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Parenting Before Birth

Neonatologist Dr. Frederick Wirth has written a book called "Prenatal Parenting," which examines how you can parent your baby and take care of him emotionally before he's even born.

The theme of Wirth's book is that it's important to take care of a mom-to-be emotionally as well as physically in order for her to have a healthy baby. That means she needs to work on managing her stress so that it doesn't affect her unborn child.

Here are a few ways to manage prenatal stress:

  • Listen to the small voice in your head. That's where it all starts. Most of us hear negative "scripts" (in our head). We're taught to think that way from childhood.

    We must change those negative scripts and throughs to positive affirmations. So, for example, instead saying or thinking, "I'm about to have a terrible day," think, "I am now feeling good about what's happening today." Put these positive affirmations on stickers around the house.

  • Take "fetal love breaks." Break up your day-to-day activities to spend some time with your unborn child. Listen to music. Get yourself in a peaceful place. This changes the neurotransmitter mix in your brain and sends the fetus loving messages. And they've done studies using ultrasounds and found you can reduce the baby's heart rate, respiratory rate, and muscle tone by doing these things.

    You should take fetal love breaks three times a day and it only takes 10 minutes to do them.

  • Engage in self-discovery. This is where sentence-stemming exercises come into play. This exercise can help you find out why you are afraid of defensive about certain things. A lot of times people have chronic anxiety and they don't know where it's coming from. With sentence stemming, you're able to write down everything you feel.

    For example, fill in the following sentences:

    I feel defensive when …

    Doing _____ makes me feel defensive because …

    When you do _______, I feel defensive because ….

    When I feel defensive, I …

    Another way is to write down the absolute worst scenario. For example, a lot of women are scared of the pain of labor. What's the worst scenario? That they get an epidural.

  • Get physical exercise. This can help reduce stress. Think of a runner's high -- the natural release of endorphins from the brain. It can convey many benefits to the mom. Properly structured exercises can relieve pains in the upper and lower back. It can shorten the second stage of labor by making pushing more effective. It can reduce the risk of having a C-section and reduce fetal distress by making the placenta more efficient in carrying oxygen to the baby.