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Does meditation help labor contractions?

by Andy Puddicombe

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Question:

Is there any evidence where meditation helps during labor to cope with contractions during delivery?

Andy’s answer:

Not to the best of my knowledge, but I would suggest we get our science team to investigate a little further for you. In the meantime, I’d be happy to share a few anecdotal reports we’ve had here at Headspace. Over the years I’ve seen individuals who have successfully applied meditation to all stages of pregnancy – some even incorporating it into their birth plan.

There are so many advantages of practicing meditation when you are pregnant. Not only does it benefit your health, but by creating a happy and calm environment for the unborn child, it creates the best possible conditions for a healthy baby.

There are numerous papers that have been published on the benefits of mindfulness when it comes to pain management. Whether it’s during meditation or in everyday life, mindfulness allows us to create a bit of space between ourselves and the pain. The result is a shift in perspective where we paradoxically witness the pain more clearly and yet the experience is altogether less painful. Many expectant mothers I’ve spoken to have said they have been able to apply this very same idea to contractions.

Indeed, some of them have practiced mindfulness all the way through labor and the delivery itself. Some have done it as part of a strategy in the search for alternatives to an epidural, whereas others have used the breathing techniques to aid and assist an epidural. It’s important to say that these were by no means expert practitioners. Some of them had not even heard of mindfulness before becoming pregnant and yet still managed to become very comfortable and confident with the exercises over a number of months.

But as I say, I’ll pass this question onto the science team and see if they have anything to add specific to mindfulness and contractions.

Warm wishes,

Andy

Andy Puddicombe

Andy Puddicombe is a meditation and mindfulness expert. An accomplished presenter and writer, Andy is the voice of all things Headspace. In his early twenties, midway through a university degree in Sports Science, Andy made the unexpected decision to travel to the Himalayas to study meditation instead. It was the beginning of a ten-year journey which took him around the world, culminating with ordination as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Northern India. His transition back to lay life in 2004 was no less extraordinary. Training briefly at Moscow State Circus, he returned to London where he completed a degree in Circus Arts with the Conservatoire of Dance and Drama, whilst drawing up the early plans for what was later to become Headspace.