I wonder if Hope realized that I was almost expecting a special needs baby when she told me that she was pregnant. I mean both parents on the autism spectrum, would just adds up to a special baby with at least autism tendancies. So my idea is to prepare for a special needs baby. No biggie, both sets of grandparents have been through it once. My family loves it's babies.
My sister had just commented on how much Hope has had to overcome to be as functional as she is as an adult. I rememember realizing how tenacious she was trying to walk and the fact that today she has no problem with speech (but the bio-medical markers of Autism are still there).
I can't wait to see her as a mama bear, knowing what challenges she has already conquered in her own childhood.
It’s OK to feel scared
Often times as moms, we feel pressured to have all the answers—to anticipate our children’s needs and put them ahead of our own. When our doctor started talking about spectrum disorders, diagnoses, specialists, therapies, and developmental trajectories, I knew I had a lot to learn. It was overwhelming at times.
Knowing that I would have alll the nervousness of a first baby and have to simultaneously find my tribe for raising a special needs child seemed challenging even at my best moments. I didn’t have all the answers, and I wasn’t sure I had the bandwidth to parent each of her special needs as the come along as she grew. Each new day came and went as I researched and learned more and more. It seemed like everything thing in my life before this point was going to be benificial to me.
The unknown was scary, and there’s nothing you can do to predict the future. Having a child with needs beyond normal at the outset of motherhood is a challenge that you will wonder if your prepared for. Adding another person to your family brings up a lot of questions and maybe even some anxieties and fears. Though moms are expected to be superhuman, you’re still human. And it’s OK to feel scared.
I had the heads up that Hope was going to have special needs. But I was as prepared as I could be educationally and professionally. So that was two things that I had. The third thing I had was that I knew that my husband was going to be the sweetest dad ever. Truthfully, as I look back on it, that was my very bestand most important asset.
Don’t focus just on the negatives
My worry would spiral down fast when I thought about juggling a newborn while navigating the new-to-me world of disability. All my stress boiled down to one thing: I was afraid of not being enough.
Is there any mother out there who has never had a shred of self-doubt? Is there anyone who was sure that they were making the right decision every step of the way? There are many ways that we can tell ourselves we aren’t enough. When we lie down to sleep at night, most of us have a familiar voice in our minds telling us that there was something we could have done differently or better.
Trying to achieve perfection in motherhood is a never-ending cycle. But each day begins with a new sunrise and you will have everything that learned the day before, to lean on for that new day.
When Hope arrived, seeing the way her father adored her, watching those innocent little smiles, and marveling at her tiny little fingers and toes were all magical moments. I expected her to add to the overwhelm, but instead, she took my mind off of it because when you look at your baby, your mother’s love will strengthens, just as it does with every child.
Lean on others
Women who receive strong social support from their families during pregnancy appear to be protected from sharp increases in a particular stress hormone, making them less likely to experience depression after giving birth, a new study by UCLA life scientists indicates. In addition, blood samples from all participants were analyzed to assess their levels of placental corticotropin-releasing hormone (pCRH), a stress hormone released from the placenta.
Previous research has found that levels of pCRH typically increase during the third trimester of pregnancy. Women who exhibited the most dramatic increases in the hormone showed the most severe postpartum depression. Research has also demonstrated that social support can dampen biological stress responses in women who are not pregnant. In the new study, Hahn-Holbrook and colleagues integrated these two strands of research, examining the interplay between a psychological factor, social support and a biological factor, pCRH, in predicting postpartum depression. Social support, she added, entails many things, including help with "tasks or material assistance," but also emotional support, including acceptance, listening and making someone feel cared for and valued.
"Emotional support seems to be the most powerful form of support that you can provide someone, but it is difficult to do right," Dunkel Schetter said.
They will be honored that you reached out to them. They are probably waiting for you to bring up the subject. Your friends and family that adore you, will adore your baby. They will want to be supportive and they will be more than glad to help in any way that you need.
They might just have a copy of "Welcome to Holland".... for pregant women expecting a special baby. It is wonderfully supportive.
Welcome To Holland
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy.
You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands.
The flight attendant comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of fabulous people that you would never have met in Italy. It's just a different place.
It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. It must be grieved and let go.
Because if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
Now when I look back on my journey in "Holland", I realise that I would have been bored with a typical child. I wouldn't trade one minute of raising Hope for any moment of parenting a typical baby girl. We had our rough days - but she filled our lives with joy beyond what anyone else experienced.
Our path became more difficult after I became a single parent in 2009. But at every turn or hard situation, there was an answer as a reminder that Hope was right where she belonged.
Did I make mistakes? Yes I did. We will be prepared with a bigger tribe during adolescence with Hopes children. Tribe of one doesn't work. Every life has it's messy spots. But life can also be cleaned up and full of happiness too.
Remember, no matter how challenging it is, the sun will shine in the morning and you will have a fresh day.
Pregnant Women finding Peace and Joy- Incredible Relaxation with Theraputic Music
Music affects humans on a fundamental level. It is more than just love or hate—music can change your blood pressure, up your heart rate, and even affect your temperature. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig conducted an experiment to determine how music affects pregnant women. They found that pregnant women experience music more intensely than non-pregnant women.
For the study, female volunteers listened to 10 or 30 second instrumental music sequences while the researchers monitored their physiological state. Then, the women listened to altered versions of music sequences that were made less pleasant through disordering or the use dissonance.
The pregnant women perceived pleasant music as more pleasant and unpleasant music as more unpleasant than the non-pregnant women did. The pregnant women’s blood pressure response to music was stronger as well. In response to forward-dissonant music, pregnant women had an immediate and significant blood pressure decrease. In response to backwards-dissonant music, they had higher blood pressure after 10 seconds, but lower blood pressure after 30 seconds, indicating that unpleasant music does not cause across-the-board blood pressure increases like many stressors do.
Why music elicits such an intense physiological response from pregnant women is unknown. The researchers originallyhypothesized that estrogen was the key factor, but after comparing the physiological reactions of pregnant women and non-pregnant women at various points in their contraceptive cycle, they concluded that estrogen was not the culprit.
Music may affect pregnant women as a way to condition her fetus to music. By 28 weeks, fetuses respond to familiar songs with changes in heart rate. By 35 weeks, fetuses change their movement patterns in response to familiar music.
“Every acoustic manipulation of music affects blood pressure in pregnant women far more intensely than in non-pregnant women,” said Tom Fritz of the Max Plank Institute. “The body’s response is just as dynamic as the music itself.”
This research is published in the journal Psychophysiology.
One of the first things I did was notify Advanced Brain Technologies that their first second generational baby was on the way and we needed a pregancy program. TLP is the one thing that we were sure of wanting to use from the moment that we found out.
Hope was one of the first toddlers on The Listening Program. Now her baby would be the first of second generation of users for The Listening Program. Mandy told me that Alex wrote a special chapter in his book on this, when she was pregnant. That is Healing at the Speed of Sound that can be found on Amazon as well as some music with that was also made with that title. So check that out.
As we know from all recent neuro science research, the uterine experience is such a crucial one for both developing baby and mother, about to enter a new phase of her life. The first researcher of this was Dr. Alfred Tomatis who championed the idea of babys hearing sound in the womb and that it was amplified by the water of the amniotic sac. He was a french man that I highlighted in my masters thesis.
For Dr Tomatis, the mother’s voice and fetus’ early listening played a significant role in inviting the fetus to communicate for early language development and a desire to learn. The perception of the mother’s voice is the very first bond of communication with the world. The quality of this bond will deeply influence the child's attitude toward life.
Filtered Sound Therapy for Mothers-To-Be
The baby in utero is very sensitive to the stress levels of its mother. So if a mother is working very hard or has emotional stresses placed on her during her pregnancy, her baby is indirectly exposed to what she is feeling and will sense it's mother's distress. Some researches believe that this child would then be predisposed to sleeping difficulties, as well as eating and settling problems. Your most important task as a mother-to-be is to try and remain calm, peaceful and happy.
Understanding the special link and bond mother-baby, the Listening Program be used to given to help expectant mothers during pregnancy. The objective is to relax and work on the anxiety, the energy of the mother and to stimulate the emotional link with the baby.
The Listening Program can assist pregnant mothers her in regaining her serenity. By using their filtered music by Mozart, the program helps to stimulate the vestibular system, thereby helping the mother to cope better with stress. But the benefits don't end here.
The baby's ears are developed at 20 weeks so she/he too can benefit from the soothing sound of Mozart. Music helps to establish the development of the neural pathways and it stimulates the growth of myelin, the sheath which covers nerves in the body, thereby ensuring normal development of the baby's neural network.
The mother wears a really good headset during her program. This enables the baby to hear the music through the vibrations in the mother's body.
The quality of the mother's voice is also very important. The program helps to enrich mom's voice, so that she can transmit a much calmer, richer voice to her baby. So reading to your unborn baby can be productive as well..
The objective of using the Listening Program is to relax and reduce the mother’s anxiety, improve her energy levels and stimulate her emotional bond with the baby.
More than 1000 pregnant women took part in a research study in France at Vesoul and Foch Hospitals, outside Paris, where the impact of the program was compared to a control group. In the programs group, it demonstrated a maternal reduction in anxiety, greater awareness of the baby, improved bonding with baby, resulting in reduced labor time and delivering babies that were calmer and more content.
This demonstrates that the The Listening Program benefits the health of the mothers, as well as. the immediate family and it has a positive impact on the health and well-being of their new-borns. Further more the programs “babies” are born quite calm and alert, open to the world around them, ready to interact and communicate even before they can talk.
Planning for the Arrival of your Special Baby
Disabilities are defined as physical or mental challenges that prevent people from being able to perform certain functions as well as most others. Children with disabilities may be born with them or they may develop sometime after birth.
Common childhood disabilities include autism, Down syndrome, physical disabilities, and issues that can disrupt learning such as dyslexia, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and sensory processing deficits. Dealing with disability in childhood will have a lifelong impact on a person’s emotional, mental, and physical health, as well as their social interactions. Whether that impact is positive or negative has a lot to do with the support they receive at home.
Whether you are expecting a child and you just learned about their disability fromprenatal testingor you are adopting a child with an existing disability into your home, you can help facilitate a healthy environment that supports their healthy and happy development just as you would with a typical baby. Only you will be very proud of the extra details that you thought on your own to put in the nursery for your special baby.
Preparing Your Life for a Special Needs Child
By Jenny Wise
There are so many thoughts and emotions that whirl through your mind when you learn your baby has a disability. Once the initial surge of emotions has passed, it's time to think seriously about how you'll prepare your life for a child with a disability. These are the five things every parent of a special needs child should do before their baby is born.
Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash
Prepare Your Home
Once you understand the nature of your child's disability, start thinking about home modifications that will create a safe, accessible environment for your child. Modifications will likely be minimal when your child is a newborn and can't move around, but as your child grows older, you'll want your home to be an environment that fosters independence. Planning now allows you to budget and schedule remodeling accordingly.
Accessibility remodeling can be costly. If you're worried you can't afford to modify your home, look into grants and other assistance programs. There are a variety of organizations that help families adapt their homes for disabilities.
Prepare Your Finances
may qualify for monthly SSI payments through the Social Security Administration. In most states, Medicaid eligibility is automatically triggered by SSI approval. You can learn more about SSI benefits at BBVA Compass. Whether you qualify for assistance or not, you'll need to carefully review your household budget to make room for your child's expenses. Consider that you may need to scale back how much you work in order to care for your child.
There are many other financial considerations for families with special needs children, many of them too complicated to go into here. You can read up on the basics at The Simple Dollar, but it's recommended you talk to a financial planner and an attorney.
Know Your Healthcare Options
This is not something to push aside until after the baby is born. Check your health insurance policy's,co-pays and limits on what they will pay annually. Your child may need both occupational and speech therapy for a long time. Get the best coverage possible before your baby is born.
About half of all children with special needs receive healthcare coverage through Medicaid and CHIP, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. There are several pathways through which you can qualify for Medicaid, so don't assume your income makes you ineligible before doing your research. Families that don't quality for needs-based medical assistance must buy insurance through their employer or the public healthcare exchange. You may choose to double up on insurance to maximize coverage.
If buying insurance, pay attention to the out-of-pocket limit. Children with extensive healthcare needs hit their out-of-pocket limits quickly. You may save money by paying more for a policy with a lower out-of-pocket limit.
Identify Your Support System
Every new parent needs a support system, but support is especially important for parents of a child with disabilities. Seek and accept help from your friends and family. If you're not getting the support you need, ask for it. If you start determining who will be there for you to give moral support or a break when you are pregnant, then its one thing that you don't have to do after the baby is born. It seriously does take a villiage of helpers to raise a special needs child.
Many times, our loved ones want to help but don't know how and are afraid of overstepping. It's also important to seek support from parents who understand what you're going through. Online communities, blogs and support groups are safe spaces where you can connect and learn from other parents of special needs children.
Don't discount professional support. In addition to early intervention services, consider hiring home health care, a housekeeper and a counselor to lighten your load and help you cope.
Make a Self-Care Plan
It probably feels wrong to think about yourself right now, but the truth is, your baby needs you to. You're responsible for keeping your child safe, healthy and loved. If you're not taking care of yourself, you can't give your child your best.
Keep up with your healthy habits, like eating fresh food and exercising. If you need to schedule everything out and automate your meals through meal planning, batch cooking or meal delivery services, do it. Sleep when you can, even if that means hiring someone to clean the house so you can nap when the baby naps. And try to stay focused on the positives—keep a gratitude journal, give yourself pep talks, or do whatever else keeps you looking at the bright side.
Nothing can truly prepare you for raising a child with disabilities and the many joys and sorrows parenthood brings. However, when you address these questions before your baby arrives, you enter parenthood as ready as you can be.
Sharing The news
Sharing the news with friends and family that our daughter was born with Down Syndrome was a task that filled me with anxiety. In the beginning, I just wasn’t ready to talk about it. I needed time to get my mind right and understand our new reality.
Set rules for yourself.
Personally, it was very important to me that the news of this diagnosis didn’t change how we celebrated our girl. To keep this value at the forefront, I had one important rule for myself: I’m not going to hide my daughter.
That boundary set early on helped me overcome fears as I decided when and whether to take public family outings and post photos on social media. If I was avoiding something out of a desire to hide Rory, I knew that I had to make a different choice.
What are some clear rules you can set for yourself so that you don’t fall into behavior you might look back and regret?
Do you have key people you feel should hear the news in person/first?
My parents, sibling, grandparents and closest girlfriends were on my list. I’m not going to lie this was hard. But, these intimate conversations were also life-giving. They will be in my heart for the entirety of my life. I was met with love and support. I didn’t start this train of face to face conversation until Rory was close to 8 days old and we were home. I was honest about my fears, what I needed from them and how I hoped they would love my daughter.
You don’t owe the world an explanation.
In the age of social media, public announcements are hard to avoid. In my case, I’d been blissfully sharing my pregnancy journey for 9 months with friends and family online. When Rory arrived with this extra news I had a ton of internal conflict regarding making a public statement about her diagnosis or not.
It gave me a lot of anxiety. It took me close to six months to finally put a name and statement to what we had been walking through. You don’t need to label your circumstances until you feel ready to do so. My “rules” came into play on this one. I wasn’t going to invite the general public into this personal moment until I could share our story in a positive light. How could I expect them to not feel pity for us if I was pitiful when telling them.
When developing your announcement think about how you wish you could have met your child or heard the news.
You will never get that moment back, but sharing your baby in the light you wish they would have been introduced to you is empowering. Remember, baby first, diagnosis second. Heck, send out a normal birth announcement, just them with no diagnosis attached to it. I was in a haze of shock and never sent one out for Aurora. I have regret over this now that we are out of those heavy days.
THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO DO THIS. YOU WILL HEAR THAT YOU'VE GOT TO PUT YOUR EMOTIONS FIRST, YOUR FAMILY FIRST OR YOUR LITTLE ONE FIRST. THE GOOD LIFE ISN'T OVER. THERE IS JOY IN THIS JOURNEY.
It could also be a good idea to add some of these books to your Pregnancy Survival Kitfor when you are feeling a bit down: they will definitely help you reconnet with baby and remind you that you are carrying a little miracle inside of you 🙂
10 WAYS TO CREATE PEACE IN YOUR WORLD
There is a need for peace in our lives
We have become overstressed and overscheduled doers. Most of us have forgotten how to relax and feel present in our lives. We’re always stretching to reach for the next thing we see along our path. There are simple ways to bring more peace to your life.
We are constantly under a barrage of external aggravations and noise washing over us. Our stress levels are off the charts. Our bodies are in constant fight or flight mode. The stress hormone cortisol is making us strung out and irritable. Some stress is good in our lives. It makes hit our deadlines, decide what we want (or don’t want) in our lives, and gives us an edge in the business world. However, maybe it’s time to take a good look at adding peace to our private worlds.
Bringing Some Peace to Your Life
These are the ten key things that I’ve put into practice in my life since 2012. I can’t say that I don’t have any stress but these have made my life happy and productive. I have energy and time for quality experiences in my life. They’ve made me slow down and realize all the good things that are there for me to enjoy.
1. Take Time for Yourself
Someone once told me to “take care of you first and everything will follow”. Women, more so than men, tend to put everyone and everything before themselves. I was no different. Once I started taking ‘me’ time every day I became happier and less resentful.
I established some boundaries with friends and family and to my surprise, they understood. They also appreciated a happier and more well-adjusted me.
Develop rituals that soothe you. Try heading to bed an hour earlier than normal and having a soak in the tub, doing your nails, or prop yourself up in bed and read. Do something nice for yourself every single day.
2. Meditate Every Day
Meditate, but keep this separate from your ‘me’ time. Sometimes the two will overlap because of time restraints, but try to keep this time separate.
I tend to use guided meditations after my ‘me’ time and right before I go to sleep. On the weekends I take a little extra time during the day.
Keep it simple. Meditation doesn’t mean you have to twist yourself into a pretzel and try to make your mind blank. Guided meditations are a great way to focus your attention. There are apps for that. Headspace is a great free app for any device. Libraries are carrying audible books with guided meditations. One of my favorites is Wayne Dyer’s Meditations for Manifesting.
Repeating a simple mantra or affirmation is another great way to calm your mind.
Make sure you have a quiet space to get comfortable listening to your mind.
3. Practice Appreciation
This is also a very simple thing to add to your life. You can do it anytime Just say the words “I appreciate … ” and follow it what you truly do appreciate. Appreciate the sun for shining, the birds for singing, your mate for being there with you, your house for keeping you warm and dry, or anything that crosses your path. Appreciate all the great things in your life and you will attract more of what you appreciate.
4. Stop Worrying and Live in the Present
“Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength” – Corrie Ten Boom
A co-worker at my day job, gave me a bookmark with this quote on it. It perfectly reflects what living in the present does for us. Most of what we worry about will NEVER come true. Instead, it just makes us inattentive to all the goodness we have now. Worrying about events that happened in the past are just drains on our time in the present. They’re PAST, done with, over, worrying about them now is useless.
Focus on the present moment, it’s all we have, so spend it wisely.
5. Limit Information Overwhelm
Limiting the amount of information that comes at us is difficult, I get that. But there are ways to get rid of a lot of it.
Unsubscribe from email lists that send you emails that you never open. Limit magazine subscriptions to just those few that you love. Reduce the amount of local, national, world news that you take into a few times a week whether it’s on TV, radio, or online. Be aware of how much time you spend on the internet and make an effort to cut down on going down rabbit holes chasing information that has little relevance to our lives.
We’re so tuned in and turned on to our electronics that they’ve made life overwhelming. Try taking one day a week and not connecting with any of your electronic gear.
Sanctuaries are large or small. They can encompass a whole room, a small corner or even a space outside. Make it your own, gather your favorite things there and let your family know that this is your space for quiet and peace.
7. Spend Time In Nature
Find a lovely place to walk, hop on your bike and ride, or just spend time in your yard. Reconnecting with nature can really create a lasting calm. Take your shoes off and walk through your grass barefoot. Go to a beach and wiggle your toes in the sand. Get away to the mountains and breathe fresh air. Reconnect with mother Earth. Listen to what she’s saying. Open up your heart and mind and find peacefulness and calm.
”‘Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself room to breathe. You deserve it.’
8. Learn to Say No
There are multiple distractions all vying for our time and attention. A lot of us grew up with the notion that you don’t ever want to let people down by telling them no. I don’t know about you, but I always said yes, I was a people pleaser. So I said yes to things that ate away my time, and things that weren’t authentic to me or my beliefs, and for too many years I was overscheduled and overstressed because of this. One little word made my life more calm and happy because I was being true to myself and not stretching myself so thin. No is an empowering word.
9. Simplify Your Life
My husband and I have started an ongoing project. We are cleaning out all the nooks and crannies in our house and “unstuffing”. We’re doing this exercise to prepare for retirement from our day jobs.
Just as there is information overwhelm, there is also “stuff” overwhelm. He and I joined households in 2009. In 2014 my older brother came to live with us because of health problems. In essence, we joined three households with years of accumulated stuff and life started feeling cramped. The sheer amount of stuff shoved into closets and the basement was really causing some friction.
With each room or area that we declutter and clean up, the house seems more welcoming and peaceful. There is also a sense of accomplishment that is soothing.
10. Be Gentle With Yourself
I’m ending with the most important lesson that I learned. Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself room to breathe. You deserve it.
Peace in an Ever-Changing World
In the end, we are only human with all our human faults and strengths. Underneath we’re all just trying to make sense out of the world around us. Peace and happiness are our birthrights. Staying calm during the storm is our way to get there.
You might feel a little bit self-conscious singing to your belly in pregnancy, but there are a lot of reasons to give it a go.
For a start, your baby can hear your voice from only a matter of weeks into pregnancy, which is pretty amazing.
Watch the short video below to find out all about the benefits of singing and talking to your bump.
When can babies hear in the womb?
At just four and a half months in the womb, they can already hear sound. They may hear muted sounds from the outside world and any noises your digestive system makes, as well as the sound of your voice and heart.
By 18 weeks your baby's ears are beginning to send signals to the brain about the sounds that they can hear.
By 23 weeks they can hear the muffled sounds of their mum's voice and by 24 weeks they respond to that voice. Scientific studies show they’ll move around less in the womb and have a slower heartbeat when they hear their mum’s voice.
This is why, from the moment they’re born, babies prefer the sound of their mother’s voice to one they’ve never heard.
Why should you sing and talk to your baby in the womb?
Reading out loud, carrying out conversations and singing songs and rhymes to your baby will help them to get to know your voice and can help with early bonding.
It's not only great for baby but for you as well. Playing music can be a great way to relax and ease stress during pregnancy.
Music that mimics a heartbeat of around 60 beats per minute, such as lullabies, is useful. Wondering what to sing to your baby in the womb? Our selection of top nursery rhymes will inspire you.
After 32 weeks, your baby may start to recognise certain vowel sounds from your language. Some research suggests that very early language development may begin before birth.
At just 4 1/2 months in the womb, your baby can already hear sounds.
Reading books to your unborn baby is such a great way for them to get familiar with your voice and strengthen the bonding between the two of you. It’s also a great way to relax and release any stress, which can only be good for an expectant parent 🙂
While most parents like to sing and talk to their baby, they don’t always realize that reading is also a perfect alternative for baby to get familiar with their voices. My wife, for example, loved to sing and play the piano when we were expecting our daughters – reading was more my thing.
And mom doesn’t have to be the only one reading to baby: dad or other relatives can join in too! This will allow for other people who will be important in your child’s life to connect with him/her too, and baby will start to recognize their voices as well. I didn’t carry my first child – my wife did – and I loved reading her stories nonetheless.
WHEN TO START READING TO BABY IN WOMB
If you are wondering when it’s a good time to start reading to your unborn baby, know that by 18 weeks of pregnancy your child will already be able to start hearing some first sounds and they’ll soon be able to recognize voices!
So, anytime in the second and third trimester is a good time to start!
DOES READING TO YOUR BABY IN THE WOMB MAKE THEM SMARTER?
Well, there are some studies that have shown that reading stories to your baby in the womb promotes brain activity and can support early language development. It can also compensate for difficulties of genetic nature, such as language impairment or dyslexia.
That said, I wouldn’t say reading to your unborn baby will necessarily make them smart(er). Or, at least, don’t let that thought be the only reason why you read to your baby.
I would do it more so I can deepen my connection with them, and have an enjoyable time sitting down while I do it. Plus it might be a good stepping stone for them to build a life long love of reading.
Best Books to Read to Baby in Womb
With no further ado, here’s a list of the best books to read to your unborn baby I have come across. I really hope you can find at least one that resonates with you and that you can enjoy reading while pregnant 🙂
I Wish for you, by David Wax and Brett Brumenthal, is definitely my number one book to ready to baby while expecting.
The book explores the characteristics and values we hope our children will adopt, and how they can be learned from the wondrous creatures on this planet. From the courage of a lion to the strength of a bear to the kindness of a panda, the natural world has so much to show and teach us.
It is a very heartfelt and well written, not to forget with beautiful illustrations, book. This is what one of my favorite pages say: “I wish, always, to be as one, our family ties can’t be undone. No matter which path you take, our support will never break. Although one day you may go roaming, our love is always your true home”.
Extra bonus: it is printed on recycled materials and a portion of the proceeds is donated to wildlife conservation.
It consist of a very rhythmic poem, in which parents can’t wait to show their child many wonderful things in life, such as the light of the sun through the rainbows, suncatchers or even love. The concept is actually incredibly sweet and the pictures are very cute.
According to the authors, because of the rhythmic nature of the book, reading or singing it aloud will help your child relax and find a happy mood, as babies can recognize repeated songs.
The wonderful things you will be by Emily Winfield Martin is a New York Times bestseller (for good reasons!) that celebrates the dreams, acceptance, and love that parents have for their children.
It consists of a rhythmic rhyme delivering a very powerful message: not only it states the (almost) obvious fact that parents will love their child whoever they grow up to be, but it also puts a great deal of excitement on all of the possible ways they can become their very own person. It encourages adventure, taking care of others and creativity, and for the child to go be everything they were created to be.
An absolute must-have for new parents with young kids as well as expecting moms.
I love how it is set entirely in the belly and told from the perspective of the growing baby inside. It is so cute and funny at the same time, which is a bit rare for babies’ books. Sure to make you laugh and a perfect book to read with and older sibling as well, so they can imagine their little sister or brother growing inside mom.
One of the verse goes: “I’m all in a heap here, my feet are asleep here, I’m totally bored with this dumb bungee cord. I am not kidding you, Ma! There’s nothing to do!”
Mama loves you so by Terry Pierce is a beautiful story with such sincere, poetic and sweet lines about how much a mother loves her baby. If you are still pregnant while reading it, I could almost guarantee you will have a little tear on your cheek by the time you reach the last page (blame it on the hormones!).
Definitely one of my favorite stories for babies in the womb. The illustrations are also absolutely stunning and the pages are nice and thick, so you can keep reading it even when baby becomes a toddler and starts ripping all the pages.
Oh, Baby, the Places You'll Go! by Tish Rabe is possibly the number one book that’s usually recommended to expectant parents to read to their baby in utero, so I could not leave it out! We were also gifted a copy while I was pregnant with our second daughter.
In simple rhymed verse, the author goes through the joys awaiting newborns when they meet the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Yertle the Turtle, the Great Birthday Bird, the Grinch, and twenty-five other beloved Seuss characters. And the reason why it’s not my number one choice is that I find it slightly hard to read all the different names and verses, as English is not my first language. And I don’t particularly love the illustrations …
That said, if English is your first language, you are a Dr. Seuss fan and plan on introducing your little one to all of those beloved books, you will probably love this book too!
One verse that I do love: “You’ll find that this world’s a great place to begin, but it could use some help – which is where you come in”. Followed shortly by: “It’s a scrumptulous world and it’s ready to greet you. And as for myself … well … I can’t wait to meet you!”.
Love you forever by Robert Munsh is another bestseller and ultimate favorite for a lot of moms, so I couldn’t leave it out either.
The story is a gentle affirmation of the love a parent feels for their child, forever, and how that love transcends to the next generation. It goes through some of the “crazy” things a mom would do for their children, and how the love will always be there, though the good times and the you-are-driving-me-crazy times.
It even touches on death and I wouldn’t recommend reading it if you’ve recently lost a parent yourself. So many readers find themselves in tears while reading this book!
Some people, on the other hand, find it too weird and don’t like reading it to their children. I personally agree some parts are a bit weird, but I still think the message is absolutely beautiful and would totally recommend it to a pregnant woman. I have just stopped reading it to my almost 4 years old daughter who’s going through the “why” phase at the moment – I couldn’t bear answer all the questions about why the mom in the book is doing all that stuff.
I Prayed for You by Jean Fisher is a book about love and family, and how deep a mother’s love for her child can go.
It’s the story of a mamma bear who tells her baby bear about all the times she’s prayed for him as he grows up. When he was born, the first time he achieved something independently, the first time he got hurt, the day he went off to school… she lets him know that she’s always been praying for him and always will pray for him. And each page has a short prayer at the bottom that mamma bear says for her baby.
I am not religious, personally, but I still found this story to be incredibly cute, including the illustrations. It is perfect for parents who dreamed of having children, who struggled with infertility, or who became parents through surrogacy, IVF, adoption, fostering, or other means. And that’s probably why I can still connect with the story 🙂
I'll always love you by Paeoni Lewis is a sweet and gentle story about the unconditional love between a parent and child.
In the book Alex, the little bear, breaks his mom’s favorite honey bowl but, before telling his mum, he runs through all sorts of scenarios of being naughty to check if she will still love him, which she assures him she will.
This will actually be perfect for when your baby grows up to become a toddler as well, as it will reassure him that mom or dad will always love him no matter what.
Little you by Richard Van Camp is another great choice for a book to read to your baby in womb. It consists of a beautiful poem that describes the feelings of parenthood, and it can either be read of sang softly to your child.
What I also love is the fact that the illustrations show a family of people with darker skin (the author and illustrator are Canadian aboriginals) which is quite unusual for a baby’s book!
One of the verses goes: “You are life and breath adored, You are us and so much more, Little ember with growing light, Feel our love as we hold you tight.”
When I carried you in my belly by Thrity Umrigar is a beautiful book that would be perfect for a pregnant mom to read to her baby girl in the belly. The story specifically represents the love between a mom and her daughter, so you might not relate that much if you are expecting a boy.
In the book, the mother shares many wonderful experiences from her pregnancy that seem to be reflected in her daughter now, implying that the special bond between a mother and her child begins well before the baby is born. And even though the book doesn’t leave much room for nature to shape a child’s personality (which I don’t totally agree with), it really feels like it captures so much of the magic of when I was pregnant and I fell in love with it.
At one point it goes: “When I carried you in my belly, we fed kittens out of saucers, baked bread for our neighbors, and hung bird feeders on the trees and that is why you have the biggest heart in the world.”
I also really like the gender switch between the grandparents, with grandpa baking and grandma building the crib!
Read to your baby every day by Rachel Williams includes 30 classic nursery rhymes that you can read aloud to your baby in the womb. This could be perfect if you prefer rhymes to short stories.
The reason why I really liked this book is also the fact that English is not my first language, and I never grew up with all these classic nursery rhymes. Reading this book to my babies when pregnant gave me a chance to learn them, so I could then join in when my wife or daycare teachers started teaching them to my daughters.
365 Bedtime Stories and Rhymes is another great option if you are looking for either rhymes or stories, and if you are the type of person that gets bored reading the same story over and over again: it’s got 365 of them!
The book is an absolute bargain – it just over $10 – and it contains hips of classic stories (Cinderella, the Little Mermaid, etc.) and rhymes (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Hickory Dickory Dock, etc.), as well as other little stories with animals, fairies, children and many more.
The going to bed book by Sandra Boynton is one of the cutest little books for children I have ever found. It’s the story of a group of animals on a ship that are getting ready for bed, so it goes through all the things that need to be done before going to sleep, such as a bath, brushing teeth, etc,
I think this is a cute and funny short story that an expecting parent could love reading to their unborn baby, and will probably keep reading it for a long time after baby is born! In fact, this book will be very helpful in conditioning an older kid to stick to the bedtime routine!
Just a word of advice: the animals go and exercise after the bath and before going to bed! Now, I don’t know whose kid routine is that, but definitely not mine!
God gave us you by Lisa Tawn Bergren is a very cute and heartfelt story of a mama bear explaining to her little baby bear where she comes from, going from pregnancy to finally holding her in her arms. The illustrations are also beautiful.
Would totally recommend it if you believe in God (obviously!) and if you are looking for something that you can also read to your kid when they get older and start asking the question of where they come from!
If you can’t afford to buy new books or prefer to read online books, Monkey Pen has an amazing choice of 50 free downloadable books as pdf. You can either read them online or print them out if you prefer.
These are not specific stories for babies that are still in mama’s belly, but they are beautiful free short stories nonetheless. Here’s some of my favorites:
Buzz the buzzard: a book about the importance of family, as Buzz the buzzard tells his story of how he flew away from home, but soon realized what he was missing.
Books for Dad to Read to Baby in Womb
Dads should also spend time talking and connecting to their babies in mom’s belly: most research indicates that babies can recognize their father’s voice from 32 weeks gestation already!
So, this section is just for dads that are looking for some books especially for them to read to their baby in womb. I know it must be so hard for dads to find stories that they can also relate to, as most books have only moms in them!
I love you, daddy by Jilliam Harker is a really cute story about daddy bear spending time with his little bear, letting the little one have more responsibility and encouraging him on the life journey. As they do activities together, daddy bear helps him be stronger, bigger and braver.
My dad loves me by Marianne Richmond illustrates all the ways dad shows his love to his children (kissing, tickling, etc.). This book will actually be perfect for when baby gets older as well, and will probably become a favorite for story time with dad!
The only downside is that it’s quite short – it’s only got a sentence per page, so not ideal if you are looking for a story that lasts a while.
If you are expecting a second (or third, etc!) child, then it could be a great idea to read a book with your older baby to the other baby in the belly! I absolutely loved doing this with my first daughter – it was such a perfect bonding experience as a soon-to-be family of four and I believe it really helped my older daughter connect with her little sister before she was even born.
One of our favorite books to read together was a book that we were gifted about a baby becoming a big sister, and all the things that older siblings need to learn about a little baby joining the family, such as crying, filling nappies or taking a lot of the parents’ attention. The book also did a good job at reassuring the older sister that mom and dad still love her so much, even when they are busy with the new little one. And made sure to go through some activities that the big sister can help with while caring for and playing with the new sibling.
So, here’s two books I would highly recommend if your older child was to become a big brother or sister! These are probably best if your older sibling is between 2 and 4/5 years old.
I am a big brother by Joanna Cole is told through the eyes of a new older brother. It’s a cute simple story that lays out all the good things about being an older sibling, and just how exciting welcoming a new member to the family can be.
Best Books to Read to Baby in Womb: Final Thoughts
That’s it! I really hope you enjoyed this round up of best books to read to baby in womb and found at least one that inspires you!
All these books will be great to bond with your unborn baby and will continue to be a perfect addition to your baby’s library as your baby grows older. I find my older one loves to cycle through books and often goes back to those books I used to read to her when she was in my wife’s belly!
Dealing with anxiety is terrible. Then being anxious about the effects of your anxiety during your pregnancy can make it so much worse! It’s actually a pretty common experience though. In those first few months so many soon to be moms worry about miscarriages, pain during labor and welcoming your new little member into the family.
If this is your first pregnancy, you can be especially worried, particularly because you haven’t experienced pregnancy before and every little ache or pain seems foreign, which to a newly pregnant woman can be a worry that something is wrong with the pregnancy.
A lot of the anxiety can be related to the altered hormones. I personally found my self-worrying constantly over every little pain, not because of the pain itself, but what the pains “could mean.”
By the way, it’s perfectly normal to experience things like round ligament pain and uterine stretching pains. Although, don’t start worrying if you’re NOT experiencing these things either! It does NOT mean something is wrong with you or your baby.
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While some individuals need medication during pregnancy to alleviate anxiety, it is not a good idea to take medications during pregnancy that you do not absolutely need. Rather than taking addictive benzodiazepines or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (unless otherwise prescribed by your doctor) you can practice healthy, non-addictive, and natural means of reducing anxiety so that you can feel better during your pregnancy and won’t influence the health of your baby because of uncontrolled anxiety while pregnant.
You can do a great deal for yourself and your baby by relieving your anxiety using natural alternatives. Here are a few ways you can naturally begin to cope with your pregnancy worries and have a happier and healthier pregnancy.
10 Ways To Reduce Anxiety Naturally
Yoga is a fantastic anxiety reducer. It’s all natural, will help you relieve aches and pain and it greatly reduces stress. Several great poses are appropriate for each trimester of pregnancy and there are prenatal yoga classes that allow you to perform poses safely under the supervision of a qualified instructor.
Mediation brings calmness to the mind and allows you to detach yourself from your anxious thoughts. With practice, meditation helps to train your mind to find peace and calm, even during stressful situations. This is a wonderful tool to have in your anxiety tool box. Check out the video below to see how practical meditation can actually be for anyone.
Get enough sleep
Your body is hard at work growing an entire other human being. Getting enough sleep is extremely important to both you and your babies healthy. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night can help your body repair, and your brain rest enough to decrease your stress and anxiety and help you wake up feeling refreshed and relaxed enough to begin your day on a better and more positive note.
If you exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes a day, you will gain more energy and will feel less anxious naturally. Things like yoga, swimming and walking can help reduce anxious feelings and give you a feel-good endorphin boost that’s good for you and your baby. Plus it helps make labor and birth a whole lot easier!
The more you learn about pregnancy, the changes in your body and how you can have a healthy lifestyle while pregnant, the better you’ll feel. Get a good pregnancy book that will help you understand the changes going on and what to expect.
The more you know about what is normal, the less you will worry when these ‘normal’ things happen. Of course, you should ask your doctor lots of questions too. I also recommend a good prenatal class. It will help reduce your fear of birth as well!
Having a pregnant friend while your pregnant is awesome! If you don’t already know a pregnant mama, you can meet a new friend by going to pregnancy classes and meeting others who are about as far along as you are. If this isn’t possible, try finding women who have had successful pregnancies and deliveries in the past.
They can help you understand what to expect and what things are normal. Plus it’s really nice to have someone that can relate to the emotional changes you experience as a soon to be mom, as well as the crazy changes your body is going through.
Gratitude can be a game changer
Spend some time thinking about the things you appreciate about pregnancy. Try to focus on staying in the moment, and focusing on what is going well. Those that stay positive and avoid negative thoughts or feelings tend to have an easier pregnancy and experience less anxiety.
Studies have shown that a gratitude journal can work wonders on your mindset. Get a simple notebook and jot down 3 or 4 things you are grateful for during your pregnancy before bed. This will help reset your thinking, and you’ll find yourself with more positive thoughts throughout the day.
Keep positive pregnancy affirmations everywhere!
I know it sounds silly, but keeping little meaningful quotes in regularly visible places can really help alter your thought patterns. Affirmations can be an incredibly powerful tool when actually used. (So people will actually do this, which is why more people say it doesn’t work. They never actually try it.)
For this to work you can print out motivational quotes and post them in areas you frequent. The fridge, taped to your bathroom mirror, or even on your visor in your care. Somewhere that you will see them every day. If you want to get fancy you can print out a set and hang them up with a photo clip set like this, and hang as decor in your home.
Nourish your body
When you eat a nourishing diet, you alleviate some of the anxiety by actively knowing you are doing something to help grow a healthy baby. Just knowing you are doing the right thing by taking your prenatal vitamin and are eating a healthy diet can empower you to feel less anxious about the pregnancy itself. Plus getting enough nutrients helps you body deal better with stress. If you are deficient in certain nutrients, like magnesium, it can make you very anxious.
Make sure you are taking a great prenatal vitamin and maybe even try some natural calm. It’s a safe (and tasty) magnesium powder you make into a drink that helps calm your nerves and will help keep you having regular bowel movements. Both are big wins during pregnancy.
Pack your Anti-anxiety Tool Box
As I mentioned previously, nutrient deficiencies can cause excess anxiety. Most Americans are deficient in magnesium, which can cause anxiety itself. Magnesium acts as a “calm switch” for your nerves. Without enough magnesium, your body literally cannot flip the switch, and you end up in a constant state of anxiety.
Also, chamomile tea is an herb that considered safe during pregnancy. I drank a cup nightly while pregnant (and still do even postpregnancy) to help calm the nerves. I can literally feel tension ease from my shoulders while I finish up my cup. I love this brand, as they are all organic and taste great!
You also need a good Omega 3 vitamin. Other than being an essential nutrient for babies eye and brain development, it can help greatly reduce the chance of depression and anxiety. You need an Omega 3 supplement that contains both EPA and DHA. You can read more about the science of all of it here.
I like Nordic Naturals, these onesare specifically designed for the pregnant mama, ensuring that they use fish with lower risk of mercury contamination.
Try cognitive behavioral therapy
If you think you need extra help with your anxiety during pregnancy, it may be time to consider seeing a therapist. Try finding a therapist who practices cognitive behavioral therapy. In this type of therapy, the focus is on reframing anxious and negative thoughts so you can see these thoughts and feelings in a more positive light. You will learn coping skills so you can better enjoy your pregnancy.
Remember that this shall pass
Sometimes pregnancy can be plagued with terrible nausea and morning sickness that lasts all day. This can be so stressful that it seems like experiencing anxiety is the norm. Try to remember that this is temporary, and even normal, even though it is more severe in some women than others. It helps to keep reminding yourself that this will pass, and it’s not forever.
Make every effort not to struggle needlessly with anxiety during your pregnancy. Use these tips as natural ways to decrease your anxiety and seek professional help if you feel you can’t cope with it on your own. Ideally, pregnancy should be a happy time, and anxiety just gets in the way.
Prevention of Autism: Is it Possible?
Is autism preventable?
You might be wondering how to avoid autism during pregnancy. Although there’s currently no cure or definitive way to prevent autism spectrum disorder, studies have found that certain actions can help pregnant women lower the risk of having a child with ASD. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological disability that causes significant development delays, especially in social functioning. According to Autism Speaks, one in 45 children in the United States have been diagnosed with autism.
Women who are pregnant (or planning to be) can develop prevention strategies for autism to increase their chances of delivering a healthy baby. Research in the New England Journal of Medicine found that disparities in brain development begin as early as the second trimester for autistic children. Starting at conception, the following tips may help expectant mothers prevent autism during pregnancy.
How to Help Prevent Autism Spectrum Disorder by Reducing Exposure to Toxins
Can you prevent autism? The scientific community has discovered evidence that environmental factors can be a risk factor for autism symptoms and ASD.
One Harvard study found that children born to mothers exposed to high pollution levels had twice the risk of autism spectrum disorder. Women should reduce their exposure to pollution from cars and trucks as much as possible.Pollution from traffic isn’t the only risk factor for autism. A study in Demark showed that there may be a connection between autism and higher than normal levels of sulfur dioxide found in the shipping industry.Pregnant women can limit airborne toxins by:
filling their gas tank after dark
staying indoors when air quality is low
avoiding areas with high traffic, especially when exercising
Access to Clean Water
Studies have shown that the water we drink may have contaminants that could be connected to higher rates of autism within certain communities. Heavy metals like lead and aluminum are known to cause health problems and affect brain development. Our drinking water can also contain pesticides and manganese.
Filtering your water or drinking water that you know is free from contaminants can prevent these toxic chemicals from entering the body. Women who are pregnant should be especially careful drinking tap water.
Switching to Green Personal Care Products
Women can make the switch to green personal care products to lessen exposure to risk factors like harmful chemicals. A study by the journal Environmental Health Perspectives shoed that in utero exposure to phthalate is linked to autistic traits in boys. Phthalates are endocrine disrupting chemicals found in cosmetics and other products. Taking the appropriate amount of folic acid may block the effects of phthalate while pregnant and aid in autism prevention.
Can Autism Be Prevented by Maintaining a Nutritious Diet?
While you may not be able to prevent autism, there are things you can do to lower your risk of having a child with ASD. Women can lower the risk for autism by eating colorful, organic diet rich in green vegetables and fruits containing antioxidants. Doctors recommend eating at least 80 grams of protein per day from lean sources like:
Many health experts support reducing “white foods,” including bread and sugar. These white foods can be heavily processed and contain fewer nutrients than their whole counterparts. When foods are refined many vitamins and minerals are removed.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggest soon-to-be mothers take 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid to assist with their child’s development. Folic acid is needed by the body to help form the neural tube. There is research to show that taking this B vitamin before and early in pregnancy is associated with a lower risk of ASD.Vitamin DIncreasing intake of vitamin D has been linked to better neurological development in fetuses. One study found that women who were deficient in vitamin D halfway through their pregnancy were 2.42 times more likely to have a child with autism spectrum disorder that a woman with a normal vitamin D level. The reasons are unknown and more research is needed on a possible connection between vitamin D and ASD.
Omega-3 Fatty AcidsDoctors recommend pregnant women should get enough omega-3 fatty acids. A study from Harvard School of Public Health found a link between an unbalanced consumption of omega fatty acids during pregnancy and a risk of autism spectrum disorder. They found that children born to mothers who did not consume adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids are 53% more likely to be born with ASD.Weight Gain During PregnancyWeight gain during pregnancy is another risk factor for autism spectrum disorder. A modest weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy is optimal.
A study published by Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found a possible link between maternal prenatal weight gain and ASD. They found that the risk of a child developing autism increased significantly with pregnancy weight gain but not pre-pregnancy BMI. This research suggests that autism has an underlying gestational etiology.
How to Prevent Autism During Pregnancy by Staying in Good Health
Regular check-ups with a family physician and obstetrician are important. Maternal health throughout pregnancy has a significant impact on unborn children. Mothers should be immunized against German measles (rubella) and get an influenza shot. Research at the MIND Institute found that viral infections can interfere with the baby’s brain cells and alter neural connections.
Does Gestational Diabetes and Weight have anything to do with it?
Taking all precautions to avoid gestational diabetes can help lower the risk for autism. Obesity and diabetes in the mother have been linked to autism. Both of these conditions are known to induce inflammation or impair immune signaling. A meta-analysis of 32 papers published in 2018 concluded that women who are overweight or obese before pregnancy are more likely than a woman of a healthy weight to have a child diagnosed with autism.
Do my Prescription Medications increase the risk of Autism?
Pregnant women should make sure they are taking prescriptions under medical supervision. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, thalidomide was prescribed to women for morning sickness. It was later found to cause birth defects. The drug, valproate, is used to treat epilepsy and bipolar. It is also linked to autism when taken during pregnancy. The jury is still out on many other medications including antidepressants. Since antidepressants treat an underlying mental-health condition, it is hard to discern whether there is a connection to autism through the medication or if it is solely genetic.
Should I remove my Mercury Dental Fillings?
Having a dentist remove mercury-based amalgam fillings before conception could be beneficial. In the past, dentists used mercury fillings on human teeth. We now know that mercury is poisonous and should not be used. Women who are pregnant or trying to trying to become pregnant and have mercury fillings should talk to their dentist about whether it is safe to remove the fillings.
What if I Need a Cesarean Sections
Babies’ neurological function is naturally enhanced by passing through the birth canal, so avoiding unnecessary Cesarean sections can help. A case study was conducted in Saudi Arabie in 2016. Their data supported an association between cesarean section and autism spectrum disorder. These results support the findings of other such studies. Obviously, c-sections are needed in the event of birth complications. Based on this information, unnecessary c-sections should be avoided to lower the risk for autism spectrum disorder.
Does Parental Age have anything to do with it?
A study in the Molecular Psychiatry journal found that autism rates are 15 percent higher in children born to mothers in their 40s and 66 percent higher for fathers over 50. This study echos the findings of other studies that suspect a link between parental age and autism.Fathers in their 40s and 50s might have higher odds of having children with autism spectrum disorder because their sperm has accumulated many spontaneous mutations that are passed down to their offspring.
As sperm cells divide, their DNA is copied, leaving room for mutations to occur.There have been fewer studies conducted on maternal age and autism risk. Egg cells reproduce, although to a lesser extent than sperm cells, and could pass on mutations. A study in California reviewed birth records between 1990 and 1999. There were 5 million babies born and over 12,000 autism cases. They found that women over 40 were 77% more likely than women under the age of 25 to have a child diagnosed with autism. That percentage decreases with age.
Good pregnancy planning and the above health-conscious steps can effectively help expecting women do everything they can in preventing autism.
I Have Heard That Genetics Play a Huge Role in Autism
Autism is a complex disorder without a single known cause or “trigger.” In fact, autism is likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Scientists agree that genetics are responsible for up to 90 percent of the autism risk. Whether a child develops ASD is usually out of the parents’ control.
Certain genetic disorders are associated with an increased risk for autism spectrum disorder.
Fragile X Syndrome is a genetic condition that can cause behavioral challenges. Fragile X can also cause learning challenges along with various physical conditions. It’s believed to be the leading genetic cause of autism. One in three people with Fragile X will also have a diagnosis of autism.Cornelia de Lange Syndrome is another genetic condition related to autism. Between 50% and 75% of individuals diagnosed with CdLS have autism characteristics.
Symptoms like social anxiety and extreme shyness are prevalent in this population. Selective mutism is also common.There are other risk factors for autism spectrum disorder that are beyond a parent’s control. These include:
the sex of your child
According to research, boys are up to four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder than girls. Historically, males have been studied and diagnosed at a greater rate than females. This could be because males are actually at greater risk for autism. It could also be because screening tests aren’t always picking up ASD in females, especially among those considered high functioning. More research is needed in this area.
Family history can also play a role in autism risk.
Parents who have one child with ASD are at an increased risk of having another child with the same diagnosis. Relatives and parents may have communication deficits or problems communicating that can be mild symptoms of autism.
Unfortunately, there is no playbook that can help give a definitive answer to the question “Can autism be prevented?” There are certainly things you can do to reduce the risk, but there are no guarantees. If you suspect your child may have autism, early intervention is key. Seek the advice of a medical professional who can complete appropriate screenings. Reach out to therapists early who can help optimize future outcomes for children with autism. Most importantly, understand that you are not alone and help is available for children diagnosed with ASD.
Detecting other Birth Defects
About birth defects
A birth defect is a problem that occurs when a baby is developing in utero (in the womb). Approximately 1 out of every 33 babiesTrusted Source in the United States is born with a birth defect.
Birth defects can be minor or severe. They may affect appearance, organ function, and physical and mental development. Most birth defects are present within the first three months of pregnancy, when the organs are still forming. Some birth defects are harmless. Others require long-term medical treatment. Severe birth defects are the leading cause of infant death in the United States, accounting for 20 percentTrusted Source of deaths.
However, the exact causes of certain birth defects are often unknown.
The mother or father may pass on genetic abnormalities to their baby. Genetic abnormalities occur when a gene becomes flawed due to a mutation, or change. In some cases, a gene or part of a gene might be missing. These defects happen at conception and often can’t be prevented. A particular defect may be present throughout the family history of one or both parents.
The causes of some birth defects can be difficult or impossible to identify. However, certain behaviors greatly increase the risk of birth defects. These include smoking, using illegal drugs, and drinking alcohol while pregnant. Other factors, such as exposure to toxic chemicals or viruses, also increase risk.
spina bifida, when the spinal cord doesn’t develop properly
clubfoot, when the foot points inward instead of forward
Functional or developmental birth defects cause a body part or system not to work properly. These often cause disabilities of intelligence or development. Functional or developmental birth defects include metabolic defects, sensory problems, and nervous system problems. Metabolic defects cause problems with the baby’s body chemistry.
The most common types of functional or developmental birth defects include:
Down syndrome, which causes delay in physical and mental development
Some children face physical problems associated with specific birth defects. However, many children show no visible abnormalities. Defects can sometimes go undetected for months or even years after the child is born.
Many types of birth defects can be diagnosed during pregnancy. A healthcare professional can use prenatal ultrasounds to help them diagnose certain birth defects in utero. More in-depth screening options, such as blood tests and amniocentesis (taking a sample of the amniotic fluid), may also be done. These tests are usually offered to women who have higher-risk pregnancies due to family history, advanced maternal age, or other known factors.
Prenatal tests can help determine whether the mother has an infection or other condition that’s harmful to the baby. A physical examination and hearing test may also help the doctor diagnose birth defects after the baby is born. A blood test called the newborn screen can help doctors diagnose some birth defects shortly after birth, before symptoms occur.
It’s important to know that prenatal screening doesn’t always find defects when they’re present. A screening test can also falsely identify defects. However, most birth defects can be diagnosed with certainty after birth.
Treatment options vary depending on the condition and level of severity. Some birth defects can be corrected before birth or shortly after. Other defects, however, may affect a child for the rest of their life. Mild defects can be stressful, but they don’t typically affect overall quality of life. Severe birth defects, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida, can cause long-term disability or even death. Speak with your doctor about the appropriate treatment for your child’s condition.
Medications: Medications may be used to treat some birth defects or to lower the risk of complications from certain defects. In some cases, medication may be prescribed to the mother to help correct an abnormality before birth.
Surgeries: Surgery can fix certain defects or ease harmful symptoms. Some people with physical birth defects, such as cleft lip, may undergo plastic surgery for either health or cosmetic benefits. Many babies with heart defects will need surgery, as well.
Home care: Parents may be instructed to follow specific instructions for feeding, bathing, and monitoring an infant with a birth defect.
Many birth defects can’t be prevented, but there are some ways to lower the risk of having a baby with a birth defect. Women who plan to become pregnant should start taking folic acid supplements before conception. These supplements should also be taken throughout the pregnancy. Folic acid can help prevent defects of the spine and brain. Prenatal vitamins are also recommended during pregnancy.
Women should avoid alcohol, drugs, and tobacco during and after pregnancy. They should also use caution when taking certain medications. Some medications that are normally safe can cause serious birth defects when taken by a pregnant woman. Make sure to tell your doctor about any medications you may be taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.
Most vaccines are safe during pregnancy. In fact, some vaccines can help prevent birth defects. There is a theoretical risk of harm to a developing fetus with some live-virus vaccines, so these kinds should not be given during pregnancy. You should ask your doctor which vaccines are necessary and safe.
Maintaining a healthy weight also helps reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy. Women with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, should take special care to manage their health.
It’s extremely important to attend regular prenatal appointments. If your pregnancy is considered high risk, your doctor can do additional prenatal screening to identify defects. Depending on the type of defect, your doctor may be able to treat it before the baby is born.
A genetic counselor can advise couples with family histories of a defect or other risks factors for birth defects. A counselor may be helpful when you’re thinking about having children or already expecting. Genetic counselors can determine the likelihood that your baby will be born with defects by evaluating family history and medical records. They may also order tests to analyze the genes of the mother, father, and baby.
INFORMATION ON REDUCING RISK OF AUTISM DURING PREGNANCY
The Rumored Causes of Autism during Pregnancy and Birth
By Lisa Jo Rudy
THIS ARTICLE INCLUDES
Autism Risks Related to Pregnancy and Birth
How to Reduce the Risk of Autism
Several risk factors present during pregnancy have been associated with autism. Some, like older parental age and use of antidepressants, have strong research support. Others, such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) use and exposure to environmental toxins, need more investigation.
When exploring these, it’s important to remember that an association is not the same thing as a cause. For example, it's a fact that preterm babies are more likely to have autism than full-term babies, but that doesn't mean that prematurity causes autism. Furthermore, the connection may have more to do with genetics or socioeconomic factors than birth parent behaviors.
This article discusses the pregnancy-related factors associated with autism, including which ones are supported by the most evidence, which have weaker associations, and what you can do to reduce the risk.
Illustration by Michela Buttignol for Verywell Health
Proven Pregnancy- Related Risk Factors for Autism
Multiple well-researched, large studies have found a link between certain pregnancy-related factors and autism, and the results have been reproduced in later studies.
These factors, therefore, are valid, though they raise the risk of autism only slightly. If it’s possible for you to minimize these risks, your likelihood of having a child with autism will be reduced.
Use of Antiepileptic Drugs
Some common antiepileptic drugs, particularly valproate (sold under the brand name Depakote), have been shown to increase the risk of autism when taken by the childbearing parent during pregnancy. Valproate, in particular, may raise the risk by as much as 10%.1
If you are considering pregnancy, talk with your neurologist about changing or even stopping your medication to reduce the risk of autism.
A number of studies have found an association between preterm birth and autism, as well as other developmental disorders. About 7% of children born preterm have autism, compared with 1%–2% of children in the general population.4
Low birth weight is a related risk. While there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of early delivery, it is possible to lower that risk.
Speak with your doctor if you are at increased risk of delivering early.
A large 2021 review showed that if the birth parent experiencesgestational diabetes(diabetes first diagnosed when pregnant), there is a greater-than-average likelihood of having a child with autism.5 This type of diabetes is also associated with preterm birth, preeclampsia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Any form of diabetes mellitus in the birth parent can be a risk factor.6
Gestational diabetes can’t always be avoided, but it can be carefully managed with the support of a doctor. Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels during your pregnancy may minimize the impact the condition could have on fetal development.
Possible Pregnancy- Related Risk Factors for Autism
Some risk factors have been researched by well-established individuals under appropriate circumstances, but the findings have not been reproduced enough times to be conclusive.
If you have concerns, you’re better off avoiding these possible risks, though it’s not absolutely certain that they will increase your risk of having a child on the autism spectrum.
Taking Tylenol (Acetaminophen) During Pregnancy
Use of Tylenol during pregnancy is very common as it is one of the only pain relievers considered safe during pregnancy. However, there is a growing concern that it may be linked to increased risks to a fetus, including for neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).7
Birth cohort studies in Spain8 and Denmark9 found an association between Tylenol use during pregnancy and autism in children. One smaller study of the umbilical cord blood of children who were later diagnosed with autism or ADHD found that those with more acetaminophen in their pre-birth blood supply were more likely to develop the disorders.10
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does not recommend any changes in how physicians prescribe acetaminophen until more definitive research is done.11
Iron is important for fetal brain development. However, iron deficiency is common during pregnancy; nearly half of pregnant persons not getting enough iron.
A 2014 study published in American Journal of Epidemiology found an association between maternal iron deficiency and an increased risk of autism. This risk was found to be much greater with higher maternal age and the presence of metabolic conditions during pregnancy.12
Exposure to certain toxins found in some plastic goods, newly built houses, new carpets, and even some food packaging may increase the risk of autism. While earlier studies found a connection, more recent studies were inconclusive.13
Such toxins include:
Bisphenol A (BPA)
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins (PCDDs)
Other environmental exposures that have been linked to autism include:
Traffic-related air pollutants
Certain heavy metals
According to several meta-analyses (analyses of multiple studies on the topic), the following pregnancy-related issues are associated with autism in more than one study:
Autoimmune disease in the birth parent14
Infections during pregnancy15
A single, older meta-analysis uncovered a much longer list of possible pregnancy issues associated with increased risk of autism, including:17
Abnormal presentation of the fetus
Umbilical cord complications
Birth injury or trauma
Multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.)
Low birth weight
Small for gestational age
While this list is long, it’s important to remember that many of these issues may appear in a single pregnancy and birth, and are usually associated with premature birth. For example, prenatal stress, congenital malformation, and other issues may lead to an early birth, which is associated with low birth weight.
Premature infants often have issues with feeding. A baby who has low birth weight but is born at full-term and has no other issues may have only a tiny statistically increased risk of autism.
Can I Find Out if My Unborn Baby Will Have Autism?
While the early signs of autism typically appear in the first one to two years of life, emerging research suggests there may be signs of autism during pregnancy. A 2022 study, which examined brain MRIscans of fetuses who were later diagnosed with autism, found certain regions (insula and amygdala) were enlarged. The researchers suggested that such findings during pregnancy may be able to predict the emergence of autism later in life.
Genetic testing only tests for anomalies in genes.
Ultra sounds can pick up some traits as well
____________ Reducing Risk of Autism During Pregnancy and Birth
Based on the research, there are several steps a birth parent can take to reduce the risk that their child will have autism.19 They include:
Having children after the age of 21 and before the age of 35 and choosing a male genetic parent in the same age range
Working with a doctor to choose safer medications for specific issues, such as epilepsy or depression2
Avoiding activities such as smoking and being around known toxins
Making regular prenatal visits to the doctor and following up on any potential physical issues, such as emerging gestational diabetes
Maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy20
Closely following any medical advice regarding bed rest and stress avoidance
According to studies, a fetus may also benefit from consistent and appropriate use of specific supplements.21
Research findings mention taking supplements such asfolate (folic acid), omega-3s, and vitamin D3, correcting vitamin deficiencies, boosting your immune system, and prolonging breastfeeding as possible ways to reduce the risk of autism (though, of course, they can't eliminate the risk altogether).
Determining pregnancy-related risk factors for autism is an ongoing area of research. Some risk factors have more evidence of an association than others.
Taking certain antiepileptic drugs, being older parents, having a preterm birth, and developing gestational diabetes are believed to be risk factors. Possible risk factors include environmental toxins and taking Tylenol during pregnancy.
A Word From Verywell
Every pregnancy is unique, and it is impossible to avoid all potential risks to your baby. Simple measures can, however, decrease risks for many conditions.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that autism is known to have a strong connection to genetics. If you or your partner has autism or you have family members on the spectrum, your risk of having a child with autism increases no matter how carefully you manage your pregnancy.
For more related articles on how to survive pregnancy and prepare for birth:
_________ Surviving your Pregnancy by Self-Soothing
Self-soothing is a simple but powerful technique utilized in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy that can help you manage negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Here are ways to self-soothe by focusing on your senses.
Our five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch can be an effective means to reach a state of relaxation and peace. When experiencing a situation of emotional distress it is very helpful to try to relax by engaging in an activity that includes one of the five senses. In this article, we will present ideas about what you can do to get that subtle sense of peace.
Self-soothing is a simple but powerful technique utilized in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) that can help you manage negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It can also reduce stress and anxiety in everyday situations, and help you to be more present and aware in the current moment. Here are ways to self-soothe by focusing on your senses.
Look at photos of calming places. View snapshots or videos of beautiful locations you have visited or those you dream of visiting one day. Watch a funny web video or movie. Take a stroll on a beautiful path. Get lost in a sunrise, sunset, or the night sky. View inspiring art or poetry. Take a few photos, and find the beauty wherever you are.
Listen to sounds of nature, such as rain or a babbling brook, or music that you find calming or inspiring. Listen to your voice speaking affirmations aloud. Hearing yourself saying positive statements about you and your future can help you start to believe them.
Slowly drink a warm, soothing drink, such as an herbal tea. Have a sweet snack. Even a bite or two of something yummy can be comforting. Savor each bite, and chew it more times than feels natural. Close your eyes and really enjoy each bite or sip.
Light a scented candle. Lavender, vanilla, and cinnamon can be especially soothing scents. Buy or pick fragrant flowers. Cook a delicious meal or bake a treat. Notice each smell and the way it lingers or changes over time.
Give and get a long hug. Rub a smooth rock or other nature find. Feel the different textures against your skin. Take a warm shower, bath, or dip into a pool and notice the water caressing your body. Paint or draw a picture. Rhythmically pet your dog or cat, and feel her fur against your fingers and the rising and falling of her breath. Notice whether it is, or is not, in sync with your own breath.
Nurturing ourselves when we are pregnant is such a reflection of how we will nurture our babies after birth. And taking care of our body, our mind, and our spirit are essential in having a more easeful and high vibe pregnancy. I hope these 8 spiritual pregnancy self-care ideas are useful and inspiring for your motherhood journey.
P.S. If you haven’t signed up for a prenatal course yet, make sure you check out this coursefrom Hilary, the labor nurse. She’s running a special right now where you can get her beginner’s class for free! Although, i recommend the full course. It’s packed with super useful information and helps take the fear out of birth!