Once you find out you’re pregnant, chances are you started thinking about the future. It’s inevitable. Planning for the future gets interwoven with pregnancy because there is a lot to do such as creating your birth plan, preparing the nursery, buying gear and clothing in advance and securing support systems well before your baby’s arrival. With all of this forward thinking coupled with the busyness of life, present moment connections with your growing baby can be difficult to achieve on a regular basis.
The other issue that can prevent the development of a connection with your growing baby is that during the beginning stages of pregnancy you don’t look pregnant and you can’t feel the baby moving yet. Often our chances for real-time connection occur during less frequent ultrasound appointments when we have a strong visual to use as the basis for our bond and when we start to feel the baby moving around.
Fortunately, there are strategies that you can practice from the moment you find out you are pregnant in order to cultivate a strong bond with your child. In particular, mindfulness techniques can be applied to your pregnancy as a way to improve your present moment awareness of your mind, body, and baby. In my latest book, “5 Minute Mindfulness for Pregnancy,” I showcase many mindfulness exercises that help you observe how you are feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally in relation to your pregnancy. Here are three examples from the book on how to develop a connection with your baby in utero.
When people hear the word mindfulness, it often gets equated with meditation. The reality is there are many forms of mindfulness such as meditation, journaling, visualization, breathwork, movement, and other awareness exercises. Journaling is a great entry point into mindfulness when you are pregnant because it doesn’t require you to learn anything new. Simply taking pen to paper gives you a chance to offload what is currently on your mind. You may even unearth some feelings that you didn’t realize you had. Answer any of the following journaling prompts as a way to foster a connection with your baby.
- What are some things you would like to tell your baby about the life that awaits them?
- Describe the moment when you first saw your baby on an ultrasound. Be descriptive about the experience and your feelings at that moment.
- If you have already felt your baby move, write how it feels and what patterns you have noticed when your baby likes to move.
- Share your true feelings with your baby about their growth and arrival.
Visualization is another mindfulness modality that allows you to hone your observation skills. When you perform a visualization, you are asked to picture something in such vivid detail that you feel like you are in that place you are imagining. The more you can observe minute details of your visualization, the richer the experience. The following visualization exercise is an excerpt from my new book, “5 Minute Mindfulness for Pregnancy.”
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One other way to connect with your baby is to find a few minutes of quiet time to meditate and focus on developing your bond with your child. All you need to meditate is a quiet and comfortable spot to sit or lie down with your eyes closed for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Set your timer, get comfortable and when you’re ready, close your eyes.
- Take a few deep breaths to ground yourself into the moment and begin witnessing how the breath is moving in and out of your body.
- Rest your hands on your belly.
- Repeat the mantra, “Every breath that I take, I send to you my darling baby.” Quietly repeat this mantra in your mind while you take slow, deep breaths. Imagine each breath going directly to your baby.
- When your timer rings, gently open your eyes.
The more you practice being aware of yourself and your surroundings, the greater your capacity for presence and observation of your pregnancy. During this unique time of transformation, it can be easy to get caught up in planning for the future. Practicing mindfulness strategies like the ones above will give you the gift of living in the precious moments as your baby grows.
Josephine Atluri is an expert in meditation and mindfulness, helping thousands of people overcome adversity to find joy. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Atluri coupled her consulting background with her passion for total wellness to become certified as a meditation coach and teach corporate mindfulness. Plus, her experience creating her modern-day family of seven children via in vitro fertilization (IVF), international adoption and surrogacy inspires her work as a highly sought-after fertility and parenting mindfulness coach. Atluri hosts a popular podcast, “Responding to Life: Talking Health, Fertility, & Parenthood,” where she interviews guests on their inspiring responses to life’s challenges. She is the author of Mindfulness Journal for Parents, and the forthcoming 5-Minute Mindfulness for Pregnancy: Simple Practices to Feel Calm, Present, and Connected to Your Baby (Spring 2022).