If you don’t have the time to read the book Pre-parenting: Nurturing your child from conception (by Thomas R. Verny, M.D. and Pamela Weintraub) then here is a quick summary and my favorite points from the book. But if you do have the time, please do read it as it’s not only useful, but very interesting and full of various examples and statistics.
Dawn of Consciousness
- A Child conceived in love and cared for lovingly in the mother’s womb will benefit throughout life.
- At 6 months after conception, the baby is sensing, feeling, aware and remembering human being.
Maternal Stressors and the Unborn
- Emotional disturbances in the pregnant mother lead to increased production of stress hormone, which have an adverse effect on gene regulation, changing organisation and function of the braid, and damaging the baby’s future ability to deal with stress.
- Short moments of being upset or stressed are not harmful to you and your baby. It is the constant ongoing stress that is potentially damaging.
- Try to be calm, take some time off, enjoy a relaxing bath, nice music and long chats with your close friends.
The Womb as Classroom
- Prenatal stimulation through all communication channels is essential for the growth and efficient development of the baby’s brain. But more important are the lessons of intimacy, love, and trust than any intellectual calisthenics or IQ boosting. If nurtured in love and kindness, your child will easily acquire these other skills when the times comes.
- Don’t attempt to teach the child anything before birth. It is enough is both parents communicate that you both love him/her and look forward to welcoming him/her to your family.
- Avoid fancy electronic devices or loud music to stimulate your baby. He/she needs peace, just like you.
Birth & Personality
- Take prenatal classes with your partner.
- Avoid unnecessary medical interventions as much as possible during the pregnancy as well as the labor.
- Birth has a lasting impact on our psyches because it is inscribed in every cell of our bodies, wiring the brain for adaption to stress and pain, to bonding, and to love.
- A difficult birth does not condemn a child to suffer ill consequences for the rest of their lives. Negative prenatal and perinatal experiences can usually be overcome by loving, supporting parenting.
Sense & Sensibility of the Newborn
- During the early months, an ideal place for an awake baby is on the parent’s body. Do use a cloth baby carrier or a body sling (like Amawrap - I just got mine!)
- If your baby has been exposed to stress or pain, hold, cuddle and stroke him/her frequently. Massage, paediatric chiropractic adjustments and music will also help.
- The music you played to your baby before giving birth will have a calming effect any time she or he is not feeling well.
The Alchemy or Intimacy
- The more time you spend with your baby during the first two years of life, the better.
- Learn and remind yourself Siegel’s five points.
Experience as Architect of the Brain
- Parents who want to stimulate their baby’s brain will do so most effectively through a warm, caring relationship with the child.
- What oxygen is to the brain, words spoken respectfully, and hugs given lovingly are to the young mind.
- Introduce a sense of playfulness in your interactions with your baby as often as possible.
- The best way to teach a language is to talk to your children with appropriate emotion and to read them books aloud.
The Mystery and Power of Early Memory
- Enhance good memories, which emerge from repeated nurturing and positive interaction between the parent and the child. Play, sing, talk, hold and touch your baby every day and those loving memories will endure.
- Protect your children from painful events. A single stressful experience will fade, and may not even be permanently encoded in the brain. But the same traumatic experience, repeated again and again, will become a pervasive, unconscious template for psychological disturbance throughout life.
- If you’re inexplicably sad or depressed, do everything you can to uncover your early memories so you can defuse them. Otherwise you’re at risk for passing psychological problems on to your children.
Depending on the Kindness of Strangers
- Children in day care (even high quality day care) score lower on behavioural and emotional scales than those being cared for by their mothers or fathers.
- Full-day group care for children younger than 2 is very taxing on the child and should be avoided if at all possible.
- Full-day child care places the youngest children at risk for problems with attachment. It takes a mind to build a mind, and children exposed to too many caretakers are likelier to end us uncertain of their place in the world, and emotionally insecure.
- No matter what kind of child care you choose, be sure to talk to your children about the details of the day.
- Excessive time in front of the TV damages children by displacing other activities, exposing them to violent and dysfunctional content, suppressing creative imagination, and raising the level of stimulus required for everyday living while shortening attention span.
- Children who wants too much TV are at greater risk of growing up inarticulate, illiterate, and habituated to violence.
- The time you spend with your children should be natural - a couple of hours intense stimulation (so-called quality time) can do more harm than good.
When Things go Wrong: Sad Children, Angry Children
- Continual fighting between spouses will predispose a child to violent behaviour, even if that child is merely a witness and not a participant in the fights.
- Verbal abuse and emotional neglect can cause more psychiatric difficulty than physical battering.
- Do not minimize signs of aggression in your child with a comforting saying ‘boys will be boys’. If your child hits, bites or causes pain to animals or people, this is a problem that need attending to.
Cultivating Basic Goodness
- Children learn from the specific types of behaviours that are encourage or discouraged, rewarded or punished.
- Rational, reasoned explanations of why certain behaviours are or are not desirable should be delivered in a forceful, feeling way.
- The importance of parental values and example can’t be overemphasised. If you scream and hit your children, they will scream and hit back. If you treat your children with concern and compassion, they will mirror helping behaviour back to the world. They learn from what their parents say and do.