Mindful Mamas: Tips from Pregnancy and Beyond

On Sunday, May 27, Comfy Cotton held space for several mamas-to-be in the Toronto, and we all learned a lot about being mindful throughout pregnancy and beyond. Our guest facilitator, Carine Sroujian, took us through a powerful meditation that grounded us, allowed us to be present in the moment and connected us with our babies.

Here is an overview of all that we took away from this workshop:

Mindfulness is awareness of and paying attention to the present moment. It’s been shown to help manage chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. A recent study published last year showed that mindfulness and meditation practice during pregnancy may help decrease symptoms of prenatal and postpartum depression, anxiety, and help you cope with fear during and after pregnancy, and can even help you through labor.

It also helps your baby! Meditation decreases the production of stress hormones (cortisol) and produces endorphins (the pleasure hormone), which via the placenta, reassures the unborn child about the safety of its environment, calming the baby and helping with childbirth, all due to the pain-relieving effect of endorphin.

Your unborn baby is aware of everything you are thinking and feeling as they are sensitive to your vibrations. This is also true for newborns and beyond. When you meditate, your little ones feed off your energy and will also absorb your calmness.

Meditation and connect with your baby. Start each day off by closing your eyes, connecting and sending love to your unborn child by placing your hands on your belly and just focusing on your breath.

Don’t force it. Often when you HAVE to do something, your brain will block it and do everything in its power to procrastinate and not do the very thing it HAS to do. Instead, try reframing and say: “I would love to meditate today.” or “I would love to spend some time breathing and relaxing today.” and find fun and enjoyable ways to incorporate mindfulness and breathing throughout the day, in your normal everyday activities, instead of forcing or scheduling it like a task.

Slow down. It’s tempting to maintain the lifestyle and busyness that you’re accustomed to, but your body is going through so much right now and is working so hard that it’s important to just slow things down. You have a great excuse to say no and put yourself first so take advantage of it! As Thich Nhat Hanh’s says: “Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”

Sleep. It’s very difficult to be present when you’re lacking sleep, but it’s also difficult sometimes to get a good night’s rest when you’re pregnant. But, if you take some time to move and exercise daily, and meditate, do yoga and breathing exercises at the end of the day, it will help promote a more restful sleep.

Be aware of your actions and emotions. Unless you’re a Buddhist monk who meditates multiple times daily, it’s difficult to be mindful every single moment of your life. But, start to gradually be mindful of mundane tasks you do every day, or thoughts and emotions that you experience. For example, when you’re washing the dishes, feel the warm water running down your hands, the sponge against the plates, and your feet on the ground as you stand. If you feel a certain emotion, acknowledge the feeling in your head. For example, if you’re feeling frustrated, repeat 3X in your head, “frustrated, frustrated, frustrated” and go back to focusing on your breathing.

Mindfulness becomes a habit. Like any muscle that you train, the more you meditate and are mindful, the more it becomes natural and ingrained in your everyday life. And it does become easier and easier to get into a meditative state as you keep practicing and you will learn to become more and more aware. Just remember to be gentle and compassionate with yourself, and try not to give yourself a hard time when you don’t meditate the way you expected or procrastinate. Just smile and breathe, and everything will flow the way it should.

Adapt your mindfulness practice with the baby. You may have more time now (unless you have other children of course!) to focus on a long mindfulness practice, but when the baby comes, two hours can end up to be 10 minutes of meditation while baby naps, or 10 minutes of mindful stretching while holding your baby or even mindful breathing while nursing or feeding.

Do you have any tips you can share on how to be more mindful during pregnancy and once your baby is born?