Such a busy world we live in! How do we find the time to connect to the wondrous miracle of pregnancy and motherhood? This article discusses how important prenatal attachment is, the reasons why women might find it difficult to engage and prenatally attach to their baby, and some of the ways in which we might be able to increase our bonding before the baby even arrives including AdvanceMothering?.
Attachment to our Baby/Babies
We know about the crucial importance of attachment to our children when they are young. But what about pre-birth? There is clear evidence that even when the baby is still inside us, they are able to experience pleasure and pain and have the capacity to learn. Furthermore there is clear evidence that how the parents feel about the baby before it is born, determines how they feel about the baby after it is born ie. lower levels of attachment to the unborn baby may indicate potential problems in the relationship between the mother and child as well as less happy mothers .
Engaging emotionally with the pregnancy, the baby inside us or becoming a mother
There are many reasons why a woman might find it difficult to engage emotionally with the baby or the mother that they already are.
?? Women have such competing roles and desires e.g. careers, other children, other family members, how do we have the time to focus on this pregnancy?
?? The first trimester is traditionally filled with anxieties and secrets, this sometimes leads to people actively trying to cut off from emotionally connecting, just in case. This might be even more relevant for those who have had previous pregnancy difficulties.
?? The current societal attitude to pregnancy is more medical than it has been in previous decades. Women are primed and comfortable with thinking about the physical side of pregnancy e.g. what we eat, what exercise we do. It is less fashionable than it has been in the past to focus on the emotional, more female aspects of pregnancy.
?? Many of the pregnancy dedicated services seem to focus on the act of birth itself. There is a lack of dedicated space for women to talk about their emotions during pregnancy, their feelings about motherhood or about their baby.
How do we Start ??Advance Mothering? ie. Mothering in Advance of birth?
How do we concentrate on engaging and attaching to someone we have never met before and how do we focus emotionally and spiritually on the baby given all these blocks? Of course there are some families who are able to do this to a wonderful degree without the need of other resources or prompts. However, for the majority, I would argue that we need reminding to focus and attend to the unborn baby on an emotional level.
Perhaps for you it would be as simple as committing some time every day/week to an activity which strengthens your relationship e.g. creating a gift for the baby, writing the baby a dairy or a message, talking to other women about ways in which they bonded with their baby, thinking about when you feel most connected to your baby, reading to the baby, light touch stroking of your belly and your baby or doing something that is unique to you and your baby. If you are practicing yoga or relaxation you might want to make wishes and blessings throughout your practice, or even spelling out a message to your baby with movements in your hips. There are also books which might aide your exploration if you are able to work through these with your partner or by yourself .
In Australia and the UK, I run groups for pregnant women which focus on the baby and the mother that they are already. Using holistic and multisensory methods we focus on AdvanceMothering? with a focus on for example:
?? What does it mean to you to be pregnant?
?? What does it mean to you to be a mother?
?? What sort of mother do you want to be?
?? How do you nurture your unborn baby?
?? How do you build your attachment to someone you have never met?
?? How do you welcome your baby?
The group itself becomes such a powerful aide in the exploration of these issues, allowing women to be with other women, focusing our attention on the strength and power of women, and the eternal chain of mothers who come before us. The group is thought provoking, supportive (sometimes way beyond the end of the group), inspiring and emotional and always fun.
How we, as pregnant women, choose to connect to the baby inside us is of course up to us. By taking time out of our busy lives to focus emotionally and spiritually on the baby, the journey of pregnancy and the journey of early mothering there is an opportunity to really change your relationship with your baby for life.
1 Hagglof,B and Siddiqui, A (2000) Does maternal prenatal attachment predict postnatal mother-infant interaction? Early human development; 59(1): 13-25
2 For example, Birthing from Within (1998) P.England and R.Horowitz, Partera Press, New Mexico.