This is a topic that I've been pondering since the time when I was pregnant with my Wilder, who is now 4.5 years old. After he was born, I wasn't totally sure if I wanted to have another child or not, but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't do it again if I was experiencing stress and anxiety in my day to day life.
I think he turned out pretty great considering my stress levels that I experienced throughout that pregnancy, right up until the time when I went into labor with him. At the time I was working what I would call a "high-stress" job that would give me anxiety when I wasn't either at my computer or my phone for even just a few minutes at a time. It was a very rare week if I worked less than 45 hours at the computer, and it was usually around the 60+ hour mark.
Since last winter, I've had the joy of working with my husband in our business Three Lily Farm, which we get to be our own bosses for. This has allowed me to completely stay in the flow of how I am feeling every day and do what feels appropriate for myself as a woman, as a human, as a mother, every day.
For a couple of months before conceiving this summer, I made it a goal to not let myself feel stressed out if there was something that could set me off in that direction. In fact, I made the commitment to myself to feel good, all the time, every single day. This has been a work in progress and something I didn't perfect overnight, but really I did perfect it, just by my allowing to do so.
I've been so inspired by a couple of things I've read in pregnancy books in the past couple of months, that this stress topic kept coming in strong as something to write about. I think this information and this knowledge about how anxiety and stress affect our bodies is something we can all take into consideration, and especially a woman growing a baby in her womb.
I read this in the book In the Womb, by Peter Tallack:
"The mother's heart rate and blood pressure are directly affected by her emotional state. If the mother is calm, her heart slows down and her blood pressure drops. If she is tense and stressed, her heart beats faster and her blood pressure rises. Although the baby has her own blood supply, these increases in heart rate and blood pressure are easily passed through the placenta and have a direct impact on the baby. It takes a while for the effects to filter through, but as the mother recovers from stress and her heart rate returns to normal, her baby's heart begins to race as the physiological signals of stress creep through the placenta. In the short term, stress in the mother can lead to low birthweight or premature birth..."
I loved reading this, I always had a feeling something like this could go on, but had never seen it written in a way to make sense. It also makes you think about what stress and anxiety do to your nervous systems in a non-pregnant body, right? Of course there are experiences in life that we can't always avoid and these things happen. If pregnant, the best thing we can do is try and keep our body calm and at a normal pace, and exert the energy another way. Through a journal, or talking to a friend, walking outside in nature, or some sort of creative activity.
If there is something stressful or upsetting happening, take a moment and talk to your baby, they feel you and are completely connected with you.
Everything is fine, we are safe, you are wanted, you are loved, we are healthy.
On that note, I want to share another quote from a book, because it's so perfectly explained. This one is from Naturally Healthy Babies and Children, by Aviva Romm:
"We don't have to go off to some idyllic retreat for the entirety of our pregnancies, but we can learn to communicate to our babies during the stressful times that yes, we are going through stress (or doubt, sadness, grief, anger), but it is not the baby's fault, and we still love the baby. Both parents can express this verbally, through touching the mother's belly, or even by taking a few minutes here and there throughout the day to relax and send loving thoughts to the child. These simple gestures can go a long way toward creating an emotionally healthy place for the baby."
Like the quote above, the most important thing we can do, is breath, visualize ourselves in a soothing and calm space, and let our babies know that everything is alright.
Next up on the pregnancy journey - all about the nutrition.