A 2021 Fast Company World Changing Idea
“I’m prescribing you this pamphlet.” My doctor smiled as he handed me a list of all the foods I could and couldn’t eat. Alongside these restrictions came the different kinds of exercises I was allowed to do, and everything else under the sun to ensure I’d have to change in order to have a healthy pregnancy. One thing that, looking back on that moment now, was notably missing? Prenatal vitamins for the mind.
When I first became pregnant, like so many women, I spent countless hours trying to get everything “right.” I ate all the recommended superfoods, took long walks around my neighborhood, and read all of the popular parenting books I could get my hands on: Bringing Up Bebe, Expecting Better, Nurture.
I spent an inordinate amount of time researching the best stroller, the best car seat and the best diaper bag. “Should we go with the lightweight stroller or the jogging one?” I’d ask my husband over breakfast.
But in my frenzy checking all of the boxes off my “mom-to-be list,” I forgot to invest in the most important resource I would need in pregnancy and new motherhood: my mind.
I discovered Expectful in my third trimester when my textbook pregnancy veered off script. Around my 20-week ultrasound I was told that I was at high-risk for preterm labor and that, if I wasn’t careful, my baby could be born at any moment.
As the doctor explained everything, my pulse raced and blood rushed to my head. As I sat there listening, I knew on an intellectual level that I had to remain calm to keep my baby safe — but how could I do that when I couldn’t keep my body from panicking?
None of my parenting books had prepared me for this moment.
That night, instead of sleeping, I kept tossing and turning, thinking about all the ways society has been failing new moms. Stay hydrated. Avoid certain foods. Get moving. The rules for staying healthy are repeated by healthcare providers and the media alike. And yet, our literacy for keeping stressful thoughts at bay remains painfully low.
And never has that disparity been more critical than in this moment. The crisis Americans have faced with this pandemic has had rippling effects, with one survey from last year revealing a spike in maternal depression and anxiety.
There’s no denying that the care and advice we receive during pregnancy is out of balance. I’d spent so much time investing in the physical and material aspects of motherhood that I completely neglected to prepare my mind for the rollercoaster of emotions that I would encounter in pregnancy and as a new mother.
But within a week of subscribing to Expectful, something changed. My stress levels stabilized. I stopped obsessing over the perfect stroller, and began focusing instead on my mind-body connection. With each breathing exercise, I felt the panic I’d experienced at the doctor’s office start to lift.
It dawned on me then that in trying so hard trying to get everything just “right” those first few months of my pregnancy, I’d been given a false sense of security — reading every parenting book in sight would not protect me from childbirth complications, or provide me with the inner strength needed to endure those long months of vigilance before my son was born.
In using Expectful, I understood that it was okay to not have all the answers — that being fully present in my body was enough.
So, I continued with my meditations; putting all of my energy into each breathing exercise. With each inhale and exhale I released the sense of control I had been holding onto. Over time, I learned to trust my body, to be gentler with myself, something I believe only mindfulness could have offered me during that difficult time.
More importantly, I learned what I’m truly capable of.
“Mindfulness practice provides an opportunity for the discovery of previously unrecognized inner resources of strength and resilience,” certified nurse-midwife and mindfulness teacher Nancy Bardacke told The New York Times. This was true to my own experience. In a pregnancy where my outcome was continually looking worse and worse, I managed to stabilize and make it to term.
While my outcome was surprising to me, there was actual scientific evidence behind it. Cultivating a mindfulness practice in pregnancy is like taking prenatal vitamins for your mind. Not only does it help us release fear, but there’s proof that it can help us better cope with the pain of childbirth and prevent symptoms of postpartum depression.
Expectful was a life jacket during one of the most stressful periods of my life. It’s something that remains at the forefront of my mind as we work towards providing this wellness resource to moms everywhere.
This week, Fast Company recognized the importance of Expectful and the concept of Prenatal Vitamins for the Mind when they selected Expectful as an Honorable Mention in the Wellness category as part of their 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards. We’re grateful that Fast Company recognized the evidence-based product we’ve created that can positively impact the minds of millions of women on their journey to motherhood. It’s our hope that everyone can experience the power of mindfulness and Expectful on their journey to parenthood.
If you’re curious and want to sample prenatal vitamins for your mind, check out our seven day free-trial — and trust me: the results speak for themselves.