Doctors Need to Do More for Pregnancy and Parenthood Mental Health
You’ve probably heard lots of talk about the mind/body connection, but what about the mind/baby connection?
Research shows that during pregnancy, a baby’s mental and physical health is strongly influenced by it’s mother’s emotional state. After birth, and especially in the first three years, the emotional well-being of both parents are foundational to a child’s development.
High levels of stress, anxiety or depression during and after pregnancy have been shown to harm a baby’s brain function and physical development. It can lead to adult heart disease, ADHD, obesity, diabetes and a long list of other risk factors that parents desperately want to avoid.
So why is it that many expecting and new parents go through one of the most stressful times of their lives without having a conversation about mental health with their doctor?
The reason may be that until recently, doctors didn’t have many science-based tools they could recommend to help couples navigate the emotional roller coaster of pregnancy and new parenthood.
Today, there has been lots of research on the benefits of meditation, and doctors all over the world are just beginning to embrace it as a standard recommendation for all pregnant and new parents.
Here are a few of the benefits:
- POSITIVE EFFECTS ON BABY DEVELOPMENT.
Studies show that babies that are born to moms that meditate tend to have a better temperament. They can soothe themselves sooner, and get into negative states less often (1).
- REDUCED STRESS AND ANXIETY.
People that meditate report they experience less stress and anxiety. This makes sense when brain scans that were done on people before and after they began meditating revealed that the stress center of their bran actually shrank with consistent practice (2).
- BETTER SLEEP
Studies have shown that meditators experience higher quality sleep than non-meditators (3).
- REDUCED RISK OF POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION
Mindfulness practices have been associated with reduced depression during and after pregnancy (4).
If you’re interested in turning your partner on to meditation, or developing a practice yourself, there are lots of great teachers and apps out there. The only one focused entirely on women that are pregnant and new to motherhood is Expectful – a guided meditation app just for the journey from pregnancy through early motherhood. It’s their mission to make meditation as common as prenatal vitamins.
If you’d like to send your partner and baby the gift of calm and wellbeing, click here to learn more about Expectful’s gift certificate.
- Maternal mindfulness and anxiety during pregnancy affect infants’ neural responses to sounds – Pubmed.
- Stress reduction correlates with structural changes in the amygdala – Pubmed.
- Meditation and its regulatory role on sleep – Pubmed.
- Cross-cultural and social diversity of prevalence of postpartum depression and depressive symptoms – Pubmed.