By Anna Gannon
I’ll never forget the moment I saw my positive pregnancy test last year.
It was the day before Valentine's Day and I woke up early to go teach in the city. Before leaving, I decided to take a test even though I was still days away from a missed period. I had been trying to conceive for 6 long months and during that time I had created an unhealthy ritual of taking a ton of tests the moment I felt the slightest symptom of pregnancy.
So with very low expectations, I took the test and to my disbelief this time two lines showed up instead of one.
I was pregnant.
I was immediately overwhelmed with joy but that feeling was quickly replaced with worry and uncertainty. Was everything ok in there? Was my baby healthy? What can I eat/not eat? I had so many questions and I couldn’t wait to get into to see my doctor so he could reassure me that everything was ok. However, my doctor’s visit didn’t give me the relief I hoped for. The appointment was quick, they confirmed I was pregnant, put me on a prenatal vitamin, talked to me about prenatal exercise, set me up with a nutritionist and said “see you in 4 weeks.”
I left my doctor’s feeling even more overwhelmed. Although I had been given some tools on how to keep my body healthy, I didn’t feel at ease in my mind.
As the months progressed I struggled emotionally with thoughts of worry and anxiety around how we would afford a baby, if the baby was doing ok and how we were going to have everything ready in time. This emotional frustration also spilled over into my relationship -- I fought with my husband constantly, which put a strain on both of us.
And then, around the seventh month of my pregnancy a friend of mine who knew what I was going through reached out to me about Expectful, an online platform with guided meditations and tools created especially for pregnancy and new parents. Originally, I was skeptical as I had tried meditation in the past and it never stuck. But, during my pregnancy I was desperate to try anything that would help calm my anxious mind, so I dove in and committed to meditate every day for one month.
What happened next completely surprised me. I saw a difference in my state of being in just the first week. I was noticeably more at ease, less stressed and had a new wave of energy. I even started to see my husband in a new light, looking towards him in appreciation rather than blaming him for every little thing.
This almost instant shift got me curious about why we aren’t talking more about women's emotional health in prenatal care. In my first doctor's visit there was so much talk about how my body would change, how I needed to keep it and my baby healthy, but never a word about my mental well-being.
After feeling all the benefits of meditation during my pregnancy I decided to look into the science. What I found blew me away. Women who meditate during pregnancy not only have less stress and anxiety, but their babies have healthier birth weights and are more likely to go full term. Which means that when you meditate while pregnant you are not only helping yourself but your baby as well.
This research shows that mindfulness practices like meditation need to be talked about more when it comes to prenatal care. If we can help to support pregnant women not only physically but mentally we will provide them with the tools they need to have a less stressful, more enjoyable, and healthier pregnancy and motherhood journey.
Anna Gannon is a new mom, the Editorial Lead at Expectful and a writer for The Huffington Post and MindBodyGreen. Her mission is to spread awareness around the emotional well-being of women during their motherhood journey.