Editor’s Note: Power of Moms is a website for mothers of all religious preferences. Our Spiritual Sundays section is a place where our authors can write about thoughts that are more spiritual in nature, and our goal is to gather a wide variety of perspectives. If you (or someone you know) has something to add to this section to help us reach a wider audience of mothers, please send the submission to [email protected]. Thank you!
I am currently 30 weeks pregnant with our fourth son. We weren’t sure if we wanted to try for another baby, but after much prayer and consideration, we realized that this baby was meant to come to us at this time. Fortunately, getting pregnant was the easy part. What wasn’t easy was trying to decide how I was going to handle another pregnancy struggling with antepartum depression.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), between 14 and 23% of women will struggle with some symptoms of depression during pregnancy. However, these symptoms are often improperly diagnosed, as they can be confused with the regular hormone imbalances that most pregnant women experience.
I didn’t realize I had been experiencing antepartum depression until the end of my third pregnancy. I thought it was normal for women to feel extremely sad, angry, violent, resentful, and sometimes suicidal while pregnant. I figured that every woman dealt with her shifting hormones differently, and this was my “pregnant personality.”
Sadly, my past pregnancies were not spent the way I would’ve liked. I often acted out in anger against my friends, my family, and myself. I said and did things I regretted. On top of that, I struggled with terrible feelings of guilt for feeling like such a horrible mom. With that said, I was really scared to get pregnant again. I didn’t want my family to go through another nine months of chaos if I couldn’t successfully manage my depression.
I feel blessed to say that through the grace of God, I’ve received divine inspiration these past seven months on how to better do this. I’ve not only been led to discover vital medical information to help me with my mental and physical health, but I have also been divinely guided towards the specific people who could help me. The support and information I’ve received have been crucial in keeping my antepartum depression under control. This pregnancy has been nothing short of a miraculous experience thus far.
When seeking out prenatal care I was led to a midwife who shared with me early on her own personal struggles with pregnancy depression. I was amazed that I could relate to so many of her experiences and felt right away that I could rely on her strength to help me through this pregnancy. Being able to talk with someone who shared my very specific burdens was a form of therapy I never thought possible.
Another form of help came through a trusted friend who suggested I seek medical help. This was a road I’d never felt comfortable exploring before. I just didn’t feel like my issues were anything that could be “fixed” by a doctor, but instead something I had to fight through on my own. Soon enough, and through my friend’s dogged persistence, I met with a caring, kind, and knowledgeable physician who helped me treat some of my more unmanageable symptoms, while finding emotional and mental balance along the way.
One miraculous form of help that came unexpectedly was spiritual renewal through daily meditation. As a busy mom, it’s hard for me to find a quiet moment during the day to connect with God. Spiritual practices are often repressed or pushed aside for the needs of my children. Feelings of depression can also prevent me from feeling the inner peace and hope that we all need. As I thought about how I could make more time for spiritual renewal, I felt inspired to try attending a Tuesday-evening yoga and meditation class for women.
From the moment I arrived that first night, I felt an instant surge of peace, relaxation, and clarity. The room was dimly lit with flickering candles, beautifully adorned with plants, and brightly decorated with joyful paintings on the walls. The sweet-smelling fragrances of lavender and frankincense filled the air.
Our lovely instructor sat on the middle of a small stage, while women of all ages—mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends—sat quietly on soft mats scattered about the room. It was a tranquil and welcoming atmosphere that I longed to bring home with me. The meditations were simple and meaningful, and involved chanting spiritual mantras.
Our first meditation was a chant used to invoke the protective energy of the Universe and to acknowledge our humility before God. As I sat there chanting in melodious harmony with the other women in the room, I felt the greatest, most overwhelming love from my Creator. I felt His warm presence around me, gently reminding me that He is always by my side—even when I’m an overly busy mom, even when I am feeling stressed and worn down, and even when I am experiencing struggles with depression during pregnancy.
At first I thought that continuing to meditate at home would be a waste of time, but now I know that directing my mind towards spiritual renewal gives me a chance to make sense of everything else. I’m able to find inner peace, feel greater happiness, have greater hope, relax, and de-stress. I feel God’s unconditional love and can be a better, more patient mother overall. These benefits can transfer to other spiritual disciplines that we find meaningful and uplifting in our lives as well.
My goal has been to sit and meditate for 10 to 15 minutes each day. This time can be spent either chanting spiritual mantras, sitting in silence while focusing my attention in one area, or praying to God in my heart. As a result, I am able to feel pure gratitude for the baby growing inside me, and I am able to fill myself with powerful feelings of love that I can then convey to my family.
I may not feel completely healthy and happy all of the time, but through staying on top of my medical treatment, talking through depressive episodes with my midwife, and practicing these spiritual disciplines, I am successfully making it through this pregnancy day-by-day, week-by-week.
QUESTION: What meaningful spiritual practices have helped you find peace and renewal in your life? How have they helped you cope in hard situations as a mother?
CHALLENGE: Try to set apart 10 to 15 minutes each day to dedicate yourself to the spiritual discipline of your choice.
Edited by Nollie Haws and Katie Carter.
Image from Pixabay; graphics added by Anna Jenkins.