Archive for January, 2018

Photo: GIC

Mindfulness and meditation are all about cultivating an intimate relationship with yourself and the present moment, but these practices also boast transformative benefits for intimacy with your partner. Relationship intimacy involves emotional closeness, which is a key component of maintaining a meaningful relationship. In an age when busyness is our modern-day epidemic, and hyper-connectedness is the norm, mindfulness and meditation become lifelines for the success of our relationships.

The research is in! A meta-analysis published in the February 2016 issue of the Journal of Human Sciences and Extension found that mindfulness can be linked to profoundly satisfying, connected relationships. This meta-analysis looked at the results from 12 studies, including two mindfulness intervention studies. Overall, mindfulness was shown to enhance relationship connectedness and satisfaction. The practice of presence starts from within, but the benefits extend far beyond ourselves. Here are three reasons mindfulness and meditation will make you a better partner:

1. Meditation will help you be less reactive.

Neuroscience now validates what ancient yogis have known for years: that brain change happens through practices that connect the mind, body, and spirit. A consistent mindfulness practice decreases the amygdala’s density (the amygdala is a small part of the brain that acts as an alarm system, detecting threat), thus increasing our capacity to regulate our emotions in the face of anger, agitation, and fear. How does this translate to relationships? Think about a moment when you’re reacting to something your partner said or did, a moment when you’re feeling rejected, invalidated, or unloved. In these micro-moments, emotions such as anger, sadness, or fear often arise instantaneously in the nervous system. A mindfulness practitioner, however, can witness these emotions with objectivity, experiencing less reactivity due to changes in their brain. Reactivity is released through mindfulness and self-observation.

2. Mindfulness teaches us to speak from our hearts.

Viktor E. Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, said, “between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” That space is mindfulness. Most of us lead perpetually busy lives of inundated inboxes, endless texts, and social media scrolling; we have little to no space to actually slow down to take in this life we’re living alongside our loved ones. The practice of presence (whether we’re talking about formal meditation or a mindfulness practice such as belly breathing) guides us back home to our loving, compassionate heart. The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education did a study on the neurobiology of love; their findings showed that through mindful presence, romantic partners are able to deactivate parts of their brains associated with negative emotions and criticism.

3. Meditation will help you stay calm—and it will rub off on your partner.

Research shows that meditators begin to value an embodied sense of calm and become more likely to engage in thoughtful, mindful, interpersonal connections with others. A study led by Birgit Koopmann-Holm of Stanford found that meditators placed a higher premium on calmness than non-meditators. Neuroscience tells us that mirror neurons (brain cells that “mirror” the behavior of another) act as catalysts for calm interactions with our partner. In other words, if we choose to embody a calm presence with our loved one no matter what is unfolding around us, our partner will likely mirror this very behavior in response. Mindfulness meditation teaches us to meet the moment with full acceptance and without judgment. When we gift our presence to the people around us, we enhance our capacity for joyful living, interconnectedness, and meaningful relationships.

In a world where distraction is pervasive, living in the present moment is the greatest gift me can give ourselves. Mindfulness and meditation are there to teach us that health is about You. We. All and help us find what we seek most: partnerships full of love, depth, and joy.



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While a cesarean delivery is sometimes necessary and can be lifesaving, it may have serious long-term disadvantages for both mother and child, researchers report.

The analysis, in PLOS Medicine, pooled data from 80 studies including almost 30 million subjects.

Compared to vaginal delivery, C-sections were associated with a significant reduction in the risk for urinary incontinence and for pelvic organ prolapse, a dangerous weakening of the muscles that hold pelvic organs in place.

But for a pregnancy following a cesarean, there was a 17 percent increased probability of miscarriage and a 27 percent increased probability of stillbirth. The researchers also found nearly triple the probability for placenta accreta, in which the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall, and an increased chance of other placental problems.

Children delivered by cesarean had a 21 percent increased probability of asthma by age 12 and a nearly 60 percent increased likelihood of obesity up to age 5.

Still, the absolute risks of delivery-related problems were small. “Both kinds of delivery have very low risks of complications,” said the senior author, Dr. Sarah J. Stock, an obstetrician at the University of Edinburgh. “With placenta accreta, for example, the risk is one in 3,000, and it goes up to three in 3,000 with cesarean. These are rare but serious risks.”


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Drinking probiotic-rich milk during pregnancy may decrease a woman’s risk of developing two pregnancy-related problems, a new study from Norway suggests. But the stage of pregnancy in which a woman consumes these probiotic-rich beverages appears to play a role.

Researchers found that women’s intake of probiotic milk during early pregnancy was linked with a lower risk for preterm delivery (delivery before the 37th week of pregnancy), compared with the risk for pregnant women who did not consume probiotic milks at all. They also found an association between probiotic-milk intake during late pregnancy and a lower risk for preeclampsia, according to the findings, which were published today (Jan. 23) in the journal BMJ Open.

Preeclampsia is a serious complication in which pregnant women have high blood pressure and a high level of protein in the urine. The condition can have systemic, or body-wide, effects.

Both conditions — preeclampsia and preterm delivery — are associated with a higher degree of inflammation in the body than can be expected in a normal pregnancy, said lead author Dr. Mahsa Nordqvist, an OB/GYN at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden.

Probiotics — or “good” bacteria — might help reduce inflammation in the body and, therefore, potentially reduce the risk of these pregnancy complications, Nordqvist told Live Science. [8 Tips to Be a Probiotic Pro]

In the study, the researchers looked at data collected from about 70,000 pregnant women in Norway, who were participants in the long-running Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. As a part of that study, the women completed questionnaires about their health history and lifestyle habits at the 15th and 30th week of pregnancy, and provided information about their diets at the 22nd week of pregnancy.

The lifestyle questionnaires asked women about their intake of probiotic milk products before pregnancy, as well as during early and late pregnancy. Probiotic milk products are popular and widely available in Norway, Nordqvist noted.

Products such as kefir, milk containing the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus, and yogurts with added probiotics might be considered comparable products to the probiotic milks described in the study, Nordqvist added. However, the researchers did not look at probiotic supplements because only a very small percentage of the women in the study said they used them.

About 23 percent of the women in the study reported that they drank probiotic milk before becoming pregnant, about 38 percent drank it during early pregnancy (meaning up until the 13th week of pregnancy) and 32 percent consumed probiotic milk during late pregnancy (between the 13th and 30th week of pregnancy). The women drank about 1.5 cups a day, on average, of milk products containing the live active bacteria.

The researchers found that drinking probiotic milk during late pregnancy was associated with a 20 percent lower risk of preeclampsia, compared with not drinking probiotic milk during late pregnancy. [9 Conditions Pregnancy May Bring]

The results appear to suggest that consuming probiotics late in pregnancy can lower the risk of preeclampsia by reducing symptoms, such as high blood pressure and protein in the urine, which tend to occur in the third trimester, Nordqvist said.

The timing of probiotic-milk intake also appeared to make a difference for premature delivery: Drinking probiotic milk in early pregnancy was linked to a 21 percent lower risk of preterm delivery, compared with not drinking probiotic milk during early pregnancy.

One explanation for this result is that preterm delivery can often be related to infection, which leads to inflammation in the body, Nordqvist said. The results suggest that if the body’s inflammatory response can be lowered at an early stage of pregnancy, this may lower the risk of giving birth too early, she said.

The researchers noted that the study had limitations. For example, the researchers weren’t able to evaluate which of the probiotic milk products or which strains of bacteria in them may have inflammation-lowering effects. In addition, the study did not prove cause-and-effect; instead, it showed an association between probiotic milk and these pregnancy complications.

Dr. Susanne Bathgate, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., said that the study was ambitious and that one of its strengths was that it looked at dietary information from a large number of pregnant women. Bathgate has researched preeclampsia but was not involved in the study.

Doctors currently recommend that pregnant women at high risk of preeclampsia take a low dose of aspirin daily in their second trimester, which is thought to help reduce inflammation, Bathgate said. As Nordqvist noted, many of the pathways involved in both preeclampsia and preterm birth are thought to be influenced by inflammation, and some inflammation may originate from the placenta, Bathgate said.

So, the idea that reducing inflammation might change pregnancy outcomes makes sense, but more research is needed before doctors can make recommendations that pregnant women drink probiotic milk to help prevent complications, Bathgate told Live Science. Probiotic milk may be a fairly common part of people’s diet in Norway, but it’s not in the United States, she said.


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