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Pregnancy is known as the miracle of nature. However, it also includes high-risk factors such as insomnia, anxiety, depression and binge eating, which can affect the health of pregnant women. Meditation is an effective method to overcome these challenges, perhaps more effectively than taking pills, which has become the norm these days. This is because meditation addresses the root of the problem, which is the treatment of the mind. Insomnia, depression, and anxiety can all be looked at as symptoms of an unwell mind, and pills merely help in controlling the symptoms. Read on to know how pregnant women can benefit through meditation.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘medha’ meaning wisdom. Some of us are under the misconception that meditation is a form of prayer, as we have often heard of monks meditating. This couldn’t be more further from the truth. Meditation is a state of awareness where we are in complete harmony with our thoughts without any distractions. For instance, something as simple as sitting on a park bench and observing a flower without any wandering thoughts qualifies as meditation. Meditation for pregnant ladies can be used to deal with issues such as depression, stress and anxiety by removing all the negativity from the mind.
What Are the Best Benefits of Meditation During Pregnancy?
Here are some benefits of meditation during pregnancy:
1. Improves Sleep
It is estimated that more than 75% of pregnant women deal with insomnia at some point during their pregnancy. This could be due to reasons such as anxiety, heartburn, frequent urination or hormones which prevent them from getting a good night’s rest. During pregnancy, meditation for sleep can help catch up on some well-deserved rest. A study conducted by Harvard showed that people who meditated slept better than even those who had attended a sleep education class.
2. Reduces Anxiety
Most women experience anxiety during pregnancy as there are a lot of risks involved, such as preeclampsia, eclampsia, and gestational diabetes. However, studies show that women with high anxiety during pregnancy are likely to give birth to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This is because the stress hormone cortisol finds its way into the placenta and causes development issues. Anxiety can be reduced through meditation as one realises that negative feelings do not reflect your reality. As your mind begins to focus on positive thoughts, one can feel their anxiety melt away.
3. Reduces Depression
Some women go through depression after pregnancy due to a sudden change in hormonal levels in the body. This is called postpartum depression, and recovery can even take a couple of years. Countless studies have shown that individuals who meditate regularly produce serotonin which is a natural anti-depressant produced by the body.
4. Improves Healthy Eating Habits
Pregnancy is a time when women eat more than usual and tend to gain weight due to increased fluids, amniotic fluid, the weight of the placenta, etc. However, some women run the risk of turning obese due to overeating which can cause complications such as sleep apnea, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. One can use meditation to be aware of what they are eating and prevent harmful habits like overeating and resorting to comfort food.
5. Reduces Physical Stress in the Body
As a woman’s body changes, she goes through immense stress due to issues such as backache, morning sickness, and cramps. Studies conducted have shown that meditation can reduce pain by as much as 57%. The human brain experiences two types of pain, primary and secondary. Primary pain is the body’s reaction to the pain. Secondary pain, on the other hand, is the brain’s reaction to the pain. Meditation keeps a check on the secondary pain by ensuring we focus only on the bodily pain. This awareness of the bodily pain prevents our mind from drifting off to painful episodes of the same experience, which amplifies the current pain.
6. Helps You Manage the Labour Process
During the onset of labour, all women inevitably feel pain. Meditation can be used as a form of pain management as it helps to instil a sense of peace and calm during delivery.
How You Should Meditate During Pregnant
Before diving into the meditation process, the first thing that one needs to find is a quiet spot where they can meditate in peace. Ideally, one can choose a quiet spot in the house away from all forms of distraction. If there are no quiet areas, one can go to a nearby park that doesn’t have many visitors. The second step is finding a posture that you are comfortable with. While some may be comfortable sitting cross-legged, sitting upright on a chair is just as effective. While sitting on a chair, one must make sure that their spine is not arched, and the tailbone is near the back of the chair. Lastly, one can choose the type of meditation that they wish to use to strengthen their mind.
Some of these types are given below:
1. Awareness Meditation
This form of meditation can be used as a mental exercise to feel a stronger bond with your baby. It starts out with taking deep breaths and being aware of the breathing alone. This includes inhalation, exhalation, the pace and the sound of your breath. Once you have done this for a couple of minutes, you can gradually use one of your hands to cup your baby bump, where you can feel your baby growing. At this point in time, you can slowly transition your thoughts from your breath to your baby. One needs to transition from thinking to feeling so that they can feel that they are in unity with their unborn child.
2. Concept Meditation
This type of pregnancy meditation is almost the same as awareness meditation, except that it uses the power of visualisation. While breathing, one needs to start visualising objects or people, such as a waterfall, a leaf blowing in the wind, or even a deity. The images should be a symbol of the emotion that one wishes to inculcate in them. For example, a mighty waterfall could be visualised to instil a sense of strength. For others, a leaf blowing freely in the wind can signify freedom from stress and anxiety.
3. Walking Meditation
Walking has been known to help induce labour as it activates contractions. The physical activity of walking becomes a bridge between meditation and pregnancy. This is because walking meditation does the twin job of preparing the mind as well as the body for labour. Walking meditation means that one must consciously be aware of the process of walking. These include being aware of actions that we take for granted, such as foot placement or the swinging of the arms.
Best Meditation Techniques for Pregnant Women
All of the meditation techniques given above are simple and can be adopted by anyone, especially pregnant women. You can pick the one that seems to work best for you. Or, you can even join a meditation class or group where these techniques can be practised with the guidance of an expert.
Meditation helps minimise pregnancy stress as it seldom allows the mind to wander into a sense of hopelessness. This is done by allowing the mind to only focus on reality and not let imagined fears take control of the mind. Practise meditation during pregnancy to have a calm and happier pregnancy experience.