Every couple is unique. Each couple has a different response to the news of being pregnant and having a baby. Yet, nothing is more exciting—and terrifying—than becoming pregnant and knowing that you're going to be responsible for another human being.
It's common to dive into all of the information online and buy a few books to devour. And it's natural to fill your thoughts with possible baby names, pursue midwives, and make that first check-up appointment. It's common to immediately seek to understand the stages of the embryo and fetus development and plan for the major event of childbirth. And to accompany this passionate interest is a multitude of resources with detailed pictures of weekly development.
However, what's missing and more difficult to find is how we as parents can intentionally support the baby's brain and emotional development during pregnancy. You may or may not know that a pregnant woman is continually imprinting her unborn child with her thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and the stress hormones created by her experiences.
What if you could intentionally create the best possible environment—inside and out—for your baby? Well, you can.
Increasing awareness of our imprints in the womb is the first step. Recognizing that we dramatically impact our baby during pregnancy through our thoughts, emotions, words, and actions is vital.
All parents want a physically healthy baby, so they eliminate unhealthy substances like alcohol and tobacco—understandably so. Of course, we want to give the best opportunity for our baby's health.
But just like the dozens of fitness gyms lining every city, we often put so much attention on physical health and fitness that we can neglect emotional health. As parents, we often get so caught up in the journey to the event of childbirth that we miss a big part of the equation of our baby's optimal health: emotional fitness and brain development.
Enhancing Brain Development for Optimal Health
According to brain studies, "the human brain undergoes critical stages of development from embryonic period to kindergarten...thus, human brain development is a highly complex and orchestrated process that sets the framework for cognition, behavior, and emotions for the rest of one’s life."
Isn't it time to consider more intentionally how to support and educate our parents and families? Let's learn how to be more deliberate in investing in the potential of human life through healthy parental and environmental influences while a baby is waxing in the womb.
As a mother of three grown children, long-time parent coach, and relationship strategist, I've never met a parent who isn't trying to do their best. However, parents can't act more wisely without a solid knowledge base. Until recently, many parents didn't even think about gaining parenting skills until their children had behavioral problems. What if we could prevent many learning difficulties and emotional issues by focusing on the healthy development of the embryo, fetus, and infant in our care.
Bringing a baby into this crazy world is an enormous responsibility, a responsibility that begins at conception! Yup, it's true: parenting begins at conception! Of course, pregnancy and the incredible building of a human being in nine months continues to be cloaked in mystery and unknowns.
In this unprecedented time, it's never been more important to be aware of our influence as parents. Ninety percent of the growth of the human brain occurs in the first five years of a child’s life. Did you know that your baby's brain gestating within you must grow nerve cells at a rate of 250,000 per minute? And as a newborn, your baby will have 100 billion neurons! And YOU are the primary influencer of this amazing growth.
Therefore, two of the most significant influences that a parent can have is through their child’s neural patterning by guiding their experience and creating a rich environment. The unborn child is greatly impacted by his or her caregivers.
By providing a safe, secure, and loving home, you maximize your child’s brain development—even in the womb! So how can you create maximum safety and an optimal environment with healthy stimulation for growth both inside and out?
Related reading: "Stages of Prenatal Development."
Ways to Cultivate Healthy Emotional and Brain Development in Your Baby
Here are some key components and actions that will support you on this beautiful journey. And remember, your love is the most important!
Take time to commune with your baby.
Don't get so caught up in learning about your baby's development so much that you forget to be present to this extraordinary miracle happening within you! Spend time every day talking and singing to your baby. Meditate on this incredible unfoldment happening within you. Revel in the love that helped to create this new life!
Create a strong, loving relationship as a couple.
Everything you do affects your baby. When you provide a stable environment, it creates safety. When you have loving communication, the energy of your love imprints the baby. And if you fight as a couple, it will adversely affect your baby when the mother increases the stress hormones to unhealthy levels. Some stress is normal; however, as much as possible, strive for a balanced emotional life together. And when the pregnancy hormones get you off balance, take extreme care of yourself and enlist the help of your partner and tribe.
Acknowledge and celebrate this incredible time as a couple.
No other time is there such a radical change in a couple's lives. It is filled with constant change and many unknowns. Support each other. Encourage each other. And share your fears and how you will create the best possible experience. Talk about your hopes and dreams you have for being parents.
Make self-care a priority!
Soon you'll be sleep-deprived. Free time will be precious, devoured by a baby entirely dependent on you! During your pregnancy, now is the time to take that long-talked-about getaway and love on each other. Relax. Ground into your values. Build up the emotional deposits with each other. Deliberately act with tenderness and kindness to enhance your loving connection with each other and the life rapidly growing within.
Discuss what kind of parents you want to be.
If you're first-time parents, this discussion is critical. What did you appreciate about your own parents? What would you do differently? How will you impart your values and reinforce them in every interaction? Visionary parenting that targets conscious, loving actions with long-term goals helps keep us on track as parents.
It's a great time to assess what's working and what isn't working if you have older children. Maybe you don't follow through with your words, or you've been too busy working. Talk about how you're going to redesign your family life so everyone's needs are met, and every child feels heard and cherished. A new precious addition to your family will disrupt your current family dynamic—so plan for it!
Create WombPrints that reflect the best of you. You both have a tremendous opportunity to be part of something extraordinary. Are there areas where a little more patience will create more peace? Is there a trouble spot in your relationship that needs to be worked through to allow for more heart connection and stability? Now is the time, NOT once the baby comes.
Create a supportive tribe around you.
Parenting is a challenging job; caring for a newborn is demanding and exhausting, especially in the first few weeks and months. Prepare for this time. Surround yourself with a caring tribe of support. Decide who can be a positive influence; you don't want someone around who is fearful or negative.
Pick a loving family member, a seasoned mother, or a close friend who can fully show up for you and your partner. This support will allow you to nap, take breaks to eat a nutritious meal, or emotionally process the magnanimous experience. Trust me. You'll be too cross-eyed to be building your support tribe after the baby comes. Consider a doula, a loving person to care for you and the baby. This help is incredibly comforting after your partner goes back to work.
You need to be focusing on giving your love to your baby.
With awareness and loving connection, you have the opportunity to choose the quality of your imprints. As a parent, you get to imprint your child with love, and these are your own personal imprints.
Interested in learning more? Try our e-book "WombPrints: the Untold Parenting Secrets of Pregnancy."
To learn more about WombPrints, for parenting support or information about Heartmanity parenting classes and pregnancy coaching programs, please call Heartmanity at 406-577-2100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.