When I imagined myself as pregnant, I saw myself as a smiling, beatific woman cradling my belly while seated on a cushion. The reality has been… a little different. Most of the time, I’ve been a sleepy, achy, hungry gremlin who’s trying to make a million baby-related decisions while looking forward to my next nap. With this as my reality, it has become more important than ever for me to have a mindful pregnancy.
Having a mindful pregnancy might feel impossible when you’re in the thick of it. But I assure you, it’s not.
Even with all there is to do in order to make decisions, get ready for your baby, and take care of yourself, a mindful nine months is still possible.
Keep reading to learn my 7 best tips to have a mindful pregnancy.
7 Tips to Have a Mindful Pregnancy
Mindfulness is everywhere these days, so it’s no surprise that there have been studies on mindfulness and pregnancy. The research has overwhelmingly shown that practicing mindfulness while you’re pregnant offers powerful benefits. (1, 2, 3, 4)
The benefits of practicing mindfulness during pregnancy include:
- decreased stress and anxiety
- improved childbirth experiences
- enhanced mind-body awareness
- reduced shame and hostility
- greater self-efficacy during childbirth
So how do you create a mindful pregnancy with so much going on? The following tips are totally doable ways to bring mindfulness into each day of your pregnancy.
1. Make Mindfulness Part of Your Routine
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your awareness to the present moment and observing your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings without judgment.
There’s no one exercise or tip that’s going to make you a mindful person. Developing a mindful pregnancy and a mindful life comes from consistency through practice.
There are many different ways to practice mindfulness. So if the first one you try one doesn’t work for you, give another a try. Some common mindfulness activities include:
- mindful breathing
- loving-kindness meditation
- mindful walking
- body scanning
- mindful eating
- gratitude list
- mindful crafting or art creation
Start simple and schedule five minutes of mindfulness into your daily routine. You might listen to a loving-kindness or body scan recording after you wake up. Or you could take a mindful walk during your lunch break.
Whatever you choose, try to make time for it every day, and devote all of your attention to that activity. Take note of how you feel in your mind and body before, during, and after your mindfulness practice. You may notice some changes over time!
2. Practice Meditation and Breathwork
If you’re new to meditation, it can feel intimidating. The cultural image we have of meditating is a perfectly serene person sitting, hands in Anjali Mudra, with a completely clear mind.
While that picture can be a representation of meditation, it’s certainly not the only one.
Meditation helps you to reach a mentally clear, strong, and stable state through training your attention and awareness. There are many different techniques you can use to train yourself in this way.
One helpful technique is breathwork, which means consciously controlling your breathing. I find breathwork especially helpful when you’re seeking to have a mindful pregnancy. Breathwork prepares you for labor and birth when controlling your breath will help you move through contractions and pushing.
There is a multitude of breathwork practices out there. A few of my favorites are:
- diaphragmatic breathing (#7 in this post)
- 4-7-8 breathing (#4 in this post)
- box breathing
- alternate nostril breathing
3. Set Strong Boundaries
I’ve been in kind of a hermiting phase during pregnancy. I’ve felt the need to go inward and stay away from big big groups of people, so I’ve really tightened up my circle over the past few months.
Combine that with the way people tend to ignore social boundaries with pregnant women, and I’ve found that setting strong boundaries is essential for me.
This can look like declining invitations to protect my time with my family (and myself!) or telling someone that I don’t feel comfortable with them touching my belly.
This practice of setting boundaries requires me to really consider what I’m comfortable with. It has kept me from being pulled in a million different directions so I can have the mindful pregnancy I desire.
Setting boundaries isn’t the easiest task for me, a recovering people pleaser, so it’s something I’m working on with my therapist. I know that the work I put in now will pay off later after my baby is born and I need to protect their well-being, as well as my own. And I hope that it will help me to transition from a mindful pregnancy into mindful parenting!
4. Slow Down
It can feel like life is coming at you a million miles a minute when you’re pregnant. Not only do you have your everyday responsibilities to take care of, you also have the day-to-day realities of pregnancy to deal with and a baby to prepare for.
When we feel overwhelmed, it can be tempting to go into “achieve mode” and check everything we can off our to-do lists. But often this reaction comes at the expense of our well-being, and we end up feeling depleted and disconnected from ourselves.
Instead, I challenge you to slow down rather than power through your to-do list. Take time for yourself, mindfulness, and connecting with the important people in your life.
Pregnancy is a short-lived time when you can be getting to know yourself in a new way and preparing for some big life changes. I don’t want to look up one day and realize that this time has passed me by because I was too busy to notice and appreciate it.
I promise that there’s time to accomplish everything. You deserve the space to slow down, too.
5. Listen to Your Body
I’m a huge fan of the concept of embodiment – being connected to your body and listening to what it has to teach you.
During pregnancy, your body is doing all kinds of new and interesting things. I encourage you to approach these changes with curiosity.
Take time to check in with your body and notice any new sensations or experiences you’re having. Maybe those sensations will have some information or wisdom to share with you.
A body scan is a great way to check in with your body. You can find guided body scans – as well as other mindfulness practices! – on mindfulness apps and websites like mindfulness.com.
6. Gentle Movement
No matter what your exercise routine was before pregnancy, I recommend incorporating gentle, mindful movement regularly while you’re expecting.
When you engage in gentle movement like mindful walking or prenatal yoga, you give yourself the opportunity to notice both the present moment and yourself. As you’re transitioning from one yoga pose into another, you might observe tension in a part of your body that you hadn’t noticed before.
Now, you have the opportunity to give that part of your body a little extra attention and to explore where the tension is coming from. You’ve learned something new about your body and perhaps about your daily routine that you weren’t aware of before!
Plus, gentle movement has been shown to reduce nausea. So if you’re struggling with morning sickness, mindful movement has multiple benefits for you!
7. Practice Mindful Eating
There’s a huge focus on food during pregnancy, from how much you’re eating, to getting enough nutrients, to what you’re not supposed to be eating. This may make the act of eating during pregnancy really stressful. But the practice of mindful eating can bring a more neutral focus back to consuming food.
To practice mindful eating, remove distractions from your mealtime (keep the TV off and set aside your phone). Before you begin eating, take in the sight and smell of your food.
Take each bite slowly, savoring the tastes, textures, and temperature of your food. Notice if you have any physical or emotional reactions as you eat. Does this meal bring up any memories? How does your stomach feel as you swallow each bite?
While you don’t need to go this in-depth with mindful eating for every meal, paying attention this thoroughly to a meal every once in a while can be a beautiful experience that reframes your mindset around eating. You might take some elements of mindful eating into your everyday mealtimes, such as slowing down and removing distractions while you eat.
How are you seeking out a mindful pregnancy? Tell me in the comments!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of mindfulness in pregnancy?
The benefits of mindfulness in pregnancy include decreased stress and anxiety, improved childbirth experiences, and enhanced mind-body awareness.
How can I have a mindful pregnancy?
You can have a mindful pregnancy by making time for practicing mindfulness every day. Try to incorporate mindfulness exercises like meditation or breathwork, gentle movement, setting strong boundaries, and listening to your body.
During your pregnancy, try not to compare your experience to content you see on social media. Stay focused on your family and values from the first through the third trimester and into labor and childbirth. There’s so much information coming at you during pregnancy – not to mention others’ opinions! – and it can be easy to get lost in the weeds. What feels true for you and your baby, family, and body is what is most important.
What should I be mindful of in my first trimester?
During your first trimester, be mindful of how you’re feeling! There are no right or wrong emotions to experience. What’s important is recognizing what you’re feeling and processing it, whether that’s through therapy, talking with a loved one, journaling, or art.