I’m working on a Mindful Motherhood online course, a meditation and yoga-based program for pregnant women and new moms based on our research project and book of the same name, and was asked to come up with a list of “frequently asked questions” about how mindfulness relates to pregnancy and motherhood.
I’ll post the FAQ questions and answers here as they are edited…they provide a nice little introduction to mindfulness during pregnancy and early motherhood.
(P.S. Join me for the next Mindful Motherhood workshop, June 2011, in the high desert of New Mexico!)
Why is Pregnancy and Early Motherhood a Good Time to Learn Mindfulness?
I’m often asked, why now? How can I possibly take the time to learn a new skill in the midst of this huge transition, when there is already so much to do? My response is that there could not be a better time to learn mindfulness than during pregnancy and early motherhood. For one thing, this is a time when most people have a strong motivation to become the best person they can be in a relatively short period of time. When you realize the full enormity of the responsibility you have taken on by becoming a mom, the primary source of care for another whole human being, not to mention one that you love more than you thought you could ever love, there is a really high level of motivation to try your best to get yourself into the best mental and emotional shape possible. I’ve talked to so many pregnant women who have for the first time in their lives encountered within themselves a deep and very sweet drive to learn new ways of being—quick! They don’t want to pass on negative patterns to their child, and want to do everything possible to transmit a healthy foundation for the rest of their child’s life.
It’s kind of like training for a marathon. You are probably preparing for motherhood in many many ways, with physical health care for you and baby, creating a physical environment for your new addition, planning child care, feeding, and possibly even planning for preschools! So, you are preparing your external world for the baby. But, learning mindfulness is a way of preparing your internal world – developing new ways to deal with thoughts, emotions, bodily feelings so that you can stay grounded and make conscious choices about how you respond to situations.
Also, this is a great time to learn mindfulness because you are already open and somewhat vulnerable. The downside of this can be feeling off-balance or a little exposed, needing more help from others than usual and being at the mercy of your body’s functions and your baby’s needs. The upside is that this state of being provides a sort of malleability—some of your defenses are down, you may be feeling more sensitive than usual, and this is a great time to learn new skills! It makes you open-minded in a way that perhaps you are not when you’ve got everything under control. Since mindfulness has a lot to do with being in touch with the sensations in your body, and being aware, new moms are in a prime state to learn it! In fact, pregnancy and early motherhood, nursing and sleep disturbance, weight gain and weight loss—these all in some way force you to be in your body. For those of us who live most of our lives above our necks, this can actually be a great blessing.
About Cassandra Vieten