Good Parenting Begins Before Your Baby Arrives

You probably know that the health of your relationship has far reaching effects on your child’s future. You have probably heard that there is no better gift you can give to a child than a mother and father who genuinely love each other. You may even be aware that babies raised in homes with unhappy parents suffer developmentally both intellectually and socially. But you probably don’t realize that the quality of your relationship during your pregnancy has a strong determinative effect on their ability to self-soothe once they are born? Studies have found that couples who were more hostile toward each other in their conflicts, during the later stages of their pregnancy, gave birth to babies that cry more and laugh less.

Most parents know it is unsettling and not a good idea to fight in front of their babies or small children, but few realize that fighting while pregnant is just as damaging to their soon to be added member of the family. Scientists believe a big part of this is the negative effect of emotionally upsetting events on the baby’s development of their vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve is what controls a baby’s ability to focus attention and calm or soothe itself, and it is believed to be quite sensitive to the parent’s emotional state as it develops, especially around the sixth month of pregnancy. The better the quality of the parents’ relationship, the better the baby’s vagal tone will be, and thus the happier the baby. So the quality of your spousal relationship while pregnant plays a vital role in determining your baby’s temperament and sets the tone for the rest of his/her life.

The vagus nerve controls what is commonly referred to as the fight or flight response in humans that we experience when we perceive a threat. This is a very adaptive and important bodily function when we are about to be attacked by an outside force. However, it is a destructive force when it is only perceived danger – such as when a baby is still in the womb and under no threat of harm.

The fight or flight response is an all or nothing reaction and floods the body with chemicals like adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol and increases our heart rate. These chemicals are harmful to our body when released for no reason and not quickly metabolized during action (fighting or fleeing) and allowed to stay in our body for more than a few minutes as is the case when activated in a child in the womb.

Most people want their baby to have every advantage possible. So it is important to work on your relationship prior to conceiving a child if you don’t want your child to be at a disadvantage as soon as he or she is born. So make your relationship a priority for your future offspring’s benefit. You don’t have to eliminate disagreements, but you would be wise to be more understanding of each other’s point of view and try to calmly come to resolutions when you inevitably do disagree. An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure, but the healing power of touch and hugs can go a long way in soothing your unborn child in the aftermath of any disagreements you have.


You can follow Sam on Twitter @SuperTaoInc



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