The more I practice the more convinced I am about the power of meditation and pranayama (breathwork) during any stage of life, but especially pregnancy. As my energy levels increase, I feel a renewed energy and desire to get back on my cushion. I allowed my body rest as much as possible for most of the first trimester, and that's pretty much all my body let me do. However, with my renewed energy I am once again experiencing the benefits of practice. Not only does it help calm the mind, but it clears the channels in my body and moves the stuck energies out. This is HUGE during pregnancy. With the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy I have noticed that my temper is a bit quicker and sharper than normal. I am also noticing many of the irrational and annoying ramblings of the mind such as "is the baby okay" things that are fine to think about, but when I let them get the best of me or cause anxiety, I know it's not productive. While I can’t always catch myself in the moment before lashing out at my husband (as much as I want to), I find that taking time to get on my cushion makes my overall demeanor and experience less volatile, and my mind less agitated. Whatever tradition you practice, I think this is a great time to begin deepening your connection.
I have also recently noticed that I am finding myself breathing more often, but maybe not as deeply as I would normally (pre-pregnancy). There are several scientific reasons for this including a shift in hormones, and increasingly cramped organs (including LUNGS) to make room for an enlarging uterus. My husband the other day actually commented about my less "full and deep" breathing, and my increased irritability. It may be coincidence, but as I am consciously engaging in deeper breathing and prana practices, I am feeling more embodied and less anxious about inconsequential annoyances. I know deeper breathing moves me more into my parasympathetic nervous system, but it has been really interesting to experience this more viscerally during my pregnancy.
I personally feel that taking this time for internal connection is one of the best ways we can prepare for the birthing experience. My personal spiritual practice (Tibetan Buddhism), was by far the best childbirth prep I could have had before my last birth. I tried taking a childbirth class before the birth, and found that it paled in comparison to what I was already practicing with pranayama and meditation.
If you are interested in learning, developing and incorporating some breathing practices in your life I love the following resources:
1) Dr. Claudia Welch and her Prana CD (found here)
2) Genevieve Yellin and her Guided meditations (found here). Gen leads more guided sessions, especially designed for those who need the guidance when addressing anxiety imbalances.
As always we would love to hear from you!
With Love, Kerry