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Why does meditation matter?

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Over the past decade, there have been hundreds of studies on the science of mindfulness and meditation, as well as the unwanted effects that stress and anxiety can have on all phases of the reproductive journey.
Read on to learn about the research on meditation during fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood, and why it’s so important for you and your loved ones

Fertility Science

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Enhanced Fertility

When practiced regularly, meditation has the potential to promote fertility by stimulating the release of pregnancy hormones from your brain and ovaries, which can be inhibited by stress (2,5). By regularly engaging in mindfulness practices, you can better prepare your body for conception.
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Balanced Hormones

Hormonal imbalance can affect important chemical signaling in the body and cause problems with ovulation (1). Meditation influences hormone centers that can promote hormone balance, which may help you to conceive (2).
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Reduced Stress

Studies have shown that stress is linked to reduced fertility in both males and females (3). In one study of 291 women undergoing IVF treatment, it was found that anxiety and depression also negatively affected fertility (4). Meditating regularly is known to benefit your psychological health and stress management skills, which benefits you and your loved ones (5).
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Stronger Relationships

Mindfulness practices can enhance emotional regulation, compassion, as well as self-kindness (5). These qualities can help maintain and strengthen relationships with your loved ones.
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Increased Compassion

Meditation has been associated with increased positivity towards others. This may be an effective tool for managing marital conflicts, anger, and stress (6).
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  1. Olooto, W.E., Amballi, A.A., & Banjo, T.A. (2012). A review of female infertility: Important etiological factors and management. Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology Research, 2(3), 379-385.
  2. Infante, J. R., Torres-Avisbal, M., Pinel, P., Vallejo, J. A., Peran, F., Gonzalez, F… & Latre, J.M. (2001). Catecholamine levels in practitioners of the transcendental meditation technique. Physiology & Behavior, 7, 141-146.
  3. Whirledge, S., & Cidlowski, J. A. (2010). Glucocorticoids, stress, and fertility. Minerva Endocrinologica, 35(2), 109-125.
  4. Smeenk, J.M.J.m Verhaak, C.M., Eugster, A., van Minnen, A., Zeilhuis, G.A., & Braat, D.D.M. (2001). The effect of anxiety and depression on the outcome of in-vitro fertilization. Human Reproduction, 16(7), 1420-1423.
  5. Marchand, W. R. (2012). Mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and Zen meditation for depression, anxiety, pain, and psychological distress. Journal of Psychiatric Practice, 18(4), 233-252.
  6. Hofmann, S. G., Grossman, P., & Hinton, D. E. (2011). Loving-kindness and compassion meditation: Potential for psychological interventions. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(7), 1126-1132.

Pregnancy Science

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Reduced Stress & Anxiety

None of us can predict or control all the factors that can lead to increased stress, especially during pregnancy. But practicing regular meditation and mindfulness during pregnancy can significantly reduce stress (1) and anxiety levels (2). Through meditation you can learn to maintain an inner calm regardless of your external circumstances.
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Increased Connection

Meditation increases your ability to recognize emotions in others and to practice compassion (7). These skills can help cultivate a stronger relationship with your partner and make you feel more connected to your baby.
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Improved Child Outcome

Mindfulness training during pregnancy has been associated with more optimal infant outcomes, including fewer problems with self-regulation and negative affectivity (3). It has also been related to better sound processing among babies (4).
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Reduced Pain During Labor

A study of a group of people who attended a four-day mindfulness meditation training found that they were able to decrease the intensity of painful stimulus by 40 percent (5). Researchers have also discovered that meditators have significantly lower pain sensitivity (6). Pain reduction can help you have an easier pregnancy, delivery, and recovery, no matter what your birth plan looks like.
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Healthy Pregnancy

A study that explored preterm birth found that women that participated in a mindfulness training program were 50% less likely to give birth early than women with no mindfulness education (1).
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Enhanced Immunity

Meditation enhances the body’s immune function (8).
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  1. Sriboonpimsuay W., Promthet S., Thinkhamrop J., & Krisanaprakornkit, T. (2011). Meditation for preterm birth prevention: A randomized controlled trial in Udonthani, Thailand.. International Journal of Public Health Research, 1(1), 31-39.
  2. Vieten C, Astin J. (2008). Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention during pregnancy on prenatal stress and mood: Results of a pilot study. Archive of Women’s Mental Health, 11, 67-74.
  3. Van den Heuvel M.I., Johannes, M.A., Henrichs, J., & Van den Bergh, B.R.H. (2015). Maternal mindfulness during pregnancy and infant socio-emotional development and temperament: The mediating role of maternal anxiety. Early Human Development, 91(2), 103-108​.
  4. Van den Heuvel, M.I., Donkers, F.C.L., Wilkler, I., Otte, R.A., & Van den Bergh, B.R.H. (2015). Maternal mindfulness and anxiety during pregnancy affect infants’ neural responses to sounds. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 10, 453-460.
  5. Zeidan, F., Martucci, K.T., Kraft, R.A., Gordon, N.S., McHaffie, J.G., & Coghill, R.C. (2011). Brain mechanisms supporting modulation of pain by mindfulness meditation. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(14), 5540-5548.
  6. Grant, J., Courtemanche, J., Duerden, E.G., Duncan, G.H., & Rainville, P. (2010). Cortical thickness and pain sensitivity in zen meditators. Emotion, 10(1), 43–53.
  7. Kemeny, M.E., Foltz, C., Cavanagh, J.F., Cullen, M., Giese-Davis, J., Jennings, P., … Ekman, P. (2012). Contemplative/Emotion training reduces negative emotional behavior and promotes prosocial responses. Emotion, 12(2), 338-350.
  8. Davidson, R.J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S.F., … Sheridan, J.F. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 564–570.

Motherhood Science

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Higher Quality Sleep

Studies have shown that individuals who practice meditation experience higher quality sleep than non-meditators (1).
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Reduced Risk of Postpartum Depression

At least 1 in 10 women experience postpartum depression, although the prevalence may actually be much higher (7). Mindfulness practices have been associated with reduced depression during and following pregnancy (8), which may improve psychological health (2).
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Enhanced Emotional Regulation

Mindfulness practices are associated with increased emotional regulation, which increases your ability to act in accordance with your core values rather than transient emotions (3) This may allow you to control, rather than be controlled by, unpleasant situations.
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Increased Lactogenesis

Breastfeeding has long been considered beneficial for both mothers and infants (4) However, stress is known to reduce milk production (5). Engaging in a regular meditation practice may help maximize your ability to nurse your child naturally by reducing your stress.
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Tolerance for Uncertainty

Learning to navigate parenthood can create feelings of uncertainty. Mindfulness practice has been associated with less fear of the unknown, which may allow you to better cope with the stresses of parenting (6).
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  1. Nagendra, R. P., Maruthai, N., & Kutty, B. M. (2012). Meditation and its regulatory role on sleep. Frontiers in Neurology, 3(54), 1-4.
  2. Halbreich, U., & Karkun, S. (2006). Cross-cultural and social diversity of prevalence of postpartum depression and depressive symptoms. Journal of Affective Disorders, 91, 97-111.
  3. Dimidjian, S., Goodman, S.H., Felder, J.N., Gallop, R., Brown, A.P., & Beck, A. (2015). An open trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for the prevention of perinatal depressive relapse/recurrence. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 18(1), 85-94.
  4. Vieten C, Astin J. (2008). Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention during pregnancy on prenatal stress and mood: Results of a pilot study. Archive of Women’s Mental Health, 11, 67-74.
  5. Marchand, W. R. (2012). Mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and Zen meditation for depression, anxiety, pain, and psychological distress. Journal of Psychiatric Practice, 18(4), 233-252.
  6. Keith, D. R., Weaver, B. S., & Vogel, R. L. (2012). The effect of music-based listening interventions on the volume, fat content, and caloric content of breast milk–produced by mothers of premature and critically ill infants. Advances in Neonatal Care, 12(2), 112-119.
  7. Dewey, K. G. (2001). Maternal and fetal stress are associated with impaired lactogenesis in humans. The Journal of Nutrition, 131(11), 3012S-3015S.
  8. Kraemer, K.M., O’Bryan, E.M., & McLeish, A.C. (2016). Intolerance of uncertainty as a mediator of the relationship between mindfulness and health anxiety. Mindfulness, 7(4), 859-865.
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