Stress is a normal response to major life changes and women experience this tenfold during pregnancy. Similarly, as a new mum, you are often overloaded with stress. There are so many new elements entering your life and with the birth of your baby, a new mother is also born. The transition that occurs from being a woman to both a ‘woman and a mum’ needs time and attention. It is important to be mindful of the changes and accept this new identity.
Although you have learnt a great deal in life so far, chances are that you haven’t been taught how to raise a baby, how to recognise what your bub wants when they cry or to know what action is best to take in all the situations you will be thrown into. The result is raised levels of stress and anxiety. Mindfulness and meditation can support you during these times.
The word mindfulness is actually counterintuitive as it implies you’re using your mind, however it means that you are using your senses to quieten your mind (if only for a brief moment). Observe, feel, smell, touch, discover and explore the moment with your senses instead of your mind. Allow yourself to be fully immersed in the present moment; this will help you to connect, and connection is very valuable for a meaningful life and also for your health. If you wish to live more mindfully, meditation is a practice that can help you achieve it.
Meditation is a practice to become more mindful. There are different forms of meditation, the most common one is mindfulness meditation, which is a focus on the breath, an object, a mantra, or something else. By focussing on one thing, and letting go of your thoughts, you become more present. As humans, we spend about half of our time reminiscing about the past or thinking about the future which doesn’t allow us to “be” in the present moment. When you are present you can better connect with others, with your baby or child and better hear and feel what another person is going through, resulting in stronger connections. It is proven that stronger connections and compassion for others improves our health and even lengthening our life expectancy.
Releasing stress is a big priority for all mums to be, as those who experience high levels of stress or anxiety during pregnancy are more likely to deliver their babies at preterm or low birth weights. This is why forming a meditation practice really helps as you are training your brain to let go of thoughts and the chattering of your mind – bringing you into the present moment. Taking this time during pregnancy emphasises the strong bond you and your baby share, welcoming him or her into your life with each phase.
Meditation can also offer an array of benefits. Have you ever suffered from poor sleep? Well, melatonin is released during meditation and is one of the key ingredients making for a great night’s sleep. Meaning with every minute you meditate, you release melatonin into your system helping to create a calmer, deeper sleep.
Science has shown us that GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is better known as the chemical that makes you feel calm. Studies have proven that after a mere 60 accumulative minutes of meditating GABA levels increase by 27% – resulting in less anxiety and racing thoughts. Meditation also releases endorphins, a natural high that elevates feelings of happiness and when you are calmer, you are offering a better ‘home’ to your baby.
In today’s society, IQ is no longer the most desirable form of intelligence, emotional intelligence is far more useful in both our careers and personal lives. People with high emotional intelligence demonstrate more empathy, altruism, self-awareness and adaptability. Meditation has been shown to increase emotional intelligence and these qualities through the process of neuroplasticity – rewiring your brain over time. As a (new) mum, this will support you to connect to yourself and to your child.
One myth of meditation is that it needs to be done whilst seated and for a prolonged period of time – this is untrue. You can be mindful with everything you do in your life. For example, when doing your laundry, do it with your full attention, don’t think about anything else, be fully present when you fold that sweater into shape or while cutting the food for dinner, don’t take that phone call or watch a show in the background, rather focus on how the vegetable feels in your hand, the sound as you chop, the resistance of the knife, what smell is released etc. You can start integrating mindfulness into your day by these small measures and it doesn’t need to be hugely time-consuming either. Enable yourself to release stress through your regular tasks and see what benefit you feel.
An app that has been specifically created to help you integrate this healthy habit into your day, is Silatha. Its award-winning formula links your chosen intention to a tangible object which becomes your anchor during the day. Holding it will remind you of the intention you set for yourself and the calm that you’ve felt. The beginner meditations are short so that you can easily fit them into your day – giving you the peace and balance you desire.
Disclaimer: Cake does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.