I’m a new father. When I had decided to make a baby with a yin yoga teacher all those months ago, I figured it would be simple to follow a routine for meditating. After all, how hard could it be to sit together, with our attention focused on the little bundle of cells growing slowly inside her? In my mind it felt like what should be a natural part of preparing for parenthood: stay calm and meditate with your baby!
But life doesn’t always turn out the ways we think it should, and sometimes we need to get creative and think outside-the-box. This post is a bit of an exploration into meditation techniques that we learned and practiced during our pregnancy.
Pregnancy Meditation First Trimester
Looking back, it’s hard to say if the first trimester was the easiest for my partner’s prenatal meditation, or the most difficult. With so much change happening in her body, and so much routine from our previous era of life going out the window, she had her “up” days for meditating and her “down” days. I can imagine that most women who have been pregnant would agree that on the “down” days, the last thing you’d want to do is meditate. (Yet paradoxically, that can also create the perfect environment for a powerful practice; so it may come down to one’s relationship with meditation leading up to the pregnancy.)
Finding meditation techniques for pregnant moms was not difficult, but keeping consistent with them, or finding them to be effective, was easier said than done. As my partner’s body changed so rapidly, her mood and emotions with it, meditating while pregnant always was “the solution” in conversation, yet at some point started to feel more like an empty word than a committed practice. For my partner, who was pregnant for the first time, guided birth visualizations felt a little superficial, even cheesy, when listening in headphones on the bed in a dark room.
What is meditation?
Let’s back up. Meditation is more than just a catch-all term that can be applied to anything to make it feel better; it actually entails a degree of dedication to truly experience its effects in a way that expands to all aspects of life.
When it comes to a pregnant woman meditating, that process of dedication transforms into a question of letting go–letting go of expectations, or feelings of identity with a relationship to meditation, the baby that’s coming, the pregnancy experience, etc. Is it realistic to expect a committed meditation practice while pregnant? The first thing to do isn’t meditate, but to set an intention to commit to meditating while pregnant.
Meditation, as it is generally known, helps push pause on our world of action and the realm of thoughts, past or future, imagination and reflection, and begin experiencing the present moment from a space of nothing-ness. No “me” needing to “do” something “later” or reflecting on what happened “before.” Just a physical body with different senses, perceiving the reality surrounding it from a place of objectivity, a pure mind. Despite its objective to pause conscious mental activity, meditation is also generally reported to offer clarity, retrospection, and gratitude towards our everyday activities.
Meditation can be seeded on a certain object representing purity (like light, a guru, a god, wisdom, breath, or even a baby!)–or it can be unseeded, which is often associated with “letting go” and just absorbing your surroundings.
Setting an intention to connect with your baby
No matter which route you take, it is an exercise that requires tremendous concentration and is something that improves with time and practice. The results of deep meditation result in high levels of clarity, focus and sensitivity.
But for that clarity to show up, it all must start with intention. Before sinking into the pure-er version of you to meditate, you need to tell yourself what you want to get out of it, what you’re aiming to learn or accomplish…
When it comes to pregnancy, you’ll probably find yourself somewhere in the “connect with my baby” camp or on the “send love to my unborn child” road. Connecting with the father of the unborn child, or even other family members, is also indirectly related to this same intention… to connect with your baby.
Meditation mantra for healthy pregnancy
We sat down one night and laid hands on her little belly. We had the idea that by “connecting with my unborn child,” we would be able to communicate some love to the little guy. It seemed right at the time, to say hello and let him know that we were preparing and getting ready to provide him with a loving environment out here on planet Earth…
Meditation is a life-changing practice, so you would think meditation for pregnant moms is a no-brainer. Do a quick Google search and each blog post you’ll stumble upon will reference the same handful of articles–the same meditation and pregnancy research that provides the basis of consensus for “meditation during pregnancy” Google searches (maybe that’s even how you got here!). We’ll link to those studies here in this post, too.
If you’re looking for a magic wand to wish peace and love upon your baby, you’re unfortunately looking in the wrong direction. However, your womb is a great place to seed your meditation while reciting your favorite mantra, or even simply the words, “I love you.” A pregnancy meditation practice is less about content or form and more about concentrating the intention on a certain object–in this case, the baby!
Make loving that baby your mantra. It will come in handy once it arrives and everything you knew to be life (and personal autonomy) changes forever.
Guided Meditation for Pregnancy
My partner also tried guided meditations for pregnancy. A nice soft woman’s voice would whisper softly in her ear saying to love herself, to forgive herself, and let the womb be cleansed of negativity–or something like that. The culture of being a mom, or a future momma, is so widespread and primal to our species that as a guy that migrates between new age hippie-dom and straight-laced workaholic suburbanite, it became clear to me that there is no categorizing the experience of a pregnant woman. It is universal, that goddess life-bringing spirit.
In any case, my partner was quickly turned off to these guided pregnancy meditations.
Let’s face the facts: meditation during pregnancy is not a walk in the park, no matter how you do it–yet the benefits of it can be enormous. If you can look past the nausea, the emotions, and the changes happening in the body, this practice may not only improve your three trimesters of transition, but make an impact on the baby, as well. So it’s imperative to figure out something that works for you personally.
So that’s what we had to really understand after our first few months of trying to do classical meditation. It was effective but it didn’t quite become the routine that we had envisioned. So we kept on searching.
The Basics of Meditating While Pregnant
At the most fundamental level, meditations while pregnant can do wonders for nausea or morning sickness. Finding some stillness, be it on a chair or in the garden, and sinking into some deep breaths and the moment can not only bring relaxation for pregnant women, but improve quality of sleep and lower stress and cortisol levels in the body. (We’ll get into other effects, demonstrated by scientific research, in the next section.)
But it still brings us back to our core problem: for the average pregnant woman, how easy is it to decide to just sit down and meditate, and then actually sit down and meditate? It’s obviously different for everyone, because everyone is different, but my partner and I really wanted to find a technique that we could employ that didn’t feel like a chore–especially in this first trimester.
Meditation and Pregnancy Research
Meditation can also help regulate the emotions going on–or at least offer you some peaceful surrender to them, depending on how you look at it. It also helps quiet the mind; it can be easy to sink into fantasy or fear of what life might be like or how your current actions could be affecting the well-being of the baby.
Just like life, it’s best to stay in the present moment and make sure your body is at ease. Remember, there’s a second body in there that’s feeling most of the same things you are!
According to research, “ infants prenatally exposed to higher levels of maternal mindfulness devote fewer attentional resources to frequently occurring irrelevant sounds.” It’s good for cognitive development and the baby’s future behavioral issues (they tested levels of cortisol in baby blood and saliva). Did I mention it was good for stress and anxiety?
Prenatal Meditation Birthing Classes
We saw a flyer for one of these classes, featuring birth visualization. We decided to give it a go. Google it in your area–they exist! Opportunities to spend time with other women and/or couples that are also preparing for labor. We did this in her third trimester, at a local yoga studio. In the class we fluctuated between different birth visualization techniques, such as focusing on the joy of bringing life into the world instead of it being a painful experience.
We also practiced controlled breathing in this birthing class, which was great practice for labor. Childbirth ranks pretty high on the spectrum of human pain, so learning to control your breathing in a calm setting is only the first step into learning to control your breathing in a painful environment. Meditating while pregnant offers extreme benefits to preparing for childbirth.
This class helped us. A lot. And it felt good to connect. But it was only one time. Even if we had learned of it earlier, these classes are often not offered more than once a month, depending on your location. So how can pregnant women and couples get creative about meditation solutions?
Humandalas Group Meditation For A Soulful Pregnancy
We found our solution in Humandalas. It’s a creative guided meditation that works for groups of any size–even 1! It guides you through 5 important steps in creative and fun ways: Connection, Intention, Cultivation, Offering, and Anchor. By the end of it, you’ll be surprised to realize how good you feel–and you didn’t have to “meditate” or “sit quietly” like any classical meditation method.
Humandalas guided group meditations simplifies the process of connection between a couple, setting intention, cultivating loving energy towards the child, offering it to the act of birthing or the child (or both), and anchoring it into something the couple will never forget.
Whether it’s the app or the deck of cards, Humandalas meditations can help bring focus and direction to any pregnant woman or couple looking to meditate–especially if they don’t know where to start!