After your baby is born
In order for the neurons to become fully functional, they now rely on feedback and stimulation from the outside environment – which is given by the primary caregivers – usually the Mom and the Dad.
Although a newborn baby may appear to be unaware of what is going on around him/her, what we now know is that the baby’s brain is like a sponge, absorbing and learning from what is going on around him/her – almost as though the baby is in a hypnotic state. If the baby is told in a loving voice how wonderful he/she is, and how much he/she is loved, more connections are made in the neurons, increasing the baby’s brain development, increasing your baby’s ability to think and to care about others, and to control his/her impulses.
If there are no voices, no loving touches, no warm delicious milk to fill a hungry tummy – no stimulation means no connections made – which means that the potential of the neurons remain untapped.
If you are an expecting Mother, and you are reading this, and you know you have been under incredible stress – don’t freak out about this – there is so much you can do for your baby. Remember – up to the end of the first 24 months is considered the critical period for your baby’s brain development.
• While your baby is still in your womb – make time every day to calm your mind – and find a quiet safe place inside yourself – focussing on your breathing and taking a few slow deep breaths.
• Think of something that you love, a place, a person, an event – we all usually have a few stored in our memory somewhere – or a place in Nature that makes you feel better.
• When you are feeling more relaxed and calm – send loving thoughts to your baby – talk to your baby – preferably out loud so your baby’s hearing neurons are making connections, you can rub your tummy gently – which your baby may feel – which again makes connections in the neurons associated with touch.
• You could read your favourite book, play your favourite music (not too loud!!) or sing to your baby – knowing that all the time you are doing this – you are helping your baby make connections to make his/her neurons fully functional – which will help your baby be able to think for him/herself, to control impulses, and make friends later in life, as well as develop the most loving relationship with his/her main carers – You and your Partner (if there is one around). The blood then starts flowing to your baby’s frontal lobe – and helps develop brain functions.
• Once your baby is born – you have the most incredible opportunity to show your baby how much you love them.
• Your baby will have basic needs, for food, for cuddles and touching, for reassurance that everything is OK, for comfort – not having urine or faeces (pooh) burning his/her bottom, also of course needing time to sleep and not become overwhelmed or overstimulated. Your baby is going to give you “cues” – they can’t talk yet – so understanding your baby’s cries and body language – is your way to “tune in” to what your baby needs. The more time you spend with your baby – the more you will be able to work out what your baby needs, and respond by satisfying that need – as you do this, your baby learns from each little experience one step at a time – your baby attaches to you and knows that he/she can trust you to be there for them.
• Continue to help those neurons make connections by talking in a loving voice, and smiling and looking into your baby’s eyes, and telling your baby how wonderful he/she is. The smiling face of the main carers (eg Mom and Dad) has been found to have an incredibly positive effect on helping neurons make connections.
• Touch / Massage your baby with gently stroking movements. It is crucial that you watch to see how your baby feels about being touched. If your baby squirms away – then stop. You can always introduce massage first – with your baby fully dressed, just try for a minute or two. Then after a few days – you can try massaging your baby without their clothes on – again – just do as much as your baby tells you he/she is happy with. (Remember that your baby’s skin is formed from the same layer in the blastocyte – as the brain and spinal cord – that is most probably why it has such a profound effect on your baby’s wellbeing.)
• Watch “Newborn Parenting for a new world: Practical skills for Mom and Dad” – for tips on how to massage your baby. Discuss with your partner – how you will work together to give your baby the most advantages – at this crucial stage of your baby’s development. ( By the way, massage has also been found to strengthen the immune system – so imagine the health benefits you are giving your baby)
• Be sure to look after yourself – so that you are not too exhausted to give your baby that very best care you want to give.
• So you see – every day – you are working with your baby – each positive little thing you do – is helping your baby – to give your baby the best start possible – and that is all you can do – and keep remembering – you are doing the BEST you know how.
• What research has shown – is that we tend to be the same sort of parent – as our own parents were. For some of us - we haven’t seen fabulous parenting skills at work, so if that is what your childhood experience was, remember to take things one step at a time, and respond in a loving and gentle way to your baby’s cries and needs. Each tiny loving response is going to build a relationship with your baby – that you and your baby will treasure for life!
For related information, visit renown Cell Biologist Bruce Lipton for simple to understand scientific evidence on how this works: http://www.brucelipton.com/articles/nature-nurture-and-human-development/
Read Psychologist/Parenting Author Robin Grille’s articles on “Attachment” and “What your baby sees in you”