On the day of my first doctor appointment I was overly eager. I couldn’t wait for the doctor to ease my mind and tell me all the things I could / couldn’t do to have a healthy pregnancy. After my appointment my doctor prescribed me a prenatal vitamin, gave me the number of a nutritionist and went over how to approach exercise from that day forward. Leaving his office, I expected to feel a sense of relief but even with all this additional information, I still felt anxiety. As the months progressed, my mind would often stress out about the well-being of my baby and whether or not I was doing everything right.
To my surprise this worrying started to increase rather than decrease as my pregnancy continued. I longed for my doctor visits so that I could hear my baby’s heartbeat and know that she was ok. This was a vicious cycle as every time I felt the relief that my baby was healthy, it was quickly replaced with the fact that I wouldn’t be back to hear her heartbeat again for another stressful month.
It was during this time of worry and uncertainty that I was laid off from job at 7 months pregnant. This, as you can imagine was a very difficult thing to go through at an already highly emotional time in my life. The day after my last day of work I awoke to an email from my good friend who knew what I was going through and thought I might benefit from Expectful – a new digital meditation platform that’s empowering moms and moms-to-be to give their babies the best start in life.
I hesitantly signed up and decided to commit to meditating every day for one month to see if it had any impact on me. In just three days I noticed an increase in my energy, in one week I was noticeably less stressed and at one month I was happier and more relaxed. Meditation had clearly helped me through losing my job but what I was even more surprised to realize is that when I started meditating I also started worrying less and less. The random negative thoughts that led me down a rabbit hole of stress and anxiety about the health of my baby were no longer able to affect me as they once did. Instead I was filled with gratitude and an abundance of love for my baby.
This shift transformed my whole pregnancy and I couldn’t help but wonder why my doctor never talked to me about the health of my mind during such a challenging time.
Just as exercise kept my body feeling strong, Expectful’s meditations helped my mind feel more focused and energized. Just as my prenatal vitamin gave me the vitamins and minerals my body needed, meditation gave my mind the ease and self-assurance I desperately yearned for.
This brought me to the obvious conclusion that as a society we are missing one key “prescription” when it comes to approaching a healthy pregnancy; the importance of a healthy mind.
The benefits of meditations are well known; decreased stress and anxiety, increased immunity, more focus and better sleep. All of which complement pregnancy in various ways. Not to mention that meditation helps with pain management which is obviously helpful during birth and labor.
Perhaps even more interesting is that research shows that pregnant women who meditate have babies with healthier birth weights and are more likely to go full-term. This shows that when women meditate during pregnancy, there is some kind of connection that is happening between themselves and their babies.
As if that wasn’t enough to get your mind spinning, meditation also helps you to recognize emotions in others and to practice compassion which can help you to feel more connected to your partner during this big transition in both of your lives.
With my own personal experience with meditation and with all the science that proves how meditation can support pregnant women, I can’t help but wonder why we aren’t talking more about a women’s emotional and mental health during one of the most mentally demanding times of their lives. I hope that within the next few years that when women walk into their doctors’ office looking for the tools that can support them, that meditation be right in line with prenatal vitamins, nutrition and exercise.
Anna Gannon is a new mom, the Editorial Lead at Expectful and a writer for The Huffington Post and MindBodyGreen. Her mission is to spread awareness around the emotional well-being of women during their motherhood journey.