Feeling stressed as a new or expectant mom? Trust us, you’re not alone. Your body, your emotions and your sleep schedule are all out of whack, so it’s no wonder you’re feeling overwhelmed. But just because it’s a common issue doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it. After all, finding your zen is good for mom and baby. So how can you center yourself? Meditation. And you don’t even need a guru to guide you in person—there are apps for that.
You likely already know that practicing mindful meditation is a proven stress-reliever. But did you also know research shows it can help ease childbirth fears and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety after baby is born? Plus, other studies suggest meditating during pregnancy can positively influence baby’s temperament. Less stress and a happy baby? Sign us up!
Here, some of the very best meditation apps out there that’ll help moms and moms-to-be achieve mindfulness.
Best Meditation App for Beginners: Headspace
Not sure you’re into the whole woo-woo vibe of meditation but kinda sorta really need to find some calm during your pregnancy or new-momdom? Headspace, with its welcoming and adorable design, is a perfect toe-dipper for those moms and moms-to-be seeking a mindfulness app sans the spiritual awakening. Here, you get a (gentle and supportive) kick-start with 10 essential meditation sessions included with the free version. If you’re digging it, you can subscribe for access to a bunch of easy-to-find quick hit meditation Minis (1 to 5 minutes) and SOS Singles for spot-on mom meditations, like Burned Out, Flustered and Losing Your Sh/t. There’s also a 30-meditation Pregnancy Pack and lots more themed meditation clusters, including a plethora for kids as young as 3. (While not on the app itself, if you go to the Headspace blog and click on Birth, you can also enjoy over a dozen meditation-focussed posts devoted to pregnancy, parenting and, of course, birth.)
Cost: The basics are free; subscribe for $96 a year to access to all content; iPhone and Android
Get started: Headspace.com
Best Free Meditation App for Pregnancy: Mind the Bump
After scouring to find some of the best free meditation apps for expectant moms, we’re pretty excited to have stumbled upon Mind the Bump. This app is a collaboration between two Australian mindfulness and mental health organizations. Their goal? To “give you the choice to see more clearly and deal more skillfully with the pressures of being a new or expecting parent.” Sold! With this mindfulness app, pregnant women, their partners and new parents alike can find calm with tailored, brief meditations (nothing is longer than 13 minutes) that span from day one of pregnancy all the way to baby’s second birthday. You can explore meditations by type (like body scans and breathing exercises) and stage you’re in (like trimesters or early parenthood). If you’re in your first trimester, for instance, you can choose a guided meditation that’ll help slowly build awareness of—and comfort with—your changing body. You’ll hear a soothing voice urging you to turn toward the discomfort and accept how you’re feeling without any judgement, something most moms-to-be need to be reminded of. Peppered throughout your meditation timeline are blips called Informal Practices, which are sweet suggestions on shoehorning mindfulness into your daily life, like while watching baby play, waiting in line and more.
Cost: Free for iPhone and Android
Get started: MindtheBump.org.au
Best All-About-Moms Meditation App: Expectful
The Expectful app was born in the summer of 2017 and is a blessed addition to the pool of mindfulness apps. Expectful is not an “oh, here’s some special stuff for moms over in this corner” type of thing. Instead, it’s soup-to-nuts all about moms: those who are trying to conceive, those who are trudging through each trimester and those who are in the thick of parenting. All of the meditations have been carefully constructed by a team of psychologist, hypnotherapists and sound engineers who have moms top of mind. The result: Each mom and mom-to-be has access to her own specially curated meditations. (We love that there are mediations specifically focused on forgiving judgement and releasing anger—so it’s not all roses and sunshine, and that’s what we need.) And because Expectful knows its audience so well, it genuinely feels like a trusted been-there-done-that girlfriend is guiding you through these 10- or 20-minute sessions. For instance, in one of the Guided Fertility meditations, your new beyond-soothing BFF talks about how the road to pregnancy is less of a journey and more of a roller coaster, making it harder to know where to create boundaries and see the bigger picture. Truth.
Cost: After a two-week free trial, it’s $10 a month for iPhone or Android
Get started: Expectful.com
Best Free Meditation App for Moms: Insight Timer
While we love free things, not all complimentary items (or apps) are worth your precious time. Insight Timer totally is. It isn’t a mom-specific app, but it’s one of the best free meditation apps available, stuffed with about 12,000 guided meditations—and music tracks too. The organization here is pretty great. You can search based on your goals, the amount of time you’ve got and the level of experience you have, and bookmark your favorites. You can find mom-oriented meditations here: Simply follow “interests” like Pregnancy & Fertility and Mindful Parenting to zero in on practices like the 10-minute Grounding Meditations for Mothers. Mostly, however, you’ll find a ton of la carte 15- to 20-minute meditations with a variety of themes, paces and voices covering topics that hit close to many a mom’s heart, like anxiety, frustration and self-doubt. One that all moms need: Five Minutes of Self-Compassion. It’s likely just the meditative inspiration you’ll need at the end of a bumpy day of parenting.
Cost: Free for iPhone or Android; or $36 a year for offline listening and other advanced features
Get started: InsightTimer.com
Best Multi-Purpose Mediation App for Moms: Sanity & Self
Moms are expert multitaskers, so it stands to reason one of our favorite mindfulness apps is a multitasker too. Sanity & Self isn’t just a meditation app—it’s also a wellness app featuring fitness and personal growth audio and video sessions to boot. There are yoga videos, running videos and pep talks about self doubt, but there’s a quite a bit on the meditation front too, like the Get the Sex You Deserve and F#ck It! mediations. The feel of Sanity & Self is modern, cheery, sometimes bleep-worthy and totally sincere. You can set a reminder to make sure you—and your meditations—are always on your to-do list, which we love. The app also offers a private journal and a moms area in the community section where you can freely chat with fellow parents about anything, sans judgement.
Cost: After a week-long free trial, subscriptions start at $7 a month for iPhone or Android
Get started: SanityandSelf.com
Best Smorgasbord Meditation App for Moms: Calm
While not for-moms-only, Calm is a fabulous mindfulness app for learning all about different mediation techniques. In fact, it was named the 2017 iPhone app of the year by Apple, so, you know it’s worth a click or two. There’s a lot here for beginners as well as old pros, with mediation sessions lasting from as little as 3 minutes to a max of 25 minutes. And it’s not just soothing voices guiding you (though there’s plenty of that)—Calm offers breathing exercises, oodles of restorative nature sounds (great for labor and getting newborns to sleep), and you can customize what you’re gazing at while you find your zen. (Crackling fireplace, anyone?) As a newbie, you can start with the free 7 Days Of Calm primer series featuring 10-minute guided meditations, or just go for the mesmerizing breathe bubble, which pulses and reminds you to take calculated deep breaths (perfect for heading off a mom meltdown). Also great: Calm features grown-up bedtime stories read by notable storytellers, such as Stephen Fry. While it’s not a mediation, per se, it’ll surely lull any mama.
Cost: After a 7-day free trial, it’s $60 a year for iPhone or Android
Get started: Calm.com
Best Meditation App for Busy Moms: Stop, Breathe & Think
It’s hard to resist the friendly, mellow cloud on Stop, Breathe & Think that greets you with a “How are you?” when you open this mindfulness app. And the question isn’t just for the sake of pleasantries. Here, users (moms and non-moms alike) are encouraged to physically and emotionally check-in. Here, you rank how you’re doing from Great to Rough, with a little Meh in between. You can also select line-drawn face icons to represent your mood. Based on your each-and-every-time answers, the app offers up custom meditation recommendations. So if your epic parenting skills have you riding high, you may be directed to uplifting gratitude practices and mindful walking mediations. Feeling defeated by a day of public diaper blowouts and teething tears? The app might send you to the Great Compassion series or the Relax, Ground And Clear section. (There are about 30 free meditations to try out, with the longest being about 11 minutes.) Don’t want to check in every time? You can simply set a meditation timer and get your zen on in sweet silence or with relaxing sounds.
Cost: Free access to limited content (about 20-plus activities) for iPhone and Android; $5 a month to access premium content (including a few pregnancy-focused meditations)
Get started: StopBreatheThink.com
Best Meditation App for the Whole Family: Meditation Studio
The pencil-doodle design of Meditation Studio might just be enough to bring your chill on. If you need more, no worries: This mindfulness app is a well-organized treasure trove of meditations for everyone. Here, you can browse by collections, which are curated guided meditation sessions that fall under a particular umbrella, like Be Healthy and Be Curious. There’s a small but solid (13 meditations) collection specifically for moms, aimed at helping mediators find peace and calm in their changing lives. We love that some truly fab in-the-know ladies, like Cassandra Vieten, PhD, the author Mindful Motherhood and Stephanie Goldstein, PhD, a mom of three and the co-founder of the Center for Mindful Living in Los Angeles, are behind these just-for-moms (and moms-to-be) meditations. Bonus: There’s a kids’ meditation collection designed for children between the ages of 4 and 10. They’re short (4 to 9 minutes) and superb at helping young ones relax, catch some ZZZs or tame tantrums.
Cost: Free access to limited content on iPhone; $4 for limited content on Android; $50 per year for premium access
Get started: MeditationStudioApp.com
Best All-About-Birthing Meditation App: Calm Birth
The Calm Birth app cuts right to the chase: It’s a super-simple, three mediation app designed to aid moms-to-be (and partners) throughout pregnancy and childbirth. The Calm Birth organization has been training meditation teachers since 2005 and has been endorsed by many, many leading childbirth educators. As for their app, it’s one of the best free meditation apps around. There’s a 14-minute Breathe meditation that aims to help expectant moms cull energy for herself and her child. Next is Rest, a body-awareness meditation based in the Progressive Relaxation technique, which can be practiced with a partner. (Perfect for an afternoon rest.) Finally, there’s the relaxing and empowering 13-minute Heal, which is a compassionate breathing meditation that guides mom-to-be as she sends healing energy to herself and her baby. It’s all incredibly easy—exactly what you want in a get-ready-for birth meditation app.
Cost: Free for iPhone
Get started: iTunes.com
Best Movement Meditation App for Moms: Sway
While Sway is very much a mediation app, it doesn’t serve up standard guided meditation where a soothing voice shepards you to your get-chill endzone. Instead, Sway uses the motion sensors in your phone to guide you through movement-based mediations. Here, the app urges you to slowly, continually and deliberately move while it plays soothing ambient sounds meant to bring calm. It’s all about retaining focus. If you lose that focus, Sway instructs you (nicely, of course) to recalibrate. When you’re done, a gentle chime sounds and you’re congratulated on meeting your daily meditation. We love that it’s like a zen-ified video game with six levels of mindfulness. You have to complete certain goals before moving to the next level. (Skipped a day? Bummer. You’ll be knocked back a level.)
Cost: $3 on iPhone
Get started: Pauseable.com
Best Meditation Routine App: Simple Habit
Simple Habit is a mindfulness app that boasts access to 1,000-plus short meditations for busy people. And who’s busier than a new mom? Here, you can pick and choose meditations on topics that speak to you the most, like Family & Kids, Women’s Interest, Sleep and Stress. You can also plug the term “mom” into the search bar and you’ll get meditations on things like healthy pregnancy, patient parenting, gratitude for moms and morning sickness. Of course, you don’t need mom-specific meditations to get your fix. We love the on-the-go wheel of meditation options, where you can quickly select a situation or time of day (such as After Work, Tough Day or Commute) and how much time you have (5 to 20 minutes) and a just-for-you meditation appears. Simple Habit quite literally treats mindfulness as a habit: Not only can you set a daily reminder to meditate, but there’s also a My Progress section where you can keep tabs on when you mediated and for how long. All of the above makes it easy (or at least, easier) to make self-care a priority.
Cost: Free access to basic, limited content; free 7-day premium access trial; after trial, $8 a month or $96 a year
Get started: SimpleHabit.com
Published October 2018
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