My Lara is now 2 months old, and there’s one thing I’ve particularly become aware of in the last few weeks… that she is a very calm and content baby.
We shouldn’t compare our children to others, but I not only have noticed her calming attitude, but many others have too! As I reminisce back to the birth, and all my intentions and self care while pregnant, it really makes sense as to why I have such a placid baby now.
From the moment Lara was born and placed onto my chest, she was quiet and calm, she didn’t even cry! The next 5 days we spent in hospital all I ever heard in the maternity ward was the constant screaming of babies, day and night; but not my Lara. The midwives frequently commented on how content Lara was, and only made a peep when she was hungry.
Over the last few weeks we’ve been to maternal health and pediatric appointments, mothers group, and community programs where we’ve been among other babies around Lara’s age. While they were quick to cry and become unsettled quickly, my Lara just lay there quietly with comments from other parents saying ‘Why can’t you be more like Lara’ to their own children.
While it’s only been 8 weeks since Lara was born, it has been very interesting watching her delicate personality come to life. She has been a very calm baby so far, apart from being a little unsettled from her 6 week immunizations and her developmental leaps. So far so good!
I’ve seen many parents struggle with restless babies/children who seem to constantly cry and be unsettled, and while I’m no expert or doctor, I truly believe that being calm during pregnancy and labour results in a calm and content baby. Let me explain more.
Right from conception, you and your baby are forming a relationship. Your baby is literally apart of you, he/she inhibits your hormones, calories and even picks up on your emotions in that they feel what you feel. After birth this continues, your baby absorbs your moods and nuances, no matter how subtle.
Scientific evidence shows that awake or asleep, babies are constantly tuned into their mothers every action, thought and feeling. From the moment of conception, the experiences in the womb shape the brain and lay the groundwork for personality, emotional temperament and the power of higher thought.
When you are calm, relaxed and content, it is most beneficial to your child whether they are in the uterus or earthside. Research has shown that the more a mother experiences stress during her pregnancy, and the more difficult the birth, the more a baby will cry and be irritable.
Marion Badenoch Rose from Aware Parenting tells us that babies cry for two main reasons. The first to indicate an immediate need – such as a need for closeness, food, a pain or to be made more comfortable (such as a nappy change, to be warmer/cooler or change position). The second reason for crying is the same as in adults – to express feelings and to heal from stress or trauma.
A baby whose mother is very calm during pregnancy, has an easy birth, who is held most of the time, is protected from over stimulation, and whose parents feel generally happy and loving will experience less stress. In comparison, a baby who has a mother who is stressed or scared whilst pregnant, has a difficult or traumatic birth experience, who is kept separate from mum or who frequently experiences stressful events such as loud noises, parents shouting, or busy shopping areas and lots of people, is likely to have more stress to heal from, and is likely to try and cry for long periods every day.
It is also interesting for you to know that babies/children can pick up on their mothers moodswings and hormone changes during PMS. You may find your little one becomes more crankier and more restless, with their sleep even being disrupted around the time you are due for your period. This is how intune your baby is with their mama.
During my pregnancy I studied hypnobirthing as I needed to eliminate my fears of childbirth. During my studies I not only learnt valuable knowledge to prepare myself to birth calmly, but also the necessary tools and resources to continue these mindful practices for beyond birth.
While pregnant one of the first things I did to eliminate stress was putting a pause on some friendships that were highly needy and draining. I bravely sent txt messages explaining I just needed some time for myself and that I was trying to stay in a positive mindset. Your real friends will understand, and for those who don’t, well then you’re better off without them I say.
Other things I did to stay positive and calm throughout my pregnancy was weekly yoga classes, daily meditation, walks in nature, and just being really mindful of the things I was doing. Not rushing around, and just taking my time in organising things for the baby. The instinct to launch into activities and get things prepared for baby as quickly as possible may feel natural, but it is not usually the best way to operate. Thinking about what you want to do first, planning it and being methodical; that’s the mindful approach. It also makes the ‘doing’ more enjoyable, because you’re working to a plan and are aware of your progress rather than mindlessly rushing to complete a task.
I had such a positive birth experience, which was a result of my commitment to my hypnobirth studies and preparation. I birthed Lara naturally in a quiet and calm environment with dim lighting and the smell of my lavender essential oils. I remained quiet and generally calm throughout labour and was able to do so without any medication/drugs or intervention.
Whenever I feel myself getting stressed or if my mind is wondering while I’m trying to sleep, I use the tools and resources I learnt from my hypnobirthing course to help bring me into a relaxed state. A simple thing to do for when I can’t sleep or am nervous is I just do some big deep belly breaths, counting in for 4 and out for 6. Another way to relax is to scan over your body and ensure every muscle is soft and relaxed, even the muscles around your eyes. Make sure your jaw is relaxed so that your teeth part slightly. It is interesting for you to know that certain muscle groups talk to other muscle groups, so by working your way from the top of your head to the tip of your toes you’ll instantly feel calm and relaxed.
If calm birth/hypnobirthing speaks to your heart, I encourage you to keep learning about it. You have nothing to loose and so much to gain.
If it doesn’t, that’s ok! You do what is the most authentic way for you as a parent. Most of all enjoy your baby and all the gifts he or she brings to you!