Getting ready for bonding

During pregnancy, you will find yourselves daydreaming and fantasising about what sort of child you will have. This is an important part of preparing yourself for your baby’s arrival. You can try this now. In your imagination, think of your child and just let the answers come to you…

– Will you have a boy or a girl?

– What colour eyes and hair will the baby have?

– Will the baby be like you — in looks or personality?

– How will you all get along and where will this baby fit in with other children, existing or planned?

– How will your partner relate to the baby?

– What will you do together? How will your time be spent?

– What kind of things will you enjoy doing?

– Which parts will be hard and challenging?

– What will the child be like as a schoolchild, teenager, adult?

– What, especially, are you looking forward to?

These are some of the thoughts and questions which help to make a space in our lives, beginning the natural and vital process which is often called bonding or attachment. The reality may or may not match the fantasy, but it is good to prime your mind and heart by thinking in this way, and bringing unconscious hopes and dreams to the surface.

That is in some way incomplete, rises up again under similar circumstances. When you can recognise this, your unexpected feelings suddenly make more sense. For example…

Janet and Peter suffered a miscarriage of their first pregnancy. This is not a rare occurrence — as many as one in five pregnancies miscarry usually (but not always) in the early weeks or months. The emotional pain of miscarriage, for both partners, is often underestimated.

We’ll let Janet tell, in her own words, how this affected her next pregnancy — how the feelings were being ‘recycled’: ‘I knew in my rational part that things were going well, that there was no special need to worry. But I found, too, that I was highly alert to any signs of cramping, pain, stress, etc, which resembled that first pregnancy. A mild attack of cramp, when I was 14 weeks pregnant, came while I was at work. It passed without any consequence but, when I got home, I immediately was filled with memories of the night when I had lost my first baby, and I cried for a long time. ‘While I had been sad at the time of the miscarriage, I guess there had been deeper sadness which I hadn’t allowed myself to feel. Now that was pouring out of me. Afterwards, I felt fresher, more whole, and less afraid to love this baby, without holding back.’ Janet’s daughter was born a healthy 8 lb 13 oz (4 kg). It was very important for Janet to have allowed her heart to heal.

Marina, 27, did not get to the point of healing until she was in labour, in hospital. The birth was not proceeding properly and there was a lull while the staff considered what to do. An understanding nurse took a moment or two to talk with Marina about her feelings and thoughts. All at once, Marina began to sob and repeat something about ‘I don’t want to lose it’.

Rather than jump to conclusions and offer pat reassurances, the nurse asked: ‘How could you lose it?’ Marina suddenly experienced a wave of the most heart-rending distress. As her tears eased, she told the nurse about being pregnant at 14, the result of sexual assault by a relative. At birth, the baby had been taken from her and given up for adoption, never seen or touched by Marina. She had put the experience out of her mind, as much as she could, but now the pain of that old loss was preventing her from releasing this baby into the world.

She and the nurse spent some more time talking, then the nurse gave Marina a clear commitment that this baby would not be taken away. In a short time, her contractions began strongly again and she gave birth to a 6 lb 3 oz (3.2 kg) boy who was immediately placed in her joyful arms. There were few dry eyes in the birthing suite on that particular night.

In the past, many professionals, partners and other family members have simply glossed over these types of fears as being hormonal. ‘Yes, women do get rather emotional when they are pregnant,’ they say. True enough, but not without reason. You may begin to realise that this is a wonderful chance to clear out the cobwebs of the u.J- past and so become fully present now. Previous experiences which can be recycled and healed in pregnancy include:

– Terminations (abortions) that a woman may have undergone voluntarily or had imposed on her as a young girl.

– Earlier births which had been difficult or mishandled.

– Caesareans.

– Separations from their newborn baby.

– Experiences of rape or sexual abuse as a child or young woman.

When these memories come up, you may feel: ‘Oh no, why can’t I put the past behind me?’ You can, when you have finished it off. Unfinished business presents an opportunity to take action and get it right.

One purpose of your feelings is to rouse you so that you do not let bad things happen again. You realise that this time you want to:

– Work out with your partner the type of support you want.

– Be more active in finding a really compatible doctor and a better hospital or homebirth midwife.

– Know more about your body, rights and personal preferences.

– You may just need to cry out your feelings or storm out your anger in physical ways, knowing this is justified, healthy and long overdue. The main thing is to be active and outspoken about every feeling and fear, until they are eliminated or at least out in the open where you can deal with them.

Then you are free to concentrate on all the positive and beautiful experiences in your pregnancy and birth.

Delight in music

Enjoyment of music is a lifelong blessing. Having rhythm really adds to your life in many ways — being able to dance, sing, learn an instrument all have their roots in early life. Whenever you can, have music in your baby’s life. -3 1. Have favourite music to rest to during pregnancy and use this to soothe your newborn baby. 2. Dance to a favourite song when you are pregnant, so your baby feels the rhythmic movement as they hear the beat through the walls of your belly. 3. When the baby is born, dance with them in your arms, swing them around to music, move their arms and legs, and watch how they bob and sway and move their limbs. This will show you which is their Top 101 4. Sing to babies, as you hold them close. They love to feel your chest vibrate, as well as hear you sing. 5. When they are able to hold toys, give them toy castanets, rattles, xylophones and drums. A shaker made from dry pasta or rice in a lidded plastic jar is j us t as good. Play along with them to a simple song on tape.