Updated: May 3
I recently saw If Beale Street Could Talk with a dear friend of mine. There is so much about this film that moved me. The real life implications of institutionalized and systemic racism are a major part of the film. While that is a worthy subject in and of itself, what also stood out to me were the narratives of love, mothering, and relationships. I felt so moved by the strength of the family ties. When a young pregnant Tish is troubled by her anxieties and bad dreams during her sleep, her mother comes to her and reminds her that she (Tish) as the pregnant mother is the only one who can provide for her baby what her baby needs. No one else can do this. This scene is so powerful.
No one is more important than the pregnant mother. She and the baby are one. What she experiences, baby experiences. All mothers need support. All mothers need reassurances of their primal importance to their baby. All mothers need to be buoyed up in a sea of positive encouragement and guidance.
We spend the first four weeks in class on the topic of staying healthy and low-risk so pregnant mamas have the best chance of having the birth they want and so that baby develops to his full potential. New parents often view their provider as the one who will insure the health and well-being of their baby, but this is not true. Your provider cannot really do that. Only you can.
You are with your baby every second of every day over the time that your child grows in your womb. Your baby marinates in the chemical reactions of your body. The mother is always transmitting messages to her baby through the food she eats, her states, her relationships with others, and the other experiences she has that affect her as a human being. What are the messages your baby is getting? What are the building blocks that you are providing for your baby so that he can structure himself? Your baby can only work with what you give him.
Nothing is perfect. So, no one has to worry about doing things perfectly. Trying to do things perfectly is stressful, and life can sometimes present us with major challenges. Just move forward with intention and love. Your love is the buffer. Mothers want to do well and most often are undermined by a lack of support, unhelpful belief systems, and lack of knowledge. This is a cultural problem. But as mothers, we want the best for our babies and there are steps you can take each day to nurture your sweet baby.
Positive steps you can take each day for you and your baby:
Move your body. You are physical being who is meant to be, well, physical. So many benefits for you and your babe. Do something you love and can manage easily – you don’t need to go to the gym unless you love that. Dancing in your living room, or a brisk walk outdoors, is perfectly fine.
Slow down and take time for yourself each day. This is time away from all electronic gadgets and from other demands. Go for at least 30 minutes – an hour is even better.
Give a hug, get a hug. A good hug settles your body and gives you some great endorphins.
Sleep. No electronics 30 minutes before bed – give yourself time to wind down. Try to get to bed by 10:00 PM – so your body has time to recharge and restore itself. Keeping a regular circadian rhythm is helpful for your hormones and since labors often start at night, getting in the habit of a beneficial bedtime is helpful!
Spend time each day on meditation, prayer, mindfulness, or on building the relaxation response in your body. You (and your baby) need this during pregnancy, and you’ll need this skill in labor.
Talk to your baby each day. You can read a story, sing a song, or simply be sending your child loving vibes. This can be with an internal voice, or it can be aloud. It doesn’t matter. It's just about being in relationship with your little one.
So as Tish’s mama reminds her, I remind you – you are the one, the only one, who can do the job that needs to done.