Prenatal psychology is an area of psychology that looks at the psychological changes that women go through from conception to postpartum. If you’re going to better understand your fears and anxieties during pregnancy then I think understanding prenatal psychology is pretty crucial.
The journey to motherhood is one of massive change for a woman and is often accompanied by fear, insecurity, and stress. There is so much that could go wrong: preterm birth, an especially traumatic birth, problems breastfeeding, problems bonding with the baby, miscarriage, problems conceiving… gosh the list goes on!
How prenatal psychology can help
“By the end of the second trimester, the unborn child is a sensing, feeling and sensible (and remembering) human being.” Thomas Verny
During our chat I put these questions to Thomas;
- What should a mother focus on during her pregnancy to improve the likelihood of a positive birth outcome?
- What can a mother do during pregnancy to nurture the baby?
- Can babies understand what their mothers are thinking when pregnant?
- Do babies pick up on the emotional journey of the mother during pregnancy?
- What are some causes of tokophobia [the extreme fear of pregnancy/birth]?
- Does the type of birth we have – vaginal unassisted, forceps, c-section etc – have any psychological impact on us?
As you can see from these questions, they have the potential to reveal some fascinating answers, and Thomas doesn’t disappoint. I was in heaven!
Thomas starts by sharing some key factors that pregnant women should focus on during pregnancy to improve the likelihood of a positive birth outcome. These include;
A desire for a child
Relationship with her partner
Relationship with one’s own mother
- Your own birth
Some people might be surprised at these because they are not things we tend to see in the typical birth prep lists alongside the more expected items like nutrition exercise or birth education. Thomas shares some interesting perspectives that are definite food for thought.
We chat about the importance of tuning into our babies and how best to do that and Thomas shares some ways that mamas-to-be can nurture baby during pregnancy. We also discuss fertility and how stress affects fertility.
How our birth type affects our thinking
The bit that I think you’ll love though is what he has to say about our birth type, and what kind of mental and emotional patterns they can lay in place. Things like;
Forceps birth – Pain in the neck is a common theme for them. At times of stress, they will likely have pain in the head or shoulders.
C-section birth – Common thoughts will include “I can’t make it on my own”, “If I’m in a tight place, people will come to my rescue”
Breech birth – They are the most hard headed of people “It’s my way or the highway”. They don’t want to conform.
So, as you can see, this really is a fascinating chat and one that I think could really shift your perspective of your pregnancy journey.
Let me know what you think in the comments!
About Thomas Verny
Thomas R. Verny is a psychiatrist, writer and academic. He has previously taught at Harvard University, University of Toronto, York University, Toronto and St. Mary’s University Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Dr. Verny’s books, professional publications and founding of the PPPANA, now APPPAH, and the Pre- and Perinatal Journal, have established him as one of the world’s leading authorities on the effect of the prenatal and early postnatal environment on personality development. He lectures and leads workshops on Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Psychotherapy through-out Canada, the United States, Europe, South America and Southeast Asia.
Thomas Verny’s Books
- The Secret Life of the Unborn Child
- Cellular Consciousness