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I Meditated During Pregnancy: Case Study

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 30 Mar 2010 | comments*Discuss
Pregnancy Meditation Help Breathing

Cathy had always prided herself on being very fit and healthy so she was dismayed to find herself tiring easily, feeling emotional and fragile and struggling with the simplest things when she became pregnant with her first son, Ben.

Pregnancy Troubles

“I felt really down,” admits Cathy. “I was just so used to having lots of energy and always being able to do anything I wanted. And I always despised those women who got emotional over the silliest things – and then suddenly, I was becoming just like them!”

“I also found that when I entered my second trimester, I was really struggling. Ben was a big baby – I was already really showing by the time I was 5 months. I had terrible back pain and found it really difficult to get up from sitting or lying down or even going up stairs. It was just horrible.”

Meditation to the rescue?

Cathy’s husband, Phil, had read article about meditation in the local newspaper and suggested to Cathy that it might help make things easier for her.

“I don’t know – I’d tried meditation a couple of times when I was younger and never really got into it. I thought it was probably a waste of time – how could some breathing exercises help this huge weight I was carrying? But then Phil kept urging me to give it a try and I thought, what have I got to lose?” says Cathy.

Meditation Misconceptions

Cathy looked for local meditation classes and was pleased to discover a special class just for pregnant women at a community centre near where she lived, which she promptly joined. She arrived a bit warily on the first day, wondering if she was expected to chant Buddhist hymns or something but was pleasantly surprised when the instructor explained that meditation did not have to take on a spiritual or religious form.

Nor did she have to contort herself into complicated yoga positions, which had been her other fear. In fact, the instructor explained that the most important aspect of meditating was learning to empty the mind and breathe properly.

“The more I listened to the instructor, the more I thought – hey, this doesn’t sound so difficult. I don’t know why I always thought meditating was such a complicated thing. Maybe the classes I went to when I was younger were the wrong type or something. Anyway, I had a great time in that first class and I came home really eager to practise everything I had learnt.”

The perfect meditation place

Starting the next day, Cathy started setting aside time to meditate every day. She went around the house and looked for an ideal spot, which would be warm enough but away from distractions such as the computer, TV and telephone.

“The instructor told me that experienced meditators can shut themselves off and focus wherever they are but for us beginners, it was best to find somewhere quiet and undisturbed to help us empty our minds. I decided our spare bedroom was perfect and I got myself a yoga mat, which I lay down on. I know people usually sit to meditate but actually, it’s any position that’s comfortable for you and I found that with my distended belly, it was a lot easier for me to relax if I was lying flat. The important thing is that your spine and head are in a straight line.”

Mastering the breathing…

Cathy found the breathing slightly harder to master. She followed the instructions she had received in class and shut her eyes while taking deep breaths but in the beginning, she found that her mind kept wandering and her breathing rhythm kept changing.

At her next class, she asked the instructor for help and he suggested she repeat a certain word as she is breathing in and out – in this case, “so” as she is breathing in and “hum” as she is breathing out.

“I did feel a bit silly the first time I did it,” laughs Cathy. “I was glad there was nobody else there! But I have to admit, it did help a lot with keeping my breathing steady and my mind focused on my breathing. After a couple of times, it seemed almost natural and I didn’t even need to keep saying the words anymore.”

Reaping the benefits of meditation

Cathy diligently meditated every day for 10 minutes and was surprised to find that within 2 weeks, she was starting to feel much more positive and energetic, while at the same time also calmer and at peace with herself and those around her. She was also surprised to find that she actually felt like the baby was easier to carry and that she wasn’t struggling so much to perform simple every day tasks or keep mobile. The greatest benefit came several months later when Cathy went into labour and found that her learnt breathing techniques for meditation helped greatly with labour, enabling her to deliver Ben quickly and easily and with minimal drug intervention.

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