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Can my thoughts during pregnancy affect my baby's personality?

Q: I have recently conceived through an IVF procedure and I am in my 4th month of pregnancy. I had a problem of PCOS and hence opted for an egg donation. Now, though I know that my genes will not be present in my baby, hence I am convinced with the fact that no features of the baby will resemble mine. However, I am curious to know if there's a possibility of the baby adapting some habits of mine? Does my thinking and my life style during pregnancy have an affect on my baby's behaviour?

A:I find your mail very touching. I am indeed confused about why you needed egg donation for PCOS. I am not sure why you were so desperate and why with treatment you could not have produced your own eggs (it is one of the commonest condition in women and almost 20% women have PCOS). Anyway now that you are pregnant you have the anxieties that all parents/surrogate parents share these days with all this artificial reproductive technologies. There are many ethical and medical questions, which worry us. I am so glad you had the courage to share your anxieties with us. Well you seem disappointed that your child would not look like you but you obviously want to contribute to his/her bringing up as a parent. Well it is true that your child has no genes from you but to become the person we finally do we also imbibe a lot from our parents (environmental influences). The most important thing we get from our parents (and pass on to our kids) is our value system. Well nothing that you do or do not do right now during pregnancy will be inherited by your child (as in habits), but indeed you should keep talking to the baby in the womb as all mothers do and so should your husband. The babies get tremendous security from mother's words and will recognise her voice (the tone and the tenor) immediately after birth (within minutes of birth). This is important in his/her feeling welcome in this world and very good for early bonding. Another thing you can do for your child is to look after your nutrition properly, during pregnancy and breast feeding (not eat too much but eat healthy) so that the fetus/baby grows to his/her potential. At this, you may be better than the woman who donated an egg for you and your child may grow better because of that. Your thinking, however adverse, will not affect baby's growth but will harm your bonding with him/her. You should stop thinking of your body as one with foreign genes and all these thoughts should have been given up once you decided to go ahead with a donor egg. Now please stop thinking about all this and enjoy your motherhood. I wish you all (you your husband and the baby who is coming) all the best and am sure you will make a lovely family. The little one will bring tremendous joy to the family and will grow up to make her parents proud.

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