Monday, September 10, 2012

Practical, proven tools for pregnant women to manage stress before, during and after childbirth

By Dr. Linda Miles
Psychotherapist, Author and Media Expert

Using simple techniques Moms can learn how easily they can repeat relaxing phrases to their babies during pregnancy, delivery, and post-partum.

Dr. Linda Miles inspires and instructs Moms, using a practical, proven effective method, which calms both the child and Mother while building a stronger emotional and physical bond between the two. Dads can join in, too.
A stressed Mom creates a stressed baby, causing the fetus’ heart to beat faster. When levels of stress hormones are too high for extended periods of time, both Mom and the baby’s mental and physical health suffer. Too much stress during pregnancy can reduce the availability of vital essential fatty acids to the developing brain of the baby.
When Moms are anxious, babies feel the anxiety. According to John Medina of University of Washington School of Medicine, a review of more than 100 studies in various economically developed countries confirm negative effects of stress on prenatal brain development including:
· Infants become more irritable and less consolable
· Infant’s future motor skills are inhibited
· Infant’s abilities to concentrate and pay attention are impaired
Dr. Miles has been working with Mothers for over thirty years to help them learn to relax during pregnancy. Recent research has shown that babies hear their mother’s voice at the end of the second trimester. Babies even respond to TV shows their Moms watched while pregnant. One study exposed pre-term babies to the opening jingle of a soap opera. When the babies were born, they would stop crying when they heard the jingle!

Dr. Miles’ interest in relaxation during childbirth began in 1973 when she used natural childbirth with her son, Christopher Brett. She found Lamaze helpful, but after her pregnancy she wanted to help Moms have even more stress free births for both mother and child.

Quickly, she realized the tremendous benefit listening to individually recorded, soothing music with a familiar voice would have. She had discovered a simple way to remind moms to relax using headphones.

She began working with pregnant women in her Florida psychotherapy practice with recorded music and positive imagery to help them practice relaxation during pregnancy. When they were a bundle of nerves, moms were instantly comforted with just the flip of a switch. She encouraged Moms to share, gently speaking out loud, what she heard with her baby. The relaxation practice brought deep calm to Moms who could put on head gear and tune out the troubles of the day. During childbirth, they were able to use the relaxation training for a more relaxing, less traumatic delivery experience. One young Mom told Dr. Miles that the nurses were curious about why she kept on earpieces and she told them, “We have been rehearsing for this event for months and I am reviewing our notes.”

Moms also reported having fun with the techniques. They sang out loud to the growing child inside and reported that the babies seemed soothed by the calming sounds they had practiced together before birth. Lecanuet reviewed research in 1995 that showed that newborns recognize the sound of their Mother’s voice and turn toward her when she is speaking. This research confirmed clinical observations that Mother and infant had connected when the Mom said relaxed and repeated, “We are calm and relaxed.” Recently, when Dr. Miles grand-daughter Bella was born, she turned toward her grandmother’s voice and stopped crying when she heard the same phrases her Mom had listened to from the CD daily.
A series of experiments in the 1980’s asked Moms to read Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat out loud twice a day during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy. The researchers creatively used pacifiers hooked up to machines that measured strength and frequency of sucking. Results were amazing because the babies appeared to recognize and respond to their mother reading The Cat in the Hat as opposed to different stories. As neuroscientist, Dr. Wayne Drevets observed, “The brain loves the familiar.”

With her initial personal success as a Mommy Whisperer, Dr. Miles studied and has used these relaxation techniques successfully for over 30 years with her clients and friends. After the stress of a complicated and difficult pregnancy with her first child, a client of Dr. Miles used the Mommy Whisperer technique for her second child with entirely different results. She was calm throughout the experience with less stress on her child. She had a peaceful pregnancy and delivery. According to Dr. Miles, “Because Mommy Whisperer's reduce stress on themselves and their child, they can enhance the mother-child bond after the baby is born.”
Using simple relaxation strategies, parents actually affect the physical structure of the baby's developing brain. The patterns we learn affect how we cope with stress and with life. Do not underestimate pregnancy as a time to provide an optimal environment for a child and to introduce the calming effects of music and Mother’s relaxation practice. A fetus can learn to habituate and pay attention to a stimulus over time so give them an early start on the relaxation response.

While soothing her baby, Mom is actually teaching her child to self-soothe. When Moms relax their babies and themselves with calming phrases and imagery, they both begin to develop a pattern of self-soothing that works under stress.

The opposite happens also. If Mom or anyone is loud and reactive under stress, the child develops that pattern and responds that way to stress. The brain loves the familiar, so how we train our children, becomes their coping strategy.

So, whisper to your child, "I am so glad you are here."; “I am glad you are a girl (boy).”; “We are calm and relaxed.” This gives them safety to learn and explore.

Copyright 2012 Linda Miles Ph.D.
Author, Dr. Linda Miles, is deeply committed to helping individuals and couples achieve rewarding relationships. She is an expert with a doctorate in Counseling Psychology, and has worked in the mental health field for over thirty-five years. She has created a CD & mp3 entitled, “Train Your Brain for a Peaceful Pregnancy and Childbirth on her website.
She has been interviewed extensively on radio, TV, and in newspapers and magazines. Find more relationship ideas and relaxation techniques on her web site and in the award-winning book she co-authored, The New Marriage: Transcending the Happily-Ever-After Myth, and Train Your Brain: For Successful Relationships, CD.
Dr Linda Miles
Miles and Associates
2100 Centerville Rd., Suite D
Tallahassee, FL 32308
Phone: (850) 321-6612

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