Planning the Family Literacy Circle During Your Pregnancy
Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.~ from Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
WOOHOO!!!! You’re a parent! A mommy! And in less than 9 months your outer body mommy-hands, arms, legs & feet (not to mention your chest) will be filled with a small, soft, beautiful life. That sleeps, eats, yawns, coos, and, well, you know what else the precious little darlin’ does…..
But for now, your little seedling of life is safely tucked away….for the next 36 weeks, giving you time to plan.
When you have some awake-time during these first few months (I, like other moms, was constantly in need of a nap), you’ll probably dream about:
- Who your baby will favor in looks? Eye/hair color? Your dimples? Daddy’s cleft chin? Grandma’s curly hair? Grandpa’s long, slender body? Your sister’s smile? Your brother’s freckles? Your cousin’s big feet & hands? Your Great-Aunt’s nose?
- What will your baby’s personality be like? Your mom’s love of gardening? Your dad’s love of fishing? Your aunt’s love of books? Your uncle’s love of travel? Daddy’s love of humor? Your love of long walks on the beach?
It’s, also, okay to worry about, well, what pregnant parents worry about. Don’t scare yourself. Take care of the 2 of you with good nutrition, fresh air and lots of laughter, rest & pampering.
You are planning the Family Literacy Circle during your pregnancy.
Begin the Family Literacy Circle with “Dear Baby of Mine……”
Starting a journal during this time will make a wonderful memory gift for you to give your child later in life. Reading some of these entries will answer questions your child will have about when s/he was “growing in your tummy.” Here are some thoughts you may want to include in this keepsake:
- names you are considering for your baby and why
- a list of your favorite songs, stories, rhymes, books
- activities you want to share with your baby
- places you want to take your baby
- things you are doing to prepare for your baby’s arrival
- special traditions your family celebrates, especially birthdays
- important lessons you want to teach your baby
- little bios of all the people your baby will meet
Your feelings and reflections, especially when spoken out loud to share with your baby, will begin the literacy circle of bonding. Connecting with your little swimmer this way helps you to prepare for your growing family through language-the first MAJOR step in forming the Literacy Family Circle.
BLB Shop may have just the journal you are looking for ~
The Waiting Womb Journal : 36 Gestation Meditations
Click on the link below to check it out!
Your Pregnancy and Your Baby’s Brain
Dr. John Medina, a brain scientist, stated in his book, Brain Rules For Baby , you should leave your little embryo/fetus alone during the first 4-5 months of your pregnancy. S/he can’t hear you until then, anyway. Of course, not to contradict the experts and/or cause harm to your unborn child, but most mothers (including myself) start chatting with Baby as soon as they find out they are pregnant.
I guess the “disclaimer” here would be…. your baby’s brain is not actually listening/understanding what you’re saying during the first half of your pregnancy.
Dr. Medina does go on to say scientific research has tested and evaluated several activities parents can do to help with their baby’s brain development during pregnancy.
Helping with the Growth & Development of Your Baby’s Brain
Here are Dr. Medina’s “Four Things Proven to Help Baby’s Brain”:
- Eat LOTS of fruits & veggies
- Make sure your prenatal vitamin has folic acid
- Take iron which is necessary for your baby’s proper brain development & normal functioning
- Eat foods with omega3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon, cod, haddock & sardines
- Disclaimer- scientists don’t know why pregnant women have “random cravings” (I personally had to have ice cream every day after my DAILY intake of Mexican food. I was unable to eat my favorite food- peanut butter because it gave me heartburn, which I had never experienced until pregnancy)
Baby’s Birth Weight
- Your baby’s brain size is related to the birth weight of up to 8 pounds (so, a 10-pound baby doesn’t mean a larger brain)
- Snacking on the right foods will secure that desired weight (for me – it kept headaches away, which I experienced during pregnancy if I didn’t eat when I /we were hungry….and had never experienced until then. I put away a hefty sum of granola bars, especially during the last trimester).
- Look into swimming, dance, stretch, and/or yoga classes especially formatted for pregnancy
- Walk as much as you can everyday and breathe deep
- Moderate exercise helps during labor
- Don’t over do it because you can overheat your baby
- Moderate exercise can, also, reduce stress
- Some people, as part of their genetics, are more sensitive than others to stressful situations- if that is you- keep it to a minimum
- Your stress hormone- cortisol- slips through the placenta & enters your baby’s brain
- Avoid too much stress – especially during the 3rd trimester – because it can “profoundly influence your prenatal baby’s development”
- I’ve dedicated a section in this blog to “Stress Tamers”
Your First Trimester with Your Baby
Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.~ by Dr. Seuss from The Cat in the Hat
In Kathy Kinsner’s May 16th, 2016 article, “Bonding With Your Baby Before Birth” for the website http://www.zerotothree.org , she tells us your baby’s brain starts to form just three weeks after conception. It continues to develop in many different ways throughout a lifetime.
During the beginnings of your baby’s brain development, it starts storing information – new skills and memories- to keep and use during her/his life.
Infogrades Infographic: “Guide to Pregnancy: Week to Week” lists some helpful data on what is happening to you and your baby during this first trimester:
- Grows from the size of a sesame seed to the size of a lime
- Develops brain cells at a rate of over 100 per minute
- Begins to form major organs
- Starts to wriggle inside your womb
- Produces pregnancy hormones
- Feels your body (and emotions) rapidly changing
- Needs to nap because you’re more tired than usual
- Needs to eat lots of fruits & veggies
Literacy Plan During Your First Trimester
Although most experts will tell you to leave your little embryo in peace for the first four to five months of your pregnancy, there are several Literacy Planning and Brain Development Support can activities you can do:
- Visualize & start to prepare Baby’s room
- Write a letter to your newest little family member
- Start your daily 2 mile walk & find different, non-strenuous places to explore
- Relax & drift into a light nap
- Visit the children’s section in your local library & look for books you’ll want to share with your baby
- Write down the titles & remember some of your childhood favorites
- Call some of the surrounding elementary schools, learning centers and/or churches to see if they’re having a children’s book sale.
- Check out this book list in BLB’s Resources to help you plan your Family Literacy Circle’s library:
Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.~Dr. Seuss
Exercise Benefits for Both of Your Brains
Unitypoint.org’s infographic “Get Moving, Baby!” is filled with specifics regarding the effects of exercising during the 3 trimesters of pregnancy. You should always check with your obstetrician before beginning a workout plan even it is listed as specific for “Pregnancy”.
Here are some Exercise Benefits:
- helps with your sleep & daily rest
- increases your energy levels
- improves your mood
- eases aches & pains, especially in your back
- reduces your risk for pregnancy complications
- prepares your body for childbirth
“Walk This Way”
I found this short article in the February 2017 issue of AARP magazine’s section Healthy You (yes, I’m of the age) titled “Walk This Way”. Author Sara Altshul suggests a variety of “motivational” strolls & their benefits:
The Family Time Walk
Talking, laughing, debating, planning, and/or holding hands together while stepping outdoors for a mile or 2 is very healthy for you and yours. It can calm your overactive brain as well as restore your attention span.
The Tree Hugger’s Walk
Nature walks through parks and on forest trails can be healing. Researchers found it improved lung & heart functions. You can always park yourself on a bench or under a tree for a shaded rest.
The Meditation Master’s Walk
You don’t need to be seated on a meditation mat to reap its goodness. Allowing your mind to rest in a quiet, peaceful way has the ability to ease high blood pressure, digestion woes, anxiety, depression & insomnia.
The Socializer’s Walk
Joining a “walk group” with friends and/or other waiting mommies is not only fun, but also, helps keep you and your baby on a healthy track. One study showed group walks can lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.
The Philosopher’s Walk
Deep thinking during your daily stroll is a great brain booster. It improves your memory and reasoning skills. “Brainstorming” opportunities and solutions to troublesome problems are additional perks to this type of meandering.
For me – a nice, long walk on the beach combines several of these “types” of walks. Must be why everyone always feel so GREAT after one of them!
Onward to Your Second Trimester with Your Baby
How are we doing? I LOVED this part of my pregnancy! Feeling your baby’s first “kick” is magical and powerful! Bonding with your baby with chats, songs & laughter is SO important for your baby’s brain development. By the end of this trimester, your baby has millions of brain cells!
Dr. Medina of Brain Rules and Infogrades Infographic: “Guide to Pregnancy: Week to Week” share some useful data on what is happening to you and your baby during the critical second trimester:
- Grows from the size of an avocado to the size of a coconut
- Has its own fingerprints
- Develops ears & can hear by 20 weeks
- Becomes sensitive to smells, temperature & bright light
- Responds & prefers your voice
- Wriggles, yawns, hiccups & burps
- Feels more aches especially in back, ankles & feet
- Your belly button might pop out
- Has more energy than in the first trimester
- Eats lots and lots (Thanksgiving dinner is a fun food fest!)
- May crave certain foods
Literacy Plan During Your Second Trimester
Studies have found your voice has a calming effect on your baby because when you speak, his/her heart rate slows down. Daily chats, reads and songs boost your baby’s brain power.
Listening to language is a HUGE Literacy step inviting your baby into the verbal world. Your baby’s brain needs to hear the different tones, pitches, vibrations, accents & basic sounds commonly spoken every day.
Although your voice is the most familiar and soothing to your baby, make sure Daddy, siblings and other loved ones talk, read, and sing with Baby, too. Your baby will connect their voices as a bond of love, comfort, and security.
The Power of Oral Language in Literacy
How do we bring our new, little acrobatic gymnast into the Family Literacy Circle? Communicate with daily oral language.
Chats & Conversations
- Baby’s Family: Daddy, brother, sister, grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, other loved ones, and pets
- Baby’s Home: her/his room, kitchen, bathroom, yard, etc
- Daily Life: routines, chores, errands
- Plans for his/her arrival
- Special Occasions: traditions, holidays, celebrations
- Your favorites: places, activities, things, memories
- Baby’s Name Choices (my baby actually kicked on a specific name when I read the list of choices)
Books, Stories & Songs
- Read from your Pregnancy journal
- Read some of your favorite childhood books
- Read rhyming books you have just for your new baby
- Read some of your favorite recipes
- Have loved ones read to your baby
- Create stories about your adventures
- Create family-memory stories
- Create stories with invented characters
- Sing songs & lullabies
Talk and sing to your baby every day. Find time during the day or in the evening right before you go to sleep to read and/or tell a story to your baby. You will notice her/him physically reacting to your voice(s). S/he might even remember some of the rhyming and rhythmic verses and stories you’ve read while in utero. Babies have been known to remember music as well.
Beware of Stress Producers
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. ~ from Winnie the Pooh by AAMilne
The word stress was coined over 50 years ago by researcher Hans Selye. a Doctor of Medicine & Chemistry. He was studying the effects of “noxious agents” on people.
Dr. John Medina cites Three Different Types of Toxic Stress in his book, Brain Rules for Baby that will hurt your baby’s brain development:
- Too Frequent happens every day and is continuing & unrelenting stress, such as -an overly demanding job, chronic illness, no social support, poverty
- Too Severe is a loss of control during traumatic circumstances in one’s life, such as – marital separation, divorce, death of a loved one, especially a spouse. loss of a job, criminal assault
- Too Much for You is an overwhelming feeling of despair & depression brought about by unexpected or overpowering events.
Staying in the “Happy-Go-Preggo” World
One of the easiest and most effective things you can do during a stress attack is massage that big, beautiful baby carrier of yours. It decreases excessive baby jumping (I thought my ribs were permanently stretched). Your baby will jump or kick during sudden loud noises. A gentle belly rub will help lessen prenatal complications and lower a premature birth rate.
Here are Seven Simple Stress Busters during pregnancy suggested on the website Sparkle People. Here’s the link:
- Get a massage
- Go for a walk or swim
- Call a friend
- Write in your journal
- Play a quick game
- Take a nap
- Plan something fun
Just being pregnant can bring stress:
- the discomfort (oooowww) due to “expansion”,
- the lack of sleep (crankiness) due to the discomforting expansion,
- the sometime nagging worries (what if…),
- the wait (Good Grief! Another MONTH!!!),
- the anticipation (I’m SO ready),
- the preparation (do we have enough…)…….
NOT trying to stress you out here…… Stress isn’t good for you AND it hurts your baby’s brain development.
20 Stress Tamers
So, here’s a little freebie I created for you to put on the fridge when even your favorite snack doesn’t help. If “OMG! How Am I Going to Get Through This!!!!!” is taking a hold of your usually happy-go-preggo day, read through this list of 20 Stress Tamers. Then, choose one , several or all suggestions to help calm yourself (and your little angel). You can do the list in a sequence, small grouping, or if you’re having a particularly “Enough Already!!!!” day, repeat the entire Tamers list until you’re once again – “happy-go-preggo”.
And remember, as we remind ourselves in the nation of TeacherLand- “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts”.
Literally…The Home Stretch (or the Third & FINAL Trimester)
In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity. ~ A. Einstein
YIPPEEEEEE! Now for the FUN months!!! Here’s what’s happening to you & your little swimmer, I mean, diver:
- Grows from the size of an eggplant to the size of a pineapple
- Can smell your perfume
- Smiles during calm music & scowls at loud, raucous music
- Practices breathing air
- Begins its descent into the birth canal at 36 weeks
- Can hear & feel Baby’s heartbeat
- Can count Baby’s kicks
- Can see & feel Baby’s movements
- Needs more rest & Stress Tamers (especially foot & back massages)
- Needs to practice birth-breathing
I know you’re tired, but walking those 2 miles EVERY DAY is SOOOOOO VERY GOOD and important for you & your baby now.
Literacy Plan During Your Third Trimester
Your baby is responding more and more to you and his/her loved ones’ voices. Continue speaking, reading, (especially rhyming verses) storytelling, singing & humming with your baby. You’ll be resting more these last few months, so make sure you have a stack of Baby’s books, joke books & magazines, as well as your journal, doodle/drawing paper, pens, pencils & colors near by. Although my rib-swinger and I were very found of classical music during this time; my visiting family & friends tried not to fall asleep mid-sentence. But, baby & I were calm, relaxed, and breathing deeply.
YOU GOT THIS!!!!!
Want to share your pregnancy stories? Have some helpful tips & info? I would love to hear them.
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