What do you want your baby’s experience of pregnancy and birth to be? Here is a new perspective on life.
“The first reason why birth is so important has to do with foundational experiences. The first things that happen to people are usually the most formative, simply because they are the first. Touch a hot stove once, and your attitude about stoves is altered for life. Birth is foundational because it is one of the first experiences where the fully developed body and primitive ego are challenged. Birth, like the foundation of a house, provides structure on which everything else is built. Without a foundation there can be no structure. Birth and life are intimately connected. When people discover their birth patterns, it is common to hear them say, ‘Why that’s the way I live my life. How I live my life is a direct reflection of what happened during my birth'”
– Dr William Emerson, PhD
Have you ever thought of your baby’s experience of their birth? Let us begin to explore from the beginning, the beginning of your baby depending on your beliefs, how you were raised yourself, and the life experiences you have had to this point. Did you know, your baby started as an egg when you were yourself an ovum in your mother’s womb?1 When a woman becomes pregnant there are often feelings of how life changing it is for her and her partner/husband. It is magical and can be terrifying too, so much unknown. It is the most change an adult can experience from conception to your child’s first birthday. It is a time when you are able to update your belief systems, how you view the world and how you would like to live your life differently now that you are growing a baby in your body and preparing for the life long journey of parenting.
There are many people who remember their own conception, which sounds crazy to some. When we believe that we are so much more than this human body and that consciousness is always there, from the beginning, then it is possible to remember conception. Our brain develops in stages, our mind is ever present and aware. We are consciousness. 2
When a woman first discovers she is pregnant (her monthly cycle being late is the first sign for most), how she receives and responds to the discovery has an impact on the baby growing inside her. The baby is already experiencing life through its mother’s body. As the pregnancy progresses, mom and dad begin to plan and prepare for the enormous, sacred and auspicious event – having and welcoming their baby into their world. As we are all different with different views, beliefs and perceptions, how we experience the pregnancy will be unique, as each birth and baby and family are unique.
Each tradition has different ways of welcoming the soul of their baby. In the Hindu tradition at 7 months the family gather for a prayer day, to bless the mother, her family and baby who is growing inside her. In the kundalini yoga tradition, it is believed that the soul of the baby enters at 120 days after conception. It is around 18-19 weeks gestation when most miscarriages and any problems would have been found and addressed before the 120 day mark. At 120 days of conception friends/family gather to welcome the soul, through chanting and prayer. More recently, in the 1970’s, Blessing way ceremonies were introduced into American communities by two midwives who felt that women needed to be honoured for their work in pregnancy with more than gifts for baby.
So what does this have to do with baby’s experience of birth? It starts at the beginning with how babies are welcomed right from the start, from conception and how the mom and her partner/husband engage with their journey and experience of becoming this baby’s parents which in turn impacts how the baby is in the world and engages with the world.
As birth is the first experience in human form, it’s a big deal. Do you remember your first boss? You first day at high school? College? Varsity? Your first sexual experience? We remember them, as they are a “first” and therefore a new experience. It has a lasting impact or rather imprint on who we are. Because birth is the first of the first experiences, the imprint is vital and everlasting, one of the many reasons why I do what I do (preparing couples for parenting).
So what is it that baby’s need when they first arrive earth side? Baby’s want to be treated with care, with gentleness, with kindness. Baby’s expect a calm birth where mother feels supported during her labour and birth, or caesarean section if that is required. Baby’s want to feel safe and secure, for there to be dim lights as their eyes have never seen like this before. They want to be with their mother, to be kept together and close with no separation. If mom is undergoing a caesarean birth, then dad needs to be close to baby at all times. Which includes skin to skin contact. Baby’s require quiet time alone with mom and dad, the undisturbed first hour is essential. They all need time to establish their new relationship and move from direct connection to separation. All of baby’s initial needs being met regulates their nervous system, allows baby’s to feel welcome, calm and safe.
Anything different from this, takes baby longer to integrate and settle in to this new world, with lasting consequences. Successful bonding is essential to the autonomic nervous system strength, with life-long consequences, because the nervous system plays a large part in health and wellbeing in this world.
Remember that as human beings we are resilient and able to heal at any point of our lives. When we start at the beginning it is better to do it as best we can, instead of having to heal it later on. Its like there is glue on mom and glue on baby and when they get to connect and bond. When moms and baby are separated for whatever reason you can still connect and bond, it’s just that the glue starts to dry a bit and can take more effort and time to heal and connect, as you could have at the beginning.
Look out for next blog on planning and preparing for parenting. What other elements of this blog would you like to know more about? Respond in the comments below.