We’ve all had that gut feeling in our lives; you know that feeling that something isn’t quite right or that you are making the wrong decision. We kick ourselves for not listening to it when we realize we should have.
Never is this instinct more important than when raising children. Our babies come into the world helpless, depending on their mothers to keep them safe, warm, healthy, and to make sure they follow a similar developmental course to their peers. Mother’s intuition plays a role here because it can often be the tipping point for action to keep our offspring safe from harm.
Studies suggest that instincts may actually be the result of our minds responding to physiological cues—like a quickened heart rate—suggesting there is science behind intuition. Regardless of its foundation, we can’t deny there is merit to instinct. It has saved lives, changed decisions, and undoubtedly altered history. Ultimately, intuition comes from a subtle analysis of a set of cues that leads us to believe that something is off. We feel it in our guts, our hearts, and our minds. We’ve all responded to it. We’ve all ignored it.
For some, this instinct or sense comes more naturally than for others. As an expectant mom, you may worry that you won’t feel it when it comes to the unknown world of your soon-to-arrive bundle of joy. You have a lot to concern yourself with as you prepare for his or her arrival. How can you be certain you’ll have that right “mother sense” to protect your babe? Here are eight things you can think about and/or do as you prepare to be a mom to help nurture your mother sense.
9 Trust Yourself
8 Instincts are not learned; they are innate. They are responsible for that voice that tells us not to walk down that dark alley, not to trust that person, not to take that job. Coined the sixth sense, they give us first impressions and induce second-guessing. And, although instincts can’t be learned, we certainly can learn to trust them better. Women’s intuition has been around for a long time. From my perspective, mother sense is an evolution of women’s intuition. The latter just grows to encompass the little ones we bring into the world.
“Instinct is a marvelous thing. It can neither be explained, nor ignored.”
- Agatha Christie
We’ve all been in situations in which we admit hindsight is 20/20 and wonder why we didn’t make a different decision. Well, we probably would have if we’d listened to that inner voice, that sixth sense, that gut instinct.
Because the sixth sense can’t be easily explained in a rational fashion, some tend to ignore the urge but we should trust it. Think about all the times your women’s intuition has kicked in and your gut has been right, and you’ll see that you have it in you. It’s no different as a mom, except you will protect, at least, two people in the future. If you feel like something is off, it probably is. Get in the habit of trusting yourself. It will be good for you and your baby.
7 Practice Meditation and Relaxation Techniques
Meditation is the act of calming your mind to gain a peaceful equilibrium. Meditation is an excellent way to connect your own body and mind, and clear the latter from daily clutter. Meditation can also help a soon-to-be-mom better understand the connection between her body and her mind. Given that tension in your body may actually impede the flow of energy between your body and mind, it stands to reason that a more relaxed individual will be in a better position to respond to subtle environmental clues that give rise to ‘instinct’.
Meditation doesn’t have to be Formal
For some, meditation comes naturally and easily. It’s something they include in their regular lives. For others, it feels awkward, forced, or unnecessary. That said, I think the label can be a roadblock.
Meditation doesn’t have to be formal. For some, it can simply mean immersing yourself fully and wholly in the moment without introducing other thoughts. For others, it may mean taking a few moments here and there to give your brain the downtime it needs. This can help a busy mom recalibrate and tune into what her body and mind feel like in a pure, calm, and resting state. Understanding this basal state can serve to sensitize one to those red flags when mother sense starts to kick in.
I’ve never considered myself as a meditating person, but I realized that over the past year I have practiced something that has taken me as close to meditation as anything I’ve done before: nursing my son. We sit quietly together in a comfortable, warm, soothing (at times dark) room. I often close my eyes and think about nothing, enjoying the moments with him that I know will not last forever. This is a form of meditation. It’s peaceful, serene, and non-demanding. Meditation can be that simple.
Other relaxation techniques can also be beneficial, including massage, energy therapy, and acupuncture. Again, it’s about fine-tuning your body to improve the energy flow to your mind.
6 Bond with your Bump
Get into the mom zone! Even though you may not yet be a mom, or it may be a while since you were the mom of a newborn, it can’t hurt to get into the right mindset. In fact, you are probably well on your way.
Talk to your little bean. Play your favorite music for him or her. Decorate the nursery or do prenatal yoga. Imagine how your life is going to change and how your heart is going to grow. Feeling and thinking like a mom is going to help you to expand your mindset to mama mode for when your little one arrives.
These activities may help you bond faster, helping your natural women’s intuition expand to include your newest offspring.
5 Understand the Science behind Intuition
For you analytical types, there is evidence to suggest that intuition is grounded in physiology. We can all agree that instinctual drives arise quickly. Desires are felt promptly and decisions are made rapidly. It all happens so fast that we don’t have time to process the cues that lead us to a certain endpoint. Scientists suggest that intuition arises from stored experiences that we access on a subconscious level at appropriate and often critical times.
The Origin of ‘Gut’ Instinct
The “second brain” is a separate nervous system linked to your gut called the enteric nervous system. This system helps you sense threats and can influence your brain to respond in a certain fashion. The term “gut instinct” is attributed to the response produced by this system. A lot of the information passed from the gut to the brain doesn’t enter into our conscious thinking, so the instincts that arise seem to just come to us.
That said, no amount of science can explain how a pregnant woman decides not to get on a plane that later crashes. Women’s intuition, mother sense, sixth sense—call it what you will, it’s uncanny. Science can only go so far.
4 Educate Yourself
It’s important to understand what’s within the realm of “normal” when it comes to a baby. This can help to hone your mother sense, such that it raises alarm bells when appropriate and necessary.
If you’re a first-time mom, your expectations will be reset time and time again. Heck, this will happen even if you’re on baby number 10! But, it is important to have a grasp on how much sleep is too much, what different cries sound like and mean, normal feeding routines, etc. The list is endless, but having a solid foundation in the basics can only help. Of course, most future moms are absorbing as much information as they can, but we must really pay attention to the important stuff.
Your baby will come into the world and do several things on repeat—eat, sleep, and fill a diaper. Mix up the order a few times, repeat, and insert crying on and off through all of the aforementioned. Learn as much as you can about these basics functions and needs so your awareness is heightened when something seems awry. And of course, once your baby is born, you’ll become much more in tune with their “normal.”
A Close Call
After my second son was born, the nagging feeling started. It was a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. He was very sleepy. Of course, newborns are sleepy, but this seemed over the top. It was tough to wake him for feeds. Shortly after coming home from the hospital, he slept through the night for 10 hours. I took him to the doctor. He was eating enough to maintain his weight but he wasn’t gaining much. The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong. He sent us for a few tests that all came back normal. Still, I wasn’t satisfied.
When he was two weeks old, he exhibited a tiny fever. This was enough for me to take him to the emergency room. Sure enough (and much to my chagrin,) my instincts were right. He had a severe urinary tract infection. This happens sometimes when the anatomy is underdeveloped. The result is reflux. The infection was so severe, the doctors worried it had crossed over to his blood. He was hospitalized for eight nights on a continuous round of two antibiotics to fight the infection. Luckily, he overcame it. Today, he is a perfect little five-year-old. I feel sick thinking about what could have happened. I can hardly stand looking at pictures of him taken during those first two weeks because I’m overcome with guilt.
I had a first baby to compare this experience. Of course, they are all different, but knowing what’s within the range of normal is important to nurturing your mother sense. I don’t know if this “sense” saved my son’s life, but it certainly stopped him from getting sicker.
3 Talk to Other Moms
Talking to other moms about their mother sense will help you build your confidence. It will also help you build the confidence to listen to it. Many mothers will tell you it’s a natural instinct that comes effortlessly, but it will help you to hear this.
Hearing stories of mother’s intuition can also be an interesting and fun bonding experience. It will hammer home the point of how important it is to listen to that voice. Ultimately, you’ll learn that a mom will know her own child better than anyone else on the planet. Perhaps when one person’s mother sense kicks in, another person’s won’t because the cues aren’t universal. Still chatting with other moms about this sense will help you feel more comfortable responding to your own gut when you feel it kicking in.
Studies have been conducted on pregnant women asking them to identify the gender of their unborn child. They are right 70% of the time. Obviously, this is better than chance. Chances are mother’s intuition is growing inside you as your baby grows.
2 Pay Attention to Your Dreams
According to The Daily Good, one of the things highly intuitive people do differently than others is pay attention to their dreams. According to Freud, dreams are a window into the unconscious. When you consider dreams this way, the commonality with intuition is obvious. Dreams often provide insights into our anxieties, allude to secret desires, provide important messages, and sometimes act as visions.
I’ve had a recurring dream throughout my adult life that I am unable to graduate from high school because I’ve missed a class, got my schedule mixed up, or didn’t read any of the assigned books. This is petty stuff. The dream has a couple of manifestations, but the result is the same. I wake up feeling incredibly anxious and then relieved when I realize that it was just a dream. Apparently, this is a very common dream. It could be an indicator of stress at work, fear of failure, or that there is some unfinished business to resolve.
1 Tune into Your Subconscious
No matter how you look at this dream example, the interpretation suggests that your subconscious speaks to you. Paying attention to our dreams can twig us to picking up on the cues available to us when we are awake. Pregnancy is a time when women describe having very vivid dreams thanks to those darned hormones. As such, it provides a great opportunity to consider what your dreams are telling you, thereby nurturing your mother sense to set the stage for after your little monkey arrives.
Above anything else, don’t feel anxious about your future mother sense. Nurture it now, welcome it later, and feel confident enough to respond to it when the time comes. As the saying goes “mother knows best” and there are obvious reasons why.