13 Jul Prenatal Programming through Mindfulness Meditation
Maternal health or prenatal care is essential for the healthy growth of the infant. Doctors are prescribing dietary supplements like folic acid, multivitamin, iron, and calcium for the benefit of maternal and infant physiological health. However, less care is taken for the maternal mental health.
Many research studies have proven that maternal mental health directly affects the health of the fetus. Clinical studies link pregnant women’s exposure to a range of traumatic, as well as chronic and everyday life stress, to significant alterations in children’s neuro development, including increased risk for autism, affective disorders, and reduced cognitive ability.
Mindfulness Meditation is proven to be an excellent adjunctive treatment for the maternal and the fetal mental health. Dr. Ka Po Chan from the Kowloon Central/Kowloon East Hospital, Hong Kong, examined the effects of prenatal meditation in pregnant Chinese women in Hong Kong to infant behaviors. He found that the prenatal meditation has positive effect on newborn health and infant temperament. In another study, 27 pregnant women participated in the Mindfulness-based Childbirth and Parenting Education Program. This study concluded that there is a statistically significant decrease in pregnancy anxiety, depression.
Many research evidence showed that mind and body influences each other. Recent researchers are trying to prove that the mind can completely control the physiology of the body. Mindfulness meditation stabilize the hormonal level of the mother, which directly influence the growth of the fetus.
It is better to start practicing the mindfulness at the preconception stage by both the partners. Mindfulness helps the body to produce healthy egg and sperms, which lays the strong foundation of the healthy baby.
It is a simple technique which can be practiced every day. Follow the below simple steps throughout your day to reduce your stress, anxiety, depression and other issues. Regular practice will help to reprogram your child’s physical and mental health for a positive well-being.
STEP 1: Morning Meditation
- When you wake up in the morning, sit in a comfortable posture and close your eyes.
- Make sure you are not disturbed for 5- 10 minutes.
- Take a few deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose, breathe out through your nose.
- Scan your body starting from head to toe. Check whether you have any physical discomfort in your body. Physical discomfort can happen due to improper body positioning during sleep or lack of sleep.
- Once you identified the physical discomfort, just by closing your eyes, do some stretching exercise. If you still have the physical discomfort, just be aware of the pain for few seconds. Then take a deep breath.
- Now gently bring your focus to your baby. Mindfully talk to the child to take up the necessary nutrients from your body to have a healthy body and mind. Ask the baby to relax and assure that you will be there always to take care.
- Now bring your focus to the breathing. Thoughts might come and go, do not worry that is the nature of the mind.
- Now take few deep breaths. Just experience this moment for a few seconds. Then, slowly open your eyes.
STEP 2: Mindful Eating
- It is advisable to eat after 15 – 30 minutes after you wake up. Fruits will be ideal to eat soon after you wake up.
- Gently take the fruit in your hand. For few seconds, mindfully look at the color, texture and the nature of the fruit.
- Then repeat the affirmations in your mind. “Let this fruit provide the necessary nutrition to me and my baby.”
- Now mindfully slowly eat the fruit. Take at least 10 minutes to eat mindfully. You shall practice this technique while having your meals.
STEP 3: Mindful Walking
- If you are a working women, it is necessary to take small breaks during your working hours. Just go for a mindful walking.
- It is better to do the walking in the barefoot. If you are living in a too hot or cold region, wear a comfortable footwear.
- Begin by standing still and becoming aware of your body and how it feels.
- Notice your posture, feel the weight of your body pressing down toward the ground, and your heels pushing into your shoes; become aware of all the subtle movements that are keeping you balanced and upright.
- Now slowly start walking. With each step be aware of your body, how it feels non-judgmentally. It is the nature of the mind to wander, whenever you notice that your mind has wandered, gently bring your attention to the walking.
- Continue this mindful walking anywhere between 10-20 minutes everyday morning and evening.
STEP 4: Evening Meditation/ Sleep Meditation.
- You can do this meditation in the evening or before you go to sleep. This technique will help you to sleep well.
- You can comfortably sit on a convenient posture, or you can lie down.
- Gently close your eyes.
- Now effortlessly, bring your awareness to your breathing. Can you feel your breath coming in and going out? Just relax and breathe however is natural to you. Concentrate on your chest or abdomen rising and falling – can you feel it? Your mind will probably wander at some point, and thoughts will arise. Each time it does, don’t worry about it. Acknowledge the thoughts you have, then gently bring your focus back to your breathing.
- Now gently shift your focus to your physical sensations and discomfort. It is natural to have discomfort during pregnancy. Just be aware and pay attention to your body. Once you have identified the parts, bring your attention to those specific parts and take a deep breath and say to yourself to relax.
- Now gently shift your focus to your baby. Place both your hand on your stomach and feel your baby for few seconds. Now, ask your baby to go to sleep. If possible sing a lullaby. Tell the baby to sleep for 8-10 hours. Then, slowly count from 10 to 1.
Mother who have trained their child during pregnancy to sleep for 8 – 10 hours have slept for longer hours in the night after birth. Talking to the child mindfully during pregnancy greatly help to reprogram the infant’s body and mind for their well-being.
1. Ka Po Chan. Prenatal meditation influences infant behaviors. The Buddhist Institute of Enlightenment (Hk) Ltd., 270 Sha Tsui Road 2/F, Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong. Received 10 January 2014, Revised 4 May 2014, Accepted 14 June 2014, Available online 24 July 2014.
2. Duncan, L. G. & Bardacke, N. (2009) “Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting Education: Promoting family mindfulness during the perinatal period” in Journal of Child and Family Studies.