Planning to conceive can be daunting, with many of us wondering ‘when should I start preparing for pregnancy?’ (more on that here) And while the ‘I’m not, not trying’ approach to family planning provides emotional relief to some as they navigate the unknowns surrounding conception, others prefer a focused and intentional connection to preparation. ‘Enter ‘conscious conception’.
What is conscious conception?
Conscious conception is a term used to describe the practice of intentionally creating new life through pregnancy. It involves a deliberate decision to have a child, and a deep understanding and respect for the process of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth.
While thoughtful preparation alone doesn’t equal a quick and easy conception, and hard work, effort and good intentions can’t ensure a pregnancy, conscious conception can provide a helpful framework and state of mind in which to try to conceive.
How do mindful practices support conscious conception?
Mindfulness allows individuals to cultivate a deeper connection with their bodies as well as with their partner in the lead up to baby making. Fostering a sense of inner calm and presence has been shown to provide many health benefits.
Here are 4 ways that mindful practices can support conscious conception:
Cultivating Mind-Body Awareness
Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, yoga, and body scans, can help us become more aware of the sensations and signals our bodies are sending us. This increased awareness can help to identify potential physical or emotional obstacles to conception, and take steps to address them.
Birth educator Yahna Fookes shares 3 simple yoga poses for down-regulating the nervous system and allowing feminine birthing energy to flow.
Viparita karani (Legs up the Wall pose)
Inversions are a wonderful way of realigning the body. By popping your legs up the wall before bed, you are encouraging the stagnant fluid that sits in your feet to flush towards your heart (circulatory system). This restful and mindful position also encourages the flight and fight the system to turn off and the rest and restore the system to turn on. A massive down regulator. Also great for after having sex.
Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose)
According to yogic philosophy, stress, depression, sadness and fear are all stored in the pelvic region and hips. So this forward folding pose of surrender is wonderful and great for letting go. Also great at relieving tension in your deep glutes (piriformis).
Anahatasana (heart-melting pose)
To receive a child is an act of grace and humility and opening your body up to change and potential. This posture which opens the shoulders, mid back (thoracic) and softens the heart is a simple posture to align with the solar plexus chakra. This chakra is also associated with our personal power, self-esteem, and sense of purpose. When this chakra is balanced, we feel confident and capable of achieving our goals and manifesting our dreams.
Stress can have a negative impact on fertility, so reducing stress levels can be a helpful step in supporting conscious conception. Mindful practices can help reduce stress and anxiety by promoting relaxation and calm, as well as by helping individuals develop skills for managing challenging emotions.
For stress management, Yahna recommends the practice of Nadi Sodhana, aka alternate nostril breathing.
This is a technique designed to help create alignment in the body. By consciously breathing through right and left nostrils we work to restore balance within our yin and yang. For these reasons, this breath work fits perfectly into those final days when waiting for your baby to conceive. Lowering your heart rate and charging your parasympathetic nervous system, it synchronises the two hemispheres of the brain providing feelings of lightness, balance and well-groundedness.
The cues are as follows:
- Place both your middle and pointer finger in between your third eye now gently close your right nostril with your thumb.
- Take a deep Inhale through your left nostril, then close it with your ring finger.
- Release your thumb and exhale slowly through the right nostril.
- Keep the right nostril open, inhale the breath, then block with your thumb as you open and exhale slowly through the left.
- This is one cycle. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Mindful practices can also support better communication between partners. Couples who practise mindfulness together may be better able to tune in to each other's needs and desires, and to communicate more effectively about their hopes and fears surrounding conception.
Mindful practices can also help enhance intimacy between partners. By bringing a sense of presence and focus to the experience of being together, couples can deepen their connection and sense of closeness in the process.
Mindful practices can be a powerful tool in supporting the rollercoaster of conception. Whether practised individually or as a couple, mindfulness can help individuals connect more deeply with themselves and their partner, and prepare the mind for conception, while the body undergoes its own process of preparation.
Want to hear more from Yahna- Read her thoughts on 'Unplanned Pregnancies and Doing Things Differently the Second Time Around' here
Yahna Fookes is the founder of Radiant Birth- a three week immersive birth workshop hosted by her in Naarm that brings together birth education, yoga, traditional Chinese medicine and nutrition for mother’s in waiting.