Stressing about giving birth? Be mindful

There’s no better time to pick up mindfulness pointers than when you’re preggers!

A mum-to-be’s worry list is endless. According to a study published in the European Journal of Public Health, babies born to women who experienced a lot of stress during pregnancy may have worse health than those born to less-stressed women. That’s why it’s important for an expectant mum to find ways to manage stress — and mindfulness can be a great help.

          “It is about being fully present in the here and now; in letting go of the mind’s ‘stories’; and observing sensations, thoughts and emotions without getting ‘caught up in them’, explains Silvia Wetherell, a counsellor with More Mindful, which offers counselling services. She also co-founded Mindful Mums, a not-for-profit that organises support groups for new mums.

          Studies show that mindfulness can help reduce anxiety, stress and depression in expectant mums, as well as provide parents with the tools to manage their relationship with their children. But don’t expect a mum-to-be to practise mindfulness by sitting in a lotus position and meditating quietly for an hour, Wetherell notes. “It’s all about taking the practical approach. Expectant mums have to get creative on how to practise being mindful,” she notes.

Being mindful wherever you are

Wetherell suggests that mums-to-be can adopt mindfulness anytime, like taking a walk, or paying attention to the bliss of having a shower.

          Mindfulness helps mums-to-be to recognise and handle difficult thoughts and emotions without resorting to destructive behaviour. For example, a pregnant woman who stresses about the health of her baby may indulge in unhealthy foods without realising it. Or she may provoke arguments with her husband, rather than acknowledge her underlying emotion, which is fear, Wetherell points out.

Studies show that mindfulness can help reduce anxiety, stress and depression in expectant mums.

          By becoming more aware of her “present moment” experience, Wetherell notes that a mum-to-be will be more open, accepting, as well as have more self-compassion in handling distressing situations. With greater awareness, she will also be in a much better position to make choices that are better for her in the long run, rather than reacting on “auto-pilot”, she adds.

Click “next” to read about how mindfulness “grows” your baby bond…