So my last blog was about how we can as women start trusting our body. But how do we listen to our baby? Is your baby really trying to tell you something?
Even during pregnancy our babies communicate with us? The first few months of pregnancy we rely on tests, scans, and our own body responses to tell us we are pregnant and all is going well. The many blood tests and urine tests tell us that physically all is progressing as it should be and of course we eagerly await our ultrasound scans to see our tiny baby and check all is healthy and baby is growing. We can even find out if we are having a boy or a girl if we so chose. But as pregnancy continues we can ‘listen’ to our baby to also tell us things are going ok.
In what sense?
The main way is by ‘counting the kicks‘, or monitoring our babies movements. Why is this important? Because any change in your babies regular movement pattern may signal a problem. Most women can feel their babies movements from around 18-20 weeks sometimes earlier and it is a good idea around 20 weeks to keep a diary so you can get to know what the normal pattern is for your baby.
Listen to your baby, there is no set pattern of what is normal for an unborn baby as every baby is different so it is important to get to know YOUR baby’s individual pattern. As your baby grows continue to listen to your baby, both the number and type of movements will change with your baby’s activity pattern. Afternoons and evenings is when you may find your baby is most active. During both day and night, your baby will have periods of sleep that mostly last between 20 and 40 minutes during which time babies usually do not move. These sleep times are rarely longer than 90 minutes. Movements tend to increase up until around 32 weeks and then settle but your baby should always continue to move till your due date. If at any point you notice a change in your babies normal pattern of movements always seek help straightaway from your midwife, or local hospital.
What about after the arrival of your beautiful baby? We can ‘listen’ to what our babies are telling us, how?
As soon as a baby is born they will attempt to communicate. When a baby is delivered and given straight to its mother, skin to skin, it will attempt to search for food, using tiny hands and the smell of its mother a baby will literally crawl up its mother’s body to find the source of food, the breast. By listening to our babies and the cues they show we can allow them to do what comes naturally.
Listening to our baby is especially important in the early hours and days. Lets first look at things from your babies point of view. The world they have known the last nine months was your womb. Your womb is dark, warm at a constant temperature and food is constantly supplied. Your baby is naked and in a snug, wet, warm, soft place. Your baby has been in constant contact with you, your voice your heartbeat and constantly moving. Sounds are muffed and there is no sense of smell. Baby doesn’t have to communicate any needs or wants, everything is met by you, by your body. Now birth has disrupted that, your baby has been thrust into an environment that is ever changing, stimulation is everywhere, bright lights, loud noises, differing temperatures. Your baby is suddenly separated from you and the familiar surroundings, no longer naked but clothed, food is no longer supplied constantly and don’t forget gravity!
“How is your baby trying to communicate with you?”
Your baby now also has to signal to you for all babies needs, warmth, food, security, love how will your baby communicate this?
If your baby wants food you will notice signs. Licking lips, stirring, opening mouth, turning head (rooting) stretching movement and sucking fingers are all signs that we can listen to that tell us our baby is hungry. Responding it these cues allows us to put baby to breast (or give a bottle) before baby cries or becomes too distressed.
One of the ways baby communicates is crying. When your baby is crying listen, what is your baby trying to tell you? Remember what we said about the womb being warm and at a constant temperature, your baby will need to adjust to life now in the outside world is your baby to hot or too cold? In the womb your baby was in constant contact with you, is your baby telling you that they miss that? Skin to skin is a great way to regulate your babies temperature but also feel them feel safe, secure and close to you. Does your baby want to be held and rocked? Of course, because this is exactly what being inside you felt like. So pick your baby up, hold and love your baby as much as your can and even carry your baby (slings are great for this). Many mothers say that after time they get to know their babies cry and how they may differ for different needs.
Babies also communicate in other ways such as cooing when feeling happy and content, copying facial expressions of you and others and showing frustration when things just aren’t quite right. Babies often like noise too, so that classical music CD may now come in handy or though lots of babies like the hoover too!
What happens when you listen to your baby and respond to what you hear? Well your baby will realise while transitioning into this new scary world that its not that scary after all because everything your baby needs is being met by you! Before long your baby will be just fine in the big brave world and if you continue to listen in all the new stages that come along then you will always find your baby leads the way.
By trusting your body and listening to your baby you can navigate the road of parenthood together and yes it will be bumpy a road at times but together you can reach your destination. But you have something else along the way to help help you and thats your natural instinct, what is your instinct and how can it help you?