Small Blessings Blog

Senses and Sensitivity of a New Mother

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Saturday, August 02, 2014


When you get pregnant, what happens to your senses? What have you noticed?


Most women report that their senses seem amplified in pregnancy. Your sense of smell: stronger. You become pickier about what tastes good and what not. You can become sensitive to sound in a new way and sometimes have the feeling of wanting to hold something over your belly to protect your baby from harsh sounds. Some women report that how they see seems to change. What other sense haven't we touched on? Touch! Sense of touch is often increased – wanting to be touched more (or less). Needing physical reassurance.


What does all this point to? We could well ask, what is the innate intelligence of life up to with these changes? Are they just random? Kundalini Yoga humanology holds that women are 16 times more sensitive than men. Yes, 16 times. This may have something to do with the 16 petals of the lotus of the throat chakra and its connection to the thyroid and parathyroid glands with their function of regulating metabolism and energy balance. A woman, with her capacity to grow a new life in her own body, has to be a sophisticated being, to be able to regulate and balance 2 (and more) bodies at the same time. She is also more fluid than a man. She has a cycle which like the moon cycle is 28 days long and so she waxes and wanes, moves and changes, physically and mentally/emotionally. Without this ever-changing nature of woman, like nature is ever-changing, how boring would life be? How static and fixed.


When a woman becomes pregnant she enters into the field of nature in a whole new way. She becomes part of the cycle of nature itself. A young woman flowers into womanhood and then when her beauty attracts and she opens to let herself be pollinated (so to speak!) she begins to bear the fruit. Inside the fruit (the baby) is the seed of new life, which will in time take root, grow and spread out into the world, flower, attract and so on.

So it is common and also desirable to want to be in nature and feel it as a part of you and that you are a part of it. This can be a very connecting and nourishing thing for a pregnant woman especially.


A baby's senses also develop in the womb, starting with the sense of hearing, and so your voice and its vibrations, other outside sounds, including the voices of the father, other family members, friends, and all sounds around you as well as all your inner physical processes – gurglings, beating, and the sound of your breath – are the soundtrack of your baby's early life. Your voice is the sweetest thing to your child and it becomes the first link to the world and then back to you after birth. Your voice for the newborn is the sound of home and safety. But a lot less muffled once they are out of course, so this might be a clue as to how being quiet around a newborn could be wise. Anyway, we tend to naturally, intuitively do this around newborns.

You might want to think about your baby's soundscapes in the womb. How about playing beautiful music at home, at work, in the car? What about being selective about the kinds of movies and TV shows you watch? You will if you allow and tune into your increased sensitivity naturally know which sounds are wholesome and which aren't. It is just whether you choose to accept these messages and act on them or not.


Touch: touching your belly you send little ripples through the waters of your womb. Moving rhythmically with conscious breathing, like we do in yoga class, massages your baby's skin, which as she gets bigger stimulates all the body systems in their development. The baby as it is squeezed by contraction-expansions or surges is massaged. As it passes through the birth canal and out into the world it is squeezed thoroughly and its lungs stimulated into action. There have been many studies about children born by caesarian which suggest a link between a sense of personal boundaries and physical and emotional security and this pressing during vaginal birth. I have one child born by caesarian and the second two vaginally and I can testify to the difference in terms of the first having wanted to be physically squeezed as a little child, to get a sense of where his own body stops and the outside world begins, and to feel safe so he can relax. Vaginal birth seems to provide an important experience for babies, which if they don't get it it creates a need which seeks to be filled in other ways. And of course touch releases oxytocin in humans – the hormone of love and calm and belonging. Humans need to be touched. Babies that are fed but not held do not thrive. Adults who are not hugged and touched are also likely to feel less connected and loved and therefore so not thrive as they might – not hard to understand! So being touched, having massage, being intimate in ways you enjoy in pregnancy... All helping develop your baby's touch sense in the womb.


Sight: the baby begins to see in the womb – diffused of course through the waters of the womb and through the limited light let in through the skin of your belly. But seeing none the less. Think of it that what your eyes see translates into sense impressions, moods, physiological states, thoughts, feelings, states of consciousness .. and these are passed on invisibly to the baby. So be aware of the sights you are seeing, as you are seeing for two. Nature would have to be the most healing thing to see. Consciously see it daily if you can if you want your baby to grow into a sensitive, awake person.


Taste: baby starts to sip your waters and taste them. The second taste is you. Your colostrum, the first yellowy think precursor to milk. Your skin. Sense of belonging is also sealed through this tasting. What you taste and HOW you taste it in the pregnancy will also invite an aliveness to the wide world of taste. Your sense of taste is also finely tuned to show you which foods are good for you and which not in pregnancy. So you can trust that.


Smell: Smell comes last, as it needs air and there is only air when your baby comes “Earthside” or hits the atmosphere. From inner space to Earth space. Although when you look at a new born sometimes they seem to come from outer space, or look ageless, timeless. Your baby navigates their way to your breast and nipple not through sight of course, but through smell, the deepest, oldest sense. If you put your newborn to your breast they will probably snuffle around like a little animal with eyes closed to find the nipple. These are survival instincts but also an essential part of emotional bonding, deep security of attachment, sense of belonging and of being welcome and loved. Also if you bring your baby to the breast very soon after birth it increases the likelihood that breastfeeding will flow easily for you both. I will always be grateful to the midwife who got me to bring my first newborn (by emergency caesarian) to my breast after the birth. Those moments of him suckling and connecting so readily with me made everything seem ok.


Just an aside, the order in which the senses depart as death approaches is exactly the reverse of the above...


So the upshot of all this? You are sensitive! Yes! That's because you're a sophisticated being who brings new life into the world! If you weren't sensitive we would have a lot of damaged babies .. and seeing women who have clouded that sensitivity through alcohol or drug use or through an excess of trauma leading to shut down of sensitivity is the exception that proves the rule. On a gross physical level your sensitivity ensures the safety of your baby's health. On a more subtle level your sensitivity means your baby is nourished on an emotional and spiritual level, starting in the womb, as it means you will want to change certain moods, behaviours and environments to feel better, meaning your baby feels better. We also say in these teachings that your baby's mind (negative, positive and neutral minds) are shaped in the womb, through your own equivalent minds. So the whole timbre, atmosphere and vibration of your thoughts, not the content, because the baby is in a non-conceptual, pre-verbal state, is transferred to them and actually SHAPES them. So all your courage, openness and love is transferred. Troubles and challenges may well arise, and often do!! So its not to say wrap yourself in cotton wool for nine months. That's not possible for one, and it's also not life! So not that. But rising to meet the challenges presented with all your inner resources is what your baby will learn. They too will face challenges in their life, you betcha! So how will they face them? What model is laid deep in the dark pre-verbal time of the womb?


Don't be scared by this! I know some might be! Breathe. Trillions of babies have been born and there will be trillions more. Being kind with yourself, knowing you're ok and are the perfect one for your baby already, is a good place to start feeling good and ok. Life is not a pony yard (a translation of a German saying.. life is not a field of daisies?). Human dignity also comes from facing hard things and growing through them. So we're not talking polyanna here. So embrace your sensitivity! The dark with the light. The sunshine with the rain. The pleasure with the pain. You, after all, are a divine and noble woman, an intimate part of nature, and nature is happening inside you right now, initiating you into its secrets. You are your baby's first and most important teacher. You don't have to try. You just are. And you are up to the challenge and you will grow into it. Nature gives you 9 months and then the rest of your life to learn. It's kind like that.

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