9 Super Easy Mindfulness Exercises For A Calmer and More Enjoyable Pregnancy
Are you ready to calm the chatter and finally enjoy your pregnancy?
Mindfulness can help with that!
Last week, we explored what mindfulness is and listed its many scientifically-proven benefits for you and your baby.
This week, we’re jumping into 9 easy exercises you can do to increase your mindfulness.
First, let’s recap what mindfulness is about…
- Being present. Focus on the now instead of thinking about the past or future.
- Being non-judgmental. Don’t judge yourself for your feelings or behaviours.
- For example, simply acknowledge and accept your feelings or chronic pain without trying to get rid of it.
- Self-compassion. Go easy on yourself when you make mistakes. This attitude will become particularly helpful during parenting.
- Don’t set a difficult goal like getting rid of your thoughts completely. Instead, congratulate yourself every time you were aware and noticed you had a thought.
9 Easy Ways To Practice Mindfulness During Pregnancy
There are many ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your day without carving out a huge block of time. Try a few of the exercises below to see which one(s) work best for you.
- First, find a quiet place to sit where you won’t be interrupted.
- Gently close your eyes.
- Turn your attention to your breath.
- Breathe in through your nose for a slow count of 4.
- Breath out through your mouth for a slow count of 4.
- Try to focus all of your attention on your breath.
- Thoughts will pop up and that’s normal.
- Instead of engaging a thought, let it gently roll by without judging it.
- If you get lost in a thought for a while, notice it and know that it’s normal.
- Turn your attention back.
The goal isn’t to clear your mind of thoughts. The goal is to be aware of them. Often, meditation is about continuously bringing your attention back to the present moment, despite many thought interruptions.
Although the process sounds simple, it can be much harder in reality. To start, set a timer on your phone for 1 minute and practice the above steps. Try once or twice daily. As time passes, build to 3, 5, 10, 20 mins, etc.
There are a few variations you can try:
- Meditation with candle. Some people find it easier to have a point of focus. Try lighting a candle in a darkened room and focusing your attention on the present moment and the movements of the flame.
- Adding music. If you’re in a noisy environment or find it easier to focus with sound, you can try playing some calming music (ex. classical, piano, meditation or yoga music).
- Focus on your senses. Pay attention to the noises around you: the wind, birds chirping, cars or sirens. How do your hands feel resting on your lap or on the surface below you? Note any other senses.
- It might help to create a special place of relaxation in your mind (ex. beach, forest, mountains, etc.). Use your senses to imagine the scene. What do you see, hear, feel and smell?
Make mindfulness a bonding moment. Place both hands on your belly and take a few deep breaths in and out. As you breathe, notice your baby belly fall and rise.
Start out with just a few breaths once a day, then work your way up in slow intervals (ex. 3 minutes, 3 times a day).
Some people may find it easier to follow a guided meditation. Choosing a simple and quick 1-5 minute meditation to start is a good idea. You can find guided meditations for free on YouTube or using an app, as we discuss in the “Mindfulness Tools” section below.
Here are a few you can try:
- 7 minute prenatal meditation
- 5 minute pregnancy and parenting meditation
- 5 minute anxiety reduction meditation
- 3 minute mindful breathing meditation
If you think you’d find it hard to sit still, you can choose to incorporate mindfulness into yoga.
While doing your regular yoga practice, evaluate your senses. How does each pose feel? Pay attention to your muscle groups. Let thoughts roll by as you keep bringing your attention back to the present moment in every pose.
If you don’t already do yoga, here are some YouTube yoga sessions to start you out:
- Yoga for mindfulness (25 mins)
- Mindful morning yoga routine for all levels (10 mins)
- Prenatal morning yoga routine (10 mins)
- Relaxing Pregnancy yoga class (16 mins)
Read our full guide on Yoga During Pregnancy.
When you go for a walk, pay attention to your senses. Whether you’re walking on the road or in nature, what sounds do you hear? What do you see and smell? How does the sun or wind feel on your face?
You can also choose to narrow your attention of focus. For example, you can choose to pay attention to people’s front gardens as you walk by houses. Let thoughts pass and bring your awareness back to the present moment and gardens in front of you.
You can also bring mindfulness into your workouts. Pay attention to each movement. For example, if you’re jogging, how do your feet feel hitting the pavement? How is the weather outside? What do you hear? Every time your mind wanders, bring your attention back to the movement.
Mindful Awareness Using Fetal Heartbeat Monitor
If you’ve never used a fetal doppler before, they are handheld devices that allow you to hear your baby’s heartbeat while they are still inside your womb. Using mindfulness can take this experience up a notch.
- Spread the ultrasound gel over your lower belly.
- Move the doppler probe around until you detect your baby’s heartbeat (some people describe it as sounding like galloping horses).
- Whether you’re using a speaker or headphones, focus your attention on the present moment and on the sound of your baby’s heartbeat.
- Let your thoughts roll by and bring your attention back to the sound of the heartbeat.
Mindfulness During Activities
The good thing about mindfulness is that it can be used in most situations. Even if you don’t have a large chunk of time to set aside, you can practice it. Doing simple activities with a mindful approach is a good way to get in your mindfulness practice.
When you’re doing an activity, really focus on it in that present moment. Evaluate your senses. How does that activity physically feel? What are the sounds? What does it look like? You can choose one sense to focus on or you can notice all of them.
- Brushing your teeth— Pay attention to how the bristles feel on your teeth or the taste of the toothpaste. Focus on the sound of the brush against your teeth.
- Standing in line— Focus on the sounds: people talking, carts moving, cash registers, etc.
- Sitting at your desk— Notice the sounds of typing keyboards or people walking by. Focus on the smell of coffee or the way the chair feels underneath you.
You can set a goal for yourself, such as to stop twice every day and name something you’re experiencing for each sense.
Use Pregnancy Movements As A Reminder
Whenever you feel your baby move or kick, let it be a reminder for you to be mindful. Take a few deep breaths and focus your attention back to the present moment.
Whichever mindfulness exercise you choose, there are a few tips you should consider.
When you’re just starting out, don’t overwhelm yourself with high expectations. For example, don’t aim to meditate for a half hour. Instead, start out with a short minute once a day, then gradually increase the time. Slowly start setting aside more time for whatever practice you choose.
Mindfulness is a skill that takes time to build. Starting out for short periods of time is more likely to help you create a habit you’ll keep.
When you find a practice you like, make it part of your daily routine. If you’re doing a mindfulness meditation, 15 minutes once a day may work best for you. Alternatively, breaking it up into 5 minutes, 3 times a day may be more realistic for your schedule.
It’s Okay If You’re Busy
Luckily, mindfulness can be built into almost every routine. If you think you’re too busy, start really small. Start noticing one or all of your senses on your subway ride home from work or during your morning walk to the office. That way, you don’t need to schedule time.
Continue Mindfulness Practice After The Baby
If you add a mindfulness practice into your daily routine, keep in mind that it will likely change once the baby arrives. However, you shouldn’t give up the practice. Find short windows of time, such as doing a quick mindfulness meditation while your baby is napping. You can also add mindfulness into some of your daily tasks. For example, you can practice your breathing techniques while breastfeeding.
If you’re finding it hard to grasp the concept of mindfulness, you may want to check out some of these tools/references below.
If you’d like to explore the topic of mindfulness further, it may help to read a book about how it relates to pregnancy and parenting.
Here are a few:
- The Mindful Way through Pregnancy: Meditation, Yoga, and Journaling for Expectant Mothers
- The Headspace Guide To…A Mindful Pregnancy
- Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond
If you want to learn more about mindfulness or try guided meditations, downloading an app may be a good idea.
There are a variety of apps you can try to find your favourite. Here is a list of 15.
You can search for mindfulness classes in your area. Some childbirth education classes also include lessons about mindfulness. If you’re taking classes, look for ones that offer that specific training.
Have you used mindfulness during pregnancy? If so, comment below if it has helped. If you have any pregnant friends, help them destress by sharing this post.
P.S. Do you have a fetal heartbeat monitor yet? These at-home devices allow you to listen to your baby’s heartbeat while they’re inside the womb. There is nothing that will bring you back into the present moment like hearing your baby’s heartbeat. Check them out here.