Time to Meet Baby!
In my previous blog post, I shared the news that I am expecting and discussed the important role of nutrition in the prenatal period. In this second blog post on pregnancy, I will talk about how the nine months of pregnancy is a formative period in communicating with the infant. By the time this goes on the blog, I’ll be just over a week away from my due date (January 24) and will be getting ready to have my baby boy! Or maybe he will even have been born by the time you read this!!
One of the books I’ve been reading over the past few weeks is called “Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives”, by Annie Murphy Paul. In this book, the author describes how even before birth, the baby is already learning from its mother, by taking cues from the environment in the womb. The food that a mother eats during pregnancy not only nourishes the infant, but also teaches the child about the current environment, such as how much food is available and what types of foods are good and safe to eat. For example, research studies show that if a mother drinks a lot of carrot juice or eats food spiced with anise during pregnancy, then her child will have a preference for these foods. Similarly, animal research indicates that if a pregnant mom eats a diet high in junk food, then her offspring will be more likely to overeat and will eat more junk food as compared to the control group. The book also discusses how many other factors such as stress and exercise shape child development. For me, this represented a shift in my thinking about pregnancy – instead of just providing the physical environment to support a growing baby, I realized that I was already teaching my child about the world that I live in and what to expect after birth.
Compared to the books that I reviewed previously, which offered plenty of concrete nutritional advice, I found this book to be more exploratory as the author journeyed through her own pregnancy, weaving together personal stories with groundbreaking scientific research. Overall, I found “Origins” to be a fascinating story of the unique and intimate connection between a women and her child, which has already grown deep roots before birth.
As I prepare with both nervousness and excitement for the birth of my beloved baby boy, I find it reassuring to know that I have already begun communicating with him. The journey of being a parent has already started and I can’t wait for the next steps!
There is a great TED talk by Annie Murphy Paul on “what we learn before we’re born” that you can listen to here: