Pregnancy and Pandemic

Vidushi Sharma
Ever since I have learnt that I am expecting a
baby, I have focused a lot of my energy and
time trying to understand the child inside of
me- physiologically, emotionally and
psychologically. My first introduction to
this started with reading a book gifted to
me by a colleague – ‘Biology of Belief’ by
Bruce Lipton which is focused on telling us
that it is our thoughts (both positive and
negative) that affect the growth of cells
inside our body and hence the beliefs or
thoughts of an expectant mother define
the growth of an unborn child in all respects.
This got me more interested and I kept
digging deeper- Reading books, research
by the famous prenatal psychiatrist Thomas
Verny and multiple others.
One of my biggest take-ways from this research is that our cells are ordinarily either in a ‘Growth state’ or a ‘Protection state’. When we are in fear, our cells automatically move to protection state and the focus is on basic survival rather than growth. Our body’s HPA (Hypothalamus- Pituitary-Adrenal) axis gets activated which coordinates the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. In absence of threat, the body’s HPA axis is inactive and growth flourishes. Hence, for optimal growth, we need to make sure we are not constantly in a state of protection.
What the Covid-19 situation got me thinking is that by exposing ourselves to news 24*7 and trying to make sense of all that is happening around us, we are somehow keeping ourselves in a state of constant fear. And what fear does to our bodies is – It inhibits growth. When we are in a state of fear and stress, the same hormones are also travelling to the child inside of us. And the child feels a constant fear and stress too- and from what I understand and strongly believe, these fears have an effect on shaping the personality of the child. The child inside of us does not understand that this is once in a century kind of event, that this is not how life unfolds everyday- The message that he/she is getting is that there is constant fear/insecurity/worry in the place where my mother lives and hence the way the neurological connections get formed inside the brain of the child keep that message intact. And these connections take a lot of time to be rewired once they grow up!
So although we might be doing it completely unintentionally, in some way- big or small- we are influencing the securities/insecurities of the child inside of us and these are there to stay. What I would suggest to all those gorgeous expectant mothers out there is to take your mind away from all the scare going on around us. I don’t mean that you don’t stay updated with the news and don’t follow precautions to keep yourself safe- We all know we need to do that and we need to maybe do that even more than others because of the precious lives we are carrying inside of us. But what we can do is- Not to read every watsapp forward on coronavirus that comes, not to watch Covid related news every time we switch on the TV or not to make this the only topic of discussion when we have a conversation with someone. Lets take our minds away from it consciously- Let’s watch our favorite comedy series, let’s read the books we have been wanting to read once we had the time, let’s listen to our favorite music and the list goes on!!
Let’s make the child inside of us believe that he/she is coming into a lovely, beautiful and safe world and there is nothing to fear or be insecure about!!
(The author is Consultant- Organization Practice at McKinsey & Company)