January 30, 2018
Did you know you can start bonding with your baby before they're born? It's true! Pregnancy is the perfect time you and your partner can begin nurturing a relationship with your baby. Prenates are conscious and sentient beings who have experiences in the womb. These experiences influence the way they feel about themselves and the world they are about to be born into. Communicating with your baby is a beautiful way to help them feel acknowledged, wanted and loved before they're even born!
We now know that babies are not born as "tabula rasa" or blank slates, empty of thoughts, feelings or ideas. In fact that couldn't be further from the truth! By 23 weeks of gestation all of your baby's senses are developed. Modern ultrasounds have documented baby's and their amazing sensory abilities in utero; they respond to touch when mother strokes her belly, they can recognize their mother and father’s voice, they respond to loud sounds, and can perceive a bright light shining on mama's belly by covering their eyes. Mother and baby are intimately connected for 10 months. During this time your baby is learning about their world through your thoughts, feelings and experiences.Recognizing and validating your baby's experiences in the womb supports their emotional, spiritual and physical development. Here are some ways to communicate with your baby during pregnancy to support their development, minimize the effects of stress and set the foundation for secure attachment.
Feeling supported during pregnancy has a healing effect on both mama and baby. When we feel well supported or "resourced" we are better able to manage the inevitable stress of life and therefore provide a nurturing environment for baby. It can be helpful to identify both inner and outer resources. Inner resources can be accessed through meditation, tapping into creative expression (art, dance, journaling), a supportive mantra, or mindful communication with your baby, just to name a few. A few examples of outer resources would be maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner, a walk in nature, a supportive family/friend, or healing modalities such as psychotherapy, craniosacral therapy or prenatal massage therapy. Ensuring that you have the support you need to feel nurtured, loved and validated will help your baby feel the same.
Taking a moment to reflect on the amazing miracle of life is a beautiful way to honor your baby. Some women find comfort in prayer, meditation, prenatal yoga classes, spending time in nature, deepening into your spiritual practice, journaling or dream work. It can be helpful to create an altar adorned with images and items which you find inspiring, supportive and healing. You can set aside time each day to reflect at your altar, honoring your innate wisdom, and developing a deep trust in your body and your baby. To honor your rite of passage to motherhood, a Blessingway ceremony is a beautiful way to honor the sacredness of this transition alongside your most trusted female companions. Whatever modality allows you to access the mystery and magic of life, do that!
Our fast paced society doesn't encourage much down time. Most women only receive 12 weeks of maternity leave often resulting in working up to our due date so we can use all our time off for when baby arrives. We often speed through daily life forgetting to pause and reflect on our emotional well being. During pregnancy it is especially important to pause, take a moment to check in with yourself and ask "What do I need to feel supported right now?". You can even ask your baby what he/she needs or if they have any important messages to share with you. Developing this two way communication system supports you in connecting to your intuition and trusting that you know what your body and your baby needs. Developing a deep knowing and trust in your body will support you throughout your pregnancy, during your baby's birth, and into motherhood.
Stress is an inevitable part of life and comes along with the territory of motherhood. All women experience a degree of stress and concern during pregnancy and, in some ways, it can be helpful. Stress can motivate us to ask questions, it can inspire us to examine what kind of mother we want to be for our children, and help us access our inner strength and courage. Feeling supported and having tools to manage stress can have a significant impact on our well-being and our baby. Finding a sensitive and empathic listener can be a great resource to help you in processing your feelings, gaining insight into your concerns and exploring problem solving strategies. During stressful moments instead of stressing about the stress, bring your attention to communicating to your baby in a comforting and reassuring manner. For example, you can say, "Baby, mommy is stressed because I have to meet this deadline at work. It's not your responsibility and you don't have to do anything to fix it. Mom can handle this". Differentiating your experience from your baby's experience will help help mitigate the effect the stress can have on your baby.
Babies are aware, sensitive and perceptive beings; acknowledging their experience can help establish the foundation for a secure and healthy attachment between you, your baby and your partner. If you're reading this worried that you didn’t have the opportunity to bond prenatally with your baby please know that there are always opportunities for connection and repair. You can repair ruptures in connection by engaging in mindful dialogue with your child at any age! Having the tools and knowledge to understand your child's needs can lead to a greater sense of fulfillment and joy as parents. Embrace your pregnancy journey, find your village of support and know that you don’t have to do motherhood alone. If you're interested in learning more about prenatal bonding visit my website for upcoming classes.
Gina Janc, MFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Encinitas. Her interest in prenatal and perinatal psychology led her to create, "Bring Back the Village", a place for women and their families to receive nurturing and therapeutic support as they transition to parenthood. Gina provides individual and family counseling as well as women's circles and workshops for expectant couples. She is completing the requirements to be a certified Prenatal and Perinatal Educator through the Association for Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH). Gina takes a holistic approach to healing; honoring the psychological, spiritual and emotional transformation women undergo from Maiden to Mother. You can learn more about Gina here.
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