Women who practice mindfulness meditation when they’re pregnant are more likely to have healthier babies with better stress responses.
It’s already known that women who are stressed or anxious during their pregnancy are more likely to have a child with health problems—and the reverse is equally the case, say researchers from the University of California at San Francisco.
They studied 135 women who were suffering high levels of stress in their lives, and those who participated in an eight-week mindful meditation course also helped their babies cope better with stress. An ability to bounce back from stressful situations also impacts on health later in life, the researchers said.
The flight-or-fight response in the babies whose mothers who had taken part in the mindfulness programme was more acute when they were being ignored, but it also lowered quickly when the parent started to pay attention again, and the response was healthier than in those whose mothers didn’t participate in meditation.
“A strong reaction and quick recovery are healthy because we want our bodies to be ready for action when something is wrong, then go back to normal easily,” said Nicki Bush, one of the researchers.
(Source: Psychosomatic Medicine, 2022; doi: 10.1097/PSY.00000000000001066)