Congratulations! You’ve taken the test and you’re pregnant. So what next? You’ll probably have ordered a load of baby books, claimed your free bounty pack, looked at some cute independent brands for inspiration on newborn outfits and bought the contents of Topshop's maternity line. With the introduction of lockdown due to coronavirus this can send our brain into overdrive. So, have you taken a moment to think about your state of mind? Granted it’s hard to do so when this is probably one of the biggest things to happen in your life so far (if it’s your first pregnancy) at a very uncertain time. You have a million and one things fighting for the limelight in your overactive pre frontal cortex. “The brain region responsible for planning complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behavior."
Mindfulness during pregnancy isn’t a new concept, in fact it’s been around for as long as women have been birthing. “Thousands of years ago, becoming pregnant and giving birth to a child was a sacred practice - a holy experience." Knowledge and spiritual practices for maintaining the vibrations of the womb were utilised by both men and women. These practices created healthy, loving, enlightened relationships, where both the masculine and feminine energies were balanced and respected; and sexual energy was an expression of the highest creative energy.
So what does mindfulness actually mean? It’s having an awareness of ourselves and what’s around us, and the first step in improving our mental well-being. Why is it important? In a world of social media influencers and the extremely high expectations we put on ourselves, no wonder we are struggling to be introspect and present. When was the last time you sat in a room alone, no noise, no phone, just you and allowed your mind to wonder? Our brains are incredible and have the possibility to think up the most fantastic things; all the cures for the diseases we currently know were imagined in someones brain first. Are we limiting ourselves and stunting our mental growth by our constant comparison to squares on a feed?
A recent study by BMC held a randomised controlled trail in order to find a link between mindfulness during pregnancy and improved mental health in mothers. Approximately 33% of mothers who experienced depression symptoms during pregnancy went on to have PND. Approximately 25% of mothers still suffered from PND up to a year after their child was born. ‘This study suggests mindfulness training carefully tailored to address fear and pain of childbirth may lead to important maternal mental health benefits, including improvements in childbirth-related appraisals and the prevention of postpartum depression symptoms.’
Here are some simple mindfulness training suggestions:
Breathing - Learn how to focus on your breath and utilise it to manage anxiety. You can watch my 'breath work for birth' video on IGTV - focus on the restorative birth technique.
Mindful Movement - Practice yoga or just stretch for 10 minutes. If searching online, look for a mindful pregnancy yoga practice or pilates.
Positive Affirmations - Find inspiration online and write down your own affirmations in a journal when you wake up everyday.
Be Present - Put your phone down, turn off the TV, radio. Even if just for a few moments, learn to be alone with your thoughts. Headspace and Calm are great apps to help you begin this journey. Expectful is an app for guided meditation through fertility, pregnancy and parenthood. They have quick practices that will only take 5 minutes of your day.
Research & Education - Read studies from reputable sources and avoid tabloid newspapers or scaremongering social media posts. I recommend RCOG & RCM updates. Furthermore, antenatal education will help you to feel informed and empowered. There are many online courses available and we are offering our Full Course via Zoom.
Bump & Mind aims to tackle the subject of PND in a sensitive and supportive manner. Using meditation combined with Hypnobirthing techniques to help you achieve a more mindful approach to you pregnancy, birth and beyond. We will continue to care for you well after your course with ongoing support up until and after the birth of your baby. For more information head to our website.