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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

A Mindful Approach to Pregnancy

Twenty-five years ago, during my first pregnancy, finding information on all the possible experiences of pregnancy and childbirth was different than it is today. There was only minimal internet, no social-media parenting influencers, no apps. Just me, my physician, and a well-worn copy of What to Expect When Expecting. Being pregnant for the first time, living far from family, was full of joy, excitement, overwhelmingness, and fear. Even events and experiences we welcome can be stressful. Cultivating tools to navigate the experiences of pregnancy and childbirth is a wonderful way to support yourself and baby in this exciting and unknown time.

As a mindfulness practitioner and teacher, I recognize how useful my meditation practice could have been during my pregnancies, including my miscarriage. Anytime is the right time to start a mindfulness practice. It is never too late. Here are some reasons why starting a mindfulness practice during pregnancy can be beneficial for all parents.

• Mindfulness practice helps us manage stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions. It is normal to feel stress and worry when we are in new and uncertain experiences, like pregnancy and childbirth, and it is also essential to find ways to bring care and ease to these experiences. Mindfulness can support us in calming the stress.

• Mindfulness practice supports breath awareness. Working skillfully with the breath is a wonderful aid for both pregnancy and childbirth. It helps us to manage our anxiety and stay present to fully participate in the pregnancy and birth process. When we practice mindful breathing, we increase our capacity to use our breath in skillful ways.

• Mindfulness supports us in navigating the knowns and unknowns of pregnancy and childbirth. It is easy to go down the rabbit hole of the internet, unearthing everything that could possibly go wrong, and then getting stuck in that anxiety spiral. With mindful awareness, we can see more clearly what is helpful and what is creating stress, and then shift our attention in kind and healthy ways for us and baby.

• Mindfulness practice supports us in staying present to what matters through the joys and challenges of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. When we practice mindfulness, we grow in awareness of where we are placing our attention. This helps us make skillful decisions and stay in tune with what supports us and brings ease.

With the deluge of information out there, set the intention to start small as you explore how mindfulness can support you in pregnancy and childbirth. Even a few minutes a day of mindful breathing can bring ease and clarity to support you in this time of excitement and uncertainty. Maybe you try a meditation app, or read a book on mindful pregnancy and parenting, or take a mindfulness class. 

There is no right or wrong way to begin. And you can’t begin too late. Now is the perfect time to start. And remember, you can always begin again with the next breath.

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