The Emotions of Pregnancy & Parenting
One of the couples I worked with had a very difficult first birth. As a result, they researched other ways to welcome their second baby into the world. This time, they changed their model of care to a more woman-centered model. They completed my course and the mum did all the practices to down-regulate her stress response and work on transforming her fears. She and her partner became a powerful team and communicated what was important to them to their care providers. The result was a stunning example of how different two experiences of giving birth can be.
When I spoke with the mum, she was 6 days post-birth. She made apologies for her emotional vulnerability and tendency to be tearful. Her need to talk to me was about her tendency towards anxiety. She was anxious of being anxious. Her first birth had such a negative impact on her emotional wellbeing that she didn’t know what was normal, now that she had experienced a beautiful, empowered vaginal birth after her caesarean experience.
The primal rawness of our feelings as new parents can be scary, particularly when we are used to putting a lid on our feelings and being in control of them. Pregnancy starts to take the lid off the box – and early parenting blows the box apart! We are quick to tease pregnant women about ‘baby brain’. We blame the hormones for taking away her intellect and her ability to think rationally. The emotions spring from nowhere and can leave us feeling raw, vulnerable and very sensitive. Throw in the breastfeeding hormones and you have a cocktail of powerful emotional intelligence.
If we explore the nature of these hormones and why women might be experiencing them in peak levels – it opens the door to us appreciating the intelligence of mother nature’s design.
Your baby needs you to focus on them, feel love towards them, read their cues and sense their needs. Your amygdala, the part of your brain that senses danger, becomes enlarged in pregnancy. It provides you with a deep desire to respond to their needs and protect them against danger. Intellect is not designed for the job and the volume of intellect gets turned down. Thinking and researching what your baby might need is not as effective as knowing what your baby needs. Your hormones are helping you to know, by turning up the volume of your emotional intelligence, making it hard to think.
Reading expert advice, googling, getting advice from others is all noise, and prevents you from reading and knowing your baby.
I explained to this mother that her amygdala has enlarged, making her hypervigilant to danger and protective of her baby. It is a biological necessity to not sleep deeply when you have a newborn baby – our babies are born so vulnerable. I reassured her that her anxiety about the baby is normal for many mothers, and is a healthy response to life with a newborn. I reminded her that if her anxiety starts to become detrimental to her mental health, then she has all the support she needs to get help, just like she did last time.
She thanked me for explaining this, helping to normalise her experience and embrace her strong desire to be with her baby. She looked visibly more relaxed and embraced her mother tiger. 😊
I hope this is helpful to all you precious parents who protect our precious babes.
Sending you all love,