Pregnant or not, breathing is the only thing you can actually control. Mindfulness exercises help you harness this beneficial practice at a time when you may crave a sense of control the most.
Being mindful doesn’t mean being perfect or even being relaxed all the time. Mindfulness means being aware—aware of what’s right for you in your pregnancy and continually returning to a thoughtful evaluation of yourself, your health, and your building skills for getting through not just pregnancy, but also birth, and ultimately parenting.
Cultivate flexibility for pregnancy and beyond
Beginner’s mind is a concept within mindfulness. Even someone who has practiced breathing and mindfulness for many years approaches each time with curiosity and attention to what is actually happening that day, or that moment. The recognition that each instant is different than the next helps cultivate flexibility within oneself, which is a great skill for pregnancy, birth, and parenting.
The real research on mindfulness and pregnancy
Peer-reviewed research shows that practicing mindfulness during pregnancy is a breath of fresh air. It significantly contributes to improving anxiety, worry, and depression, and enhances a sense of positive body image, alongside boosting self-compassion.
The ins and outs of how to breathe
Luckily breathing is involuntary, but most of us can stand to give some attention to deepening our breathing to promote more relaxation. I like a simple, but effective method for a daily practice:
1) Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose for a count of five. Focus on creating space in your already full belly.
2) Hold your breath for a count of three.
3) Release your breath through your mouth for a count of five.
Repeat this cycle 10 times (as many times throughout the day as you’d like).
Breath work during pregnancy helps to build your tool kit for both unwinding and building stamina. It a quiet yet busy activity that can help you actively contribute something beneficial to your pregnancy, even when you don’t feel like doing much at all. Plus, it’s a great, non-pharmaceutical way to combat insomnia!
So, breathe easy. You can use mindfulness to approach, investigate, and cope with the mess of sensations that pregnancy may bring and be on your way to a stress-free pregnancy.
Read more: Meditations for moms-to-be