When I got pregnant with my daughter Annabell, I was both elated and terrified. After months of trying to conceive, I was finally pregnant and although I was excited, I was also worried about how to keep my baby safe and healthy.
So by the time my first doctor’s visit came around I was ecstatic to learn everything I needed to know about well-being during pregnancy. My doctor prescribed me the same things that he does all his patients – a prenatal vitamin, personal nutritionist, and recommendations on proper prenatal exercise.
However, after a few weeks of eating healthy, working out and taking my prenatal, I noticed that I was still worrying about my baby’s health, stressing about my future and struggling to manage pregnancy and my work.
After sharing this with a friend, she recommended I try meditation to help calm my mind. Although I had never tried meditation, I was eager to relieve some of my mental and emotional anxiety so I decided to commit to practicing every day for 30-days just to see what would happen.
To my surprise, less than five days in, I was noticeably more at ease, happier and better able to focus at work. It seemed that just as nutritious food and daily exercise was keeping my body strong, meditation was keeping my mind relaxed and present. Meditation was like prenatal vitamins for my mind.
Seeing how this practice transformed my whole pregnancy, I wondered what meditation might be doing for my growing baby as well. Curious, I decided to look into the science. What I found helped me see that meditation wasn’t just enhancing my mental health, but giving my baby a better start in life as well.
Below is the research on the benefits of meditating during pregnancy.
Reduced Stress: Research shows that high levels of stress and anxiety increase risk factors during pregnancy, and by keeping stress levels low.
Healthier Pregnancy: A study that explored preterm birth found that women who participated in a mindfulness training program were 50% less likely to give birth early than women with no mindfulness education.
Less Pain During Labor: A study of a group of people who attended a four-day mindfulness meditation training found that they were able to decrease the intensity of a painful stimulus by 40 percent (4).
Better Immunity: Meditation enhances the body’s immune function.
Based on my personal experience and this research, I decided to join Expectful’s team after I gave birth to my daughter. The truth is, once I realized how much meditation matters during pregnancy, I made it my mission to help other women discover it as well.
Now, as Expectful’s Community Guide, I educate expectant mothers about the importance of keeping their mind healthy, so that their baby can have a better start in life. It’s my hope that moving forward doctors will begin to look at meditation as being just as important as proper nutrition, prenatal vitamins and exercise during pregnancy.
Anna Gannon is a mom, the Community and Editorial Lead at Expectful, a Writer and a Yoga & Meditation Teacher. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, Yoga Today and The Expectful Blog. Anna is passionate about the importance of the mind, body, and baby connection. Her mission is to improve women’s emotional health during their fertility, pregnancy and new motherhood experience by sharing open and honest stories, educating them on the benefits of meditation and movement and most importantly, letting them know they are never alone.