I became interested in the concept of mindful living while doing some deep emotional digging shortly before conceiving for the first time. Before this, I had struggled for years with emotional blockages, stresses, and anxieties without understanding how to identify them, or how to work through them. It wasn't until I received some casual advice from a dear friend who said to me, "pay attention to your body, observe and strengthen your foundation", that I decided to listen and tune in. This was the beginning of my relationship with mindfulness.
Clarity, Presence and Connection
In today's post I want to discuss my journey with Mindful Living, how this conscious state of being directly effects your baby, How to maintain mindfulness for you and your peanut, and what resources you will need!
Before we dig into how Mindful living can help your little babe, let me first explain further what this actually means. How often do we move through the motions of our daily life: the morning commute, our day at work, making dinner...on autopilot? I can remember Multiple drives in to work where I arrive and ask myself...did I stop at any stop signs? As horrible as that sounds...I was so in my head, that the world around me (just flowing by second by second) was non-existent. This is a perfect example of Mind-less-ness. Therefore, Mind-ful-ness requires you to do the opposite: connect with your surroundings and tune in to your thoughts while being present in the moment.
We can also compare presence and connection to an overly reactive state of being (racing thoughts, worrying, anxiousness). Reactive, Overwhelmed and Mindless living has so many implications on our overall health and well being...so is it not fair to ask yourself how are my thoughts and emotions effecting the environment I am creating for my baby? And furthermore, Is it possible that my nervousness, anxieties or racing thoughts and energy can be transferred within the womb?
After seeing our very first Ultrasound image of our little gal, I was instantly hit with a surge of emotions that I had never experienced before. I was no longer just responsible for myself, but for another human who was relying on me in so many ways. As I have gone through my pregnancy I found myself wondering HOW connected our babies are. We know so much about how the baby gets the nutrients it needs, how it grows physically, how our daily habits such as eating and drinking effect the little one...and we also have extensive lists of things we cannot have during pregnancy including raw fish, deli meats, alcohol etc. However, I felt like information regarding our mental and emotional state and how that effects our child, was non-existent. I decided to head to chapters to find some reliable reading material. My only find was The Headspace Guide to a Mindful Pregnancy by Andy Puddicombe.
Calm Mind, Calm Baby
Andy Puddicombe is a mediation and mindfulness expert, presenter and writer who has been featured on BBC, Dr. Oz, Netflix and TED. His credentials are impressive, and his research is legit...so I was eager to dig into his findings! Here are a few excerpts that I found to be incredibly interesting:
"Our thoughts and the emotional environment we create can actually begin to have a significant influence on our relationship with the baby...even when he or she is still in the womb. In the same way that these tiny beings feed off a mother’s nutrients, they are also impacted by a mother’s state of calm or otherwise"
How can they not be effected by our mental or emotional state I began to wonder...So as I kept reading I came across this quote that made complete and total sense:
"If the mind’s tendency leans towards negative thinking - with thoughts spinning into worry, anxiety or fear- the body will respond, creating the stress hormone cortisol. Increased cortisol levels not only lead to impaired cognitive performance, but they amp up the body, creating tension in the muscles....What happens, as Dr. Aguirre explains, is that cortisol is released from the mother’s adrenal glands, sending a signal to the placenta that the external world is all stressed out; this, in turn, triggers a matching response within the embryo which, as an autonomous unit with its own DNA make-up, generates its own stress hormone"
So now I was eager to see some numbers...How much of what We experience, do they experience? With a high paced, demanding job, I began to worry about my daily stress levels and how Much they are effecting my little nugget! So here are some facts to digest:
"Tiffany Field, a leading researcher in this area, published a landmark paper in 2004 which showed that newborns of mothers with depressive symptoms had higher cortisol levels and lower dopamine and serotonin levels, thus mimicking their mothers’ prenatal levels....these levels of cortisol were also associated with reduced responsiveness to stimulation, disorganized sleep and temperament difficulties"
Although Depressive symptoms would be on more severe end of the spectrum of stress levels, it is important to understand that the baby is directly effected by the levels of cortisol within our body. So, without getting caught up with worrying about the implications of our worries, what can we take from this? Here is Puddicombe’ s advice:
"The key message here is that a baby’ s behaviour doesn’t begin at birth but in utero --and that is an important awareness to have...the fetus requires reassurance, to know it is safe and protected. This according to Dr. Amersi, is essential because it sets the temperament of calmness versus anxiety traits in the baby. Mindfulness heightens levels of melatonin, which improves our quality of sleep and mood, meaning that both mother and fetus feel more calm and rested. Science suggests that creating a calm environment results in higher immunity, better sleep, less colic, higher tolerance for discomfort, and better self-soothing"
The Take Away
Molly Sims writes in the books foreword "I worked with Lori during my entire pregnancy...Lori was my complete body, mind, and spirit support system...the program provided me with the tools, insight, and wisdom to journey into a new life phase, learning how to be more present and mindful"
The book serves as a month by month guide providing concrete, prescriptive health info including nutritional advice, natural remedies, developmental milestones, comprehensive checklists, and spiritual and emotional exercises to help you prepare for motherhood.
I think of it as my little companion for a mindful pregnancy that empowers me to discover my own authentic path towards childbirth. One of the exercises that I did recently after reading my Month Five chapter, was to make a list of my outlets that ground me and bring me peace. Having this list reminds me to visit these outlets...and to make time for them.
To finish my thoughts on a Mindful Pregnancy, I will leave you with my list of outlets...what are yours?
Hi! My name is Amber, I am a wife and mother to Piper June. Welcome to my blog. You will find my path towards natural health and wellness as well as my honest discoveries as a new mother. In all aspects of life, I strive to cultivate Balance through a mindful existence. I share my experiences as a mother, helpful product reviews and companies that I am passionate about for our family. I am so grateful for your visit xo