Can your Emotions Impact Your Unborn Child?
I recently saw a Facebook post from a Certified Emotion Code Practitioner in America claiming she could cure morning sickness by fixing the emotional “disconnection between mother and child”. While I do not believe that this is the sole cause of morning sickness, I do believe, that as women, our emotions play a huge part in all aspects of our lives.
As someone who experienced morning sickness (or should I say all-day sickness) for around 30 weeks during each of my pregnancies, I started thinking on this, and recalled a few things I have learnt over the years from Kinesiologists, Chiropractors, Yogi’s and the like. All of these “disciplines” (for want of a better term) work with the belief that you are energy and everything around you is energy. In fact, the emotions that you feel are particular frequencies of energy and can be taken on by you from someone else or trapped emotions could even be inherited (epigenetics fascinate me!!). I know this might sound a bit strange, but think about it. Have you ever heard the saying “you could cut the atmosphere with a knife”?
Louise Hay, author of “You can Health Your Life”, also works with these principles and says this about vomiting (morning sickness specifically was not listed) “(the) probable cause – fear of the new”. Hmmmm…. Cue maternal guilt.
My interest piqued, along with my guilt, so I decided to do a bit more research on the subject. A recent article from getfitforbith.com had this to say:
“Experts and evidence suggest that positive thinking can shape the body, heal internally, and even nurture a healthier child during pregnancy.
A pregnant woman’s thoughts have a physical connection to her unborn child. “Everything the pregnant mother feels and thinks is communicated through neurohormones to her unborn child, just as surely as are alcohol and nicotine,” says Dr. Thomas Verny, one of the world’s leading authorities on the effects of prenatal environment on personality development.”
“Deepak Chopra, M.D., further bridges the gap between the mental and physical state when he writes, “Thoughts that we feel are called emotions.” In “Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives,” Dr. Deepak Chopra clearly explains what pregnancy research is showing, “When a pregnant mother is anxious, stressed, or in a fearful state, the stress hormones released into her bloodstream cross through the placenta to the baby. Hundreds of studies have confirmed that chemicals released by the pregnant mother’s body are transported into the womb and affect the unborn baby.”
Other articles I found online also suggested that emotional state during pregnancy directly influenced that child’s personality. Looking at my own two children, I could definitely see the link. During my first pregnancy, I was pretty much the same me I was before falling pregnant. I continued to work full time, felt confident, was happy, if just a little nervous about becoming a Mum for the first time. My first born is a confident, outgoing, happy little girl, with very little fear. She makes friends easily and enjoys life.
Now my second pregnancy was entirely different. While I wasn’t scared of becoming a Mother, I was under a lot of stress at home. I felt pressured and judged by people both within and external to my family. To deal with this, I retreated into myself and felt that I had to “hide” my true feelings. We were bang in the middle of bathroom renovations and our house resembled something from “The Block”. I cried more and often felt very lonely. I, in no way, felt ready to welcome this baby into my home, and to be honest, didn’t really think much about her, as I was just so busy all of the time. My second child, although still young, is a lot quieter than my first and seems to get overwhelmed easily. She cries a lot more and for the first year of her life was a SHOCKING sleeper unless she was with me.
Research included in a national project conducted on behalf of the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs titled “Neuroscience & Early Childhood Development” suggests that, yes these in-utero experiences can have an impact on learning and personality. An extract below explains:
“Brain development begins soon after conception, develops sequentially and cumulatively. It is integrated and continues throughout life. Neural systems are created, organised and changed in response to experience through the lifecycle, beginning soon after conception (Perry, 2002)……The in-utero period is critical for the development of neuron function and pathways. At birth, the vast majority of neurons used for the remainder of life are present (Perry, 2002:82). Through experience, before and after birth, the neurons specialise and connect to organise into functional systems. Between birth and about age three, children’s brains are more malleable than they will be at any other stage in life…… (Lexmond & Reeves, 2009).”
It is also important that we understand that normal, everyday life experiences during pregnancy do not harm our unborn child. As we experience, address and move on from stress, we are helping to program our baby’s neuron function and pathways to do the same thing. So, we are, in-fact, teaching our children before they are even born; setting an example, as it were. We can then continue this teaching after they are born. It is only toxic stress, which includes strong, frequent, overwhelming, prolonged adverse experiences such as extreme poverty, repeated abuse (including drug and alcohol), neglect or exposure to violence without supportive adult relationships that can disrupt brain development and have long term effects on children.
While I understand that adding another thing to do when you are expecting a baby doesn’t help with stress levels, it should be noted that Neuroscience is suggesting that the contribution a healthy pregnancy makes to brain development is as great as the interactions a parent and child have in early childhood (Halfon et al., 2001). This includes a healthy diet and exercise, as well as healthy emotions of the Mother.
Now I didn’t write this blog to scare or upset anyone. In truth, the art of Kinesiology fascinates me and I strongly believe that what we think we create, particularly when it comes to illness within our own bodies. So what can you do if you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or overly emotional during pregnancy? Below is a list of visualisation techniques you can practice to focus positive energy on your baby. Other practices such as Pregnancy Yoga, Kinesiology and Emotional Release Therapy can also be helpful. Ultimately, if you are feeling overwhelmed by your emotions more often than not, please talk to your pregnancy care provider.
Imagine your growing baby. Maybe she is one centimetre or maybe ten centimetres.
See her little hands, her closed eyes, and her round face.
Visualize what your healthy, happy baby looks like.
Sense what your healthy child feels like.
Imagine the sound of your baby’s laugh.
Visualize feeding her in her nursery, giving her a bath and holding her in your arms.
It may help to give your baby a name or nickname, so you feel more connected when referring to, or talking to her.
Other options to help you address stress during pregnancy include:
Talking to your partner or good friend.
Asking for physical help to “lighten your load”.
Talking to a counsellor or your pregnancy care provider about your feelings.
Regular exercise can help to reduce stress
Get plenty of rest.
Ultimately, we, as Mothers, must try not to put too much pressure on ourselves to be “perfect”. Not one of us is the perfect Mum, but to our kids we are.
"A Man is but the product of His thoughts. What He thinks, He becomes”
- Ghandi -
If you are experiencing any of the situations known to cause Toxic Stress during pregnancy, please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.