This week’s New York Times ran a story Does Exercise During Pregnancy Lead to Exercise-Loving Offspring? that echoes what I told a mom last month during a Happiest Baby consult about how her behavior during pregnancy “taught” her son to love movement. She is an athletic woman, a pediatric physical therapist, and her baby really didn’t calm down fully unless he was jiggled or swung. He just craved movement. I am not sure if she really bought my explanation about needing to recreate his womb environment to help him feel calm. After all, she was just doing her normally active life while pregnant. After delivery, she went back to work almost immediately. He was laying at home in the pack n’play, trying to tell everyone (by being fussy at times) that he relaxed best by being more active too!
This article is a little complicated, and they spent a lot of time explaining rodent research. The coolest part? Much more of the totality of life “in utero” and immediately after birth might directly influence the DNA of a baby! The authors did mention that this isn’t an opportunity to lay guilt on mothers, something that is done much too often. Parents don’t need that. This little article briefly highlights research that suggests the possibility that the entire experience of the pregnancy is important, not just prenatal vitamins and avoiding raw milk.
I wish, of course, that they had mentioned how important it is to understand the need to support newborns by providing the “4th trimester”, as Dr. Karp calls his amazing baby calming techniques. It is entirely possible that lots of babies progressively need less movement as they develop other ways to self-calm. And some may have had their DNA tweaked so that they simply can’t wait to get up and move. Right from the start.
I told the mom at her consult that she had better prepare for her son joining a travel team in the future. But knowing her, I think she will be totally OK with that!