February 2018

Babies & the Power of Love

Vicky & Alice from Babies in Bloom are guest bloggers for us this month, talking all about love…..

The month of February is all about love; much like motherhood!  We, at Babies in Bloom Cheltenham, have the pleasure of giving this topic food for thought.  And let’s face it, on a list of life’s important subjects, you can’t really beat ‘Love’.

Of course, all mothers love their children.  A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world.  And it is because of this that motherhood has the greatest potential influence in human life.

It’s pretty obvious that babies require love.  But did you know that their physical development actually needs it?

Amazingly, 80% of a baby’s brains develops in their first three years, so the early experiences a baby has during this time can actually sculpt the structure of their brain to build the foundations for their future.  This initial rapid growth is essentially a wiring process, where the connections that are stimulated flourish, and those that aren’t wither away.  Research shows a lack of love can result in lower production of our growth hormones.  Contrarily, emotional warmth causes release of the body’s love hormones, which stimulate growth!

So how can we ensure babies’ early experiences are positive ones?  You guessed it – Love!

Babies’ emotional environments are the most important influence on their brain development, so creating a positive atmosphere filled with love is essential.  From birth, babies instinctively seek out attachments with their mothers.  It’s no coincidence that the distance they’re able to see is from their position of feeding to their mother’s eyes, and that they’re able to recognise their mother’s smell and voice as soon as they’re born.

Babies are born ready to interact, so responding with love is key.  For example, from the very start, a baby will signal that they’re hungry, their mother responds by offering milk, and the baby indicates their contentment by sucking and settling.  Going forwards, this communication is essential for babies’ cognitive development, such as learning to talk.  When a baby babbles, their mother’s repetition of these sounds and turning them into recognisable words will eventually give meaning to their baby’s noises.

This responsiveness is also necessary for babies’ emotional development.  Babies aren’t born contented and confident.  They need their mothers to help them recognise and manage their own emotions.  Babies are full of powerful feelings, often associated with physical sensations.  When they project these overwhelming emotions, they need their mothers to make sense of them with a calm and sensitive response such as, ‘Oh dear, what’s the matter?  Maybe it’s your tummy’.  If a panicky feeling by a baby is received with a panicky response by a mother, such as, ‘I don’t know what you want!’, the baby won’t learn to understand the feeling themselves.

These are a few of the basics.  Our postnatal course explores this topic in more depth, looking into areas such as how babies uses their six main states of consciousness to guide their mothers in their care-giving, and what strategies babies use to console themselves (an awareness of which can enable mothers to allow their babies the opportunity to soothe themselves, helping them to develop resilience to adapt better to stress in the future) – in addition to all those other important topics mothers with new babies need to know about!

To summarise, early experiences really do matter and can shape the architecture of a baby’s brain; And the secret ingredient to creating the best start possible…..is Love!

“I believe in love at first sight, because I’ve been loving my mother since I opened my eyes.”

The one at the Cheltenham Birth Centre….

Here at The Baby Journey we love an honest and empowering birth story. So to kick off the month of February, here is the story about the arrival of a beautiful boy called Rory, from his Mum Kylie……..

I am a first time mum. I had all the hopes, fears and expectations that go along with that. I dared to hope I might have the ‘good birth’ but also had a strong dose of reality of what a first time labour might be like. I prepared as best I could…I went to pregnancy yoga (lotusbud yoga), I did the Baby Journey Antenatal classes, and I bounced on my ball at home whenever I could 😂 but most of all I remained relaxed and calm about what was to come!
On August 12th 2017 I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy called Rory weighing 7lbs 13oz. I started contracting at about midday and arrived at Cheltenham Aveta Birth Centre at 18.45 in advanced labour. I was shown straight to a pool room, given the gas and air and helped into a lovely warm pool. But most of all….I was greeted with kindness,love and warmth by the staff and there was no internal examination to endure or twenty questions! They are the experts in normality and they knew that Rory was on his way without having to perform checks to ‘make sure’. After all first labours are always long aren’t they!!? 😜
Rory was born within 2 hours of arriving, in the birthing pool. My husband was treated with respect and the same care was extended to him. He was not a ‘spare part’.
We then spent time getting to know our son while the staff continued to care for us all and we left the following morning to begin our lives as a family of 3.
If you are lucky enough to experience a positive birth like I did and many others do, then please shout it from the rooftops, tell everyone you know (especially other pregnant mums) because the fear of birth and the shame in feeling like you had an ‘easy birth’ and so don’t have the right to share your story is what is perpetuating the fear for others. Trust me it wasn’t ‘easy’ but it wasn’t traumatic and it wasn’t horrendous and it wasn’t ‘something you have to just get through’. It was the most amazing, intense, life-changing moment of my life.
And definitely worth it!!