We know that the unborn baby is a conscious being long before birth. But when does this consciousness begin? Mothers (and sometimes fathers) can also feel deeply connected to their babies before birth. Here four mothers share their experiences of communicating with their babies, sometimes as far back as conception and the effect that it had on their lives and on the bond between them and the child.
Natasha’s Story – Conscious Conception
It was a very big decision whether or not to have a child, says Natasha. The nine months we spent deciding, were the hard ones, not the pregnancy. Finally we made our decision and I went to the doctor to have my loop taken out. She did say to me, “You are probably quite fertile at the moment”, but I didn’t realise that I was ovulating that very day.
My husband, André was under stress at work at the time, so I felt there was no rush to conceive immediately, and we just fell asleep together. But I was pleasantly surprised when he woke me in the middle of the night, wanting to make love. I knew from that moment that I was pregnant. André told me much later that he knew from that moment too.
As we were lying together drifting back to sleep, I had a very strange sensation. It started at the top of my head and I felt as if I was spinning into a vortex. I believe now that it was the spirit of my little girl coming in. Of course there was part of me that couldn’t quite believe it, but on another level, both André and I knew that I was pregnant without having had a test done. It was almost as if the baby had told us both that she wanted to come now.
The pregnancy was easy and the birth, with a midwife, went fine. After André had gone back home, I lay with my baby on my chest, loving her totally. I could hardly believe she was real. So it was a shock to me when a couple of months later, I went into a very bad postnatal depression. But even when it was at its worst, I was able to remind myself how my baby had been conceived, and that was one of the things that sustained me, along with getting help at home and having therapy twice a week.
Looking back I think that was something important that I needed to go through so that I would have the skills to help others. There were many things I needed to learn and my baby had come to be my teacher. Once the depression lifted I was able to feel the depth of love I had for her once again – it was magic. She is a very strong, spirited little girl today and very loving. We are both so glad that she has come into our lives.
Pamela’s Story – A Brief Visit from a Little Soul
I had always wanted to have children, so when I finally married at 36, we decided to start a family right away, says Pamela. Three months later, when I still wasn’t pregnant, my husband Andrew and I went for tests. The news came back that we would both need infertility treatment. I also had to inject myself with hormones, and in the days just before ovulation, my doctor did scans to watch the eggs ripening. But month after month there was no good news.
Then one sunny September afternoon, about a week after ovulation, Andrew and I were out in the country walking among the spring flowers. Suddenly, for no reason I can explain, I said to him, “Implantation just happened – I am pregnant!” I don’t know how I knew. I just knew. It was as if there was a luminous ‘presence’ with me. Part of me kept thinking I was making this up, but in the days that followed I discovered I was indeed pregnant.
Apart from the physical confirmation of the pregnancy (which was without other symptoms except for a metallic taste in my mouth) the most wonderful part of the experience was the feeling there was a ‘person’, with me. I was floating on a cloud; so happy I couldn’t believe it was true. I also had more energy than usual, and spring-cleaned the house from top to bottom.
It wasn’t just me who was feeling excited either – we went to a “Design for Living” exhibition, and I couldn’t tear Andrew away from train sets and teddy bears. When he was a child he had asked his mother for a big teddy bear but been given a small one. His child was going to have the biggest teddy bear he could find! And regardless of whether it was a boy or a girl, it seemed our child was going to have a train set too!
All went well, and I started buying baby clothes, even though it was still very early days. Then one Sunday evening, I went to bed feeling a little strange. In the night I dreamed I gave birth and I saw the baby’s face clearly. It was a very touching dream, but when I woke, the ‘presence’ of the child was gone.
I phoned Andrew at work and told him, “The baby has left. It’s not with me anymore”. He told me not to be negative, but I knew that the ‘presence’ had gone. Much later in the day I started bleeding, so I called him again and said that it really was over. He was very upset and told me once more not to be negative as a woman can have some bleeding, but not lose the baby. But I knew it was over, and it was.
I know that it is normal to grieve deeply at the loss of a baby, even early in the pregnancy, but for some strange reason, though my husband took it very badly, it was easier for me. I will never forget the experience. I just felt incredibly blessed that a little soul had been with me for those few short wonderful weeks. It was like being visited by an angel!
Catherine’s Story – A Baby Comforts a Distressed Mom
My second pregnancy was a complete surprise, says Catherine. We already had a toddler and were happy with our child. But we weren’t planning to have another yet. Our living situation was quite difficult at the time, and when I discovered that I was pregnant again, I didn’t know how I would cope. I became very depressed and cried a lot.
Of course I felt terribly guilty about the negative feelings I was having towards the baby and I was worried about how it would affect him to be an unwanted child. So I started to put my hands onto the ‘bump’ and talk to him. I told him, “I’m so sorry. I do want to love you. I am just feeling overwhelmed and I’m not coping.”
Then one day at about 5 months into the pregnancy, as I was massaging my abdomen and talking to him, he pushed his little fist out so I could feel it clearly through my abdominal wall. He actually put his hand right into the palm of my hand, and kept it there. I felt as if he was saying, “It’s okay mom, I love you, I’ll help you, and we’ll get through this together.” It was a very important turning point for me, and from that time I started to feel really connected to him.
We had moved from the city to a smaller town, and I was unable to find a midwife or doctor willing to deliver my baby at home, like our first child. But since I am an experienced midwife myself and because my first labour had been fairly short, my husband Mark and I decided to have the baby at home on our own. It was a very powerful experience. Mark helped deliver the baby, and my oldest son cut the cord. Afterwards we all got into bed and snuggled together. It was very special and helped us to feel like a family. I have three children now, but still feel very close to that middle child.
Lindiwe’s Story – A Tiny Surprise
Because I was on the Depo-Provera injection, I seldom had periods, so finding out I was pregnant for the third time was a big surprise, says Lindiwe. I didn’t know till I was about 5 months along. I already had a son of 6 years old, and had lost a baby in-between. So it was time for another child and when I discovered I was pregnant again, I was very happy.
When I went into labour two months later, we knew the baby was coming early. I was taken to Groote Schuur Hospital, and there, my tiny 1,4 kg (3,08 lbs) daughter Portia was born. It was in the days before they started doing Kangaroo Mother Care (see article on Kangaroo Mother Care) so she was taken away from me and put into an incubator.
But I had breastfed my first child for more than two years, and the staff were happy to see that I knew how to feed a baby. I started expressing breast-milk right away, and held her as much as I could. Soon she was breastfeeding beautifully. The hospital normally kept the babies there till they weighed 1,8 kgs, (3.96 lbs) but little Portia was doing so well, that they let me bring her home earlier.
I returned to work right away as my employer encouraged me bring Portia with me so I could breastfeed her through the day. Sometimes the lady I work for carried Portia around in a kangaroo sling, so we shared looking after her when she was tiny. I continued to bring her to work with me till she was more than 3 years old, and we were never separated in her early years. My baby was indeed unexpected, but she was a very welcome surprise and I love her dearly. I don’t think you need to know when your baby’s life began in order to love them.
Babies can see and hear long before they are born. They can ‘learn’, can ‘feel’ and sometimes even cry while still in the uterus. The unborn baby sleeps and dreams, likes sweet tastes – not bitter ones, and prefers Bach to Beethoven. In fact cellular consciousness begins at conception, and has been described by psychiatrists Dr Graham Farrant in Australia and Dr Frank Lake in the UK, among others, while Dr Thomas Verny in America has taught us a lot about how babies experience life in the womb. But there is another kind of consciousness – an ability to communicate it that is not so easy to explain in physiological terms, yet it is experienced by many mothers whose lives were changed forever by the experience.
“The unborn child is a sensitive being who is aware of, and responsive to, the mother’s feelings and experience”. ~ Pam Leo
Suggested reading list:
- “Secret Life of the Unborn Child How You Can Prepare your Baby for a Happy, Healthy Life“, by Thomas Verny, (Delta USA, 1992)
- “Voices from the Womb”, by Michael and Marie Gabriel, (Aslan Publishing USA ,1992)
- “Primal Connections: How our Experiences from Conception to birth Influence Our Emotions, Behaviour and Health”, by Elizabeth Noble (Simon and Schuster USA, 1993)
- “Babies Remember Birth: And Other Extraordinary Scientific Discoveries about the Mind and Personality of Babies” by David Chamberlain (Balantine Books, USA, 1989)
- “The Mind of your Newborn Baby: What Babies remember Before and During Birth”, by David Chamberlain, (North Atlantic Books USA, 1998)
- “Soul Trek: Meeting our Children on the way to Birth”, By Elizabeth Hallett, (Light Hearts Publishing, USA, 1995)
- “Stories of the Unborn Soul: The Mystery and Delight of Pre-Birth Communication”, by Elsabeth Hallett (Writer’s Club Press USA, 2002)
Written by Pat Törngren © 2012