Holistic Approach to Motherhood Programme
The Sarvodaya philosophy of awakening the individual begins not with the physical birth of the child but at the conception itself of the unborn baby. The Holistic Approach to Motherhood programme initiated and implemented by the Vishva Niketan Peace Centre aims to promote the spiritual, mental and physical health of the unborn baby, the expectant mother and the prospective father. The programme is run by a multidisciplinary team consisting of an obstetrician, meditation teacher, environmentalist, child rights lawyer and a medical doctor, who is also a professional singer.
Objectives of the Programme
- To make way for a physically, mentally and emotionally blessed healthy baby,
- To enhance the spiritual, mental and physical health of the mother,
- To promote wholesome daily habits, practices and behavioural patterns that would help the mental and physical growth process of the unborn baby,
- To help establish the prospective father’s role in creating a congenial, vibrant environment for the health and well-being of the mother and the unborn baby,
- To help create a family unit fortified with love, happiness and understanding,
- To create public awareness so that the community will create a peaceful environment that promotes the health and well-being of the mother and the unborn baby, and
- To revive wholesome cultural and religious customs and practices attached to pregnancy and childbirth.
- Awareness creation about the mind-body connection,
- Awareness creation about medical and scientific evidence about the mother-child connection,
- Spiritual practices such as loving kindness meditation, walking meditation, breath-by-breath meditation and exercises in mindfulness,
- Awareness creation about wholesome daily habits, practices and behavioural patterns,
- Awareness creation about wholesome cultural and religious customs practices (e.g.chanting ‘pirith’-Buddhist scriptures, reciting hymns and prayers, and singing lullabies) related to pregnancy and pre-natal care,
- Awareness creation about parenting,
- Awareness creation about breast feeding, and
- Awareness creation about moulding an environment-friendly child.
From the moment of conception, the unborn baby experiences the thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions of its mother. This is because the minds and the bodies of the mother and the unborn baby are inseparably one. Whenever a thought springs, a molecule follows. The impulses in the mother’s mind are instantly translated into a palette of neuro-chemicals. These chemicals communicate with cells and tissues throughout the body. As the unborn baby is part of its mother’s body, a mother’s thoughts, emotions and feelings translate into molecules that enter into the body of the foetus. If the expectant mother is unable to deal with her thoughts, feelings and emotions appropriately, especially when unwholesome states of mind pervade her being, the foetus will also be affected ultimately bringing into this world a physically and mentally sick human being.
The unborn baby’s sense of self-awareness dawns early as the baby grows inside the mother’s watery womb. As soon as the baby’s sensory awareness develops, it perceives and responds to subtle sounds, sensations, sights, tastes and smells from inside the mother’s body. The warmth and security given by the expectant parents help strengthen the genetic structure of the unborn child. During the past two to three decades plenty of research has been done and it has been scientifically established that the tiny being inside the mother’s womb begins to develop its heart beat at 18 days, starts limb movements at 12 weeks, and responds to external stimuli like needle pricks and pressing of the abdomen. The foetus starts developing brain cells from the initial stage of pregnancy and very speedily it multiplies more cells culminating into billions just before it enters the world as a new born baby.
Being mindful of the importance of the mother’s thoughts, feelings and emotions, the father is expected to create an environment of peace, love, harmony and understanding so that the mother and baby are kept protected free from the dangers of unwholesome thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions, as they are nurtured in a peaceful environment. When the expectant mother/father sends messages to the baby inside through soft music, words of loving kindness, respecting and accepting the tiny being, these wholesome thoughts, feelings and emotions get lodged in the infant inside and he/she will enter the world as a physically and mentally healthy human being.
The ability of the unborn and the newborn to learn from experience is an absorbing discovery that calls for immediate changes in the systems we are providing for them in our technological approach to birth. Having studied the prenatal influences in a much broader way, the Sarvodaya “Holistic Approach to Motherhood” programme attempts to bridge this gap by using our socio-cultural wisdom along with a spiritual touch.