Why Pregnant Women Are Zoning Out to ASMR

Written by Erin Feher
6:30 pm
03/19/19

Erin Gleeson Photographed by Maria del Rio

The internet is a weird place, and it can be easy (and healthy) to ignore most of the the bizarre, clickable trends that come and go. But one recent internet craze is being billed as a boon for stressed-out pregnant women, and converts say it’s been a salve for everything from physical discomfort to anxiety.

We are talking about ASMR, which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. It’s that tingling sensation you get when someone whispers in your ear or plays with your hair. Commonly, ASMR is described as a feeling that begins in the crown of the head and ripples throughout the body, resulting in a sense of deep relaxation. And now YouTubers known as “ASMRtists” are racking up tens of thousands of views with tranquility-inducing videos of them whispering, scratching, chewing, and tapping.

It’s understandably a strange phenomenon for the uninitiated, and one that is easy to laugh off (or at, as this Michelob Light beer commercial starring Zoe Kravitz does), but it seems that more and more pregnant women are finding sweet relief in this auditory distressor. There are even videos aimed specifically at pregnant women, such as this one, where popular ASMRtist “Jellybean Green” role plays a doula giving a prenatal massage.

As the Washington Post recently reported, “ASMR might have a particularly potent effect for pregnant women, as the hormone most closely linked to the phenomenon—oxytocin—is often elevated during pregnancy, and also plays a critical role during labor and breast-feeding. A recent study showed that ASMR activates the same areas of the brain that have long been associated with bonding and soothing behaviors.”

Fans of Jellybean Green’s “ASMR Pregnancy Comfort” video, which has been viewed more than 15,000 times, seem to be feeling the effects. Ashley C. commented: “Love this. My second pregnancy was the hardest time of my life. I had the worst anxiety and OCD. I pulled through and my daughter is now a happy and healthy 9 month old. ASMR helped me immensely in those months.” While DandelionLeaf posted: “33 Weeks with 2nd here, I’m very impatient for my due date. Not sleeping and so terribly uncomfortable. ASMR helped me with the first, this video is perfect and just what I needed. Thank you!”

The woman behind Jellybean Green is a mom of three, all of which were difficult pregnancies. She personally benefited from ASMR during her pregnancies, and wanted to provide relief to others in her situation. “There’s an enormous amount of cultural pressure surrounding pregnancy; we’re surrounded by images of pregnant women who are glowing, excited, and participating in all the popular rituals for preparing for childbirth—like doing prenatal yoga and designing themed nurseries. These images were so far removed from my reality, and I felt like I was failing a rite of passage,” she told the Washington Post. “ASMR videos were my one escape… It brings me right back to when I would be sick as a small child and my mother would hold and comfort me. Those videos were like a little island of calm at a time when I was drowning in discomfort and worry.”

For more on cultivating a calm pregnancy, check out these mindful pregnancy tips, minimalist pregnancy essentials, and how to optimize your health during pregnancy.

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