By Sangeetha Saran
Does meditation during childbirth have benefits? Few people would dispute childbirth as one of the reigning champions in the area of human pain. Modern medicine has come a long way and pain medications are fairly effective in alleviating the pain of giving birth, but there are some unpleasant side effects for the mother and baby both when these are heavily used. For this and other reasons, more and more mothers are looking to give birth in a more drug free manner. Meditation is a powerful method for pain tolerance during childbirth.
In order for meditation to be effective during childbirth, it is necessary to establish the habit earlier on while the mind and body are relaxed and free of pain. Stress has a profound effect on the growth and development of an unborn child, so meditation is a beneficial practice throughout pregnancy due to the stress relief it provides. Simple mindfulness or following the breath meditation methods are highly recommended.
With a foundation of mindfulness to work from, when the first contractions arise be mindful of them. Childbirth will be painful, there is no denying this. Meditation during childbirth brings about a state of mental stability. Resistance will only bring stress to the situation, and stress will in turn bring about a release of negative stress hormones and a tightening of the muscles within the body. Muscular tightness and rigidity is not beneficial for childbirth. With meditation during childbirth you become the observer of the pain and progress of the childbirth, and remember that the pain is something the body is experiencing right now. It is not a part of your Self. The pain will pass eventually, but until it does, give it your utmost attention.
Many people think that it’s their duty to provide the laboring mother with distraction from the pain, but attempting to ignore something this monumental is an exercise in futility, and is usually counter-intuitive. Having clear expectations set beforehand with those who will be allowed to visit the mother during labor is essential and saves the mother from feeling like she has to cater to guests during a time when she should be allowed to focus solely on her labor experience.
The deep breathing of meditation prevents both the mother and baby from becoming deprived of oxygen, and counters the natural instinct to take small, shallow breaths during painful contractions.
Giving the pain of childbirth the full attention also turns discomfort into valuable communication between the mother and her body. If at any point the pain takes a turn towards becoming too great, the mother will be the first to know, and this is valuable for women who have opted to use some medications for controlling pain during childbirth. A mother does not need to choose between medication and meditation entirely; meditation may be used in conjunction with pain medications to reduce the amount needed to be effective.
Listening to the body during labor through focused meditation removes the fear many mothers have of labor pains and gives the control back to the mother, where it belongs. Being deeply grounded in inner stillness leads to a calm and serenity that carries through the entire labor experience and beyond. After facing that level of pain and fear head on, is there anything a woman cannot handle? In this way, childbirth becomes one of the most powerful forms of meditative practice, and serves to prepare the new mother for the adventure of parenthood. For this reason, pregnancy is one of the best times for a woman to begin the practice of daily meditation.
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