Expectful Co-Founder and CEO Nathalie Walton Shares Meditation Tips for Hopeful, New and Expectant Mothers
By Carly Sloane
Nathalie Walton has been on a mission to provide holistic health and mindfulness resources with a focus on women, especially women of color, since experiencing her own high-risk pregnancy.
The entrepreneur started as a user of the wellness app Expectful, made for hopeful, new or expectant mothers, loved by Lea Michele, Alison Sudol and more celebrities, and later became the company's Co-Founder and CEO.
"In my twentieth week of pregnancy, I found out that I was at high risk for pre-term labor. My doctors told me that I wouldn’t make it to term, and I was at risk of losing my son. My predicament created a tremendous amount of stress. My eager, confident attitude shifted to one of a primal, survival state," she tells ET while raising awareness for Black Maternal Health Week, from April 11 through April 17.
"In my urgent quest to cope with my stress, I came across Expectful. ... Within a week of using the app, there was more than a mental shift happening. Externally, my body and my baby began to fight back against the dooms of my prognosis. We immediately began to stabilize and eventually made it to term, a feat that none of my doctors expected," she continues.
Walton practiced meditation before her pregnancy, but started feeling a new impact when she began doing meditations aimed at expectant mothers who were facing similar difficulties.
"Pregnancy-specific meditations spoke to my vulnerabilities as a mother-to-be, and the narrators knew exactly what I was going through. The compassion and empathy of pregnancy and birth-specific meditation uniquely supported me during a challenging time," she shares.
The app offers over 1,500 meditations for fertility, pregnancy, motherhood, and loss, and provides mindfulness resources including live events with pre and postnatal experts, infant sleep specialists, lactation consultants, pelvic floor therapists, pre and postnatal yoga and Pilates classes, breathwork workshops, group meditations and more.
To begin your meditation practice, Walton says the first step is to let go of any expectations or preconceived notions.
"Meditation doesn’t have to be intimidating. I think people imagine this all-knowing person, sitting on a mountain top with their legs pretzeled together, and lots of om-ing. ... Make it simple, make it meaningful, and make it enjoyable for you. ... Make it work for your lifestyle and don’t be too precious about the where, when, or how. The fact that you’re trying is part of the effect," she says.
Once you've started, Walton recommends trying out various forms of meditation before deciding which type is right for you and easing into it from there.
"You can try including breathing exercises, walking meditations, and even nursing meditations. ... five minutes is really all you need to get the benefits of meditating. ... Try to remove the pressure of finding large chunks of quiet-time to practice mindfulness," she adds.
As for her own practice, Walton makes sure to continue to meditate every day since giving birth whenever she can find the time.
"The stress I experienced did not end in pregnancy. ... Caring for an infant on top of being an entrepreneur presents a whole new threshold of mental weight I’d never experienced before. ... I meditate in the pockets of my day including the few minutes I have between school drop off, my first meeting after I’ve had hours of back-to-back Zoom calls, or as I lie down for a quick power nap or bedtime," she says.
Expectful is $12.99 a month or $69.99 a year with the first seven days for free. One-on-one virtual services from fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum experts range from $20 and up.
The app partnered with JOHNSON’S® to offer 700 gifted annual app subscriptions to new, expectant, and hopeful Black mothers in observance of Black Maternal Health Week 2022, to honor the estimated number of women who die in the U.S. each year from a wide array of maternal health issues. To apply, visit expectful.com/helping-hands.
"Each year, it’s estimated that 700 women in the U.S will die from pregnancy-related causes. The majority of those women are Black," Walton states. "It’s my hope that other Black women can experience the power of mindfulness that had such a profound impact on my pregnancy."