If you have ever watched a laboring woman work through a contraction, or if you yourself have gone through one, you may have noticed her enter a moment of deep or even serene concentration . It may have even looked like she was meditating.
As a doula and frequent meditator, I have always been deeply interested in exploring the mind-body connection. Birth is a physically and emotionally demanding process; just like an athlete training for a marathon, it is important for pregnant women to explore beforehand some of the sensations and feelings that they may experience the day they go into labor. By practicing meditation throughout pregnancy, you are ultimately providing yourself with a blueprint for a calm and peaceful birth. The techniques you employ during meditation you will carry with you when it comes time to have your baby.
Here are 5 benefits of meditation
- Tuning out distractions. If you are giving birth in a hospital, chances are you will be surrounded by noises and people that are unfamiliar to you. Whether it’s the beeping of a monitor or a nurse checking in, it is important to be able to tune these distractions out so that you can relax and concentrate. Meditation is the single greatest way to practice inner concentration. Close your eyes or lower your gaze and practice letting all of those disturbances melt away.
- Lowered heart rate. When you release the mind, you release the body as well. Meditation is a great time to check in with your physical self. Where do you carry your tension? Where do you need to release? In taking deep, slow breaths, you will begin to notice that your heart rate will drop as well. A calm and steady heart rate will also indicate to your baby that you are happy. Enjoy this moment as a gift to yourself and your child.
- Deeper connection with your baby. Sitting quietly can often help in forging a deeper understanding of your baby. What is your baby doing in this moment? Is she/he moving around or calm and peaceful like you are? I like to encourage my client to visualize her baby, stroke her belly, or whisper encouraging words. Meditation is a wonderful time to deepen that
- Increased Theta. In the human body, there are five main frequency brain waves: Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta, and Gamma. The Theta State is one of deep relaxation and calm. When you meditate, you activate Theta. Theta is associated with creativity, visualization, problem solving, and intuition. The higher our Theta frequency, the more expansive our consciousness becomes, and the more expansive our consciousness, the more open we are.
- A chance to learn more about yourself. My favorite benefit of meditation is the opportunity that it offers to connect with your subconscious mind. Quieting all the external chatter allows you to engage in a deeply personal and intimate dialogue with yourself. In meditation, you are encouraged to experience thoughts as passing clouds. Allow whatever comes up in this time to pass you by without holding on to it, or judging it. What are your hopes or fears about giving birth? Meditation will illuminate a lot of these answers for you. You may surprise yourself about how many of these answers are already within you. Trust the voice that arises when you meditate.
And your meditation: Try practicing this breathing meditation in a way that is useful and personal to you.
1) Start with 5 cleansing breaths in through the nose, out through the mouth.
2) Exhaling breath should be long and slow. Imagine blowing bubbles, or air coming out of tire.
3) Inhale peace/exhale stress and tension.
4) With each breath in, go deeper and curl your breath around your baby.
5) Feel your baby vibrating with love.
6) Repeat 3 times.