CREATED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH MAMA MIO
With new research suggesting mindfulness can not only help first-time mothers cope with their fears, but also decrease symptoms of prenatal and postpartum depression, there’s never been a better time to stay present. To navigate the world of pregnancy mindfulness, we caught up with Mama Mio’s resident expert Melissa Schweiger Kleinman for her top tips...
Talking to other mums is a great way to relieve stress. If you don’t have anyone in your circle who’s pregnant or recently had a baby, there are loads of new mum groups that can help you socialise and there are even apps that help local mums find each other. Remember you’re not alone – this is no small feat and it’s totally normal to feel a little overwhelmed.
Staying active is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Even just 15 minutes of yoga or a gentle stroll outside can help you take some moments to unwind. Better yet, find an area with lots of trees – a Japanese practice called ‘forest bathing’, simply being amongst trees has been proven to be a viable form of stress management. Spending time in nature can help to lower levels of adrenaline cortisol and other stress hormones, too.
Deep breathing techniques can help calm the nervous system. Sit with a straight back, breathe in through your nose and hold for a few seconds; exhale by pushing out as much air as you can through your mouth while contracting your abdominal muscles. Repeat for a few minutes for instant calm.
Try to focus on only one item on your to-do list at a time. There are a million things you’ll want to get done before the baby arrives but the truth is that most of them can probably wait. Edit your to-do list down to what actually needs to happen pre-baby and move the other items to a ‘deal with it later’ list.
Meditation is centred on the approach of training your mind and, much like you need to go to the gym on a regular basis to properly train your muscles, you need to practice mindful meditation regularly as well. The more you do it, the easier it will become and the more you can apply mindfulness to everyday life. The key is focusing on your mind and breath, but it’s only natural that your mind is going to wander a bit – just nudge it back to your breathing and focus on that. You don’t need hours to devote to meditation either – start with just five minutes a day and you’ll still reap the benefits.
Don’t Compare Yourself
We all have a love/hate relationship with social media – it’s both addictive and annoying and can totally change how we feel about ourselves. Instead of falling into the trap of comparing yourself to every seemingly perfect celebrity mum influencer you see, try imagining them in their regular day to day lives, not the ones presented for you in the staged and filtered photos you see on their feed. What you’re not seeing is the tantrum their toddler threw right before or the 20 minutes it took them to squeeze into their skinny jeans. Just remember – no-one’s life is perfect and you never know what’s going on behind the scenes.
While pregnancy can be thought of as a means to an end, it’s also an incredible time in your life. Rather than spending those nine months focusing only on what’s next, it’s good for your mental health to remain in the moment. Instead of multitasking, try monotasking – at lunchtime, actually sit down and eat your lunch rather than trying to do three things at once. At the same time, stop checking your emails every five minutes (try 30-60 minutes if you can), and aim to cut back on your schedule – now is the time to enjoy moments to yourself. Look at your schedule and edit it down to activities that are necessary, like going to the doctor or things that bring you joy.
Hypnobirthing may sound intimidating, but it’s a technique similar to meditation that’s applied specifically to the childbirth experience and has been gaining momentum of late. Hypnobirthing uses deep breathing and imagery techniques to help mums deliver their babies naturally, but also allows for medical intervention if desired. The method has been shown to help women have shorter and less painful births – don’t expect miracles but, as long as your doctor approves, hypnobirthing could be a safe and easy way to usher on a more positive birthing experience.
Mama You Got This: An Honest Guide To Pregnancy by Melissa Schweiger Kleinman is available now online: MamaMio
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