Vedic meditation expert Will Williams shares his top tips on staying calm and centred throughout pregnancy and waving goodbye to stress
One minute you’re overjoyed, the next you’re feeling apprehensive and anxious. Sound familiar? That’s pregnancy for you! While it’s normal to experience mixed emotions, it’s important to remember that when a mum-to-be gets stressed, she secretes an excess of glucocorticoids, which pass through foetal circulation. This teaches the little one to be prepared for a stressful world.
Evidence suggests that pre-natal stress can lead to a considerably higher risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, an unhealthy cholesterol profile, diabetes, and less developed male genitalia and testosterone production in your baby. It also hampers brain development, particularly in the regions associated with learning and development. The other concern is that pre-natal stress programs your baby’s brain into a lifelong profile of stress responsivity, that has anxiety written all over it.
Here are my top tips on how Vedic meditation can help you and your growing baby:
Vedic meditation (which involves silently chanting a personalised mantra twice a day for twenty minutes) is a tool that we can use to help calm down the stress response. Instead of an overabundance of stress chemistry floating around our (and their) system, there is a hit of meditation-induced endorphins, which offset any aches and pains and, most importantly of all, give the young one all the hormonal messages that indicate a happy and healthy world.
Focus on the moment
It’s not always easy to focus on the here and now – especially when life as you know it is about to change, but it’s important to stay mindful during pregnancy.
This simply involves paying more attention to the present moment, as well as tuning in to your own thoughts, feelings, and immediate environment. Take time to notice the sounds around you, appreciate the taste of your favourite food (or latest craving!) and stop to admire nature if you can. Doing so will help clear your mind and keep feelings of anxiety at bay.
Breathing techniques are not only useful for staying calm during pregnancy, but can be really handy during labour too. Slow, deep breaths will help to generate more oxygen around your body, benefiting both you and your baby, while helping to relax your body and mind.
Many antenatal classes will encourage this kind of breathing, as will pregnancy yoga classes, but you can also practice this in the comfort of your own home. Simply take long, deep breaths in through your nose and then out through your mouth – repeat for as long as necessary until you feel calm and centred.
Regular exercise is important for sustaining good mental health – pregnant or not. If you’re feeling tired and don’t have the energy for anything strenuous, a slow walk, or a gentle swim is enough to release endorphins, (chemicals in the brain that trigger a positive feeling in the body) leaving you feeling light and uplifted.
Of course, consult your midwife or doctor before taking up any form of exercise when pregnant, but do try to keep as active as possible.
Talk it out
While everyone manages stress and anxiety differently, keeping any worries you have about your pregnancy or labour to yourself will only cause them to fester and grow. Simply voicing any concerns to a midwife, friend or family member can lighten the load a lot.
Talking can help you work out how to deal with negative thoughts and feelings and how to make positive changes. A problem shared, really is a problem halved.