Stress & Fetal Brain Development
“According to the World Health Organization, the health and well-bring of a mother and child during pregnancy and at birth largely determines the future health and wellness of the entire family.”
Did you know that you can set your baby up for success while they are still developing?
There is a vastly growing field of fetal development and fetal psychology and we know that stress in utero leads to higher rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, ADHD and anxiety.
The in utero environment tells baby what life is like outside and so baby is constantly receiving messages on how to best prepare for life outside of the womb. So think about that for a moment, if the mother is experiencing stress whether it’s chronic stress or just typical daily stress baby is still receiving those messages and because baby is so resilient he’s taking in that information and deciding I need to be prepared for a stressful world. Well what if we could give baby different messages, messages where baby is safe, where baby can encounter stress and then quickly calm its body and brain what a happy baby that would be. There are so many mindfulness studies now that shows when the mother practices a daily mindfulness practice there are positive effects in the body and mind for both the mother and baby. We see statistics of higher self-esteem, higher self-acceptance, higher success rates, higher academic achievements, lower maternal depression rate, and lower anxiety and depression rates in both baby and mother.
A lot of moms ask how we know this information is true and how we know that mindfulness is a helpful intervention. Here’s a quick de-brief, in our DNA if we look at the chromosome, if you remember from your science ed class, the chromosome kind of looks like an X, and in that chromosome is our DNA, now at the ends of the chromosomes are protective caps called Telomeres, and these protective caps keep our DNA from having damage. And as we get older those protective caps gets smaller and shorter, and that’s why we have so many age related diseases, and it’s the general wearing out process of our physical body, however we now know that stress more than age shortens the length of those protective caps. But there is good news, in utero the mother can actively grow longer protective caps or Telomeres, for her child. It is the number one time for telomere growth, throughout the lifespan. So yes mothers can add a little bit of length to their own telomeres by practicing mindfulness and that’s helpful but mothers can give their baby such a huge impact and such a head start with stronger and heather DNA just by having a daily mindfulness practice, says Katharine Ottone (Unique Footprints Licensed Professional Counselor).
About Unique Footprints:
We’re Moms, Nurses, Dietitians, Counselors, Lactation Consultants, Infant Sleep Coaches and Prenatal Yoga Therapists on a mission to bring health and happiness to pregnant moms and our little ones. The idea for Unique Footprints was created in the Labor & Delivery room when I was helping “catch babies” and performing neonatal resuscitation. I realized there was so much more we could do to improve birth outcomes by filling the gap expecting families are faced with today.
Expecting mothers are creating their baby’s unique footprints and can truly benefit from a skill development program that’s unlike anything out there in the maternity market. UF participant, Shuchi S. says, “I got to know about the Unique Footprints program from my hospital’s website when I registered for my delivery. I am so glad that I decided to enroll in the program! This is my first pregnancy and I really have no experience with prenatal stuff and newborn care. I’m a physical therapist and always wanted an evidence based prenatal program rather than random YouTube videos. I realized that there’s so much more to pregnancy and caring for the newborn than what’s mentioned in our medical textbooks. Unique Footprints has wonderful practical information that will help you throughout your pregnancy and postpartum. I absolutely LOVE the prenatal yoga sessions and mindfulness programs. I’ve been practicing them and it’s helping me to cope with my pregnancy anxiety much better. I also love that it is self-paced (so I don’t have to remember everything at once!). Jenny is so wonderful and answers any questions I have. It’s great because she’s a nurse and a mom- so I know I’m getting authentic information from someone so experienced. I really think every pregnant woman will benefit so much from this program!”
We’d love to hear: What are your favorite go-to mindfulness techniques?
Unique Footprints Authors:
Katharine Ottone, M.Ed., LPC
Katharine is the Unique Footprints Counselor, is a “Mom-Approved Therapist” from DFW Child Magazine. She’s a Licensed Professional Counselor, holds a Master’s degree from Texas Christian University, am on fellowship with their Ph.D. Counseling and Counselor Education Program, and serve as Adjust Faculty for their Master’s Program. For just under a decade, she has worked with children and families at Fort Worth landmarks Cook Children’s Medical Center Psychiatry Unit, ACH Child and Family Services, The Art Station and TCU. She is an expert on solution-focused brief therapy for prenatal woman, children, families, developmental trauma and mindfulness. You can learn more about Katharine here.
Jenny Morrow, RN, IBCLC, LCCE, RYT
Jenny is a born and raised Texan who loves the feel of a book in her hands, an unshakable optimistic and refuels by time in nature. She’s a mom, neonatal nurse and founder of Unique Footprints (a fully realized, 100% digital pregnant and new mom resource). She created her company in the delivery room – literally! As a nurse assisting with deliveries and postpartum care, she directly witnessed families who did not feel prepared and were shocked through the transition into parenthood, and she knew there was a better way. Jenny has taught over 10,000 expecting families how to prepare for this time in their lives. You can learn more about Jenny here.
Unique Footprints: Ways to Decrease the Stress Response
Psychological Adaptation and Birth Outcomes: The Role of Personal Resources, Stress, and Sociocultural Context in Pregnancy
Mindfulness-based psychotherapies: A Review of Conceptual Foundations, Empirical Evidence and practical considerations
Does Mindfulness Training Reduce the Stress of Pregnancy
Meditation States and Traits: EEG, ERP, and Neuroimaging Studies
Prenatal Meditation Influences Infant Behaviors
The Can Meditation Slow Rate of Cellular Aging? Cognitive Stress, Mindfulness & Telomeres
The 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine and its Surprising Message: Lifestyle Associated with Telomerase Activity
Is Meditation Associated with Altered Brain Structure? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Morphometric Neuroimaging in Meditation Practitioners
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