Pregnancy is a blessing. For a brief period of time your body is home to not only one, but two souls, two consciousnesses – a beautiful, mind-boggling idea to wrap your head around. While I wholeheartedly agree how truly amazing pregnancy is, it sure can feel like the opposite when you are dealing with the physical and emotional challenges of the first trimester, which for some can carry on throughout the entire pregnancy. But keeping a regular meditation practice can greatly help ease these difficulties and lead to a healthier pregnancy.
The first trimester of pregnancy is tough, and for some women, including myself, it is debilitating. Through both of my pregnancies, I found myself extremely nauseous from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning until I was finally able to fall asleep at night, with the worst of the so-called ‘morning sickness’ hitting me at night. For my second pregnancy, I found myself being sick almost every night for four months.
Many women also experience an extremely heightened sense of smell, or clairscent. This may sound like a cool superpower, but when every single smell, from soap to your neighbour’s cooking has you feeling sick or running to hug the porcelain bowl, it’s more like kryptonite.
Then we have fatigue. The very real, very life-zapping exhaustion that makes you feel like a walking zombie. And the piece de resistance: headaches. I woke up with a terrible headache most days for the majority of my first trimester. When you add this to all the other symptoms, the first trimester can have you feeling like you have the world’s worst and longest hangover.
As tough as the physical symptoms were on my body, I felt the greatest challenge was how they played on me mentally. I found it really hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and spent weeks feeling depressed. Some days I felt like the symptoms would never end, and my greatest worry was that I would feel this sick for the entire nine months (and to the women out there who have experienced this, you have my deepest respect).
Although it is difficult to keep up with, or even start a daily meditation routine while feeling this way, the best advice I can give is to keep trying. Meditation during pregnancy can greatly reduce stress and anxiety, give a higher chance of going full term, boost immunity, and even create a happier baby. It is also an incredible way to connect with your unborn child as he or she grows in your womb.
In the first trimester, it can feel like meditation is an unattainable goal. Once the nausea really hit, I found it almost impossible to sit up straight and breathe deeply in my seated meditation pose, so I started doing it lying down, which really helped. I was able to breathe deeply and empty my mind, connecting with the oneness consciousness, giving me a break from feeling sick and providing me some much-needed clarity.
Find whatever position you feel is comfortable for you – use pillows to support your back and belly if you need to. The key is to focus on your breath and let the worries, stresses, anxieties and sick feelings dissolve, giving yourself that time, even if it is just 10 minutes, to just be.
Once the first trimester symptoms start to ease off, you can progress your prenatal meditation practice to sitting upright in a comfortable chair, again with the use of pillows if needed, so that your back is supported. Once you finally feel like you are coming good again, you can return to sitting with your back straight and unsupported if it feels comfortable for you.
Like everything else during pregnancy the key is to listen to your body. If it doesn’t feel good, don’t force it. Take a break and try again later. If sitting upright still doesn’t feel good in your second or third trimester, then meditate the entire pregnancy lying down. It doesn’t matter – so long as you allow yourself that time to just be, away from the thoughts, the ego, anxiety and worries that too often come hand-in-hand with pregnancy.
And remember that your body was designed to do this. It was made to create another life inside you, carry and nurture it until the time comes to birth it safely into the world. You’ve got this.
Here is a short guided meditation I put together that can help you to relax and connect with your unborn baby. I hope you enjoy it and that it helps to relieve any uncomfortable pregnancy-related symptoms you may be experiencing.