Motherhood can be a wondrous journey for women. And, yet, it can also be a challenging one because of all the changes it brings to your life. On a daily basis you can feel a range of emotions from being excited and joyous to worried and scared- and everything in between. During pregnancy you’ll experience physical changes as your hormones rage and your belly grows. Considered by many as one the most miraculous times in a woman’s life, pregnancy can also be a time that brings on stress, anxiety and depression as you navigate through the life changing event of becoming a mother.
Transitioning into motherhood is a very special moment for mothers. They tend to worry about everything- their health, the health of their baby, childbirth and beyond. There’s no doubt that depression and stress can affect a mother. However, studies indicate these emotions can also affect a child, both during pregnancy and after. Fortunately, health care providers are aware of the issues and have become advocates for promoting healthy pregnancies; they have also become vigilant in identifying and providing mothers with the help they need.
Great news for moms! Studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggest that Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy can greatly reduce the possibility of a woman experiencing depression, severe anxiety and undue stress; as well as minimizing the impact it has on both mother and child. Mindfulness therapy involves a combination of yoga, meditation and deep breathing techniques that can be used as both a preventive measure and treatment for women. This therapy is designed to teach you how to purposely bring attention to the present moment. Meditation and yoga practices allow a woman to clear her mind and heighten her awareness through deep breathing- while achieving total focus on her body.
The benefits of mindfulness
Practicing yoga and meditation can help maintain cortisol levels in your body. During pregnancy, elevated levels of this ‘stress hormone’ can be detrimental to both the mother and fetus. Increased levels are also associated with mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Yoga and meditation can help you feel relaxed and calm almost immediately. Maintaining optimal levels of cortisol can help you alleviate the stress in your mind and body- so you can experience a happier, healthier pregnancy and overall well-being.
Meditation requires a quiet time to practice deep breathing techniques so you can connect with your body while focusing solely on the moment you are in. It trains your mind to ‘let go’ of your thoughts so you can become more ‘in tune’ with your inner self. Meditation is a terrific practice for busy moms -because even 10 mindful minutes a day can make a word of difference- in your life and those around you. Anyone can learn meditation through reading books, watching guided programs online or in DVD format; you can even join a local class given in your community.
Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice that harmonizes the body and mind through breathing exercises, various poses and meditation. Many women believe yoga is the key to experiencing a healthy and happy pregnancy. Yoga will not only help your physical body and emotional state during pregnancy, it will make those ‘tough’ days that all mothers experience much easier to cope with. Undeniably, both meditation and yoga can help you feel refreshed and relaxed during your daily routine, but it also offers a number of other benefits too!
* Improved sleeping habits
* Gives you peace of mind
* Relieves stress, anxiety and tension
* Gives you a deeper connection to and with your changing body during and after pregnancy
* Lowered risk for postpartum depression
*A ‘sisterhood’ support system- taking classes with other moms who know what you are going through
* You can practice at home too! Try YouTube for guided meditations and nice yoga classes.
* Happier and healthier life- when you are able to take a few minutes to focus on yourself you learn to listen to your body. Both these practices serve as a positive reminder you need to take care of yourself first -so you can take care of everyone else!