Just as what we eat transforms into nourishment for the child growing in our womb, what we think and feel can become part of our developing baby. As a practitioner of Traditional Oriental Medicine (TOM), I am trained to see how our emotional state affects every aspect of our lives—and, when we are pregnant this is no different. In fact, from a TOM perspective, when we are pregnant, emotions not only affect our health and wellness, they affect the health and wellness of the baby growing inside our belly. There are the negative emotions like fear, sadness, anxiety and just general worry. And then there are the positive emotions of courage, peace, ease and joy. They all affect both you and baby positively or negatively.

In TOM theory, every organ in our body not only has a physiological function, but an emotional one as well. For instance, the positive emotional states of courage and will enhance and support the organ of the kidney, and the emotions of joy, love and peace affect the organ of the heart. So, when these emotions are experienced it is seen as not only supporting the proper function of the organs they correlate to but that these organs are in good health because their emotional states are balanced.

Similarly, the negative emotion of fear impairs the function of the kidney, just as anxiety and lack of joy negatively affect the function of the heart. When it comes to pregnancy all of the organs are important but the heart and the kidney are of most importance as these organs both have a direct line of communication with the uterus.

In TOM anatomy there are energetic channels—one running directly from the kidney to the uterus and one that runs directly from the heart to the uterus. In this vein, it is seen that the negative emotional states of these organs—namely, fear and anxiety have quite a negative impact of the emotional state of your child in utero.

In TOM, this is taken so seriously that women are told to not even watch scary movies or be around arguments or stressful events. They are only to be around joyous, happy and peaceful situations. I know that’s not always realistic in today’s world, as life happens. But we can take caution in protecting our pregnant selves from too much of these negative emotions because the emotions we experience on a daily, even moment-to-moment, basis, are penetrating our baby and becoming part of their emotional framework.

The biggest message I give to my patients (and that I try to embrace myself, as I am currently pregnant too!) is that we need to focus on joy and love in our lives. Do it not only for your own health and wellness, but for that of baby’s. Here are some easy ways to do this on a daily basis:

1. Practice gratitude. Each morning, upon waking, list 5 things (either write them down or just go over them in your head) that you are grateful for. A focus on gratitude shifts your focus from worry or stress to love and joy.

2. Meditate. Even if for only a few minutes each day. Doing this calms your nerves and baby’s too. This not only feels good for you but I’d venture to say it will create a more calm child (perhaps one that sleeps through the night from the beginning!).

3. Laugh as much as you can. Surround yourself with lighthearted friends, or read or watch something that makes you chuckle. Laughter sends waves of joy right from your heart to your uterus.

4. Make someone else happy. It is said that the best way to get more joy in your life is to make someone else happy. So do a good deed and fill your heart with love and feel that love warmly wrapping around your baby.

5. Be healthy selfish. Being selfish is often seen as being self centered or egotistical. However, I think being selfish can really benefit our health, especially when we’re pregnant. Not only do we now have to conserve more of our energy (because so much of it is going to baby) but we should be protective of our emotional energy. Avoid friends or family members that are draining or dramatic. Avoid watching the news or fear inducing television. Exercise healthy boundaries and say no to anything that doesn’t feel good.

Practicing these lifestyle tips will not only keep your health optimal but your emotional state happy and joyful. And, when you are feeling more joy that bliss is traveling from your heart right into your uterus and nourishing your growing baby with love and joy. Whether this makes sense to you or not, it can’t hurt, and who doesn’t want a loving and joyful baby?

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