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When is the last time you scheduled a regular conversation with your internal organs? For the sake of your mental health, I sure hope your answer is "never" or "last Thanksgiving." We don't have to check in with our spleens or livers, and our digestion seems to march on without our explicit direction. Our bladders are uncooperative and selfish.
Perhaps this is why spending time "communicating with your baby" seems silly. Throughout pregnancy you might spend more one-on-one time with your toilet. In the first trimester, you're engaged in what my college friend Steve called "confessions with Father John" while later on you become a frequent flyer.
So when are you supposed to "connect" with your baby, and why on earth would you do it? My thoughts below.
Preconception: if you're a woman, the makings of your baby are already in you. Not only do you have one half of the genetic material and instructions, but you have the building blocks, too.
1. Start cleaning up your act. Ask yourself "would I feed cheese puffs/diet pills/red dye #492 to my baby?" If not, stop eating it. Your body remakes itself constantly using the materials you put in. And do you know what you make your baby out of? You.
2. Treat yourself the way you'd like the mother of your child to be treated. Get some sleep and cultivate the things in your life that make you happiest.
3. Spend some time in the quiet of life sharing your thoughts and feelings with that bit of mystical magic (or physics) that babies come from. If you're ready for baby, put that sense out there "Open for business". If not, be polite and let baby know you're closed for the season but will be open the day after Memorial Day.
The Hopeful Place: from the moment you start trying until you make it through the first trimester, I like to think you're in the hopeful place. Most faith traditions set the work of the soul a bit behind the work of the flesh, so focus on your physical well being and set your sights on the hope that everything will turn out as it should.
1. Start to focus your mental worries and fears into physical actions, like walking, knitting, compulsively working the knots out of all of your necklaces, etc.
2. Focus even more intently on your self care by saying no to things you don't want to do and making more time for yourself. You and your baby will fill this space in no time.
3. In the place beyond words is the hopeful place, where you open yourself up to instinct. Every time you say or think "worry" reframe the thought into "hope." For instance: "I'm worried that I haven't felt my baby move" to "I hope I get to feel my baby move soon."
The Investment Place: Once you cross into the second trimester, you're in the investment place. Perhaps you share the news with family, friends and coworkers or start to see that Thanksgiving belly push beyond the limits of an overindulgent meal.
1. Take several minutes a day to put your hands on your belly and showcase your feelings to your baby. She is getting the same surges of hormones you're releasing, so if you're stressed, she can feel it to! Tell her what the stress is about.
2. Open the incoming channels, if you haven't already. Your baby is not tapping in Morse Code on your bladder, but she may still have sneaky ways of sending you messages back. Listen for them.
3. As you get closer to the end of your pregnancy, you will start to have better intuition about everything. This doesn't mean that you ate bad eggs, or that you should open a 900 number and go into the psychic reading business. This special power will help you navigate your birth with all of the expertise of the millions of women who have come before you.
I'm one of those people who loves making your life easier (and I believe in you). I am an experienced registered prenatal yoga teacher and a lactation educator.
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Thanks for inviting me to be a part of this process with you. You're stronger than you think you are.