Being pregnant is an amazing gift, but it's not always easy. You can get a bad case of morning sickness, anxiety attacks about impending motherhood--sometimes your body just feels like a stranger to you. It can be stressful, which is the exact opposite of how you want to feel. After all, growing evidence shows that whatever we're feeling during the early stages of pregnancy, our little one absorbs to some degree. Studies have shown that those who are stressed in pregnancy are more likely to give birth to infants with low birth weights or who may develop heart issues.
We all have different ways of learning how to cope with stress. But perhaps we may be forgetting one coping technique that is also the simplest: talking to your unborn baby inside your womb can help alleviate stress
This was what Kathleen Man Gyllenhaal, a film and television writer and director, realized when she began her research for her documentary In Utero. In a blog post at The Huffington Post, she wondered whether her son she was carrying at the time was absorbing her "anxious emotional states and--to some degree-- feeling them?"
She wrote, "Science suggests the answer is yes, because when you look at the chemicals coursing through our bodies as we experience stress, joy, sadness, or fear–mixtures of cortisol and oxytocin–those same chemicals (i.e., feelings) are moving though the placenta into the fetus."
So, 20 weeks into her pregnancy, Kathleen decided to try prenatal bonding to cope with stress. "Prenatal bonding sessions begin with a deep relaxation process, which enables the pregnant woman to clear her mind and connect with her body. Then, she asks her uterus for permission to access the baby. Over time, a flow of communication through mental images and spoken words is established between mother and baby, allowing for a bonding/attunement that they believe nurtures the unborn child” she shares.
Kathleen knows what you're thinking--it's sounds "new age-y." But she swears the introspection has helped her. "[My baby] Luke and I didn’t have conversations, exactly, but I did work on telling the little guy over and over how much I loved him and that he could be whoever he wanted to be and that the stress I was going through had nothing to do with him. It was just my baggage. In each of these hours of 'prenatal bonding,' I grew calmer and more content. And since we know 'every emotion has a chemical correlate,' I am positing that my little boy grew calmer and more content, too."
So, go ahead, keep talking to your baby while he's in the womb. Don't know what to say? Keep a journal and read it to your baby. Sing to your baby or playing relaxing music. Respond to your baby when he kicks or simply rub your belly to reciprocate the gesture. A prenatal massage (if your doctor would allow it) will also help. Remember: Happy preggo equals happy baby!