Benefits of Meditation During Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is an exciting time, but can also be filled with some anxiety. The changes that occur to the body, childbirth and becoming a parent can cause feelings of fear and stress in expecting parents, in addition to finances, childcare and changing the family dynamics. This post will share with you the benefits of meditation during pregnancy to help alleviate fears, stresses and feelings of overwhelming emotions that can be associated with this exciting milestone.

Danger of Stress During Pregnancy

Many people know that extreme stress is bad for any living thing and that it can lead to disease and degeneration in our bodies. Pregnancy itself is a particularly stressful time on a woman’s body. The physical and hormonal changes can be quite daunting whether its the first or fourth pregnancy. We currently live in incredibly stressful times. We worry about things close to home like our finances, our relationships with those close to us as well as our safety and security as a country and abroad.

In addition to everyday stressors, many women work for as long as possible during pregnancy to maximize their maternity leave after the baby is born. Many expecting woman may not be aware that excessive stress during pregnancy can have severe consequences for the health of the unborn baby if they don’t learn how to manage it.

It’s already known that extreme stress during pregnancy can lead to increased risk of miscarriage in early pregnancy. In the later stages of pregnancy, extreme stress can lead to things like premature labor, premature birth and low birth-weight babies. The latest findings indicate that prenatal stress can also increase the risk of a baby being born with asthma or allergies.

Research is showing that stress makes cells more permeable by weakening the body’s cells, and it then becomes more susceptible to allergens and that even low levels of exposure to an allergen could trigger a reaction. Stress also suppresses the immune system thereby making us more susceptible to sickness as well as being less able to deal with allergens and other pathogens. Prenatal stress can also impact fetal development. Studies have shown that it can even affect cognitive, emotional, and physical development in infancy and childhood.

Benefits of Meditation During Pregnancy

Meditation is a great way to release stress and anxiety anytime, and pregnancy is no exception. The positive side effects of meditation are beneficial for both mother and unborn baby and there are no negative side effects to date!

Benefits of meditation during pregnancy include:

  • Better sleep
  • Connecting to your changing body
  • Anxiety/stress relief
  • Increased peace of mind
  • Less tension
  • Connecting with your baby before birth
  • Positive labor preparation
  • Lower risk of postpartum depression

Studies also show that meditation improves DHEA levels which is important in pregnant women. This hormone helps you keep your mind clear and focused on what’s best for your baby while simultaneously keeping your organs functioning properly. Other vital benefits include proper immunity, agility, proper vision and ensuring proper motor skills and memory.

Types of Pregnancy Meditation

There are many different types of meditation for expecting parents that can be done during pregnancy. The most common types of meditations include:

  • Fear Release – This type of meditation is used to release fears and anxieties
  • Relaxation – This type of meditation is used to create a state of relaxation
  • Bonding with Baby – This type of meditation used to connect with your growing body and baby
  • Affirmations – These are positive statements to boost confidence and release self-imposed limiting thoughts.

I used these types of meditations regularly during both of my pregnancies which helped to alleviate a lot of physical and emotional stress, alleviated discomforts and helped me to prepare mentally and physically for labor. I had two beautiful, drug-free birth experiences which you can read about here and here. Over the last several years I have taught these exercises to many expecting parents to help empower them to create beautiful birthing experiences as well. I am so excited to share my album of guided meditations on iTunes and Amazon MP3 for other expecting mothers to help find relaxation, release fears and stress and bond with their little one.

Many prenatal yoga classes will do some form of these meditations as well or you can practice meditation alone at home. One tool that really helps me to get grounded during meditation are my mala beads. Another helpful tool I use for quieting the mind is therapeutic grade essential oils. These help to release negative thoughts and feelings from the limbic region of the brain making it easier to become relaxed and at ease. It is best to try different methods and see which works best to get you grounded and to find peace.

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5 Tips for a Successful Natural Childbirth

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If you are planning on having a drug-free childbirth, natural remedies and techniques can assist you and prevent complications during labor. Trusting the wisdom of nature and that of your natural birthing instincts is the way to go. A natural approach to childbirth is one of the best ways to ensure a healthy and happy birthing process for both mother and child.

Natural childbirth involves empowering women to achieve labor according to the rhythm of breath during contraction in a relaxed manner despite having to endure pain. If you are like many women and feel anxious about giving birth, herbs for childbirth can help you have a positive outlook and be able to deal with the physical pain of contraction more effectively.

5 Tips for a Successful Natural Childbirth

  1. Yoga- Breathing techniques used in Yoga assist with coping with labour pain and also assists in strengthening the bones of the body. Practicing yoga postures throughout your pregnancy lowers the chances of complications during pregnancy and at the time of childbirth. Find a prenatal class near you and connect with other expecting moms. Here are some prenatal yoga postures that you can do at home.
  2. Meditation – Meditation during labor and delivery is also particularly beneficial for managing pain and for encouraging an easier overall birthing process.  Meditation has been shown to decrease levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline (which increase anxiety during stressful situations) and can increase hormones such as melatonin, which promote a sense of calm. Meditation also increases the production of endorphins, natural pain relievers in the body. meditation can also help to lower blood pressure and heart rate, reducing the risk of pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia and is helping in reducing anxiety. If you are new to meditation here are some tips for beginners.
  3. Essential Oils- In American culture alternative therapies are making their way into our lifestyles for situations such as labor and birth, among many other things. Essential oils for labor can be just what you need if you are looking for safe, healthy options for labor. Not only can essential oils help ease discomfort, but they can also help keep you relaxed and grounded to help your labor progress well.
  4. Herbs & Supplements- Herbs for childbirth can be very useful in supporting the birthing mother during the stages of labor both mentally and physically. Herbs are used safely during birth to help ease labor pains naturally, without the need for medication or epidural. Herbs for labor and delivery have assisted women throughout the centuries before medical birth was introduced.
  5. Support- The people in the labor room with you have a huge effect on your natural childbirth experience, so choose your support people carefully. Your partner can be an excellent companion during your labor. Some women feel comfortable with their mother, sister, or best friend by their side during labor as well. Many expectant moms hire a doula for additional support during a natural birth. A doula has extensive wisdom about natural childbirth, and will be able to help you and your coach through each stage of labor. Your partner will not know what to expect or what to do during labor if you’re never talked about it so it is imperative that you both be prepared. Taking a natural birthing class in your are, or going through an online birthing class together, gives you both a chance to plan for the labor. Whether you choose to have a doula or not, having any form of continuous physical and emotional support (other than your professional medical team) has been shown to make labor shorter and more positive birthing experience.

These techniques practiced regularly will help to empower your to birth with freedom and joy and will help you have the best advantage when it comes to having a successful drug-free childbirth. If you are interested in learning more in detail about how to utilize the tips mentioned above checkout my Online Mindful Birthing Course where you will learn how to naturally manage discomforts during pregnancy, prepare the mind and body for labor and how to heal postpartum. Even if you are not planning on having a natural, drug-free labor, these techniques are still very helpful in having a stress-free birth experience.

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Natural Birth Story #2: A Fast and Amazing Birth

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I love sharing my birthing stories and catch myself reliving them because the details of those days are still so vivid in my memory. Both of my births will always be one of the most favorite days of my life! I feel so blessed to have had such amazing experiences. I always get a sense of nostalgia around my kids birthdays. This beautiful rite of passage shaped me into the woman I am today and for that I am eternally grateful. This post is a way for me to share my beautiful natural birth story with my readers!

The day I found out I was going to have a son was life changing for me. I never knew I wanted a boy. The thought of it scared me!  I grew up with two sisters and the male species has always been confusing to me. For weeks I questioned whether or not I could be fit to raise a son? When I first laid eyes on him it all made sense. I knew why God had given me this beautiful baby boy. He was perfect and every day has continued to steal my heart more and more. Watching him and his sister grow has been amazing and I cannot believe how fast it flew by! Mason, my baby boy, being your mom has been such a joy. I look forward to watching you grow up into a little man and sharing laughs, hugs, kisses and no doubt a few bumps & bruises. Mommy, Daddy & Mia love you more than the sun, the moon and all the stars.

A Whirlwind Birth!

It couldn’t have been a better day. The experience was amazing, which I think is always the case when you bring new life into the world. The delivery itself was a fast, easy natural birth just like I had been planning since the day I found out I was pregnant.  I literally prepared almost every day, in one way or another for the big event. You can read more about the mind body techniques I practice in my ebook Mindful Mami: Preparing for Pregnancy, Labor and Beyond.

The labor itself was short and FAST. I woke up at 2am with contractions that weren’t totally regular, but were about 5 minutes apart.  Some were close to a minute, some 15 seconds some 30. So I got up and walked around for a bit and sat on the birthing ball and tried to see if they would go away. They didn’t disappear, but they were pretty mild so I went back to sleep for a little bit. I slept on and off listening to my Hypnobirthing prompts and meditating with my mala beads. I woke up around 5am still having mild contractions so I got up again to monitor them. They were a little more regular but still not that strong so I decided I would call the midwife around 7:30 because I didn’t want to wake her up when I still felt so early on in the process. Around 6:15 they started to get a little bit stronger and I thought it was a good idea to at least give the midwives a heads up and let the know I was most likely coming in today.  I spoke to her while I was having a contraction and told her I still felt I had some time to go and she agreed by my demeanor and sound of my voice. She advised me to get something to eat to give energy to myself and the baby for labor. I went into the room and my husband was shuffling around in bed and I told him I was in labor and probably going to have the baby sometime later today or tonight, so he ran out to grab a Starbucks while I went to get some food in my belly.

Before I started the bread I had drawn the bath, mixed my labor blend mix which you can read about here, and rubbed some on my belly. I had mixed some essential oils that were supposed to dull labor pains and speed up contractions and had been excited to use them for weeks!

I had decided that I was going to make Apple Cranberry Walnut bread and sit in the tub while it baked and then when my daughter woke up she could eat some, and I could have some before we head over to the center to get checked. As I was making the bread (not anything fancy, Trader Joe’s boxed mix and adding chopped walnuts and cranberries) I had a couple pretty bad contractions.  To the point where I was literally on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor breathing through a contraction and then would stand up after to hurry and get the bread in the oven so I can soak to the tub that I had started.

As I was walking to the tub I got this HUGE urge to drop the kids off at the pool, if you catch my drift! Tremendous pressure down under that most women who has gone through natural birth knows what I mean. So I called my husband and told him to get home ASAP and called my mom and told her to come get Mia immediately. At this point it is shortly after 7 am, the midwife had told me earlier to check back in with the next midwife on call around 8, but I knew it wouldn’t last that long. I called her and told her that the labor came on really intense and I was having an extreme urge to push. She told me she was worried that I wouldn’t make it to the center. “I think you should get in the tub, and call the paramedics and have that baby there because I don’t want you to have him in the car on the way here.” OMG! EXCUSE ME LADY? WHAT?! ARE YOU NUTS!?! I almost died. I definitely didn’t like that option. I love the idea of a planned home birth, but that was crazy to me. “How quickly can you get to the center? We can make it!” I assured her. She told me she could make it there by 7:45.

My mom and husband walked in the house at almost the same time. Marcus started loading the car with our suitcase that was by the front door and my mom started packing up for Mia and I headed to the car. We hauled butt to the center. The hubby was driving almost 100mph on the way there. I was definitely feeling closer to having him but we were so close to the center. We pulled up and the midwife pulled up right behind us. She unlocked the door and I ran to the toilet. I sat there having a contraction and as my husband walked in with the suitcase and the midwife was grabbing my chart there was a loud sound that sounded like someone threw a giant water balloon off a balcony. My water broke. My husband couldn’t believe how loud it was. I got on the bed for the midwife to check me and the baby’s heartbeat. Mine was good, but the baby’s was very faint. I heard her tell a nurse to call the paramedics in case they need to resuscitate the baby when he was born. At first I panicked. Then I realized that I was hardly breathing on the way over so scared that I was going to have him in the car. The poor little guy didn’t have much air. I started focusing on my breathing and taking deep breaths and they gave me some oxygen. Within seconds his heartbeat was strong. There on the bed I had about 6 pushes and he was out.  We arrived at 7:45 and he joined us on the outside at 8:19am weighing 6 lbs and measuring 19 1/4 inches.

It was the rockstar birth that him and I had been planning for weeks. We talked about it often about how I would dilate quickly, my water wouldn’t break till I was at the birthing center either fully dilated or pretty close and that he would be out with a minimal amount of pushing. The only thing that didn’t go according to my plan was laboring and delivering in the water. I never even stepped a toe in a tub either at home or at the center. When I had gotten the tub ready with my essential oils, I already felt so close that I was scared to get into the water and strengthen the contractions and speed it up anymore! I attribute my wonderful labor to all of the yoga, walking, meditation, and visualization I had done since the beginning of my pregnancy. Obviously, there was some drama involved, but I felt that I was prepared to deal with anything unexpected that came up and everything worked out wonderfully.

It was such an incredible experience and one that I will remember for the rest of my life, just as the day my daughter arrived.  I am so blessed with two very healthy, beautiful children and will forever cherish the birthing stories that we share. I hope that the information that I have learned from my birth experiences can help other women in their future deliveries and empower them to have a positive experience that they are happy to share with others.

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