Mindfulness in pregnancy and labour

While I was pregnant I went on a mindfulness course at the center for mindfulness research and practice at Bangor university. I’d been thinking about doing a course with them for a couple of years and when I found out I was pregnant I thought I had better do it ‘now or never’! I was lucky to get on the course as when I applied they were fully booked but had a waiting list, they offered me the option to book on the following course but I said attendance would be difficult as I was due to give birth the week it started! When I got there the tutor said she had asked for me to be put on the course as her daughter in law had done it while pregnant and it had really helped her through the birth.

The course was really well structured, there were 8 weekly evening classes and every week the class would consist of the tutors explaining the practices and why they are taught. We would get experience of the techniques, and there would be discussion of how we had found them and the practices we had been doing at home. We would then be set practices to do during the following week, both formal meditation and informal practices to do during the day. It is a very experiential course and I learnt a lot through doing the practices and through sharing experiences with the other participants.

I had also found the book Mindful birthing by Nancy Bardacke, it’s based on the eight week mindfulness course but is tailored towards pregnancy and birth. In America they teach courses specifically for birth preparation, but as that wasn’t available I found that the book was the perfect companion to the eight week course, as the book followed a similar structure to the course and contained the same practices, but those practices were geared towards expecting a baby. The book is written to take you along with the classes of a course the author taught, so you get the same positive effect of hearing others experiences as if you were in a class with them.

On the mindful birthing website they also have an app ‘mindfulness for pregnancy’, which I found really great. The body scan (a bit like a relaxation in yoga) is so lovely when the woman guiding you directs you to awareness of your baby. I also really like the loving kindness meditation which gets you to connect with all other pregnant women in the world. It really is a great encouragement and focus for the love that you can feel during pregnancy. It also really helped when I was struggling with pregnancy and feeling a bit low as I felt that I wasn’t alone.

I would recommend any of these resources to anyone who would like to use the benefits of mindfulness during pregnancy and labour. Pregnancy seems the perfect time to me to engage with mindfulness and I think the stresses of early parenthood can be really well supported by the practices. More on my experience of that to come!

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