Meditation and Childbirth
Each week here on the Headspace blog we feature some of Andy's responses to questions he has been sent by members of the Headspace community about their practice (see the Andy's Answers section of our community forum for more).
In this post, Andy answers a question from a Headspacer about meditation and childbirth.
Is there any evidence where meditation helps during labour to cope with contractions during delivery?
Not to the best of my knowledge, but I would suggest we get one of 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 practising 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.
Once we get closer to the birth itself, 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 too have said they have been able to apply this very same idea to contractions.
Indeed, some of them have practised mindfulness all the way through labour and the delivery itself. Some have done it as part of a strategy where they have been searching 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
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