Over the last 30 years, research studies investigating the relationship between a mother and her unborn child before birth have gained traction. The value of the mother-infant bond during pregnancy, on the other hand, has not been studied as thoroughly. Bonding and attachment are terms that are frequently used interchangeably. They are used to describe the feelings of a mother (parent) and her child. Attachment is concerned with the development of relationships that help the baby feel secure, loved, and ready to face the world over time. The mother’s bond is about the influx of love and tenderness towards her baby during pregnancy. The fetus is an “active partner of pregnancy; the fetus is a living and responding being during the duration in the womb,” according to a medical journalist.
I researched the phenomenon of life in the womb for my dissertation during my graduate studies. Some researchers and theorists believe that bonding and attachments happen after birth, but others, including this writer, believe that the mother-child bond and the initial emotional connection are formed long before the baby is born. Infants and mothers coexist in unison before birth and cannot be separated. According to birth psychology, the attachment between a mother and child can begin when the mother holds the fetus in her womb and creates a sacred space for its development. The development of the unborn child’s body includes both the physical aspect and the discovery of its emotional and psychological presence.
It is well known that while for some women the news of pregnancy signals the beginning of a wonderful journey; for others, this time is characterized by feelings of distress and uncertainty. A woman’s desire to become pregnant can be affected by common challenges experienced by high-risk pregnant women. The long-term health of the mother and the unborn child can be affected by several risks. Such risks to be considered are adverse childhood experiences, unresolved trauma, post-traumatic stress disorders, and multigenerational dysfunctional patterns.
According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), one of the primary sources of information on unintended pregnancy, there were approximately 121 million unintended pregnancies per year between 2015 and 2019. An unintended pregnancy occurs when a woman intended to become pregnant in the future but did not do so at the time she became pregnant. Unwanted pregnancies, the topic of this article, are defined as pregnancies that occurred even though she had no intention of becoming pregnant in the future or at any time. According to research, older teens, women in their twenties, women living in poverty, and women of color have a higher rate of unintended and unwanted pregnancies. African American women had twice as many unintended pregnancies as Caucasian women.
What is the fate of a child born from an unwanted pregnancy?
A long-held theory among mental health practitioners is that being born unwanted increases the risk of negative psychosocial development and poor mental health later in life. The difficulties that come with an unintended, unplanned, or unwanted pregnancy can make it difficult for a mother to be nurturing and responsive to her fetus in the womb. Studies support the notion that unwanted pregnancy is found to predict postpartum depression, parenting stress, harsh and negligent parenting, and socioemotional and behavioral problems for the child.
According to studies, women who have unwanted pregnancies are less likely to receive prenatal care and are more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs during pregnancy than women who have a planned pregnancy. Studies also showed that children born as a result of an unplanned, unintended, or unwanted pregnancy have lower average scores on behavioral and developmental measures than children born as a result of a planned pregnancy.
The Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) was founded in the 1970s by a group of scientists, psychiatrists, and educators who wanted to spread prenatal and perinatal psychology knowledge. They believe that the mother’s lack of intimate bonding with her unborn child is a major source of the child’s psychological distress, emphasizing that the unborn child is a feeling, remembering, and aware being, and that the nine months between conception and birth are critical in shaping the unborn child’s personality and emotional development.
In his book, The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, this researcher suggested that before birth, the mother and infant coexisted, emphasizing that the fetus’ primary home is the mother’s womb. The fetus not only develops physically but also discovers his or her emotional and psychological existence. It is noted that a pregnant woman’s thoughts have a profound physical effect on her unborn child, with neurohormones transmitting everything she feels and thinks to her unborn child in the same way that nicotine, drugs, and alcohol do.
While the fetus can tolerate everyday anxiety and stress, intense feelings of ambivalence and rejection can hurt its postnatal growth. The fertilized egg is said to be self-aware enough in the first week of pregnancy, even after only a few hours, to experience rejection and act on it. It is believed that the mother’s thoughts will instill a sense of happiness or calm in the developing child, setting the stage for a balanced disposition throughout life. According to research, relationships are everything in the womb, and the unborn child and mother are gradually linked to the influence of emotions, physical senses, and external events.
According to the writings of birth psychologists, if an unborn child is unwanted for any reason, the unborn child is bathed in rejection. If the expectant mother is madly in love with her unborn baby and enjoys intimacy with her partner, the baby is bathed in acceptance. Recovering from life’s stresses is the most positive way for a mother to care for an unborn child. Prenatal care and healing begin with an assessment of their thoughts and feelings about themselves, their pregnancy, and whether she feels supported by their immediate family or partner.
According to birth psychology research, it is argued that people must learn to value and embrace the fundamental path from conception to birth to prevent personality disorders, personal suffering, and social disasters. According to studies, one’s birth status (wanted or unwanted) and knowledge of it affect not only the lives of parents and children, but also future relationships.
My Research and Experience
Seven people were involved in my research study; five of the seven interviewees were female and two were male. The participants were 48.4 years old on average. A non-profit 501c3 Christian organization well known for providing counseling and inner healing to those struggling with challenging life situations, including significant life changes and relationship issues, was the source of participants for this study.
Each participant provided me with a unique perspective and mirrored this writer’s ideas, emotions, and experiences regarding being the product of an unwanted pregnancy. Some of the interviewees were shocked by the depth of feeling the subject aroused in them. The feeling of “rejection” was something they all shared. Rejection is one of the worst, most commonly overlooked, and most painful injuries. Every one of us has experienced rejection in one way or another, whether it was being chosen last for a game at school, being passed over for a promotion at work, being cut out of a group of friends, or being ignored by a relative. In some cases, the rejection is more profound.
Deep rejection can begin before birth through womb rejection. An unwanted pregnancy because of illegitimacy, economic hardships, wrong sex preference, or marital conflict marks the infant with rejection. During my journey, I discovered that not only was I rejected while in my mother’s womb, but my mother was also rejected by her mother. I, too, rejected my second daughter while she was still in my womb, and the symptoms of rejection were evident in our lives. Not only did we face heartbreaking rejection, but we also faced other traumatic events (sexual abuse) that complicated our very existence.
Feeling or being unloved sets in motion a pattern of harsh rejection; it causes a wound to the “self.” Many abnormalities can and usually do develop within a person’s personality when they are wounded; they are prone to strange and unstable behavior, attitudes, and beliefs. Physical ailments can also result from the emotional stress of rejection. When a person experiences the pain of rejection, two parallel issues—fear of rejection and self-rejection—begin to surface.
Spiritual and emotional wounds, like untreated physical wounds, can fester and worsen if left untreated. The fear of rejection can drive one to overcompensate, strive for what they already have, and become boring and annoying pests to avoid rejection. No matter how much people may love him, he never feels it. He or she feels rejection all around and increases efforts to be accepted, which leads to more rejection. Rejection causes depression and suicidal ideation, or it causes people to seek escape through supernatural means and they fall into the occult trap.
Many other things are fed by rejection. Depression constantly reminds you that no one cares and will assist you in throwing a pity party at any time. Self-pity says nobody likes or appreciates you despite your sacrificial, saintly giving of yourself. This is rejection dressed up in religious garb, producing and feeding depression. Rejection also fosters something very common: insecurity. Any time someone else is blessed or shares a testimony, it strikes viciously. This mindset prevents any loving outreach by erecting barriers and walls to keep people at a distance.
Furthermore, rejection breeds lust, which is a poor substitute for love. Although your mother did not pick you up or hug you when you were young, the spirit of rejection will lead you to someone who, despite your desire for love, will only provide you with sex. The ultimate lust experience teaches you that it is a never-ending desire.
A man or woman can suffer for years with inner torment if a message of rejection is driven into the heart and allowed to infect the core beliefs. Healing the wounds of rejection can seem distant because the lies are embedded deeply. We cling to the lie that “I must be scum because this person did not love or value me.” Every time we fail, make a mistake or are mistreated, Satan reinforces the lie by saying, “See, you failed again. You’re a loser. You’ll never be able to get it right.” We are prone to rage.
God loves you, and that’s good news! It might take some time for the truth to sink into your heart if you’ve been living off lies for a long time. Your feelings might scream, “No, it’s not true!,” but the Holy Spirit of God might softly say, “Yes, it is.” What matters is what God says is true, not what you feel. If our emotions don’t match up with the facts, there may still be a problem; perhaps a lie needs to be worked out or a hurt needs to be healed.
Just because you identify as a Christian and are aware that the Bible declares you to be God’s child does not imply that you firmly believe in his love for you. There may be a difference between what we know and what we believe. Your actions are driven by your beliefs; if what you know doesn’t reach your heart, you’ll be more likely to engage in sinful coping mechanisms. Some people try to mask their pain with sex, drugs, alcohol, work addictions, hobbies, family, or even ministry, but to experience true freedom, life, and joy, the rejection wound needs to be healed.
After you have exposed the lies, confessed them, and replaced them with the truth, there are two additional steps. From your heart, forgive anyone who has wronged you (Matthew 18:35). Writing a complete pardon to the person who injured you and making the commitment to never judge or hold what they did against them again are both examples of forgiveness. If your heart is poisoned with bitterness, there can be no healing or peace, so repentance is required.
As time passes and you recover, the adversary might resurface and resume his lies-based attacks. When this occurs, return to the truth and stand your ground. The truth cannot be taken from you or changed by the enemy. He can only attempt to persuade you to believe his lies. The old lies won’t be able to penetrate your heart because you’ll eventually be so firmly planted in the truth. You’ll walk lighter and the rejection wounds will have healed.
Jesus Christ, who faced the ultimate rejection, is our remedy for rejection. In bearing our sins, He was scorned by His creation, the human race, and was temporarily separated from the Father in heaven. He is aware of how painful rejection is. He did, however, carry rejection, so we don’t have to. Jesus has planned for us a life of acceptance in His family and freedom from rejection. We must also become stabilized in God’s love. It is God’s ultimate goal that man be consumed by His unfailing love. Yes, the failure of human love is a possibility, but when one is surrounded by stable, healthy human love and the unconditional love of God, the effects of rejection are easier to overcome.
I’d like to thank my parents because this work would not have been possible without them. My mother, even though she was dealing with marital problems, anxiety, loneliness, and disappointment while carrying me in her womb, chose to give me life, and for that, I am forever grateful because I now know that God’s love can and does heal all wounds.
If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” – John 8:31-32