Mindfulness to me means taking pause, having focus, being aware.
Mindfulness can result in reprioritizing, unlearning, reframing and redirecting.
Mindfulness means taking care of and protecting the emotional health and well being of yourself and your rapidly growing baby.
More and more research studies are now showing that babies in-utero have memories, remember, learn and are affected by the environment outside the mother’s womb.
Simply put, babies inside the womb are conscious, living, feeling beings long before they are born. They respond to the sound of their mother’s voice, her singing, talking, and touch and grow optimally when she is in a relaxed, calm state. Similarly, they respond when they sense increased anxiety and stress in the mother. For example, babies have been reported to have changes in their heart rate in utero when they sense stress in the mother. Maternal anxiety has also been associated with less than optimal outcomes during labor and birth, like lower birth weight and preterm birth. Based on animal studies, it has been found that increased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol in the amniotic fluid affects cognitive development.
So all in all, the emotional health of the mother has an impact on the neurobiological development of the baby inside the womb.
What does this mean for you and your baby?
Everyone has the occasional stressful moment or day even, when you feel everything is going wrong. Perhaps a difficult meeting with the boss, an argument with your partner or a standoff with the in-laws – stressful situations are often accompanied by an increase in your heart rate, a tightness in the chest and shoulders, jaws clenching and generally feeling crappy and agitated.
This is your body’s way of letting you know it’s feeling unsafe (whether that’s physically or emotionally) and wants to protect you. When we are faced with a threatening situation, our body kicks into a fight or flight (or freeze) mode. Our nervous system becomes dysregulated until the time it can feel regulated again.
For those of us that face chronic stressful situations, like when we just have a difficult boss or work situation or a dysfunctional family dynamic that we can’t do away with, we carry the stress everyday. A nervous system that is triggered daily remains in a heightened threat response state and takes a toll on our emotional wellbeing being.
While some situations like the ones I described may be out of your control, what IS in your control is how you respond to them and the tools you can learn to help regulate your nervous system into a more optimal state. Take a pause and reevaluate the situation and learn some coping strategies to get the endorphins aka the happy hormones flowing again.
In this blog post, I want to teach you three ways you can pause, become more aware and connect with your body and baby everyday. The goal of being mindful is to be curious and observe without judgment. This is less about doing, than it is about being. There is no right or wrong way to be mindful. It is simply encouraging your mind and body to notice how they feel.
- Learn to breathe deep and slow – Breathing is amazing. We do it every minute of every day and often forget that we do it. Mindfulness around our breathing is one of the simplest and easiest places to start. For a minute a day, be intentional about your breathing and notice how it feels when the breath enters and leaves the body. Notice where it goes and where you experience the breath. During the day, everytime you remember, pay attention to your breath and it will help you slow down.
- Ground yourself – pay attention to the physical sensations – Choose a comfortable position and sit in a chair, feet planted on the floor. Close your eyes and pay attention to your body. Notice how your feet feel as they are in contact with the floor. You can also ground in the moment that you are in without setting aside a special time.
- Connect with your baby – look down at your belly, rub the belly, visualize your little one tucked away safely in your womb. As you breathe, send your attention, your energy, focus downward to your baby. Be mindful and intentional about connecting with your baby at least everyday, if not multiple times a day. Think of when your baby is born – we would never imagine going through a day without interacting with the baby. The baby in the womb needs the same attention and connection from you as they will when they are outside.
Are you being mindful about this pregnancy? Mindful about what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, the story you are telling yourself about this pregnancy, this birth, this baby? Are you taking through the day to connect with this living, breathing, thriving baby inside of you that is developing and changing and growing every minute of every day.
If yes, good for you! If no, today is the day to start. Right now. Right after you finish reading this post. Stop for a moment with what you’re doing. Take a deep breath. Take a few more till your mind feels calmer, till your heart rate and breathing have steadied. Visualize this perfect little baby inside of you, connected to you. Rub your belly, send your energy and focus downward to your womb.
If you want to stay connected for more, here’s what you can do:
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