Thank you so much for reading this post. If you are regularly reading Midwifery, Mothering & Me, thank you again. I truly appreciate the support.
We humans like to be acknowledged. We like to be recognized. We crave attention. Some of us want lots and lots of boisterous, energetic attention. For others, a simple nod of the head or a quick note is all that is desired. Even you, dear Reader, appreciate recognition. Right?
If we all want attention of some sort, then somehow, we must also perceive attention. When does the experience of attention begin? You have it now, while reading this blog and seeing yourself addressed. It is generally accepted that adults, teens, young children and even infants perceive, and, yes, sometimes demand attention.
What about prenatally? Do humans experience attention directed at them before they are born? I don’t know. I do know that my own babies seemed to respond to belly massage or their Daddy’s voice long before they were born. Often my clients have spontaneously described how their in-utero baby responded to a sound, a movement, a thought or a strong emotion. It makes me wonder: when does consciousness begin in humans? It makes me wonder specifically at what point in the course of embryologic development, does the perception of light, sound or pressure morph into the perception of attention. I do not know. Maybe it happens even earlier, maybe it happens at a single cell level. I do not know. But I do know this, humans appreciate attention.
Karen Strange, Midwife, neonatal resuscitation instructor and owner of New Born Breath, says it is rude to not acknowledge all the folks in the room. Even the ones that are inside their mothers. So, not wanting to be rude, I talk to babies before they are born.
Just like I write to you, my unseen Good Reader, I talk to babies before they are born. I talk to babies right through their mommas’ bellies.
What do I say to a embryo or fetus? I say “Hi.” I mention what I am doing that might affect him (or her) like palpating the uterus to figure out fetal position, or measuring fundal height or listening for fetal heart tones. Also, I might congratulate the little one for doing such a good job finding a head down position by 30 weeks gestation or ‘swimming to the top’ so that we can hear it’s heart beat at only 9 weeks. I make suggestions to the pre-born: “Think about being born this Friday, then Daddy gets an extra day at home with you.” “Hey, kiddo, could you find another place for your foot. Mommy’s rib is getting sore.”
Do I know that the embryo, fetus or baby hears me? No. Do I know that the embryo, fetus or baby understands me? No. Do I know that you are reading this now? No. Sometimes you just have to act on faith (and strive to avoid being rude).
Do I feel silly talking to unborn beings, visible only as a bump, hidden inside their mother’s body? Sometimes. Though, generally, if I am feeling akward, my attention towards the prenate is silent; I keep my mouth shut. In truth, these chats are always brief and playful; they are silliness incarnate. Also, I have been talking to my clients’ babies for a long time; this is a familiar and normal part of my day. Would I recommend that you (or I go) up to a pregnant stranger in the grocery store and start chatting at her belly. No! Now that would be both silly and rude!
What I am suggesting is the following:
Human beings desire attention and recognition.
Babies of various ages are receptive and expressive.
Relationships are deepened by communication.
The world is a better place when relationships work well.
Recognizing all the folks in the room, even the little ones, is courteous.
So, thank you again for reading my blog, for participating in this writing journey. I hope that you receive the attention you desire and deserve.
May all babies be born into loving hands