Last Updated on May 21, 2016 by Jenny Pena
Special guest post today from Expectful ! Sharing the joys of maternity and all the support we need through it!
Meditation: My Peace Anchor
When the second faint line appeared on the pregnancy test, I thought I was seeing things. I brought it over to my husband and said, “Is it just me or do you see two lines? Two lines means pregnant!” We were cautiously optimistic. Once we got confirmation from the doctor it felt very real; we would finally be starting our family together!
The initial excitement was quickly followed by intense anxiety. Scary thoughts began to spiral like a storm through my head. What if I had unknowingly eaten something that wasn’t good for the baby? How would my body change? What if I lost the baby? I ended up falling into the rabbit hole of the Internet and began Googling everything about pregnancy. I was trying to find some kind of information to soothe me and calm my mind. I went to the doctor hoping that it would resolve these feelings, but soon after my first visit the same feelings returned.
It was during this time that I found out my baby was breech and I would need to have a cesarean. It was a struggle for me to accept this. I had to let go of birth experience I had dreamed of and surrender to what was necessary for the health of my baby. This is when a friend told me about a new platform called Expectful that makes it easy for expectant and new moms to meditate.
Within days Expectful’s guided meditations brought me a sense of inner calm and quickly became an anchor of peace among the storm of my thoughts and emotions. The meditations brought me back again and again to the quiet space within me, and ultimately helped me accept my new birth plan.
The community I found through Expectful was also hugely comforting. Talking with other women who were experiencing many of the same struggles as me made me feel like I wasn’t alone at sea;. It also made me realize every single pregnant woman has to navigate strong emotions at one time or another.
My personal experience with meditation made me wonder why my doctor never addressed mental care during my pregnancy. Our visits were focused on my body and things like weight gain, diet, exercise and the size of my belly. But what about my feelings, emotions and state of mind?
After noticing the positive effects of a meditation practice in my life, it has been validating to see my experience backed up by science. Meditation has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety. I found this to be true during my pregnancy. If I took the time to sit and do an Expectful meditation at the beginning of my day, I was less likely to get overwhelmed by my anxious thoughts during the day.
Meditation has also been shown to increase the ability to recognize emotions in others and practice compassion. Compassion towards myself and towards my husband during my pregnancy brought us closer together. I noticed it was easier to recognize what I was feeling and to communicate that to my husband when I took time to sit and meditate. In addition, meditation leads to better sleep, something I was struggling with in my third trimester. Expectful’s sleep meditation was instrumental in allowing me to get a full night’s rest.
As I reflect on this all, it has become evident to me that there’s a gap in prenatal health care. In order to have a healthy pregnancy, both the body and mind need to be addressed. Women should be offered tools to support their mental health… especially since studies show this can really help both mom and the life growing inside.
Pregnancy is beautiful, but it’s also a time of intense change, stress and vulnerability. Meditating through pregnancy can be an anchor that supports mental and physical health in an otherwise chaotic time.
Written by Jessica Mougis
Jessica is an experienced yoga teacher and filmmaker. She has taught yoga, dance and videography to more than 1000 children, and has led teacher trainings for more than 150 adults nationally and internationally. Jessica currently writes a blog, Lifted Into the World, about her experiences with new motherhood. (https://liftedintotheworld.wordpress.com) She lives in the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her husband Steve, daughter Emily Rae, and Rhodesian Ridgeback, Romeo.