Prenatal psychology

Your pregnancy is the perfect time to put pieces of your unresolved unconsciousness together and, for your baby, it is a great time to interiorize your emotions.

Placing your hand on your belly, you may await the first proof of life that is growing inside of you. Or, if that communication is already established, your whole being has become a giant ear that listens carefully to any whisper of this future accomplishment. After a while, you might make the link between your emotions and your child’s manifestations as if they were signs, an exchange that bears a meaning, maybe even an answer. It’s easy to say that it’s your interpretation but this symbiotic state that transcends reason also exists and tells you that maybe…

During pregnancy, your emotional weaknesses could be exacerbated. All these physical and hormonal changes modulate your inner-self and waken emotional aspects that were dormant or better managed before pregnancy. Some feel sadness, insecurity, distress or a form of psychic transparency that reminds them of their own intrauterine experiences. Each person keeps a memory of these memories of origin filled with love or fear. Even as adults, they keep manifesting themselves as your subconscious mind detects a situation that reminds you of these first moments. The weaknesses of pregnancy can create anxiety and make a double cross to bear with the guilt of feeling like it could affect your child.

Your foetus experiences strong emotions

But does this experience truly affect your foetus and its future? Ludwig Janus, doctor, psychoanalyst and psychotherapist in Heidelberg, teaches in the Psychoanalysis Institute of Frankfurt. He describes the uterus as the “original classroom”.  The intrauterine life takes place in a physical and psychological space. The brainstem and midbrain regions of the brain where emotions are generated develop in utero. The foetus can detect the manifestations of his maternal environment and therefore experiences strong emotions. If this environment is stressful, synapses transmit fear, stress or agitation. If his mom is thriving, there will be transmission of calm and joy, and the child will get a feeling of being wanted.

In this symbiosis, the emotions of the mother are transmitted to the foetus. Science cannot yet explain how with certainty. For now, this transmission is attributed to the hormonal pathway that links a mother to her foetus. Also, it is observed in clinical studies that these initial feelings resurface in childhood or as an adult under stress. The experience of the mother helps to form the perceptions that the child will have of himself and his external environment. And these perceptions will be involved in maintaining behavioural patterns generated in the intrauterine space and will influence the child’s ability to adapt to situations. In utero, the foetus is already learning the basics of the outside life and this learning will be tinged with your own experience, your own emotions.

Birth, as an initiation to external life, and the first moments at home with parents are also critical experiences that influence your child's personality.

Intrauterine pain

We all bear the scars of our own intrauterine life. Pregnancy is a privileged moment to recall this experience and transmit it to your child as it was passed on to you by your own mother and her mother before that. If emotions are overwhelming as a reflex, if despite your reasoning efforts, you cannot definitely modify them, if, despite your memories, you can’t find the cause or answers that will bring significant changes, you are facing very obvious signs of intrauterine memory. Here are a few difficult emotions that could have conditioned your current life and could condition the future life of your child:

  • Unexpected or unwanted pregnancy;
  • Pregnancy following the loss of a child;
  • Conflict with spouse or family;
  • Feeling rejected or abandoned;
  • Feeling of not being up to it, to be at fault, never doing enough;
  • Fear of displeasing;
  • Fear of not being perfect;
  • Fear of failing;
  • Fear of not being able to give what you missed;
  • Twin pregnancy.

All this and more is an emotional legacy that can ben passed on during pregnancy if you bear it. And unfortunately, it only takes a few minutes during pregnancy for this conditioning to settle for life.

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