Here at Expectful, our main goal is to make your experience of conception, pregnancy, and early motherhood easier and calmer. We want to help you develop the tools to deal with the unexpected when you’re expecting (and before and after). But we also don’t want to waste your time – it’s precious, just as the life you’re building. So, the reason we do what we do – all the guided meditations, courses, live events, and other resources – they’re not just about “getting zen.” It’s more than that: meditation (and moreover, mindfulness) in motherhood and the journey to it is proven to work on multiple levels during these major transitions in your life—not only by the subjective relaxation you feel in your body when you listen to our tracks, but by science.
A mounting body of evidence in support of meditation shows the myriad benefits it has for you (and your baby!). Meditation reduces stress and anxiety, increases mindfulness and awareness, and helps sleep. All these things in turn help your fertility, support your pregnancy, and make it easier to cope with motherhood.
Breaking Down the Science Behind Mindfulness and Meditation in the Motherhood Journey
Fertility and Meditation: The Science Behind the Connection to Conception
Trying to conceive is often a source of stress. From timing sex juuuust right to that seemingly interminable two week wait, it’s a lot—mentally and emotionally. And if you’ve experienced loss or difficulty in your conception process, you’re probably feeling even higher levels of stress, worry, and fear.
Some research indicates that higher levels of stress can affect your hormones, and thus, your fertility. That fact can be a hard pill to swallow for many hopeful parents, especially because our stress levels can be hard to control in our fast-paced, hyper-connected world. So get this: if trying to conceive causes you stress, stress could then equal a more difficult time conceiving, which could then equal even more stress… and the cycle continues.
What came first, the stress chicken or the stress egg? (no pun intended!)
Enter meditation and mindfulness! Study after study supports the use of meditation as a stress-reducer. Reduced stress is incredibly beneficial for fertility. Not only do your body and mind feel better, they can potentially also work better to help you get and stay pregnant.
For example, one 2021 randomized controlled trial found that a meditation and mindfulness program reduced stress in women who have had multiple miscarriages. Mindfulness interventions are also effective for improving both the mental health and relationships of women diagnosed with infertility, as well as specifically for those undergoing in vitro fertilization treatments.
Pregnancy and Meditation: Pro-Sleep and Anti-Anxiety Benefits on Your Way to Motherhood
It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed in pregnancy, with all of the things to learn, plans to make, baby gear to gather. Most modern mamas have a to-do list a mile long… not to mention dealing with the intense inner transformation and physical experience of growing a new human.
A systematic review and meta-analysis (an analysis of many scientific studies) in 2017 found that mindfulness-based interventions in pregnancy have many broad benefits, including lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Meditation is also deeply regulating for sleep—something that can be elusive during pregnancy and the early postpartum period!
And in terms of preparing for birth and the actual experience of labor, meditation can help you there, too. Women who participated in a mindfulness-based childbirth education program tailored to decrease fear and pain showed higher levels of self-efficacy and mindful body awareness.
Practicing mindfulness in pregnancy has benefits for babies, as well. Keeping stress levels low creates a more optimal environment for babies while they’re in the womb. A 2011 randomized controlled trial found that mothers who participated in a mindfulness and meditation program were less likely to have a preterm infant than those who did not practice mindfulness and meditation.
Some research also shows that people who practiced mindfulness during pregnancy had reduced anxiety overall. Even better? That reduction in anxiety also affected their infants in a positive way…up to ten months after birth! Are you pregnant and wanting to dig deeper into the benefits of meditation? Read More Here
Motherhood and Meditation: The Proof in Mindfulness
Once again, reduced stress is one of the biggest effects of mindfulness and meditation. We don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but we can’t emphasize it enough—taking some time to sit with yourself and meditate can really help you deal with the stress of adjusting to your new identity and new role as a parent.
Your baby’s early infancy is often an intense experience for your body, mind, and emotions. According to one 2019 trial, practicing mindfulness regularly can ease your transition to motherhood and possibly even lower your risk of postpartum depression, especially if you started the practice during pregnancy. Meditation and mindfulness are proven ways to improve your mental health as a new mama.
But the benefits of meditation go well beyond the fourth trimester—a 2018 study found that mindfulness was also incredibly effective at reducing general and parenting-related stress for parents of preschoolers.
For parents, mindfulness can be a powerful tool to deal with all of the ups and downs of raising small humans, from crawling and first solid foods right on through toddlerhood and the school years. No matter what stage of parenting you’re in, your meditation practice can be a touchstone to return to again and again.
Meditation As Parenting Tool
Becoming a parent is a huge life transition, one that is often more difficult than people anticipate. When you start a meditation practice before conception, during pregnancy, or in early parenthood, you set yourself up with a powerful tool you can call on for all of the challenges that come your way as a new parent. No matter what your individual parenting journey looks like, meditation is a way you can feel calmer and more connected—not only to your future babies, but to yourself.