At Bamae, we value and encourage the practice of being mindful.
Arguably, one of the most difficult times to be successfully mindful is during pregnancy. Your body is undergoing a lot of change on top of that, you’re dealing with planning and hosting a baby shower, planning time off work, making sure you’re eating and resting well, buying all the essentials for your new arrival, attending all your appointments, organising your home…the list goes on.
It’s physically and emotionally overwhelming as your mind is pulled in a million different directions, increasing stress, anxiety, and depression, all things that can negatively impact the healthy development of your baby.
All this can cause you to miss out on what is supposed to be a beautiful journey that no one should miss out on. So let’s see how the practice of mindfulness can help you.
How mindfulness can help
Mindfulness is a way of keeping yourself present and acknowledging your mental and emotional state without passing judgement. It won’t just help you stay more present during this very special, but busy time of your life, but can also help alleviate distressing emotions and encourage positive ones.
Studies highlight the positive impact of incorporating mindfulness during pregnancy; noting how it improved the outcomes for stress, depression, and anxiety during the perinatal period.
By practicing mindfulness you can immerse yourself in a healthier pregnancy that will benefit you and your little newcomer, so let’s dive into all the different ways you can have a mindful pregnancy:
Take in information at your own pace
After the first few appointments with your midwife or hospital consultations, you might start feeling a bit anxious about what the rest of pregnancy has in store for you.
It can feel like a lot at once— from important vitamins to knowing what foods to avoid, to blood tests and vaccinations you will need.
The best way to avoid feeling overwhelmed is by simply taking in information at a pace that you feel comfortable with. You don’t need to learn everything all at once.
You’ll likely receive information packets at the appointments with your midwife that will guide you through what you can expect throughout each trimester and that can be the best (and most digestible) way of learning.
From the books our parents used to buy to a whole new sector on YouTube of Gen-Z influencers sharing their experiences as mums, you’ll have a great choice of how you want to learn about pregnancy and new motherhood.
Being honest with your feelings
Society often fails to mention how laborious, stressful, and mentally conflicting pregnancy can be. Whilst it can be a happy moment for most women to be pregnant, the downfalls of pregnancy are often overlooked in favour of a more romanticised version of it.
As beautiful as the concept of pregnancy is, it’s very easy to feel pressured to subscribe to the fantasised version, leaving you with little room to honestly express your experiences.
Being truthful in how you feel is so important when pregnant because those 9-10 months will be filled with a mixture of positive and negative aspects; from the first time, you feel your baby kick, to the many sleepless nights.
Practicing mindfulness can be beneficial here; the process of acknowledging your thoughts and feelings in a non-judgemental manner will help remind you that you are not superhuman.
Be kind to yourself and acknowledge the strength in being honest with your feelings, and if you ever need the room to express those feelings here are some great ways to do so:
- Confide your feelings to someone you trust- like your partner or your midwife
- Attend antenatal classes and speak to other parents-to-be you may find a group of people who share in your feelings
- Find an online community and discuss your experiences with other expecting women— again, you may find you’re not quite as alone in your feelings as you thought you were.
This is a particularly important one to help you maintain low-stress levels. As the good news circulates amongst friends, family, and co-workers you'll be bombarded with a lot of congratulations as well as unsolicited questions, comments, and advice.
With that said, there may come a time when some of the questions and unsolicited advice become too much. They may make you doubt the decisions you’ve already made, leaving you feeling unprepared and piling on unnecessary stress.
It’s easy to get frustrated and feel like you’re losing autonomy, but try to remember that most of it is coming from a place of care.
A good way of dealing with this is by setting firm boundaries. The last thing you need is advice in the form of anecdotal experiences from your partner’s aunt. As well-meaning as their intentions are, it’s important that you set your boundaries, and communicate them in a gentle but firm way. Boundaries are just another way of protecting your peace of mind, so don’t feel guilty for having to do it.
These boundaries will help you stay present in the decision-making process of your pregnancy, reminding you that each pregnancy is different. What worked for one person may not necessarily work for you, so there’s no need to doubt yourself.
Listen to your body
This is arguably one of the most important tips for having a mindful pregnancy.
Many women will feel the need to go above and beyond to ensure everything is in place before their baby arrives, but this sometimes comes at the expense of getting the rest that they need.
Women are practically superhuman and their bodies go through so much. But, as much as women can do anything, that doesn’t mean that they should.
During pregnancy, your energy levels will fluctuate due to hormonal changes and carrying your growing bundle of joy so don’t feel like you need to accomplish everything all at once or even alone.
When you’re pregnant your body will tell you everything it needs from you— rest, food, exercise. As time goes on into the later stages of pregnancy, your baby will be the one who helps make these needs more apparent. Listening to your body and baby will help you stay more in tune with your pregnancy.
Pregnancy is in no way easy, and there are so many factors that can make it all the more challenging. Mindful practice is an easy and cost-free way of ensuring your emotional and mental presence during pregnancy that leads to a better pregnancy, delivery, and even improved experiences of early parenthood.
It can be done in the shower, during your daily walks, or even in the waiting room of your GP.
Just a daily check-in with yourself to see how you are coping mentally and emotionally, accepting these feelings and finding ways to process them (without judgement!).
Today, we find ourselves in a time where mental health and well-being are becoming more centred in people’s lives, and with this comes the technology that helps make doing this easier.
Apps like Calm and Headspace make it easier for mindfulness to become an integrated part of your daily routine, even with the busy life of pregnancy.