If you've ever tried instilling a daily mindfulness practice before then you know: carving out time to be still and quiet is no easy feat. And now, add a newborn into that scenario. But Expectful Co-Founder & CEO Nathalie Walton says that's exactly when you should be leaning on meditation.
In fact, the benefits of meditation have been long documented in combating workplace stress, increasing focus and cultivating creativity, but it's little talked about in regards to navigating one of the most stressful and important phases of a woman's life: becoming a mother.
That's what Walton set out to change. Walton turned to meditation in her own pregnancy when she was diagnosed as high-risk for preterm labor and needed to manage her stress to make it to her due date. The experience led her to create Expectful, a meditation platform that caters exclusively to women during the most transformative time in their life with guides for each stage of motherhood: fertility, pregnancy and parenthood.
Whether you're navigating the stress of IVF, transitioning into the role of mother for your first time, or balancing a household of toddlers, here are five ways cultivating mindfulness can benefit you both physically and mentally. And trust when we say there are many more.
Mindfulness can balanced your hormones.
"Hormonal imbalance can affect every part of motherhood," explains Walton. "But first and foremost it affects fertility because of the chemical signaling in the body that causes ovulation. Meditation influences hormone centers that can promote hormone balance, which may help you to conceive."
Meditation is scientifically-proven to reduce daily stress and anxiety.
"None of us can predict or control all the factors that can lead to increased stress, especially when trying to conceive, during pregnancy, and as a new mother," says Walton. "Studies have shown that stress is linked to reduced fertility for men and women, in one study of patients undergoing IVF, it was found that anxiety and depression negatively affected outcomes. Meditation has been shown, across many studies, to be a stress-reducer during these phases of motherhood. So, decreasing stress could give you a better shot at family building and having a happy, healthier pregnancy."1
Pregnant? Mindfulness may help with pain tolerance during labor.
"Using mindfulness as a part of your pain management plan can help you have a more comfortable pregnancy and an easier delivery and recovery, no matter what your birth plan looks like."
It's associated with a lower risk of preterm birth.
"A study that explored preterm birth found that women who participated in the study’s mindfulness training program were 50 percent less likely to give birth early, improving health outcomes for babies," says Walton. "The fact that meditation has little to no risk (is being too mindful ever a bad thing?), scientific proof such as this makes practicing mindfulness all the more encouraging."
Breastfeeding? Mindfulness can help increase milk production.
"Breastfeeding has long been considered beneficial for both mothers and infants. However, stress is known to inhibit oxytocin, a key hormone in milk production and physical tension can make nursing more painful, especially in the early weeks when you are still perfecting your latch," explains Walton. "In fact, 92 percent of new mothers report struggling with breastfeeding. Whether you are body feeding or pumping, listening to a meditation or a favorite podcast, can boost your feel-good oxytocin release and help your body relax for an easier feeding session and maximized milk production."
Ready to add meditation to your self-care routine? Our Perelel community can receive an exclusive 30% off their Expectful subscription with code PERELEL to get started.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.