Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Headspace Guide to a Mindful Pregnancy by Andy Puddicombe

As a new parent, what we are learning to do in such situations is to let go of one moment before beginning the next; to draw the curtain on one activity, before starting another. Time will continue, the moments will keep on coming--we are the only ones who can decide if we are going to carry our frustrations with us and compromise what we are doing right now by dragging the past into the present. 
I've been using Headspace for a couple of years now, and I bought this book after doing their pregnancy series. I was hoping for a deeper dive into mindfulness and pregnancy (and also on how to apply mindfulness techniques to childbirth and potentially parenting). Mostly, that's what I got. It probably would have been more useful had I read it earlier in the process, but it definitely provided some strategies that have been useful in my final weeks.

Puddicombe addresses the elephant in the room right off the bat: he is a man (a former monk at that) writing a book about pregnancy. He has sought the input of a number of women including an obstetrician, a neuroscientist, and his wife, so he does a decent job not seeming like he's mansplaining a uniquely feminine experience, but it did nag at me throughout.

For those who already have a mindfulness practice, this doesn't provide anything particularly new or groundbreaking. That being said, it was helpful to have the basics of mindfulness re-iterated and re-framed around pregnancy. Puddicombe comes back to most of the basics he outlines through Headspace, and walks us through how they apply to the uncertainty and chaos of pregnancy.

One section, presumably included to sell the reader on the benefits of mindfulness, enumerates the many ways in which stress and anxiety are bad for you and your unborn child. Puddicombe cites study after study about how terrible it is to be stressed and anxious while pregnant which, to a person who is basically constantly anxious, was not the most reassuring ten pages.

Overall, if you're pregnant and looking for mindfulness strategies, this provided some helpful ones. Puddicombe isn't a particularly good writer, but he's clear and succinct, and, as with the Headspace app, he uses metaphor well to explain concepts that otherwise might be hard to process.  If you're already using Headspace, it's more of a refresher than a collection of new insights, but I still found it valuable. The last section of the book is a series of mindfulness exercises for various stages of pregnancy. For the most part, they line up with various Headspace strategies, so I've been using the corresponding recordings. I've never tried meditating using written cues, so I'm not sure how it would go without the recordings to guide me.

No comments: