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Mindfulness for Pregnancy
For many labour presents an altogether terrifying proposition, particularly for those who may be facing it for the first time. However, this is pretty unsurprising given the sheer number of negative labour stories that are all around us, from the dramatic births in the movies and on the small screen through to the rare but repeated horror story experiences that come directly from our nearest and dearest.
When we consider all of this we may realise that actually as pregnant women we do ourselves little favour in listening, seeing and hearing about such negative images and portrayals of birth. And to this end here I present an alternative to the negative thoughts that may otherwise surround your impending labour. Known as mindfulness this growing practice offers positivity, mental training and meditation in equal measures and is quickly becoming seen as a calming aid throughout pregnancy and a way of relieving pain throughout labour. In this article I expand upon mindfulness for pregnancy.
Introduction to Mindfulness
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness may best be introduced by way of an analogy. Consider this: have you ever began eating a snack, took a bite and then all of a sudden realized that you have only an empty wrapper left? Or have you found yourself having set out on a journey, to find that between your starting point and destination that you've been on autodrive? This relative absence or rather automation of the mind makes for the basic concept of mindfulness. In the most basic terms mindfulness is a recognition that in our everyday lives we are all too often lacking in presence; to this end our lives are said to be passing us by, and through the practising of mindfulness we can appreciate all that is around us, whilst also being in tune with our bodies and eradicating ourselves from the poison that is self criticism.
A key focus upon positivity
One key focus of mindfulness is understanding that we generally don’t appreciate all of the positive things that are around us in our lives, but it is thought that in our way of being positive is all of our past negative experiences. These are served up to us automatically, as our brains primal instinct kicks in to anticipate future events. Whilst this was a useful cognitive function in the days of the first humans, today is is pretty much always unhelpful.
Mindfulness serves as a tool for overcoming this. It offers techniques for gaining clarity upon our lives and our futures, and it helps us to respond to the pressures in life differently, more constructively and with a calmer approach.
The A to C of Mindfulness
A - Awareness - Being aware of what you are thinking and doing, rather than operating on auto mode.
B - Just Being - Just being represents the importance of responding to issues with our own new story, rather than responding on autopilot with our past negative experiences.
C - Seeing and responding more wisely - Mindfulness allows us to see situations and respond more wisely to them by allowing us to create a distinction between our current situation which requires a reaction and past experiences, allowing us to choose a road ahead that is wiser.
Do you consider practices such as yoga and mindfulness to present a viable option for stress relief?
Mindful Prenatal Meditation
Getting started with mindfulness for pregnancy
You may think that the proposed benefits of mindfulness may be difficult to achieve and that they require months of meditation and complex routines, however working mindfulness into your day to day routine is most likely far easier than you imagine. The following five steps serve as basic getting started tips to work mindfulness into your daily structure.
A Mindfulness Routine: Step by Step Guide
1. Find a quiet area
Find a quiet corner, free from distractions and outside noises, for at least ten minutes mindfulness meditation each day.
2. Train your thoughts
When practising mindfulness the aim is to allow thoughts to become lucid and free flowing. Therefore the only thing to focus upon is not concentrating or holding onto any one thing. Allow your worries to enter your mind and then leave and throughout the process recognize that thoughts are constructed by you, as are worries and anxieties.
3. Repeat, repeat, repeat
This point relates to how you react to everyday stresses; whenever you feel yourself faced with a situation that creates worry, concern or anxiety be sure to turn the situation around and repeat to yourself a positive affirmation of the situation. So if you feel that you have too much too do, repeat to yourself that there is plenty of time to achieve all that is important.
I must admit that the more I look into mindfulness and other alternative pain relief options, such as hypnobirthing, the more I am convinced of their validity. However I know that there likely remains the majority who are dead set sceptics. Let me know which side of the fence you find yourself on through the comments section below.