If you’ve just conceived it’s usually a happy time but may be tinged with feeling anxious about the development of your baby, especially if you’ve taken a while to get here or if you’ve suffered a previous pregnancy loss. Typically the stress and worry builds up before each scan and then a feeling of relief floods through you at the scan; but often this relief is short lived. What you can do to take back control, is to to take steps to change the storyline in your head. You may have noticed that the negative story we tell ourselves seem to stick whether it’s based on anything real or not.
In reality you don’t know the outcome and it’s useless to second guess but the truth is that at this very moment you are pregnant. Developing a trust in your body (which can sometimes be difficult) that it knows what to do and that the hormones are effortlessly doing just what they should to support the growth of your baby. I can hear you saying “that’s all very well but how exactly do I do that”?
How does keeping calm help your baby?
There are plenty of good reasons to support your emotional health during pregnancy and most importantly it’s been shown to be beneficial for the bub. Short term stress is fine and normal and will be helpful for the the baby to be resilient. The problem is ongoing stress during pregnancy – if you’re rushing around, feeling overwhelmed and constantly worrying, or experiencing low or anxious moods then this needs attention.
The stress hormones that course through your blood also cross the placenta and this heightened state of stress can cause change in the baby’s own response to stressors. Worry, anxiety and depression in pregnancy are all risk factors for adverse outcomes including pre-term delivery, lower birth weight, poorer infant development and behavioural and emotional problems in childhood (1). It can have direct effects on early brain development leading to a delay in cognitive function and dysfunctional response to stress (2).
What can I do to help me stay calm?
This is not said to alarm you but to assure you that you can take more control. The benefits of meditation are now so well recognised for our health and wellbeing showing a positive impact on reducing stress and depression, improving our immune system, better sleep, heart health; in fact it supports a better functioning all round. Pregnancy is a natural time of higher stress on the body and it makes sense to support yourself with a regular practice. Not only good in the first trimester but meditation is also a great preparation for labour and improved mood during the pregnancy and less risk of postpartum depression. Allowing some quiet time also gives space for you to connect with your baby as well as feeling more energised and able to cope with everyday challenges.
You may not be able to change the stressful events in your life but you can change your emotional response to them and the effect they have on your own and your baby’s health. Put aside some time for yourself each day to release tension and relax your body and you’ll both be glad you did.
To help women connect with and trust the process of the pregnancy happening within their body Be Fertile have created guided relaxations especially for this often tricky and worrisome first trimester. These mindfulness meditations guide you with words which is often easier than meditating in silence when you have a busy mind. The very act of a daily relaxation activity gives a cumulative benefit – it helps your peace of mind and it helps your baby too.