7 Important Meditation Benefits During Pregnancy: Reducing Anxiety
It appears that the benefits of meditation—biological and emotional—pass to a child in the womb through the pregnant woman's bloodstream.
A study by the Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation in India found that a daily yoga and meditation practice during pregnancy seems to improve birth weight, reduce premature births, and lessen overall medical complications for newborns.
Here's an overview of what women transmit to their unborn children through meditation.
Reduced Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety suppresses the body's health functioning, especially in terms of the immune system. Anxiety and stress are common accompaniments to pregnancy, with definite side effects. Anxiety during pregnancy may:
- Lead to low birth weight;
- Increase the complications of labor;
- Increase the risk for miscarriage,
- Increase the risk of birth defects;
- Lead to premature delivery;
- Increase use of prescription medications;
- Make pain worse during labor; and
- Stress family members.
Meditation is a safe way to reduce anxiety and restore the normal functioning of the immune system during pregnancy and childbirth.
Anxiety also reduces pain tolerance. Meditation not only increases pain tolerance by reducing stress hormones (like cortisol), it also helps the body produce endorphins, which go beyond relieving pain to enhancing pleasure.
Endorphins have a powerful pain-relieving and pleasure-enhancing effect. As pain increases during labor, endorphins also increase to help mediate the pain. The more a woman meditates during pregnancy the higher her endorphin level will be during delivery.
DHEA is a hormone with many life-enhancing benefits. DHEA:
- Enhances the immune system;
- Defends against certain diseases;
- Enhances vitality and youthfulness;
- Reduces stress and anxiety;
- Improves mood;
- Balances brain chemistry;
- Benefits vision, hearing, muscles, and bones; and
- Regulates blood pressure.
Since meditation elevates levels of DHEA in the body, a pregnant woman who meditates presents her womb child with all the vital benefits of this hormone.
Melatonin is well known to boost the immune system and overall health. It has a calming effect, improving mood and enhancing contentment and a sense of well-being. Research at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center confirmed that meditation heightens levels of melatonin. This means mother and womb baby grow calmer and happier through meditation.
Better Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
Meditation reduces heart rate and blood pressure, in turn lowering the risk of pre-clampsia and pre-term damage to the brain.
Less Caesarian Section and Epidural Anesthesia
Meditation can reduce the need for surgery, drugs, and anesthesia during delivery. Research shows that among pregnant meditators the rate of caesarean section surgery went down by 56 percent and the use of epidural anesthesia went down by 85 percent.
Enhanced Connection between Mother and Child
Certain types of meditation can help women feel more connected to their babies while they are in the womb. When a woman's mind becomes calmer and more focused, she can concentrate on her womb baby, helping her bond with the baby. A woman who provides services to pregnant women finds that women feel calmer after meditation and enjoy doing it. One woman told her that her baby moves gently "as if responding to mom's intention."
Most women who are pregnant are eager to do whatever they can to make sure their child gets the best possible start at life. Meditation is one potent way to optimize both the mother's and the womb baby's health and strengthen the bond between mother and child. The effects of meditation on pregnancy can have long lasting effects, not only on mother and child, but also on everyone in the family.
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