This month’s tip comes from PROnatal Fitness trainer, Lisa Reinschmidt, who says one of the most powerful tips she gives her clients doesn’t involve any exercise at all! Read on to learn a bit more about Lisa, and her client-tip that she lives by herself.
What was your motivation for working with the pre and post natal population?
I first learned this was my calling several years ago when I took my first pregnant client. I felt like we embarked on this incredible journey together — physically, mentally, and emotionally — from the beginning of her pregnancy through her postpartum recovery. I helped her successfully conquer every leg of her journey — from a healthy pregnancy, to a smooth labor, and quick recovery. Then, to look at her perfect (and now thriving) little one, and to know I played a small, but important, role in that….there is no greater gift! I know I will never have children, so working with moms and moms-to-be has become the most important contribution I can make to the world, and I never once take for granted what a special and profound responsibility it is.
What is one tip you give your clients?
One of the tips I’ve seen make the BIGGEST difference in the overall health of my clients is to meditate (daily if at all possible). I know this may seem difficult to most moms and moms-to-be who have a hard enough time finding time to go to the bathroom! However, its impact on fertility, fetal development, and postpartum health are huge – making it one of the greatest returns on an investment there is.
Unfortunately chronic anxiety and stress can impact your fertility, create a sub-optimal fetal growth environment, and increase your chances of getting postpartum depression. While we cannot control most of the factors that cause increased stress and anxiety, we can control how well our body manages that stress. Chronic stress essentially places your nervous system into “panic mode, ” which shuts off key bodily functions that aid in growth, recovery, and cognition. Meditation helps take your body out of panic mode, and basically “turns on” key nervous system functions of resting, rebuilding, growing and repairing. A few specific benefits of meditation include: improved brain functioning, better ability to focus and think creatively, improved sleep, increased energy, a stronger immune system, improved hormonal balance, and increased pain tolerance through a release of your body’s natural pain relievers (endorphins). It can be a great practice to start for women preparing for natural childbirth, as it can help train your mind to focus appropriately.
How to meditate
If you are just getting started, try the following simple steps. Begin with just 3 minutes, but work your way up to 15 – 20 min. For best results, practice daily, or at least regularly.
Grab a cushion (or folded blanket) and a timer (your phone is fine). If possible, it’s a good idea to use quality essential oils, such as Frankincense for grounding or Lavender for calming. You can inhale the oil deeply, or rub it on the bottom of your feet.
Set a timer for the amount of time you want to meditate, so you are not looking at the time. Start with just 3 minutes, but work your way up to 15 – 20. If using your phone, be sure it’s set to “do not disturb” though!
Sit with your spine neutral and your hips higher than your knees. This can be accomplished by propping you your hips on a cushion (or folded blanket) with crossed legs.
Close your eyes, and keep your lips open just enough for a grain of rice to fit through them.
Allow your breath to naturally flow in and out of your nostrils without effort. Your belly should rise on the inhale and fall with the exhale. Keep your shoulders and chest relaxed allowing for a deeper belly breath.
As you continue to breath, make sure you are focusing on your breath, but that it feels effortless, and not forced at all. Feel the coolness of your breath coming in through your nostrils and the warmth of the breath as it flows out of the nostrils. Some people use a mantra of “let go” — breathing “let” in and breathing out “go.” Others count their breath. Find the best that works for you. You can also use other mantras to support your practice. And this IS a practice. So doing it daily (or at least regularly) will not only help you find your way, but also help you deepen your meditation.
Keep your mind calm. It may not always be empty and that’s ok. Any time you find yourself wandering go back to the breath.
For more detailed guidance, you can often find yoga studios who will offer guided meditation classes. You can also try using a guided meditation app like Headspace. The most important thing is to try something, and keep practicing until you find what works for YOU.