By Kelly Smith
If you’re like me you have probably spent a lot of time online searching for the best postpartum care products, tips, tricks, and tools. As I find myself packing my hospital bag and preparing for what has been described to me as “a vagina apocalypse” I have been thinking a lot about what is really beneficial during the postpartum time immediately after birth, but also as I transition into motherhood over the next coming months and years.
I purchased my postpartum care products like my Go Fourth Kit, and countless other items for my body, but there doesn't seem to be an online store that can help me get a kit or prepare for mental and emotional recovery after delivery. I can’t just go online and purchase a bundle that includes inner peace, anxiety reduction, tools that help me cope when I feel like I’m the worst mom ever, or even just keep my from losing my S*&!
Thankfully, in lieu of that kit I have another tool I can use. Meditation.
For many, meditation seems like a mysterious and time consuming thing. As a meditation teacher I’ve heard every reason under the sun why someone can’t or won’t meditate and often it just boils down to not knowing how, or they don’t know where to start and picking up a new habit when you’re being pulled in a million directions as a mom can seem like a daunting task. But this new habit might just be the one that helps you keep your mind during your postpartum journey, and I want to tell you why by clearing up a few common misconceptions and sharing the benefits of postpartum meditation.
You only need to meditate for 10 minutes/day
I hear people tell me all the time that they can’t meditate because they don’t have an extra hour or two a day to use for meditation. Well, as a small business owner, new mother, and podcaster I don’t either. Some days I hardly have time to shower. But the good news is that studies show you only need to meditate for 10 minutes/day to get the neurological and physiological benefits of meditation, which makes it much more doable when you feel like you’re being pulled in a million directions.
Meditation can physically change your brain
The reason so many people report lower anxiety and stress and increased mental clarity and focus is just some magical side effect of meditation, but it is actually a result of a change in the structure of your brain. Daily meditation after 8-12 weeks will result in a smaller amygdala, the pain, fear, and anxiety center of the brain and a larger prefrontal cortex which is responsible for rational decision making, emotion regulation, and focus. So basically daily meditation helps you feel less pain and anxiety while reducing that new mom mental fog we’ve all experienced.
Meditation can shorten recovery time and boost your immune system
Daily meditation also helps to increase your immune system and has been shown to decrease recovery times for c-section and vaginal births. In several studies when looking at recoveries from injury, surgery, and physical trauma those that have a regular meditation practice heal faster and with less pain than those who don’t meditate, helping you to get back on your feet sooner.
A daily meditation practice can increase your sense of well-being and self-compassion
Let’s be real. Who doesn't need a boost in this, especially during the postpartum period. It can be a real struggle to accept the changes that have happened to you over the course of pregnancy and beyond, not to mention those times when you feel like the worst mother in the world for things that are out of your control. So incorporating a little more self-compassion and love into your life might not be the worst idea.
Which leads me to perhaps one of my favorite benefits of meditation, especially now as I take the leap into motherhood and postpartum recovery, which is the chance to take 10 minutes a day to be alone, quiet, and doing something that is just for me. After 6 years of teaching yoga and meditation I have found that the ability to put my health first and be able to fill my own cup not only helps me to feel my best, but to show up in the way that my family and little ones deserve.
Meditation does not have to be challenging, time consuming or mysterious, you just have to take the time to do it and find the right resources to help you out. So if you’re ready to start a meditation practice you can check out the following resources
Mindful in Minutes podcast- Short, weekly guided meditations that cover a range of topics like anxiety relief, insomnia, self-confidence, and courage.
Meditation Mama podcast- The newest member of the Mindful in Minutes family, this podcast has weekly meditations just for expectant mothers to help connect with baby and meditate to alleviate common pregnancy symptoms and worries