"Ask yourself: What do you want most for your child-to-be? Almost everyone will answer in some form, that they want their baby to be the happiest and healthiest he or she can be. So, how do you go about trying to aid your baby in that lofty goal? Most pregnant moms do everything to make sure they and their babies, are physically healthy. What many moms-to-be don’t know is that they can also affect their baby’s emotional health and temperament by paying attention to their own mental health.
Did you know:
Your unborn child shares your emotional experiences?
Your unborn child's experience during pregnancy shapes his brain and determines her behavior after birth and probably for the rest of her life?
You begin the important job of parenting your child before birth. Many parents-to-be miss this opportunity to begin to give their child the wonderful gifts of a peaceful mind and healthy birth.
The science and research supporting these statements are described by Fredrick Wirth, MD in his book Prenatal Parenting: The Psychological and Spiritual Guide to Loving Your Unborn Child. Research supports the link between your baby's prenatal environment and his or her later behavior. In a landmark study, women who had stress in their lives that was resolved when they gave birth had children who at age 4 were more irritable and aggressive. A new study in Child Development even states that these affects are most likely to be seen when anxiety is present during weeks 12 and 22 of pregnancy.
So what do you do? Stress happens; that’s just life. Pregnancy adds more stressors to your daily routine. However, here are some very specific activities that you can do to work towards positive mental health for you and your baby.
Dr. Wirth’s foundation, The Institute for Perinatal Education, states that the 7 keys to a successful pregnancy are:
Connecting emotionally with your unborn child
Releasing your stress reaction
Developing a positive flow state
Being at your personal best for your developing child
Using your mind and body to become your unborn child's brain architect
Communicating effectively to improve your family's health
Developing a pregnancy mission statement
Many of these keys can be addressed by adding techniques to your day that induce the “Relaxation Response”, a physiological response in the body that is opposite to the body’s stress response. The good news about this is that these are the same techniques that will also help you during labor and birth.
Does this mean that you must be 100% stress-free to have a healthy and happy baby? No, of course not. What it means is that you want to limit the amount of stress by addressing your fears and worries instead of ignoring or "stuffing" them. You also want to build in times during the day when you are feeling feelings of happiness and love. This teaches your baby that there will be stress in life, but it is always resolved. Your baby learns how to handle stress.
This doesn’t have to take a lot of time during the day. Doing anywhere from five to thirty minutes of daily relaxation will positively affect your emotional state as well as your baby’s. By focusing on relaxation and trying to be calm, you will have a peaceful mind and body during pregnancy and a peaceful baby who is easier to parent. Most of all, you will know you are doing all you can to have a healthy and happy baby."
Your Baby’s Emotional Well-Being Starts In Utero