Laurel Wilson and Tracy Wilson Peters have more than 40 years of combined experience supporting mothers and other professionals who work with new families. Their bestselling book, The Attachment Pregnancy: The Ultimate Guide to Bonding with Your Baby, unites evidence-based information with a holistic “heart and mind” approach to give mothers the tools they need to feel deeply connected to their pregnancy and their baby.
Keys to the Mother-Baby Bond
By Laurel Wilson | IBCLC, CCCE, CLD, CLE;
Tracy Wilson Peters | CCCE, CLD, CLE
In today’s world, it can seem exceedingly difficult for any expectant mother to truly connect with her baby during pregnancy. Instead, moms-to-be are often constantly connected to external stimuli, including the internet, social media, email, texts, phone calls, advertising and television. There’s no denying that the pace of life has sped up significantly, and what is expected of a pregnant mother – the demands on her time and energy – has increased exponentially as well.
It’s easy for a pregnant woman today to feel like she’s living on autopilot; more susceptible to external messages and less able to connect with her own thoughts and feelings. But pregnant mothers who do take the time to become more aware of their thoughts, feelings and actions begin to become more conscious of their behavior – and that consciousness can help tip the balance towards a healthier relationship between the external and internal, and a stronger bond between mother and child.
If you’re pregnant, you can encourage this process with a few key steps that help to foster a deeper connection with yourself and your world, and in turn, to deepen the emotional, physical and spiritual bond between you and your baby. We use a neat acronym to help mothers remember these steps – BOND. It stands for Being, Observing, Nourishing, and Deciding.
Being relates to your consciousness – your awareness of your thoughts and feelings. Your thoughts and feelings shape your daily life, affecting your physical health, your stress levels and the development of your baby. Pregnancy is a major life event that leads many women to take action and make healthier choices, but there is more to health than eating well and exercising. Becoming emotionally healthier incorporates activities that enhance your sense of being, and may include mindfulness techniques, breath work, thought awareness, and simply taking quiet time to be ‘alone together’ with your baby.
Observing is all about achieving mindfulness. Mindfulness means being purposeful, conscious and non-judgmental in thought and action. What could be a better mindset for pregnancy? Observing and practicing mindfulness provides you with the opportunity to create change where it is needed. For example, it allows you to determine which of your relationships are nourishing and healthy, and which are emotionally draining. Emotions and attitudes are contagious. Loving, supportive relationships during pregnancy change a mother’s brain, her heart patterns, and her mental and physical health, and those changes also affect her baby.
Nourishing involves all of the generous and loving ways that you tend to your and your baby’s emotional and physical needs during pregnancy. Your physical health involves more than what you eat and drink and how often you exercise. It’s about how you care for your body and how you feel about it. Pregnancy can be an opportunity to make a shift. It’s vital to let go of attitudes that make healthy choices seem burdensome (but I hate broccoli!), and begin embracing a new belief system where you see healthier choices as loving gifts to yourself and your baby. The body is always an expression of one’s internal emotional world. The keys to nourishing revolve around gratitude, mind/body awareness, making healthy decisions and practicing stress reduction.
Deciding is the experience of actively participating in creating your reality. Put simply, what we think about, we bring about. Therefore, it makes sense to move through this world intentionally, especially given that we know a mother’s experiences directly impact the health and personality of her baby. You can feel confident making decisions that are truly in your best interest by practicing a unique tool called conscious agreement. This is the act of making decisions based on deep inner listening, and coming to an intuitive agreement in mind, body and spirit. It is making decisions that feel good at a gut level. Conscious agreement occurs when you are in collaboration with your inner wisdom, and every part of you says “YES!”
Before pregnancy, your level of awareness mainly affects your own life, but once you conceive, your consciousness also impacts your baby’s development and emotional health. Achieving a state of conscious agreement during pregnancy is crucial to the mother-baby bond. Here are some simple tips to help you get there:
Separate from external influences. To connect within, it is necessary to remove yourself from distracting environments or people. This can be as simple as closing your eyes and taking a moment to tap in to your inner wisdom.
Get quiet and pause. Take a few deep breaths, and allow your thoughts to calm and connect to your source. Your source is whatever you feel guides you most strongly – God, the universe, your spirit, your intuition – only you know.
Listen in. Think about each situation you’re presented with. What is your gut feeling? How is your body feeling? How is your body reacting? Do you feel drawn to the situation, or do you feel a sense of discomfort? How might your baby feel?
Decide and commit. Honor your feelings; they are surfacing to benefit you and your baby. Make a decision that is in harmony with what your body, your baby and your intuition are telling you. This is truly honoring the mother-baby bond.
All expectant mothers can experience a deep mother-baby bond by Being, Observing, Nourishing, and Deciding. You have the key to unlock a deep connection with your baby by consciously tuning out the distractions of modern life, and instead tuning in to the miracle happening inside you. Yes, on “birth day,” you may be surprised that your newborn has his grandfather’s red hair or your aunt’s dimpled chin, but you will still already know each other in a deeply profound way; after all, your hearts have been beating together since the very beginning.