Willow Magazine CREATING LIFE - Page 108

All of these firsts, and the emotions you feel along with them, are helping to set up deep and lifelong connections between you and your baby. This connection is known as bonding, or forming positive attachment, and it’s how babies discover and learn what the world is about. Bonding helps form their sense of well-being, acceptance and esteem as a welcomed and loved person.

Bonding during pregnancy helps develop your baby's personality.

It’s a well-regarded fact that the first seven years of a child’s life are the most formative. However, according to Dr Thomas Verny, a leading authority of the effect of prenatal environments on personality development, the core of your baby’s personality is developed during the time spent in your womb. Other research shows that babies in the womb are able to see, hear, feel, remember, taste and think before birth.

Nature has established much of the connection mechansisms that occur between you and your baby. These bonding patterns are reciprical, such as heart frequencies, hormonal balances and sleep patterns. Your body provides sensory stimulation that is attributed to the shaping and strengthening of your baby’s brain (new cells are being formed constantly).

It’s also possible to give nature a helping hand. While you most likely already use the senses of touch and sound to connect with your baby, there are other senses that can enhance the bond between you and your baby. Even better, your partner and family can also join in!

The benefits aren’t just for your baby. Making time to consciously bond with your baby helps you, your partner and other family members to prepare emotionally for the new addition to your family.

Image credit – Deposit Photos

Ways to enhance your connection with your baby

The following are ways you can use different senses to connect with your baby (and yourself as a mother.)

Power of touch

Research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding and health. This starts in the womb. The sense of touch is crucial because it triggers the release of oxytocin (the love and relaxation hormone) and also activates the orbitofrontal cortex in your baby’s brain, which is linked to feelings of reward and compassion.

You can use touch to communicate with your baby in a number of ways:

Press down gently on your belly.

Rub your belly in circular movements or from side to side.

Gently tap and drum your fingers on your stomach.

You will probably find that your baby (if she or he isn’t sleeping) will likely respond to your touches with movements of their own.

Soothing sounds

Your womb is rich with sound – the beating of your heart, the rhythmic swooshing of the placenta and the gurgling of your stomach. All of these sounds provide comfort for your baby.

One sound your baby gets to know very well is your voice. Your baby listens to your voice all day long and it reaches them in a stronger form than outside noises. When you talk directly to your baby it establishes your presence and communicates your love and caring. Of course this is equally true for your partner, children and other family members.

Maybe it feels strange to talk to your child, so here are some other ideas:

Read stories to your child – studies show that babies will recognise stories that have repeatedly heard in the womb.

Tell your baby stories about the day.

Tell your baby that you’re so excited to meet them and how welcome they are in your life.

Sing songs to your baby.

Playing music to your baby has tremendous benefit. Babies prefer music that mimics their mother’s heartbeat at 60 beats per minute (bpm). Classical music is good for this, but if that’s not your thing, you can find playlists on Spotify and Youtube with 60bpm songs.

Image credit: Cherie Pasion

Flashing lights

You may think that you can’t communicate with your baby through the sense of sight. But actually you can. Your baby responds to light and dark – so you can experiment by shining a light on your belly and then moving the light away. Try it and see what reaction your baby gives you.

Feel good food

Your baby’s taste buds start to form at around seven weeks. Flavour molecules cross the placenta and the amniotic fluid acts as a conduit that allows your baby to taste the things that you eat. In fact, studies suggest that newborns are more accepting of flavours they have been exposed to in the womb. While you may be feeling off some foods, especially in the first part of your pregnancy, eat food that you love and make you feel good – because the feel good hormones are also crossing the placenta.

Lingering smells

It is believed that the sense of smell lingers in the brain for longer than the other senses, and similar to taste, the amniotic fluid is also a conduit for smell. By the end of the first trimester your baby can smell the food you’re eating. Similar to taste, when you smell scents you really enjoy – like a certain perfume, freshly ground coffee and certain foods – you will also be sending those feel good hormones over to your baby.

Combine the senses for stronger connection

When you consciously and mindfully use those different senses to bond, then you can start combining them for an even stronger connection. For example, if you’re going to communicate with your baby using your flashlight, why not sing to your baby at the same time or play a “peek-a-boo” game. Similarly, you can tell your baby what foods you are eating or sing a silly song about it (if you are having your second or third child, you’ll probably have a few silly food songs up your sleeve). You may even wish to combine with a belly rub too.

All of these different combinations send a strong signal to your baby as to how welcome and loved she or he is in your life and is already a part of your family.

But it also has the benefit of preparing you as a mother. It helps you connect with your child, build your relationship with them and enhance your heart opening. It brings out your nurturing and caregiving skills.

Connecting in with your baby during pregnancy is truly a magical and intimate experience, and the benefits are far reaching. Give it a try and let us know which combination of senses give you and your baby the most pleasure.

Sources:

Cherie Pasion (2015) It’s Your Birth… Right? A guide for professional women to calmly transition to motherhood.

Thomas Verny (1982) The Secret Life of the Unborn Child: How You Can Prepare Your Baby For a Happy, Healthy Life.

Sorgen, Carol (2003) ‘Bonding with baby before birth’ http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/bonding-with-baby-before-birth.

Cherie Pasion bio.

Cherie Pasion is an author, mother and founder of Connected Mama. She lives up to her name and is deeply passionate about the transformative journey women take when they become mothers. Her book It’s Your Birth…Right? helps professional women emotionally prepare for motherhood.

Cherie runs programs focused on proactive emotional wellness for their motherhood transition centred on her Connection Compass – allowing women to connect in with themselves, their baby, their partner and ‘village’ as well as nature.

She has some free pregnancy affirmations and meditations for download on her website www.theconnectedmama.com or you can connect on Instagram www.instagram.com/connectedmama or Facebook www.facebook.com/connectedmama.

Forming connection with your baby before birth...

The road to motherhood is filled with many firsts. The first time you hear your baby’s heartbeat. The first time you catch a glimpse of your baby on the ultrasound screen. The first time you feel your baby move in response to your voice and touch. The first time you hold them in your arms. It’s truly indescribable.