Apps for Learning Relaxation and Meditation

Pregnant Woman Listening to Music
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Relaxation is something that many women find in pregnancy. Stress can be something that starts or is exacerbated by pregnancy. And that stress certainly can have a negative effect on pregnancy, including adverse birth outcomes, including preterm labor. So what can you so about stress while pregnant?

One thing that has long been taught in childbirth classes is basic relaxation skills. Relaxation has been shown to increase a women's sense of control and decrease her reported stress levels.

This can include physical relaxation techniques, but also breathing, meditation, and tense-release exercises. Though many people don't take childbirth classes until after their 20th week of pregnancy. This can mean that more than half of their pregnancy without the benefit of these techniques. While some moms will learn a few basics in their early pregnancy classes, this may not be offered where you are or not a part of the curriculum. Where do that leave you? Self-study through books and apps.

The nice thing is is that there are a lot of options for apps on your phone or via the web. I have tried a few of them and thought I would share which ones really worked nicely. The thing you have to remember is that all relaxation is very personal. One person may really like guided imagery, while another may prefer to have a more meditation based experience. 

  • Headspace: This is both web based and an app. It is not pregnancy specific but works to teach you the basics of mindfulness and body awareness. This was my favorite so far. The big drawback is that while the first ten days/sessions are free, there is a monthly fee for using the site afterward. It was well laid out enough that I would be happy to do so. If nothing else, there are a few videos, about 90 seconds long, that really give the best explanation I have seen for meditation Since this follows a day to day program, you don't really revisit meditations. The basics are easy enough to replicate when away from the phone or computer. This is a great one while I'm waiting somewhere. (iOS, Android, web)
  • Mindfulness for Pregnancy: This is a paid app, at $2.99, but it is tailored to pregnancy. There are several meditations and exercises that are here of varying lengths. This does include the body scan that is very popular in pregnancy for promoting physical relaxation. You can also do a silent meditation, with or without bells. And last, but not least, there is also a stats keeper. This is great so that you can see how often you're using the app. If it's helpful, you can see when you might add more. There are also additional in-app purchases that can be made. (iOS)
  • Buddhify2: This is also not pregnancy specific, but it is a pretty neat app for doing meditation. This one is not so instructional, but just guided meditations. There are many to choose from based on what you need at the time or on what you're doing. So, for example, if you're trying to sleep, there is one for that, enjoy the outdoors, working, etc. There is a lot of variety in this app. Though it also supports statistics and simple meditation. It is $1.99. You can add even more with in-app purchases. (iOS)
  • iBirth: This app is not specifically about relaxation or meditation, but it is pregnancy related. This app is $4.99 and contains 21 videos on a variety of labor positions broken down by stage of labor. That said, there is a section of lists that include spoken affirmations and visualization ideas. This is certainly a small part of this app, but it's simple and works very well. I've been a doula for many years and this app understands the pregnant and laboring women's needs. The position videos are also great at finding comfortable positions to maximize your relaxation and mindfulness exercises. (iOS, Android) 

    If you aren't big on apps, there are other things that you can use too. Here are some more tips and ideas on relaxation for pregnancy:

    Tragea, C., Chrousos, G. P., Alexopoulos, E. C., & Darviri, C. (2014). A randomized controlled trial of the effects of a stress management program  during pregnancy. Complement Ther Med, 22(2), 203-211. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2014.01.006

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