Headspace founder, Andy Puddicombe, has released a book titled The Headspace Guide To A Mindful Pregnancy, which discusses how mindfulness can be practised from when you are trying for a baby, right through to giving birth.
As Puddicombe says, a mindful pregnancy begins the moment you start trying.
In the chapter: Trying for a baby, Puddicombe discusses the stresses some women experience when they are unable to conceive.
This can, he argues, leave many feeling sad, angry or anxious as they fear they may never be able to get pregnant.
In the following extract from his new book, Puddicombe discusses how mindfulness can be beneficial when you are trying for a baby:
When it comes to getting pregnant, it can feel as though our future happiness is dependent on having a child. We tend to panic.
The contrast when we set an intention is stark: We keep up a steady pace, responsive to new circumstances and changing conditions, not unlike an elephant in nature: strong, steady, purposeful, just putting one foot in front of the next, not reacting to every little thing.
The doctors I’ve spoken to in researching this book say that if nothing happens in the first year, that’s normal – it can frequently take couples twelve months to conceive naturally.
If we keep that in mind, we will continue to live life knowing that there is no rush to get pregnant, and relaxed in the knowledge that we are free from expectation.
However, if we choose to ignore it, we may well find ourselves getting increasingly tense.
Mindfulness brings a perspective that allows us to dial things back a bit, meaning we’re not swept up in the ‘We need to get pregnant’.
Anxious thoughts will always be there but we can get comfortable with them, releasing the tension in the very best interests of creating an environment conducive to getting pregnant.
However, we cannot force a state of relaxation, so the harder we try to relax, the more tense we become.
If we apply this to trying to get pregnant, we quickly see that excessive focus and effort can easily tip over into something more harmful, creating stress which actually further reduces our chances of conception.
So, if we are going to do this, we need to know how best to go about it.
The short answer is that it is less about ‘doing’ and more about ‘being’. The intention is to create the conditions for a calm and happy mind, and a relaxed and more receptive body.
Fertility experts will so often prescribe stress-reduction techniques – and none is more effective than mindfulness. Stress reduction improves blood flow to the reproductive organs and aids with regulating the menstrual cycle, helping to achieve optimal ovulation.
Women tend to find their sensitivity to hormone production then increases, which leads to a more receptive environment for conception.
With cortisol and adrenaline levels, combined with a spike in the secretion of endorphins, the entire body becomes a healthier, more inviting place for human life to take form.
The irony, of course, is that this state of relaxation so often occurs when couples have tried very hard for a period of time and have then given up.
This demonstrates very well the power of letting go of the attachment that creates so much worry, fear and suffering. In letting go in this way, you help to create the conditions in which to conceive.
Mindfulness reminds us that the space between ‘how we think life should be’ and ‘life as it is’ is equal to our level of suffering; the farther away we are from accepting things as they are, the more anguish, worry and anxiety is caused."
The Headspace Guide To A Mindful Pregnancy by Andy Puddicombe of headspace.com is available now (Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99).