Mindfulness During Pregnancy: Why It’s Beneficial for You and Baby

Mindfulness refers to the process of focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while simultaneously acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, bodily sensations, and thoughts regarding the moment. Mindfulness is not something that most people just achieve and in fact, requires a significant amount of patience, self-awareness, and motivation to attain. That said, the effort is well worth it, especially if you are expecting.

Anxiety Is a Very Real Part of Pregnancy

Expectant mothers do much more than sit around looking radiant until the birth of their little ones. In addition to working full-time jobs, as approximately 75 percent of all mothers do, a good majority of mothers-to-be spend much of the 40 weeks leading up to their due dates worrying and preparing for their littles’ arrivals. According to one report, 21 percent of expectant mothers live with serious anxiety, while another 18 percent experience depression throughout the duration of their pregnancies. In addition to living with those diagnosable mental conditions, many expectant mothers lay sleepless at night going over shopping lists, finances, to-dos, and countless other worries about which non-parents typically don’t think.

Mindfulness May Help

Up until recently, expectant mothers were forced to bear their mental stresses alone. This was often the case regardless of whether a woman had a supportive partner or not. However, thanks to advanced research and forward-thinking attitudes of many members of society, pregnant women may no longer have to shoulder the mental burden of pregnancy on their own, or at all. The Way International and other organizations have devised techniques to help ease one’s mental load. One such technique is mindfulness. Below are just four ways in which mindfulness may positively impact pregnant women’s stress levels and lead to healthier newborns:

Mindfulness Reduces Stress

Anxiety is a normal reaction to pregnancy, but if you let your anxiety get the best of you, it can lead to high blood pressure and pregnancy complications. Traditionally, doctors recommend bed rest to keep stress levels at bay, but for many women, bed rest is the least helpful solution.

Though pilot studies are still being conducted, those that have been conducted found that meditation and mindfulness have a significant positive impact on pregnant women’s stress levels. In each study, the group who participated in mindfulness programs saw a greater decrease in pregnancy anxiety and all the negative emotions that come with it compared to control groups who either participated in bed rest or who read a book.

Mindfulness May Prevent Premature Birth

Again, though the science is still out on the subject, students indicate that mindfulness exercises such as yoga, meditation and spirituality may lower one’s risk of giving birth to a preemie. Preemies are at risk for breathing problems, hearing and vision issues, and developmental delays. Moreover, mothers of preemies tend to experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and stress than mothers of full-term babies.

Two studies’ results suggest that mindfulness may prevent premature birth. In one study of 355 participants, half were told to practice yoga and meditation and the other half were asked to walk for one hour a day. The half who practiced yoga gave birth to less premature babies than the half who walked.

In another study, 199 women either received standard prenatal care or partook in a mindfulness program. Only six percent of those who participated in a mindfulness program gave birth to preemies, compared with 16 percent of women in the other group.

Mindfulness May Encourage Healthy Development

A 2015 study that tracked mothers who participated in mindfulness programs beginning in the second semester noted that their babies had less developmental delays than babies born to mothers who did not practice mindfulness. The babies of mindful mothers were easier to calm down and have fewer issues adjusting to new situations. They also demonstrated more effortful control than babies of non-mindful mothers.

Mindfulness is an art, and it does require practice and patience, but in the end, it is well worth the effort. When you experience a happy, healthy, and relaxing pregnancy, you will agree.

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