We bet you’ve been to a yoga or spinning class before and heard those motivational phrases like “mind over body” or “your body does what your mind wants.” Well, guess what? Now, during your pregnancy, those phrases will take on a whole new meaning, especially when it’s time for the big moment of giving birth. Relaxing and taking care of yourself is key to protecting both you and your little one from stressful situations.
Don’t worry if you feel like a beginner at first – we all start that way! The important thing is to practice, practice, and practice, because practice makes perfect. If you want to benefit from mindfulness during childbirth, dedicate a few minutes each day to learn how to reach a state of physical and mental relaxation. A study from the University of San Jose (2008) found that expectant moms who practiced mind-body connection techniques experienced less stress and anxiety during pregnancy, had shorter labors, and their babies weighed more compared to the control group.
Here is a body scanning exercise you can try! It sounds complicated, but it’s simple and comes with great benefits. It’s all about directing your attention to every part of your body, literally every nook and cranny! The most important thing is not to judge or criticize your body or any sensations you feel. Just observe and release any stress, tension, or discomfort that may have built up.
You can find some videos in our catalog that will guide you step-by-step through this body scanning exercise. But if you prefer to simply adapt the technique to your schedule, The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program suggests some simple steps you can do anywhere and anytime:
- Lie down on a comfortable surface with your legs extended, or if you’re further along in your pregnancy, sit comfortably. Do whatever feels best for you! Grab a blanket if it’s chilly, because we want you to be cozy during the scan.
- Start with your toes on your left foot (or right, you decide). Do they feel cold? Tense? Observe and breathe. Then, move up your body, paying attention to each part, from your ankles to your head.
- Once you’ve scanned each part separately, bring it all together, feel how your fingers connect to your hands, your hands to your arms, and so on! Be aware of your sensations, the feeling of the blanket on you, or the touch of the air on your skin.
The more you practice, the easier it will be to focus on your body. It’s normal if your mind wanders, so don’t worry, simply refocus on your breathing. Have fun exploring every nook and cranny of your body! This exercise will help you face childbirth with more calm and confidence. You’ve got this, mama!