Pregnancy is a transformative journey, not only physiologically but also emotionally and mentally.
For a husband or partner, watching the incredible changes your loved one undergoes can inspire a profound desire to support her in every way possible.
A key factor in this support is fostering social connections and engagement in activities that promote the overall well-being of both her and the baby.
Research consistently demonstrates the importance of social interactions for the health and development of the mother and child. Activities such as yoga, mindfulness, and participation in women’s circles can significantly augment this aspect of prenatal care.
Yoga is more than physical exercise. It’s a practice that integrates the body, mind, and spirit, offering a unique set of benefits.
Appropriate movement helps alleviate many common pregnancy discomforts, such as back and hip pain. These practices also increase strength, flexibility, and endurance required for childbirth.
Emotional and Mental Benefits
Beyond the physical, yoga offers a space for introspection and emotional balance. A study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice found that prenatal yoga significantly reduced stress, anxiety, and depression levels in pregnant women.
Attending prenatal yoga classes fosters a sense of community among expectant mothers. Sharing experiences and building bonds with others in the same phase of life can be an invaluable source of support and encouragement.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness, the practice of being present and fully engaged in the current moment, has been shown to have a myriad of benefits during pregnancy.
Reduction of Stress and Anxiety
A study in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing found that mindfulness training reduced anxiety and negative affect in pregnant women. Lower stress levels are beneficial for fetal development, as excessive stress during pregnancy can impact birth weight and increase the risk of preterm birth.
Enhanced Emotional Regulation
Mindfulness aids in developing better emotional regulation, which can be particularly beneficial given the hormonal changes during pregnancy. This can lead to improved mental well-being, impacting the health of both the mother and baby.
Connection with the Baby
Mindfulness practices can enhance the mother’s connection with her baby. Taking time to focus on intuitive communications (prenatal bonding) along with physical sensations of the baby moving and growing helps in fostering a healthier bond.
Aspects of birth psychology are often infused within many fertility, prenatal and postnatal yoga practices. The study of birth psychology and the international organization: The Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) affirms ancient traditions and indigenous cultural practices to be extremely effective in healthy mother/baby relationships and relationships with their individual sense of self.
Women's circles are gatherings of women who come together to share, connect, and support one another during their current phase of life. Again, this is also blended into yoga offerings for many women-centered classes like fertility and prenatal yoga.
Pregnancy can be accompanied by a whirlwind of emotions. Being part of a group where feelings and experiences are shared can be profoundly therapeutic. It provides reassurance that one is not alone in their experiences.
Women's circles often become a treasure trove of information. From discussing birth options to sharing remedies for morning sickness, these gatherings can be incredibly informative.
Building Bonds for Postpartum Support
The connections made during these circles often extend post-birth. Having a support system during the postpartum period, which can be challenging for many new mothers, is invaluable.
Acts as a Form of Activism
For centuries (and still in some parts of our world and communities here in the United States) women cannot gather without a male presence.
With my ancestral lineage being from eastern Europe - where "witches" were raped and burned (young girls and women), women were not believed, and men convinced my female ancestors to not trust one another... I am committed to bring women back in union to trust, support, and care tenderly for one another.
Research strongly supports the benefits of social connection and engagement in activities like yoga, mindfulness, and women’s circles during pregnancy. They not only contribute to the mental and emotional well-being of the mother but also impact the health and development of the baby.
Encouraging and facilitating your loved one's involvement in such activities can be one of the most loving and supportive acts you can offer during this pivotal time in your family's life. It’s an investment in the health and happiness of both mother and child.
Field, T., Diego, M., Delgado, J., & Medina, L. (2013). Yoga and social support reduce prenatal depression, anxiety, and cortisol. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 17(4), 397-403. This study showed that yoga reduced prenatal depression, anxiety, and cortisol levels, suggesting both physiological and psychological benefits.
Beddoe, A. E., Lee, K. A., Weiss, S. J., Kennedy, H. P., & Yang, C. P. (2010). Effects of mindful yoga on sleep in pregnant women: a pilot study. Biological research for nursing, 11(4), 363-370. While the main focus is on sleep, the study also touches upon the communal aspect of joining a yoga class.
Guardino, C. M., Dunkel Schetter, C., Bower, J. E., Lu, M. C., & Smalley, S. L. (2014). Randomised controlled pilot trial of mindfulness training for stress reduction during pregnancy. Psychology & health, 29(3), 334-349. This study highlighted the efficacy of mindfulness training in reducing stress and anxiety during pregnancy.
Vieten, C., & Astin, J. (2008). Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention during pregnancy on prenatal stress and mood: results of a pilot study. Archives of Women's Mental Health, 11(1), 67-74. This research showed the positive impact of mindfulness on mood regulation during pregnancy.
Gannon, L. (2015). The benefits of mother circles. Midwifery Today with International Midwife, (113), 48-49. This article explores the therapeutic nature of women's circles, especially the emotional and informational support they offer.
Geller, P. A., Posmontier, B., Horowitz, J. A., & Bonacquisti, A. (2016). A mindfulness-based childbirth education pilot study examining stress and psychological well-being for expectant mothers. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 16(1), 1-13. While this study emphasizes mindfulness in childbirth education, it also touches upon the importance of group sessions and the continuity of support post-birth.
These studies represent just a fraction of the available research on the topics of yoga, mindfulness, and women's circles during pregnancy. Each study contributes to the growing body of evidence highlighting the importance of mental and emotional well-being, social connection, and holistic approaches to prenatal care.