Mindfulness – For A Happier And Healthier Pregnancy
Embrace a gentle and mindful journey to motherhood with these prenatal practices
It’s exhilarating… The feelings you experience the moment your pregnancy test kit comes back positive. Well, at least that was how I felt – I wanted to shout it out to the world! But at the same time, I also wanted to keep really quiet about it, you know, just in case it was all a dream. My pregnancy was exactly like people said it would be (I’m referring to the mood swings and intense emotions)…
One minute I was filled with excitement about what to treat myself and Baby for lunch, the next minute saw me crying on the bus after an elderly lady offered me her seat (#truestory).
Then there were the waves of anxiety when I realised Baby hadn’t moved in an hour, and just as quickly, my anxiety would turn into anger when people I wasn’t closed to assumed that it was ok to put their hand on my tummy without first asking (“Oh you are so pregnant!” they would exclaim). There were also occasions where I felt completely calm, and also so tired that I knocked out at my office desk, happily snoring away.
A SERIES OF CHANGES
As the body evolves during pregnancy, women usually experience physical changes such as morning sickness, weight gain, heartburn (skipping chocolate worked for me), insomnia, leg cramps and constipation.
It sounds like a lot. However, the idea is to not resist these emotions and bodily sensations but instead, to learn to experience them without getting overly stressed out. After all, it is said that how you feel directly affects your little one. Being calm, focusing on the present, and accepting your feelings and what your body is going through, is what we refer to as a state of prenatal mindfulness.
A study, published in the BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth journal, indicates that mindfulness may help decrease women’s symptoms of prenatal and postpartum depression. And according to a study by the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, as many as 18 per cent of pregnant women are depressed during their pregnancy, with rates of depression at seven percent in the first trimester, 13 percent in the second trimester, and 12 percent in the third trimester.
Here’s what you can do to help bring about this desired state of mindfulness:
“I am pregnant and I can eat whatever I want!” If that is you (that was definitely me), coming from a health standpoint, that shouldn’t be the case. From personal experience, I know it can be easy to overeat when you are pregnant. But it’s not about the weight gain. A study by the department of biology at the University of Portland, published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information in the US, found that maternal obesity and high-fat diet consumption exposure, has been linked to an increased risk of the offspring developing mental health and behavioural disorders such as anxiety, depression, ADHD and autism spectrum disorder.
So being mindful about eating means learning about the nutrients your baby needs for healthy growth. Remember to pause and enjoy your food! Taste what you’re eating instead of gobbling it all down and don’t rush through your meals. Eliminate junk food like soda beverages and instant foods that contain various preservatives. Eat everything in moderation and know that it is fine to indulge your cravings every now and then.
Don’t worry if you’ve never tried meditation. It’s a part of what you already do every day, albeit subconsciously. The basis of meditation is mindful deep-breathing, while paying attention to every breath and to sound around you. This helps relax muscles and reduce stress. Simply sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed, and hold your belly and breathe deeply. This simple act can help you focus on the life inside of you, reclaim your peace and courage for this exciting journey.
If you find it difficult to meditate, mobile apps might be useful if you’re practicing at home (or even while you’re going about day to day life). Expectant offers guided meditations that are customised to guide you through the various stages of your motherhood journey, whether you are preparing to conceive, are pregnant or if you’re a new mum. Headspace offers a 30-day pregnancy toolkit that uses a visualisation approach, to help pregnant mums build strong relationships with their babies. It also comes with a blog that features articles about how to stay mindful throughout the various pregnancy stages.
PRACTISE PRENATAL YOGA
Prenatal Yoga helps to ease tension and promote relaxation, while deepening your connection with baby. The mindful movements, combined with breath awareness, develops strength and relaxation for your mind and body. Bask in the sense of support and strength alongside others who are walking similar journeys, as you share laughter and encourage one another with positive vibes all round. Available at The Yoga School, the 75-minute Prenatal Yoga class is designed for expectant mums from 12 weeks and beyond. Find your tribe here.
SUPPORTIVE PARTNERS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Studies have shown that partner support can contribute significantly towards the health and wellbeing of both mother and child. If you’re keen to learn how to create a happy and healthy pregnancy together as a family, join certified Pre/Post-natal yoga instructor, Cham Lay Peng, in an engaging 2-hour workshop on 6 April 2019, Saturday, 10am.
This relaxing and hands-on workshop is highly recommended for couples – during the session, husbands will learn different ways to support their beloved wives in attaining deeper relaxation by bringing balance to the birthing anatomy. Reserve your mats here ($200 per couple, inclusive of a head massager).