Motherhood, Parenting, Pregnancy, Wellness

Bonding with Baby Before Birth: An Interview with Laurel Wilson

Kathryn from the Natural Mom Hub recently spent some time with Laurel Wilson, the author of Attachment Pregnancy, which is her latest, and other publications on natural pregnancy. Laurel had a very challenging birth, followed by a challenging lactating experience. After those experiences she really wanted be a better advocate for families. She worked for many years as a doula in Hawaii and in Colorado Springs and then in Denver. She became a childbirth educator, prenatal parenting educator, and a prenatal yoga, instructor.

Her current focus is on the prenatal environment and early breastfeeding, how stress in pregnancy really changes the outcome of our genome, and how a baby’s long term health changes as a result of pregnancy and early years of mothering. That’s the focus of this interview.

Kathryn:  What inspired you to write this book, Attachment Pregnancy?

Laurel:  About five years ago, my coworker and I, Tracy Wilson Peters, had a conversation about what was going on with moms today. At that time I was teaching prenatal yoga and breastfeeding classes, and I noticed a distinct increase in stress in these moms. They were very, very stressed and it was difficult for them to go into deep breathing. It was very difficult for them to talk about their emotions.

Tracy and I decided that it’s really important that we do some research for moms about what really happens, not only to themselves as unfolding mothers, but regarding their health as a result of their experience of pregnancy in all those early years. So our first book, The Greatest Pregnancy Ever, and our most recent one, Attachment Pregnancy focus on how to really bond with your baby from the beginning of conception.

Kathryn:  When I thought that I was pregnant I bought What to Expect, which I think a lot of first-time moms are inclined to do. It wasn’t as helpful to me as other things I’ve read. I’ve since donated that book because it’s not really one I feel like I need to keep in my library. How is this book different?

Laurel:  Not to disparage any other books, but a lot of the genre focuses on all the things that can go wrong. They focus on how to prevent tragedies, and they tend to really scare moms and increase anxiety and increase stress overall. They certainly don’t  help moms feel connected to their bodies and their inner resources and intuition. They also do not help moms feel more connected and attached to their baby. The Attachment Pregnancy really focuses on what we call the BOND. It includes four different sections focused on different periods of development of a baby, and on the mom and baby’s relationship.

B Being starts with conception, and focuses on how to get into a state of mindfulness, how to really be in a present within your pregnancy, and getting connected to your baby.

O Observing helps moms learn how to observe their world and understand how they are reacting to it. Observing helps them understand how their reactions impact and change their baby’s brain development and their own stress level.

N Nursing discusses ways a mom can bring nourishing behaviors, foods, and relationships to their pregnancy. They can begin to create balance and boundaries within their life in order to prepare for the long-term parenting experience.

D Prenatally, the third trimester is about deciding. This section helps mothers consider how to make informed decisions, and connect their decisions to their birth experience, their healthcare practitioners, being a parent, and engaging with their partners. They can learn to optimize, not only their pregnancy, but early parenting with their partners.

Kathryn:  I’ve read a lot about balance and boundaries in new motherhood. Lately, I have been thinking about just much how perspective my 10-month-old daughter already has. She is incredibly opinionated. How do we start honoring that during pregnancy?

Laurel:  One of the things we’re now becoming very aware of is the fact that babies are conscious on a very unique level, from very early pregnancy, but not conscious the way that we think of adults as conscious. They have awareness and they have a connection to their mothers from the early moments of conception. As babies are developing, they are becoming aware of their mother’s thoughts, feelings, and environment based on the communication from the placenta.

The placenta actually acts like a really amazing brain, and thinks completely on its own separate from the mom’s brain. It guides the baby throughout pregnancy based on what’s going on with mom, and helps the baby understand the world that he or she will be born into, to best prepare his or her brain to fit in to the new family. The book has activities that parents can do a daily basis during pregnancy. The first one is called Conscious Attachment. Conscious Attachment is a way that moms can take a few moments to close their eyes, separate from external influences, focus on their baby, and make a promise to their baby that they will continuously stay connected to her or him. This sends a positive molecule of emotion to the baby. It connects us at a heart level to our baby.

Kathryn:  Laurel, you’ve given us a few actionable items that somebody can implement right away. You said telling your baby that you love them and acknowledging that from the start. What else would you recommend?

Laurel:   An additional and really important thing is sleep. We know the impact that sleep has on moms prenatally and postpartum, but prenatally this is such important time for moms because it’s a regenerative time. There is a practice called Yoga Nidra; it is actually the yoga asleep. A mom takes short sleep sessions throughout the day to rejuvenate her body. This has been practiced since ancient times. Pregnant moms can employ these kinds of practices today. In fact, Harvard is studying the regenerative properties of sleep particularly during pregnancy. This is not new science, and even a 10 or 15 minute nap during the day can improve overall health outcomes.

Kathryn:  These are some great tips. I have a couple of friends who are expecting, and of course, I want to send them the book, but what else can I do as a friend to encourage them to incorporate BOND into their routine?

Laurel:  Talk about some of these practices. Really simple things like encouraging them to be physical throughout the day, take that baby for a walk, and get out and move their bodies, because movement reduces stress, and helps them to stay connected. We know that woman-to-woman support really reduces stress overall and that’s so important for pregnancy. I think just creating that space that you are here on Natural Mom Hub is lovely, and exactly what moms need, giving them a space to talk, and a space to connect. Thank you for kind of doing that, facilitating that kind of work.

Kathryn:  Thank you so much for talking with us. If readers are interested in Laurel’s book, Attachment Pregnancy, find it here. The book is available in all e-formats. Additionally Laurel’s website is full of resources for parents, so check that out too. And then let us know what you think, and what works for you.

How ToBond With Your BabyBefore Birth

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