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5 Reasons You Should Meditate During Pregnancy

Moms-to-be can really benefit from a little zen.

5 Reasons You Should Meditate During Pregnancy

I’m the mother of a toddler in Brooklyn and a small business owner. My pregnancy, back in 2013, wasn’t easy. My husband and I conceived faster than we expected, right after we bought a house in a neighborhood I was apprehensive about, and I was now unable to enjoy my beloved glass of wine at the end of a long day. It was all so quick and overwhelming. Exercise always calmed me, but in my first trimester, I was too exhausted emotionally and physically to even get off the couch, let alone to lift and tuck at barre class.

That’s when meditation came along. In November 2013, I participated in Oprah & Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience. After just a few weeks, I was hooked. I found meditation to be a very important tool to help me simply be and to accept the physical and mental discomforts of pregnancy. “Mindfulness is meeting our lives one moment at a time and that is something we can always do,” explains Melissa McKay, teacher at MNDFL Meditation Studio in New York City.

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Meditation lets us be kind to ourselves and is a crucial part of self-love. Though it won’t necessarily change the intensity or frequency of pregnancy symptoms, it can alter your approach and reaction. Here are 5 ways meditation can help with some of the most common pregnancy struggles.

1. Morning Sickness. Let’s first acknowledge that “morning sickness” is actually a catchall term for sickness that occurs throughout the day. According to Simple Habit meditation teacher Andy Hobson, you can use meditation to cultivate more awareness and to work with morning sickness in the same way you would with any other unpleasant feeling or sensation in the body. Find a quiet spot where you won’t be interrupted and sit comfortably for 5-10 minutes. Hobson suggests starting with a curiosity about where your morning sickness shows up in your body, how it moves, how it changes in intensity at different times. Then mentally give it a shape or a color to better acknowledge its existence. With practice, this awareness really will lead to a new kind of acceptance.

2. Insomnia. Sleeping during pregnancy isn’t comfortable. Period. You find a comfortable position that works one hour, and then your baby moves, or grows or both, and you’re uncomfortable again. We also struggle to fall asleep because we have so much to think about. And to make it worse, everyone preaches, “Sleep while you can!”. Clearly this cycle won't make us sleep better or more; but meditation and cultivating awareness can give you the mental tools that you need to reground yourselves. Just focus on your breathing and on feeling your physical body resting in bed. My favorite meditation before bed is a simple body scan: concentrate on different areas of your body, and tense and release. Depending on how deep of a sleeper your partner is, you can also do a cleansing audible “ahhhhhh” exhale -- similar to a lion’s breath in yoga. It will allow you to sink deeper into the present moment.

3. Depression and anxiety. Pregnancy messes with our hormones in unimaginable ways, and it’s difficult to isolate the variables when it comes to our prenatal moods. When we are able to meet our lives one moment at a time through meditation, as McKay says, we learn to experience the impermanence of emotions -- even the most intense ones. I love to think about flying in an airplane. Regardless of the weather below, when you’re flying above the clouds it’s always sunny. The clouds are our emotions, and they are present in our journey, but do not have to define it.

4. Heartburn. Heartburn is incredibly common during pregnancy as a result of increased acid reflux and less space in the stomach. Deep breathing is the foundation of any mindfulness practice, and it activates the relaxation response that massages the digestive organs. Try taking a long and slow inhalation, starting with a count of 4 or 5, and take an even longer exhalation. As you repeat this, try to increase the counts so that every time you’re exhaling longer and longer. Relax the belly and envision bringing the breath all the way down to your core. You will likely feel your mind quiet after just a few rounds.

5. BONUS TIP: Labor + Delivery Pain. My meditation practice, which was highly influenced by Nancy Bardacke's Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond, was incredibly helpful during my labor and delivery. I was able to be present and find joy in the stillness between contractions, as opposed to anticipating what is ahead. Yes, a lot of my labor and delivery is a blur at this point, but I distinctly remember those moments in between my late (and intense) contractions and my serene focus on the calm.

If you want more information or practice in the art of meditation, check out Simple Habit Meditation App (iOS + Android, free with in-app purchases) and, for New Yorkers, MNDFL Meditation Studio.

Janna Meyrowitz Turner is the founder of Style House, a lifestyle communications, content, brand strategy and PR firm in New York City that was recently honored by Observer.com as one of New York’s Top 5 Specialty PR Agencies for Beauty. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Ethan, and their son Harley.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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