Ways of Communicating with your Baby
In essence, there are three main ways that baby and mother communicate with each other in utero:
- Sensory - the physical connection of stroking, singing, talking, moving, and baby's kicks and movements
- Molecular - the hormonal exchange via the placenta between Mum and baby which is emotionally responsive
- Intuitive communication.
Thomas Verny's books ' The Secret Life of the Unborn Child' and 'Pre-Parenting - Nurturing your Child from Conception' are both ground-breaking books exploring research in this field.
It is important to know that recognising your baby as a sentient being from as soon as you think you may be pregnant will support you in maintaining positive communication with your little ones.
The way you see the world shapes the view your baby will have of the world.
For example, many of the beliefs you have about life were inherited from your parents - particularly your mother - before you were even born! The initial environment a baby grows in is that of his mother. The beliefs she has, thoughts she thinks, feelings she experiences in relation to her environmental factors and relationships: these all inform her baby about the world s/he's going to come into. This is nature at her best, preparing the little one to be able to adapt to the world s/he is born to, in order that s/he may maximise chances of survival (in its most primitive sense).
Don't be Alarmed
This may alarm you, as you think back to all those moments when you may have been frightened, angry or even unsure about the pregnancy or the security you have in your own relationships.
It will be reassuring to know that research has found that moderate stress is actually beneficial to the growing baby during pregnancy, as the baby's developing brain has the opportunity to create neuro pathways to cope with stress. If s/he's born without experiencing any stress factors in the womb, s/he won't know how to respond to it when s/he's born!
Express Yourself, Always
What matters to your baby is that you take responsibility for what you are feeling, to 'own' it rather than suppress it, and to communicate with you baby about what you are experiencing, reassuring your little one that you have the support to deal with whatever's happening and that they don't need to take responsibility.
Babies need to be able to differentiate between their own feelings and that of their mother's. They presume that anything their mother is feeling is also what they must be feeling.
So many expectant mothers feel that they shouldn't get angry, upset, frightened or depressed for fear of harming their baby.
However, what is most harmful to baby is when these emotions are unexpressed or suppressed! So if you're angry, voice it and shout if you need to; bash a pillow, stamp on the floor.
Just tell your baby, "Mum is angry right now, but I can handle this so you don't have to. I'm going to shout now..."
Or, after a fright, as soon as you feel safe, debrief and soothe your baby i.e. "Oh baby, I'm so sorry! This just happened and it really scared me, but I'm safe so please don't worry. Everything is OK and I love you very much."
Even the way Mum feels about other people, especially Dad and Grandma, should be explained to baby when strong emotions are felt e.g. "Mum's very angry with Dad right now because he doesn't understand why mummy is so tired, but I can handle this and you are safe."
If you Need Help, Get It
There are of course times when very strong negative emotions are felt; bereavement, abandonment, when there is physical or psychological abuse. At these times you may not feel able to communicate any feelings of positivity or safety and it is vital you reach out for help, wherever you can. If there is no family support structure, look to friends, your Doctor and charities who support positive mental health.
Try to share as much as you can with your little one about how you're feeling - and why - and allow all emotions to surface. Just touching your belly, going to a yoga class and learning to breathe deeply will soothe you both. Moment by moment, focus on creating safety inside you if the world outside doesn't feel so. This starts with a simple statement: "In this moment, I am safe".
EFT can be very useful during such times, as can hypnotherapy and counselling.
Top Tips: Habits to Get Into
Some top tips for encouraging positive attachment include:
- Talking to your baby, first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and every time you remember in between. Let him/her know how you're feeling, what's been happening, and what you're looking forward to or apprehensive about.
- Singing to your baby. Any songs you sing repeatedly or listen to during pregnancy will be the songs that soothe your baby when out in the world. Anything you love to sing, sing it!
- Massage your tummy and and get Daddy or another person you love dearly to massage for you. Gentle intuitive strokes, either in a clockwise circling fashion or simply gently rubbing/stroking your tummy is fine; whatever feels good!You can use special oil blends for pregnancy (avoid mineral oils), or olive oil, coconut oil, vitamin E oil - just stay away from nut oils and synthetic oil mixes.
- Learn to belly breathe - the essence of pregnancy yoga breathing. Relax your stomach muscles so that when you breathe in your belly expands outwards towards your hand if you're touching your belly. When you breathe out, let the belly gently deflate. This increases the oxygen in your blood stream, which is beneficial to your baby's growth, and aids removal of toxins through the blood stream.