For many women, pregnancy brings as much stress as excitement. Expectant mothers often have concerns for the health of the baby, physical discomforts and fears about the birth itself.
Ironically, pregnancy is also a time during which expectant mothers are told to stay calm. “Don’t worry,” people say. “Worrying is bad for the baby.” This, of course, just leads to more worry.
That’s where meditation comes in. By giving you tools to relax and permission to let your thoughts pass through you, you can calm your mind, soothe your nerves and even prepare for labor!
Benefits of meditation during pregnancy
A good meditation practice offers many benefits for pregnant women, including:
- Reduced anxiety
- Increased peace of mind
- Improved sleep
- Reduced tension in the back and shoulders
- Skills that will help you relax and focus during labor
Meditation exercises for pregnancy
1. Meditation on the breath
This is a great place to start if you have no experience with meditation.
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Start by simply breathing in and out slowly. Pay attention to the movement of your body under your hands.
- Try to breathe at a rate of 12-15 breaths per minute. Sometimes it helps to have someone else do the counting, so you can focus all your energy on the breathing itself.
2. Progressive relaxation
For this exercise, you will tense different parts of your body, and then consciously relax them. By becoming aware of the contrast between states of bodily tension and relaxation, you’ll be able to relax throughout the day—whenever you feel tense.
- Sit or lie down in a position that supports your neck and spine. (Feel free to use pillows.)
- Bring your focus to each part of your body, starting with your feet, then the ankles, then the calves. Tense each part, then let go, allowing it to fully relax.
- Pay special attention to your neck, back and abdominal muscles.
- Continue until you reach your head, finishing with tensing and relaxing the muscles of your face.
- Breathe deeply and steadily throughout the exercise.
3. Object focus
In this exercise, you will meditate on a specific image. For example: The image of your baby being born, being healthy, growing up to be a happy child.
- Choose an image that you’d like to focus on, and concentrate on that image while breathing deeply.
- Try to imagine positive experiences related to the image.
- Engage your senses to fully immerse yourself in the image.
- Let go of the any negative energy clinging to the image.
- Continue breathing, meditating on the image.
One step further
Your meditation practice will be even more meaningful if you combine it with breath work and yoga asanas. A practice that includes all three will help strengthen you mentally, physically and emotionally for the birth of your child.