New Moms are under a significant amount of stress following birth, both emotionally and physically. Studies have demonstrated that “meditation is a powerful tool for reducing stress and boosting mood, as well as easing chronic pain and improving the immune system.” Recently a handful of studies have shown that meditation and other mind-body interventions such as yoga are effective treatment options in the prevention of postpartum depression and anxiety.
Particularly, in 2008 Dr. Cassandra Vieten from the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute investigated the effects of mindfulness meditation on prenatal stress and mood. The study found a 20-25% reduction in stress levels and anxiety in pregnant women. Furthermore, Dr. Zindel Segal a cognitive psychologist, a specialist on depression and one of the founders of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy, has found meditation to be as effective as antidepressant medication in preventing a depression relapse. Dr. Zindel Segal and Dr. Dennis, a well-known meditation specialist, are conducting a Canadian study on mind-body interventions in the prevention and treatment of post partum depression. This Canadian study by Dr. Zindel Segal and Dr. Dennis is necessary, as there is lack of information on meditation as a treatment option for sufferers of postpartum depression.
One women shares her experience with postpartum depression and meditation,
“Meditation was literally a life saver for me; it allowed me to calm down when I was feeling sad, frustrated and lonely. By going into that calm place and reconnecting with myself I started to feel at peace, loving and very connected to my babies. There were ups and downs and being a young mom was not an easy task, however, having this wonderful tool to keep me focused really saved my sanity. I meditated every day for sometimes 10 minutes and sometimes 20 minutes depending on the demands of the day -- this was "my time." Babies napped and I meditated.”
meditation has the ability to allow mothers to “tune into their bodies and
which facilitates postpartum coping and recovery. Dr. Zindel Segal elegantly states, “For women at risk of postpartum depression, meditation is definitely of value. It is a non-pharmaceutical means of prevention and should be offered in addition to other parenting classes and skills.”
If you are interested in learning more about meditation, read Dr. Zindel Segal book titled “The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness.”
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