Think of it. Your baby is growing inside of you. You are her first environment, the ocean in which she swims. Every change in you registers as a ripple or a storm in that ocean. Every experience you have affects her. Your baby is not developed enough to be verbally conscious, but she is experientially conscious. Your baby senses and feels. She is physiologically in tune with you.
While your impact is on her body, not her conscious mind, remember that her right brain registers as dream patterns whatever is happening in her body. If these dream patterns are acute or repetitive, later on in life she will be able to access them and translate them into conscious thought.
YOUR BABY IS A SENTIENT, FEELING BEING
Many studies have shown that your baby is learning in the womb. Researchers are still uncertain when memory begins, but it is certain that five weeks into your pregnancy (in fact, two weeks of actual gestation), your baby is already reacting to outside stimuli. Faint or detailed traces of memory have been recorded through hypnosis of the adult-child and verified by appealing directly to the mother for corroboration.
Through guided imagery I have often taken people back into the womb and asked them to describe what they were feeling at four months gestation, at three, at the moment of conception. For the most part, they have no trouble doing so. Whenever possible, we have obtained verification. Many studies since the early 1970s have shown incontestable evidence that your unborn child, from very early on in her gestation, is a sentient, feeling being.
GIVE YOUR BABY LOVING ATTENTION
We don’t exist in a vacuum and your child doesn’t either. She is in a relationship with you and, through you, with the environment you live in, the larger world, and even the cosmos. So your attitude toward your unborn child is the single most important factor in determining how your baby will develop in your uterus and after she is born.
If you are accepting and loving of her, if you pay attention to her as she develops, and if you reassure her when something has upset her in the process of upsetting you, your child will thrive. She will be healthier both physically and emotionally. Since, as studies have shown, she can sense her mother’s attention or rejection of her from the very first weeks, the earlier and more finely attuned you are to the new life in your womb, the better it will be for your baby and you.
So how do you communicate with this invisible entity inside you? You may naturally start talking to your little one. Or you may find this strange or uncomfortable, more so if you know that babies’ hearing only develops by the 16th week of gestation. However, any form of loving interaction between you and your baby is important.
Talking, singing, sending sweet images, and caressing your womb are manifestations of loving attention. Turning your eyes inward to see inside your body is the strongest way of communicating. Your body language is that of images. The language your baby understands best at this early stage of development is images. What you experience through images affects you in a more visceral way than simply thinking about an outcome.
IMPORTANT PREGNANCY EXERCISE
The following exercise is an incredibly important pregnancy exercise. Practice it every day of your pregnancy until your 32nd week. Do this one to three times a day. I recommend that you practice this exercise at midday, then rest for a half hour before continuing your day. Resting is essential to your and your child’s well-being.
For this exercise, you will need to refer to a chart that shows you how the fetus develops week by week. You will find many versions of the chart on the Internet. Each week, check to see what is developing in your baby and visualize it growing perfectly. For example, if the villi (the roots of the placenta) are implanting into the wall of your uterus, see them implanting deeply; if your baby is developing fingers, visualize those fingers growing perfectly.
The exercise is also good for second- and multiple-time moms and moms who are expecting twins. Instead of one baby, just visualize two. You can talk to the two or to one baby at a time.
The exercise soothes, calms, and harmonizes your body for the perfect unfolding of your unborn child. It also prepares both you and your child for an easy birth.
If you have had a shock or are upset, your body rhythms will change and will affect your unborn child. Do this exercise as soon as possible afterward. Your baby needs to be reassured.
GOING INTO THE WOMB TO VISIT YOUR CHILD
Close your eyes.
Breathe out slowly three times, counting from 3 to 1, seeing the numbers in your mind’s eye.
See the number 1 as tall, clear, and bright.
Turn your eyes inward to travel down to your womb.Your eyes shine like two beams illuminating your way down inside your body to the amniotic sac.
When you are there, bring your eyes close to the transparent membrane of the sac and look at your baby floating freely in its clear blue amniotic waters.
Talk to your baby (later on, when your baby has reached the stage of development when her eyes are open, make eye contact with her while talking). Tell your baby all you want to tell her, using words or images. Tell her how much you love her, how much you are looking forward to her arrival.
Tell her of any particular stresses or shocks you may be experiencing. Tell her not to worry, that all is well, that she’s safe inside the amniotic sac, tucked under your heart.
Remind your baby of the particular phase of development she’s in right now (according to the chart) and visualize the perfect development of that part of her body. (Remember that the phase changes each week, so keep in touch with the weekly changes and visualize them happening perfectly.)
Tell your baby you have to go now but that you’ll be back to visit again. Tell her that even though you may be busy with other things, she’s safely in your body and being taken care of.
Breathe out. Bring your eyes back up into your sockets.
Open your eyes, registering the room around you while also seeing with open eyes your baby tucked comfortably under your heart.
Keep visualizing your child’s unfolding manifestation until your child is able to take full responsibility for her life. “Only by way of the Image shall a person journey.” This process of imagination does not end with birth, but continues throughout your child’s life. Until your child reaches maturity, you are responsible for holding in your mind’s eye only the most positive, life-affirming images for her. This does not mean that you see your child through rose-tinted lenses but that, while being perfectly cognizant of what reality holds for your child, you project for her only the very best. Eventually the responsibility for creating her own healthy unfolding becomes her own.
Excerpted from DreamBirth: Transforming the Journey of Childbirth through Imagery by Catherine Shainberg, PhD. Copyright 2013 Catherine Shainberg PhD. To be published by Sounds True in January 2014.
Catherine Shainberg is the founder of the School of Images and has over 40 years of experience in adapting traditional practices into a modern medical context. She is the author of Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming (Inner Traditions, 2005), and teaches live workshops internationally. Dr. Shainberg has a private practice in New York City. For more, visit schoolofimages.com.