Myth: Diet Is the Primary Factor in Fostering Fetal Wellbeing
Fact: No one doubts that the mother's diet is important to the developing baby, but today studies� point to an even greater influence: incoming signals--crystallized through the mother as a swirl of behavior, sensation, feeling, and thought--immerse the unborn child in a primordial world of experience, continuously directing the development of the mind.
--Thomas R. Verny, MD
Everything the pregnant mother feels and thinks is communicated to her unborn child through the neuro-hormones that circulate within her, just as surely as are the effects of alcohol and nicotine. Just as a computer virus corrupts the software of any system it infects, maternal anxiety, depression, or stress impact intelligence and personality by gradually rewiring the brain. From the moment of conception, experience in the womb shapes the brain and lays the foundations for personality, emotional temperament, and the powers of higher thought.
While the infant/child is subject to a multitude of channels of perception, the unborn's only channel to the outside world is the mother--forewarned is forearmed--and it would seem that this is nature's way of preparing the baby to deal with the world she is to enter.
Huxley writes of the unborn child's time in the womb:
...mother is the universe for you. She is all there is, she is your sun, moon, and stars, she is trees and rivers and birds. And she is there all the time, inexorably present� The first relationship you experience is the closest one. And this medium is where the blueprint for your future is set: truly, health and disease, love and hate, war and peace, start in the womb.
--Laura A. Huxley
Thomas R. Verny, MD, identifies communications between mother and unborn taking place across three channels.
- Molecular communication: Maternal molecules of emotion, including stress hormones, reach the unborn child through the placenta.
- Sensory communication: When a pregnant mother strokes her stomach, talks, sings, walks or runs, she is communicating with her baby through the baby's senses. The unborn, in turn, can communicate through kicking. When exposed to music she likes she will kick energetically but gently. Exposed to loud, shrill noises of pneumatic drills, a rock concert, or the loud, angry voices of fighting parents, she becomes more and more agitated, and sends out a series of painful kicks.
- Intuitive communication: It is not surprising, given the intimate connection between mother and infant, that they communicate intuitively. The intuitive channel transmits mother's thoughts, intentions, and much of her emotion to her baby. Mother receives messages via the same channel from her unborn, often in the form of dreams. Through these communications, the unborn learns about herself, mother, and the world at large.
While the unborn responds to mother's deepest thoughts and feelings, this does not mean that every fleeting worry, doubt, or anxiety a woman has becomes engraved on her child. Short bursts of stress or upset come and go. What are harmful are the deep, persistentfeelings of fear or chronic anxiety. On the other hand, thoughts infusing the baby with a sense of happiness or calm set the stage for a balanced, happy, and serene disposition throughout life.
While this information places new responsibilities on parents, it also engenders new opportunities. The father's relationship with the mother during this period is second in importance only to her relationship with the prenate. The way the father relates to the mother, the emotional support and nurturance he gives her, directly impacts her feelings of wellbeing and therefore the wellbeing of the unborn child. His resentment or care, anger or joy, touch both mother and the unborn.
Pregnancy can be a very emotional time with tremendous mood swings for both parents, one moment full of wonder, the next, fear and anxiety. There may be financial concerns, her body may feel uncomfortable, the father of the child she is carrying may not be supportive of the pregnancy. The unborn will benefit greatly when mother and father can focus their intentions on creating calm throughout the pregnancy.
While the external stresses a woman faces matter, most important are her thoughts and feelings with respect to herself and her unborn child. This means as much as possible avoiding the fear that pervades so much of today's media and surrounding herself with whatever feels nurturing to her. Even a minute here, three minutes there--to wrap herself and her unborn in loving kindness, these energies will become an organic part of her baby's mind and body.
Now more than any other time is the period for you, the mother, to be kind to yourself and to your child. This kindness, this reverence for all that lives, is likely to open you to a beautiful awareness, to help you feel part of a whole incomparably greater than yourself� Even more important, your kindness is going to have long-lasting consequences; it will become part of a body and may reverberate for years in the child, and therefore, in other persons' lives.
Thomas R. Verny, Preparenting: Nurturing Your Baby from Conception
Laura A. Huxley & Piero Ferrucci, The Child of Your Dreams