregnant you might feel very stressed when things aren’t happening as quickly as you’d like. Or the whole process might just be causing you anxiety for a multitude of different reasons.
This is where meditation comes in.
Studies have been done that prove stress and anxiety can negatively affect your hormones and potentially mess up your bodily functions. For fertility, this can mean that you will have problems ovulating, meaning a delay or absence of ovulation.
So, meditation can decrease your anxiety, which in turn can regulate your hormones and your cycle. This has to be done consistently, so setting a reminder to meditate every day can help a lot. Guess what? The app has this set up for you.
Meditation will help you conceive.
In addition, meditation can strengthen your relationship with your partner and you probably know already that you need a strong relationship to conceive! Without having “relations” with your spouse, it’ll be way more difficult to conceive, haha.
The fertility part of the app is divided into four parts.
Emotional Awareness, Physical Awareness, Overcoming Challenges and Couples Meditation.
Under each part there are multiple meditations to choose from and depending on the amount of time you have you can choose either a 10 or 20 minute meditation.
Examples of meditation sessions are “Balance”, “Effortless Joy”, “Connecting with Gratitude”, “Returning to Sleep”, “Trusting the Body” and “Being Present”
You choose, depending on what kind of meditation you are craving that day.
There are lots of unknowns during pregnancy. Heck, there are lots of unknown throughout your lifetime! But pregnancy can be an even more stressful time. Meditating in pregnancy has been proven to increase the connection with your newborn.
It’ll also help you maintain your inner calm, regardless of your circumstances, which change pretty rapidly with a growing human inside of you.
Meditation helps you foster stronger relationships because it increases your abilities to recognize emotions and empathize with others. This will help you connect with your growing baby and with your partner if you have one. A strong relationship with your partner will definitely be helpful after the baby arrives as many claim having a baby being one of the more stressful times in their relationships.
The pregnancy portion of the app is divided into the three trimesters. I think that’s great because each trimester comes with different challenges. For example, there can be more uncertainty in the first trimester, when chance of miscarriage is high. In the third trimester, more women are focused on the lack of sleep, and the anticipation of giving birth.
For each trimester you will have different meditations to choose from.
Reducing Pain – Preparation for Birth
It’s actually proven that if you practice meditation, you will feel less pain! This is most likely due to the fact that meditation helps you connect with your body in new ways. When you are in tune with your body you are able to focus better when in pain.
I’ve seen it over and over as a labour and delivery nurse. When women are able to focus during contractions, they are able to cope way better with the pain. And it’s proven by science!
If you are pregnant and reading this, I’m sure it’s a huge motivating factor to decrease pain during labour! Start meditating as soon as you can. Expectful is a great tool for you to learn the ropes faster.
See more from Babytalk: The Best Way to Cope With Contractions During Labour
Another benefit of meditation is reducing the risk of preterm delivery! One study found that if women meditated a certain amount during their pregnancy they were 50% less likely to deliver before their due date.
Meditation for Motherhood
One thing will be certain, once your baby is born there will be little to no sleep. Meditation has been proven to improve sleep, so what are you waiting for! It’ll be great to be able to nap when your baby is sleeping, and if meditation gets you there, then why not?
Parenthood will bring about an abundance of new situations. Meditation will help you deal with these scenarios in accordance with your core values instead of quickly reacting to your emotions then and there. It will help you be a better parent.
As I mentioned before, meditation will reduce the risk depression. This also goes for postpartum depression! It’s estimated that about 1 in 5 women suffer from a postpartum mental health issue. Start meditating today to reduce your risk.
Wouldn’t it be great if breastfeeding were easier? With meditation it can be. Stress can delay milk production and let down reflex (that’s how your body releases milk). So, it goes without saying that if you reduce your stress your milk will flow.
More from Babytalk: Best Way to Be Successful at Breastfeeding
How to Meditate
For me, meditation works best when I’m laying down. I’m not going to lie to you, often times this leads to sleep. And sleep is not the purpose of meditation, even though it’s a nice benefit if you have issues with that.
Find a position that is most comfortable for you. Sitting on a mat with lots of pillows for support, or sitting in a comfortable chair might be ideal for you. Maybe once you are far along in your pregnancy, you will like to lay on you side with pillows around you.
I try to focus on the words in the meditation. Sometimes they just flow in and out without any meaning, but other times I understand completely what is being said. The important part of meditation is coming back to your breath. Your mind might wander and drift, just know that is totally normal and OK! As long as you just come back to your breath.
Personally, I find that meditation makes me more present and helps me be more mindful. When I become more mindful I’m less stressed about the future, and not as fixated on the past. I feel my anxiety decrease immensely while in this state.
But it’s not just me! Science has actually proven this to be true.
With time, you will start drifting off less and less. If you don’t, don’t judge yourself. Just keep practicing every day.
The number one rule of meditation is not to judge yourself. Meditation can be hard, but just like anything else, it is a practice and will become easier with time.
Pros of Expectful App
– Easy to use and sleek pretty design. It’s very intuitive and doesn’t take a long time to understand.
– Programs for every stage: Fertility, First Trimester, Second trimester, Third trimester, Medical issues/urgent care, Motherhood.
– Easy to use and neatly organized.
– Accessible wherever you are connected to internet.
– Two options for meditation lengths, 10 and 20 mins. Good for busy moms! Everyone has 10 minutes to spare at some point during their day.
– Tailored to pregnancy unlike any other meditation app.
– Scientific, based on reliable research.
– Very soothing voices and relaxing music. All the meditations are done by professional hypnotherapists and meditation teachers.
– Nurtures your emotional wellbeing. How can you go wrong with that?
– Option for couples to meditate together, which is so important, specially helps with bonding.
– Body awareness and walking meditations available.
Cons of Expectful App
– Price, there’s a monthly fee involved, which makes it inaccessible to some.
– Cannot use without internet connection.
– A limited amount of meditation practices as of yet, more to be added soon.
– Meditations only available in English.
All in all, Babytalk loves the Expectful app. I’m a huge proponent of meditation and I truly believe that everyone can benefit from this practice.
Since is it tailored to pregnant women, I am especially excited about it.