Taking The Fear Out Of Pregnancy, Birth & Motherhood
Anxiety in pregnancy
22:08Anxiety in pregnancy is currently estimated to affect around 15% of women. Through my work in supporting women in preparing for birth and pregnancy, anxiety is something that I see a lot and, dare I say, I think the numbers are probably higher. When women are feeling fearful around aspects of their pregnancy or birth it can trigger feelings of anxiety, but these feelings are known to fluctuate through pregnancy. Anxiety in pregnancy has been shown to peak in both the first and the third trimester (1). How anxiety in pregnancy affects birth outcomes From the evidence available (2) we know that pregnancy anxiety not only affects pregnant women’s health but also has an impact on labour outcomes. Anxiety in pregnancy can affect the likelihood of things such as preterm delivery prolonged labour caesarean birth, low birth weight When you combine these potential outcomes with those that may arise as a result of fear, it’s clear that helping women to deal with fear and anxiety in pregnancy needs to be an important focus if we’re to improve birth outcomes for women. I’ve been supporting women in overcoming their fear for many years now, particularly those with tokophobia, and I’ve enjoyed some incredible success rates. Success rates that are apparently impossible. I was once told off on Twitter by a midwife specialising in tokophobia for suggesting that it’s possible to overcome tokophobia. “… [I] shouldn’t raise women’s hopes like that because they can’t. They just end up having c-sections.”. That may well be the case, but a positive c-section birth experience that is empowering for the woman is a world apart from the c-section that the woman dreads and feels anxious and terrified throughout. That’s when I realised that I needed to get some evidence behind my Fearless Birthing method. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to get birth professionals and healthcare providers to take my work seriously. And that in turn would limit the women able to benefit from the success I’m achieving reducing strong fears and anxieties. So, that’s what I set out to do. Collaborating with the University of Nottingham I joined forces with the University of Nottingham Psychology Department to explore the possibility of collaborating on a research project to evaluate my Fearless Birthing method. This is when I first met Dr. Megan Barnard. Dr. Barnard specialises in anxiety and so exploring anxiety in pregnancy was a good fit for her area of research. So we set out to design a study that would enable us to answer the question: can women reduce their anxieties and fears during pregnancy using a self-paced online programme? Can we reduce anxiety in pregnancy? After many iterations and submissions to the Ethics Board, we got the green light. So I’m delighted to say that there is currently a study underway which aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the Fearless Birthing method in helping women to reduce their anxiety and fear during pregnancy. Given, Dr. Barnard’s expertise in anxiety, I thought it would be a great idea for us to have a conversation about anxiety in pregnancy so that we could all learn more about anxiety. But even more of a reason is this; Dr. Barnard is now currently pregnant. When we started working together, her interest in our work was purely professional. Now that she is experiencing some of the anxieties that we are researching, she has a unique insight into our project which I just wanted to ask her about. A conversation with Dr. Megan Barnard One thing that stood out for me from our conversation was that Dr. Barnard was saying that anxiety could strike anyone during pregnancy; you don’t already need to be someone who suffers from it to be affected by it during pregnancy. Dr. Barnard also explained how much pregnancy has bought about a very human reaction to her pregnancy. Even though she studies and researches anxiety - and so is very knowledgeable on it - that doesn’t mean that she isn...
Thomas Verny, Father of Prenatal Psychology
1:06:26Prenatal psychology is an area of psychology that looks at the psychological changes that women go through from conception to postpartum. If you're going to better understand your fears and anxieties during pregnancy then I think understanding prenatal psychology is pretty crucial. The journey to motherhood is one of massive change for a woman and is often accompanied by fear, insecurity, and stress. There is so much that could go wrong: preterm birth, an especially traumatic birth, problems breastfeeding, problems bonding with the baby, miscarriage, problems conceiving… gosh the list goes on! How prenatal psychology can help But mamas-to-be can handle their fears by drawing on ideas from prenatal psychology. Prenatal psychology can give you psychological resources for whatever may come your way: grief after a miscarriage, complicated parenting issues, bonding with their child, etc. For me, the biggest thing I took away from prenatal psychology was getting to grips with the idea that I could consider my unborn baby as a human being from my third trimester. This represented quite a shift in my thinking and my approach to pregnancy. Once you accept that you're carrying another human being who is able to listen, feel and hear around with you while your pregnant, then it invites some changes to your behaviour. "By the end of the second trimester, the unborn child is a sensing, feeling and sensible (and remembering) human being." Thomas Verny During our chat I put these questions to Thomas; What should a mother focus on during her pregnancy to improve the likelihood of a positive birth outcome? What can a mother do during pregnancy to nurture the baby? Can babies understand what their mothers are thinking when pregnant? Do babies pick up on the emotional journey of the mother during pregnancy? What are some causes of tokophobia [the extreme fear of pregnancy/birth]? Does the type of birth we have - vaginal unassisted, forceps, c-section etc - have any psychological impact on us? As you can see from these questions, they have the potential to reveal some fascinating answers, and Thomas doesn't disappoint. I was in heaven! Thomas starts by sharing some key factors that pregnant women should focus on during pregnancy to improve the likelihood of a positive birth outcome. These include; A desire for a child Relationship with her partner Relationship with one’s own mother Your own birth Some people might be surprised at these because they are not things we tend to see in the typical birth prep lists alongside the more expected items like nutrition exercise or birth education. Thomas shares some interesting perspectives that are definite food for thought. We chat about the importance of tuning into our babies and how best to do that and Thomas shares some ways that mamas-to-be can nurture baby during pregnancy. We also discuss fertility and how stress affects fertility. How our birth type affects our thinking The bit that I think you'll love though is what he has to say about our birth type, and what kind of mental and emotional patterns they can lay in place. Things like; Forceps birth - Pain in the neck is a common theme for them. At times of stress, they will likely have pain in the head or shoulders. C-section birth - Common thoughts will include "I can’t make it on my own", "If I’m in a tight place, people will come to my rescue" Breech birth - They are the most hard headed of people "It's my way or the highway". They don't want to conform. So, as you can see, this really is a fascinating chat and one that I think could really shift your perspective of your pregnancy journey. Let me know what you think in the comments! About Thomas Verny Thomas R. Verny is a psychiatrist, writer and academic. He has previously taught at Harvard University, University of Toronto, York University, Toronto and St. Mary’s University Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr.
7 signs of a woman with tokophobia
30:20How to tell if you know a woman with tokophobia Tokophobia is the extreme fear of pregnancy and birth. It’s not very well known and yet it can affect a lot of women. This extreme or pathological fear of birth is estimated to affect between 4 and 43% of women. 14% is an accepted estimate. So you see, a lot more common than you might think. Sadly, many women with tokophobia avoid pregnancy despite being desperate to be mothers. But that doesn’t mean you won’t come across it. Some women only realise they have tokophobia once they’re pregnant. Up until that point, they might feel that “I’m just not maternal” or “I don’t like kids” which is something you hear a lot. However, both of these are typical comments made by women with tokophobia. It is simply their fear speaking. Of course, there are also many women who simply don’t want kids who say these things. But it’s possible that when a woman says she doesn’t want kids that her fear is clouding her judgement, or that her true feelings are buried beneath the fear. Once she has overcome her tokophobia, she may very well change her mind. I’ve seen this a lot with the women I’ve worked with. In fact, it was something that I used to say all the time. I recently met up with some people who I’d not seen for ten years and both of them told me how they would never have imagined that I would have had kids; they thought I didn’t want any! Well, that changed once I’d overcome my fears. Why it's important to know if a woman has tokophobia It can be easy to shrug this phobia off as silly or irrational, but doing that is missing the point. Many women with tokophobia don’t see this fear as irrational. You can actually die in childbirth: that’s something worth fearing. Compare that to claustrophobia; being trapped in an enclosed space is not known to be fatal. The fact is, a woman with tokophobia would love a bit of kindness and understanding about how she's feeling. Having tokophobia can feel incredibly isolating because people don't understand and are quick to judge. Here's one woman's experience of sharing how she felt; I just explained that I suffer from tokophobia and I was looking for some positive encouragement, maybe some stories from people who had been through it and could tell me some positive things. What I got instead was the nastiest group of mean girls I've encountered in a very long time. Seriously, these women jumped all over me. The pitchforks immediately came out. It was seriously upsetting! I hope that by sharing this, that you can better understand what they're experiencing. If you have a wife or partner is tokophobic then maybe this post will help to explain things that you may have observed in your relationship. If you have friends who you suspect might have tokophobia then maybe this post will help you to better understand them. 7 signs of women with tokophobia Not all women with tokophobia will experience all of these, but if a handful of them are present, then it’s a pretty good sign. 1. They avoid conversations of babies, pregnancy and birth It’s often assumed that women love nothing better than to talk babies, but this simply isn’t true. Women with tokophobia will tend to remain silent if there is a group conversation that touches on babies, pregnancy or birth. They might do this because they simply have nothing to say and they can’t relate to what’s being said. But it could also be that they daren’t say anything because of the possible reaction from other women. Very often, women with tokophobia find that when they speak up about how they’re feeling, that other women do not understand or shrug off their feelings. They might feel judged or ashamed so they keep quiet. 2. They don’t want to hold a baby Holding a baby could easily freak them out and bring out quite a reaction. This means that they’ve probably never held a baby. 3. They have medical fears Women with tokophobia tend to have one or more fears that are ...
The Maternal Brain, with Jodi Pawluski
51:38Today's podcast is all about the maternal brain and the neuroscience of pregnancy, birth, postpartum and parenting. A few months back I shared an article about the maternal brain on my Facebook page and it went a bit nuts. It's since been shared over 40 times which is unprecedented for my Facebook page. It also received tons of comments, many of which were saying how the article helped them to better understand what they were going through. So I knew I had to cover this topic on the podcast. I reached out to the expert that was quoted in the article, Jodi Pawluski, and was thrilled when she agreed to come on the podcast to talk about all things maternal brain. Jodi Pawluski is a perinatal mental health expert and Research Associate at the University of Rennes in France. Her research aims to promote maternal mental health: enhancing the health and well-being of both the mother and child. Her research focus is to determine the behavioral and neurobiological processes underlying maternal mental illness and use this information to improve mental health in women during the perinatal period. In other words, she knows a thing or two about the maternal brain! The Maternal Brain During our conversation, Jodi talks about the changes that are happening to our brain during pregnancy and how it's an important evolution for becoming a new parent how we have new brain circuitry coming online that provides us with the ability to tune into our infant by enabling us to experience a feeling of reward from our child and a feeling of attachment changes to the mood and emotions during pregnancy the role of the environment on the maternal brain aka "pregnancy brain" how quickly a mother can tune into her infant After half an hour of touching your baby's hand, you will recognise your baby's hand from touch alone. Pregnancy Brain We talk about whether this is a "thing". Some articles have stated that it's not a thing, so we talk about what it could be instead and why it might feel that it really IS a thing. 15% of women during pregnancy will have a high level of anxiety We touch on the important topic of anxiety and depression during pregnancy and taking medication when pregnant. And, we also cover the brain changes happening to dads.... there is so much in this conversation! Further Resources The Neurobiology of Postpartum Anxiety and Depression. The adaptive human parental brain: implications for children's social development. The Neglected Neurobiology of Maternal Anxiety and Depression Jodi Pawluski Why aren't we talking about maternal brain changes?
Pregnancy Body Changes
48:28Worrying about pregnancy body changes is something most pregnant women worry about. Whether it's the expected changes in the shape of your body as pregnancy progresses, to the least expected changes that might happen as a result of birth complications - and everything in between! Pregnancy body changes are a huge source of worry for women which is why I wanted to talk about this on the podcast. To help do that I’m going to be joined by Bianca and Natasha from Bebo Mia. They have a doula business and have been working with women for over 10 years so they’ve seen it all when it comes to women getting worried about pregnancy body changes. We cover quite a few angles when it comes to pregnancy body changes, from plus size pregnancies, to being pregnant when fit and of course vaginal tearing.. and lots more. Listen here Pregnancy Body Changes The adjustment you need to go through in how you perceive your body once you’re pregnant is quite significant. Many women have worries when it comes to pregnancy body changes which mean they struggle with this adjustment. This is particularly so for women who have strong feelings around their body - whether that's love because they've spent a lot of effort being fit or whether they don't like their body. Common worries and fears around pregnancy body changes include; "why isn’t my pregnancy going like a “normal” pregnancy?" ..... whatever *that* is! “I’m worried about gaining too much weight during my pregnancy" Plus size pregnancy We talk about BMI measurement and the obese categories. Yes, a BMI of 30 and above carries risks, but it’s simply an increased risk, not an absolute or guaranteed outcome. As with all risks, it's crucial to understand what the numbers are telling you. The important thing to bear in mind is that with plus size pregnancies, positive outcomes are all possible! Did you know that a common misguided belief is that overweight women are not strong enough to birth their babies? And another is that their vagina will be too fat. Yes, you read that right. A fat vagina! Since when can you get a fat vagina?? How can a hole get fat? #crazytalk We also talk about the importance of ditching the yo-yo dieting habit Fit women The Bebo Mia ladies are clear to state that it's important for women to give themselves at least 6 weeks to recover. They encourage women to connect to their postpartum body rather than focus on trying to re-establish their pre-baby body. Another common problem is that some women are too scared to gain weight during pregnancy, with some women working out too much because they’re worried about gaining more than 25 pounds. Changes down below No chat about pregnancy body changes would be complete without talking about vaginal tearing. I know! Vaginal tearing is a HUGE fear among pregnant women. And yet interestingly, when I speak to women about their birth stories, vaginal tearing rarely features as something they worry about during birth - with many not even noticing it happening when it does. This vagina talk also covers; the husband stitch the importance of pelvic work This is a great episode that is made brilliant by my fabulous guests, who have also offered a discount on all products on their site - see below. About bebo mia bebo mia is a training & mentorship organization for women in the maternal health field, including pregnancy/birth professionals, childbirth educators & parenting specialists. They offer comprehensive skills, business support & community care through an innovative online structure that spans a global market. A very different culture from both the patriarchal boardroom model & the female-centric multi-level marketing industry, bebo mia offers opportunities for women to work from home while making an income for themselves and their families. They develop inclusive, accessible trainings for women that provide the skills needed to grow & sust...
Preparing for Motherhood, with Sophie Brigstocke
1:01:24In today's podcast episode I'm honoured to be joined by Sophie Brigstocke. Sophie won Doula of the Year in 2017, so this is a real treat - my second Doula of the Year guest! As well as being a doula, Sophie also runs Nurturing Birth where she trains doulas alongside her co-founder Florence Etienne-Jackson. Together they have trained over 3000 doulas, so she knows a thing or two about birth and supporting women as they approach motherhood. It was really tricky to pick a title for today's podcast because we talked about so much. But it's all birthy and all very interesting! Some of the things we talk about include; Sophie's epic 10-day labour - YES you read that right... 10-day labour! her ECV and her difficult birth experience planning her subsequent VBAC her elective emergency c-section Preparing for motherhood and parenting We talked a lot about how we can use pregnancy to prepare for motherhood. Often the focus of pregnancy is preparing for the birth, but preparing for motherhood is also important because there are things that can be done during pregnancy to lay the foundation. Sophie shares with us that a lot of couples come unstuck with a new baby and they say they would have liked to have had help to prepare their relationship for the arrival of the baby. And yet, when classes were put on, no-one signed up. The benefit of hindsight, eh? the case for ditching parenting books and tuning into your baby why the mother is the expert on her baby the importance of tuning into the mothering instinct what women can do during pregnancy to prepare why psychological preparation is important maternal mental health Let’s take the emphasis OFF what we need to BUY materialistically. Let’s think a lot more about what we need to invest in for our mental and emotional well-being. Sophie tells us that "in terms of a good head space, preparing for the birth has a big impact. Your birth informs your postnatal period in a big way. I felt like my body had let me down. The positive feelings from having a good breastfeeding journey made such a difference” We also talk about breastfeeding and touch on some common breastfeeding myths. And any birth conversation is not exactly complete unless oxytocin is mentioned! Sophie feels that "oxytocin isn’t talked about enough. It has an important role in early parenting too; it’s part of breastfeeding." About Sophie Brigstocke Sophie is a birth and postnatal doula, Doula Mentor at Doula UK, Breastfeeding Supporter and Baby Massage Teacher. She was awarded “Doula of the Year” at MaMa Conference, 2017. Sophie started working with mums and babies in 2004 when she trained as a baby massage teacher with Peter Walker, something she regularly teaches with busy courses around SW London. She also trained as a Therapeutic Massage Practitioner at the London College of Massage, specialising in Pregnancy and Post-Natal treatments. She offers Closing the Bones postnatal massage and ceremony to new mothers, as well as babywearing support. You track Sophie down at Nurturing Birth. Webinar for Birth Workers In today's episode, I announced that I'll be running a live webinar for birth workers. I've been getting lots of enquiries from birth workers who would like mt to share how I help women to prepare for a fearless birth. So I thought I'd run a webinar. If you'd like to join me on the webinar, then you can sign up here.
32:46The Fear Free Childbirth podcast is back! After a year off, I'm back... lots of great episodes coming too! In this episode, I talk about my new book, Fearless Birthing. I get lots of emails asking what reading people should do, well, my answer to that is simple: my Fearless Birthing book! When I was pregnant, I didn’t read any books. I was tokophobic and one aspect that affects many women with tokophobia is that reading about birth can be very difficult - it can easily trigger their fears or panic attacks - and this happened to me. So I’m the last person to ask about birth books. My Facebook group is a great place to ask that question! Fearless Birthing Book So today I’m going to talk about my book and share with you what you can expect from it - in a very top-line fashion. It’s nearly 100,000 words and pretty meaty, so I will NOT be going into the detail... I just want to give you an overview so that you can decide whether it might be a good one for you to read. As I go through the chapters I also mention where there might be other podcast episodes that cover those topics - and I mention upcoming episodes that dive deeper too. As well as helping you to shift your mindset around birth, I also include my fear-clearance technique - the Head Trash Clearance Method - which is what you can use to clear your fears. Now, some people prefer more than just a book to help them, so if that's you, then the Fearless Birthing Academy is for you. This is my online program that accompanies the book. It includes lots of videos to help you to identify your fears and then to clear them. There are also many mindset techniques in there to help you during birth. Since the book has come out I'm also getting lots of questions from birth workers and birth professionals asking me if they could train in Fearless Birthing so that they can use it to support their clients. Well, the answer to that is YES YOU CAN! You can find out more about joining the tribe of Fearless Birthing Professionals here. The Fearless Birthing Professional training is an online training program that combines live classes with online materials which means that you can train from anywhere in the world - as long as you have an internet connection. Other Resources During the podcast I mentioned other resources to help you on your Fearless Birthing journey; Fear Clearance Meditations - to help you to address the most common birth fears Fearless Birthing book bundle deal - buy 5 paperbacks - for friends or for your lending library and save money. Fear Free Childbirth Facebook group - the best place to ask me questions and get answers from other mamas on the same journey as you.
Breastfeeding, with Cindy Leclerc
1:00:32Breastfeeding is not something you might expect to do your research on while pregnant, but there is certainly a lot of value in preparing yourself as much as you can while you have the time and space to do so. When your little one arrives you'll thank yourself for being prepped as much as you can. I've been asked loads to do a podcast on breastfeeding and I've resisted because I wanted to stay focused on the birth prep, but I'm getting way too many requests to ignore it - so here we are! Today I'm speaking to Cindy Leclerc. Cindy is a Canadian Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She has helped over 12,000 families get started with breastfeeding. In addition to her nursing practice, she teaches prenatal breastfeeding classes both in-person and online. Together with a colleague, she hosts a website (cindyandjana.com) and an app (NuuNest) which provide reliable information to answer the questions new parents ask. NuuNest can be downloaded for free on their website. During our chat Cindy shares the 5 things that every pregnant woman should know about breastfeeding. But we don't stop there! We also talk about breastfeeding positions growth spurts what to expect the days after birth in terms of milk how to know if your baby has fed enough - and it's not to do with time spent on the boob! During our chat, Cindy talks about her free breastfeeding course as well one of which is free. Check them out below. FREE 3 lesson course - Getting Ready to Breastfeed Simply Breastfeeding But that's not all! FREE DOWNLOAD Cindy has kindly offered to share a PDF of the 5 Things Pregnant Women Should Know About Breastfeeding. (I’m sorry but this free guide is no longer available. If you are looking for super useful resources such as this then join the Fearless Mama Ship. Find out more here.) Get support as a new mama As I mentioned on the podcast new mama support is now available as part of The Fearless Mama Ship member area. The Fearless Mama Ship is to support you throughout your four trimesters and has been created to help you to reduce the overwhelm when it comes to all the information out there. It is packed with bonus podcast episodes, mini-course and plenty of resources to help you prepare for birth. My birth prep program includes birth template downloads as well as information of the various birth professionals that can support you during your pregnancy and birth so that you can find the support you need. Find out more below.
Essential Steps of Birth Preparation
27:21Birth preparation is a huge part of preparing for a positive birth. Lots of women don't appreciate why doing birth preparation is so important with many leaving it last minute. The truth is if you want to stack the odds in your favour when it comes to having a positive birth experience, birth preparation is essential. The thing is, birth preparation can seem like this huge overwhelming task, so it's understandable that many shy away from it or procrastinate. To help you I'm going to talk you through what I believe are some of the most important elements of your birth preparation. [spp-player] Why birth preparation is important Preparing for your birth means that you're saying no to the "winging it" birth plan. For the record, “winging it” or “going with the flow” is NOT recommended and is more likely to lead to a difficult birth; Your labour is more likely to be longer Increased chances of experiencing a painful labour You’re more likely to have a medicalised labour Increased chances of ending up with an emergency C-Section I don't know about you, but they are good enough reasons for me! To receive my 9 Steps to a Fearless Birth just pop your details below and I will send you everything you need to know via email. Essential Steps of Birth Preparation So, in no particular order, here are some of the important steps that I think you need to include in your birth preparation. Get clear on what you want How can you prepare if you don’t know what you want? So this bit is super important. Think about what you DO want and what you DON’T want when it comes to your birth. Where do you feel the safest? Home or hospital? Birth centre? Maternity-led unit? How do you feel about medical staff? Do they scare you or make you feel safe? Are you considered high risk? If so, what does this mean in terms of your birth? Does your current health have any implications for your birth? If so, what? What birth assistance would you like? Birth pool? Pain relief? Space to move around? Home comforts? And, where is that most easily available? What’s the birth you DON’T want? Why? What is it about that that you don’t like/want? If this ended up being your birth how would that make you feel? Get savvy If you’re going to prepare for something, then it’s important to know what you’re preparing for so that you improve your chances of getting it. This means going all crazy on the details. So even though you might have things clear in your head in terms of what you want - you still need to plan for various eventualities. With birth, nothing is guaranteed, which is why it’s also worth preparing for plan B and maybe even plan C. The reason why I want you to prepare for the birth you don’t want is so that you do your homework on it. This does two things; it helps you to understand it better as a birth option, and crucially, this helps to reduce the fear you might have of it. After all, there’s a reason you don’t want it, right? Having a load of negative emotion around your plan B will not be very helpful for you on the day if your birth ends up going that way. Being prepared means that you will be able to change tack without getting all stressy on the day, which would be no good for the hormonal cocktail that keeps labour moving. So you see; being clear AND savvy on both birth options is important work! Start seeking out the information you need that will support your birth choices. Who do you want at your birth? Your partner? Your mother? Friends? Doula? Photographer? Are they are fully briefed and “on the same page” as you? Pain relief: do you know your options and consequences of their use? How do you feel about accepting pain relief? Does this carry emotional weight? What pain management strategies would you like to adopt? What methods would you consider to induce labour if required? At what point would you accept an induction?
Conscious Conception and Pregnancy, with Jane Jennings
58:47I'm a huge fan of conscious conception and pregnancy and I believe that taking a conscious and deliberate approach to your journey from pregnancy to motherhood is the gold standard to aim for. But I also know that not everyone has got that memo and simply don't get it. To help you understand this in more depth, today I'm chatting to Jane Jennings about conscious conception and pregnancy. Jane is a Conscious Conception Doula and works with families throughout the pregnancy journey and that often means BEFORE conception. [spp-player] What is a conscious conception and pregnancy? I know that many of my listeners choose to listen to my podcast as part of their preparation for motherhood and so THIS is what I'm talking about here; being conscious and deliberate about your journey to motherhood. Living consciously isn’t limited to pregnancy and birth. It’s something we can all do at any time, if we’re ready and open to it. Put simply, living consciously is being deliberate and mindful about your choices and conscious of their consequences. Many people live unconsciously from moment to moment and allow themselves to be carried by the current of life, instead of choosing to pick up an oar and paddle in a certain direction. When it comes to a living a conscious conception and pregnancy, things you might want to explore include; Create the space in your life for your baby Many couples who are expecting their first baby, do not intentionally create the space for a new person in their life. Particularly if the baby wasn’t entirely expected. It can be all too easy to try and bolt the baby onto your young, free and independent life (I know because I was guilty of this!), but taking the time to think about what you need to let go of so that you can welcome your baby fully, is worthwhile. Take a closer look at your work, chores, hobbies and relationships that are simply not compatible with family life. Be prepared to make changes to enable family life to flourish and thrive. Often, family friction comes from this resistance to let go of the life habits that suited a younger person with no responsibilities. By accepting your new role sooner, you can avoid much of this, but importantly, it gives a clear message to your new family member that they are welcome, valued and loved. Work On Your Relationship with Your Partner The greatest gift you can offer your future child is a loving relationship between his or her parents. If there are any unresolved issues between you and your partner, make a point to work on them before your baby arrives so you can welcome your child into a peaceful home. Take time to devote to your relationship, whether through therapy or counselling, simple open communication or even a baby-moon. A happy couple and a happy home massively increase your chances of having a happy child. Journal your pregnancy experience Write about your thoughts and emotions during pregnancy. Aside from the physical changes that accompany pregnancy, explore your ideas around how you want to parent, the relationship you hope to have, and the qualities you expect to foster in your child. Not only will this be interesting to read years from now to see how things panned out, but it will be a wonderful gift for your baby. Our pregnancy journey impacts our babies in ways that we might find hard to grasp. Babies develop their senses very early on in utero and will be picking up on a lot of your thoughts and experiences. The emotions that you will be experiencing will be affecting your baby in quite profound ways; one of the key reasons to address your emotional wellbeing during pregnancy. Regularly connect and communicate with your baby Build a relationship with your baby early on in your pregnancy so that your baby is used to a two-way dialogue and trusts you. During birth, there needs to be trust between the two of you. Trust that you’re both capable and confident of doing what needs to be done and that you can rely ...