6 TED Talks Every Expectant Mother Should Watch
When you’re expecting, you want advice and you want to educate yourself, so you turn to pregnancy magazines and books. But what about TED Talks? TED Talks are short, thought-proving speeches given by experts. Some TED Talks will make you cry, others will make you laugh — but all will educate you on a perspective you haven’t thought about before. Kick back your feet, relax and watch these 6 powerful talks on pregnancy:
What Babies Learn Before They’re Born
Annie Murphy Paul, a science writer, asserts in this talk that some of the most important learning happens before we are even born. Before your baby knows how to say “mom,” he or she has already learned a lot.
Paul’s book, Origins, is based on the theory that the health and well-being throughout an entire person’s life are based on those nine months they spend inside the womb.
While in the womb, babies learn the sound of the mother’s voice. Paul talks about a study in which mothers gave babies the option to suck on one of two rubber nipples: One rubber nipple played a recording of their mother’s voice, while the other played a stranger’s voice. The babies could distinguish the difference and chose the mother’s voice.
They also learn taste around the 7th month. The flavours the woman eats are picked up by the amniotic fluid and are swallowed by the fetus. Because they’re comfortable with these tastes, they prefer these flavours once they’re born.
So why is this important? Well, apart from helping to develop your baby’s palate, you’re telling your baby what’s safe to eat. Is ice cream safe to eat or are vegetables?
Through one story she shares, she comes to the conclusion that if a baby is deprived or malnourished in the womb, their body will come to believe that the world is scarce and his or her organs will function differently. The changes in the way their body functions will result in problems later in life such as heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure.
The mother not only affects the baby physically but mentally as well. Paul says that the mothers who experienced PTSD due to the events on 9/11 passed a vulnerability for PTSD onto their children.
A Message for Women: Taking Back Your Pregnancy Rights
Renee Coover recalls sitting in a coffee shop being interviewed by an employment lawyer for a position at a law firm.
“Do you plan on having kids?” the lawyer asked to her surprise.
Three-quarters of women will be pregnant and employed at some point. One in five charges of discrimination filed by women are claims of pregnancy discrimination. The number of these claims have risen in the past decade in the United States, according to Coover.
Studies show that compared to men with the same credentials, women are less likely to be interviewed, to get promotions and are paid less. Employers worry that women who become pregnant in the workplace will be too expensive, become lazy, unproductive and distracted.
But this actually isn’t true. According to studies, working mothers are more engaged at work than fathers.
Coover aims to inform women about the PDA (Pregnancy Discrimination Act). In Canada, pregnancy discrimination is covered under the Human Rights Act. These acts make it illegal to treat a woman unfairly because she is or could get pregnant.
“As long as a woman can perform the major functions of her job, not hiring or firing her because of her pregnancy is actually against the law,” Coover says.
It’s also illegal for a workplace to deny a woman accommodations due to her pregnancy (ex. a place to breastfeed).
Coover wants every woman to know that until they stand up and exercise their rights, pregnancy discrimination will continue.
Breaking the Silence of Pregnancy Loss
Tanika Dillard, author and motivational speaker, speaks with humour about losing several children.
She recalls how she always wanted to be a mother and had determined the names for 9 children when she was just 8-years-old. After getting pregnant her first time, she and her husband were ecstatic.
“We were in love with our baby right from the start and we shared the news with everyone.”
Sadly, Dillard’s water broke at only sixteen weeks and she lost her daughter.
Eight months later, her water broke again at only seventeen weeks.
A year later, her water broke at nineteen weeks on her husband’s birthday. Her daughter only survived for nine hours.
Dillard doesn’t tell this story to get sympathy, but to break the silence of pregnancy loss. Sadly, Dillard found that her experience was relatable to many women who had experienced similar losses.
“It was as if a secret society of women were emerging to say ‘I’ve lost a baby but I’ve been told to get over it, you didn’t know that baby anyway.’ “
She’s not only breaking the silence for women but for men too. The stereotype of a strong man prevents an expectant father from speaking out in wake of a loss as well.
“What you give voice to has the power to change your life, but what you refuse to confess, you will never conquer. And what you openly acknowledge invites instruction.”
Not only does Dillard inspire women to discuss pregnancy loss, but she also provides hope to women that even if something does go wrong, you can still have a healthy family in the future. Fast forward and Dillard is now parenting two healthy children.
Why Fathers Should Be Present at Birth
Midwife Debrah Lewis aims this TED Talk not at expectant mothers, but at expectant fathers. Her belief is that families thrive when fathers are more involved in their children’s lives.
Studies in the United States have shown that children who live their lives without their father’s involvement are 2 to 3 times more likely to use substances and have emotional problems.
When babies were born prematurely and their fathers visited them in the hospital more often, they gained weight faster.
According to Lewis, men have their own worries surrounding pregnancy. Some even develop the nausea and vomiting that a woman will. However, unlike women, they are laughed at.
Since the focus is on the mother and the baby, the father is often forgotten. They may be there during the doctor’s visits, but they’re not as included. Parenting classes and baby showers are always aimed at women.
The father’s fears and expectations are not often discussed. Further, men can also suffer from postpartum depression, but unlike women, that disorder is not addressed.
Lewis asserts that it’s crucial for us to understand the role fathers play during pregnancy and throughout a child’s life — and give them the support they need too.
Home or Hospital? Holding the Space for Human Birth
Many expectant mothers contemplate the correct way to deliver a baby. Should they go the Western route and have their baby birthed in a hospital? Or should they go the alternative route and have an all-natural birth at home with the help of a midwife?
Saraswathi Vedam, a Canadian midwife and associate professor, challenges traditional beliefs in this TED Talk. If you’re on the fence about where to give birth, this TED Talk will help you determine which option is best for you.
Many women consider having a baby in the hospital as the only option because they see it as the safest option. Family physicians will agree. However, Vedam argues that hospitals aren’t necessarily the safest way. She says that lack of privacy, family support and resources can affect a mother’s ability to care for her baby. She says that women in hospitals are surrounded by strangers, may be disrespected and may not receive adequate care. However, giving birth at home with the assistance of a midwife will allow you to be with all your loved ones and be comfortable.
According to Vedam, a woman should consider home birth only if she is healthy and lives close to a hospital in case there is a complication. She should have a skilled midwife who can provide the basic equipment and medication. When this is the case, women who give birth at home experience fewer complications than women in hospitals. Only one out of 1000 babies will die in home births, according to Vedam.
Sociology researcher Meredith Nash discusses pregnancy body image in this TED Talk.
It all started with a theory: There’s a gap between the way pregnancy is portrayed in the media and the experiences of pregnant Australian women.
In recent years, pregnant celebrities have embraced their baby bump and have graced the cover of magazines. To challenge this image, Nash gave pregnant women in Australia a camera and asked them to document their pregnancy. They were then asked to select their favourite photographs to display in an exhibition.
Two years later, Nash learned a few standout points from the photographs: Women were very afraid to gain weight at the beginning of pregnancy, and they were concerned with losing it afterward.
During this thought-provoking talk, Nash shares many photographs that were taken during the study, which will be relatable to many expecting mothers.