We believe life begins at the time of conception. This is the moment body and soul are united and a unique being is created by God. From this point on this new being is being nurtured for a spiritual life, to be united with God. The life about to unfold is the time where we are developed and perfected in God's image. This being said, pregnancy is an important point in our lives, not just for the mother.
Elder Paisios says,
The nurturing of a child begins with pregnancy. if a pregnant mother is agitated and worried, the embryo she's carrying in her womb is agitated. If the mother prays and lives a spiritual life, the child in her womb is sanctified. This is the reason why a pregnant woman should say the Jesus Prayer, study the Gospel, chant hymns and not be anxious, while others should also be careful not to upset her. Then, the child that will be born will be blessed, and the parents will have no problems when the child is young, nor when the child is older.He is pointing out how important this period of life is in our spiritual formation. it is a time to reinforce our spiritual life, to concentrate on our daily prayer rule, to participate in the Sacraments and read the Gospel. We can also renew our appreciation of the purity of the Mother of God. We should think about how she was prepared for the birth of Jesus, the Son of God. She was prepared by a life brought up in the Temple, being dedicated to the Temple at the age of three. This was a quiet life where God was her only thoughts. In this way she was sanctified and prepared to give birth to the uncontainable God. The icon of her often shown in the apse of our churches is called the "Platytera ton Ouranon: which means "wider then the heavens." A mother's gift of new life is a spiritual task as much as it is a physical one. Human life is both spiritual and physical. We are psychosomatic beings, not mere biological entities.
Our care for a new human life obviously extends beyond the moment of birth.
The Elder says,
After the birth, a mother should breast-feed her child for as long as she can. A mother's milk provides a healthy base for children. Children who breast-feed aren't only receiving milk, they are receiving love, tenderness, consolation, security – all of which contributes to developing strong character...In the Church we formally recognize this new life by the Churching of the new born 40 days after birth. A tradition that includes Christ Himself.
Now days, many mothers can't be bothered to breast-feed their own children.... who will give them tenderness and love? A can of evaporated cow's milk? Their heart is chilled as they're fed from a "chilled" bottle.
The self-sacrificial love we are all called to give to others begins at the very first moment of life. It's important to begin a new life in the way God provided for us. Today we often see a soldier and say, Thank you for your service." When we see a pregnant woman we should also say "Thank you for you love and tenderness in nurturing a new spiritual being." The role a mother plays in the first days of life are very important. Like God prepared the Theotokos, mothers are preparing their child for a life centered in God. This does not begin at the age of reason, but begins with the tenderness given from the first moments of life.
Prayer for Pregnant mother and unborn child:
O Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ our God, the Source of life and immortality, I thank Thee, for in my marriage Thou has blest me to be a recipient of Thy blessing and gift; for Thou, O Master, didst say: Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.I thank Thee and pray: Bless this fruit of my body that was given to me by Thee; favor it and animate it by Thy Holy Spirit, and let it grow a healthy and pure body, with well-formed limbs.Sanctify its body, mind, heart, and vitals, and grant this infant that is to be born an intelligent soul; establish him in the fear of Thee.A faithful angel, a guardian of soul and body, do thou vouchsafe him. Protect, keep, strengthen, and shelter the child in my womb until the hour of his birth. But conceal him not in his mother's womb; Thou gavest him life and health.O Lord Jesus Christ, into Thine almighty and paternal hands do I entrust my child. Place him upon the right hand of Thy grace, and through Thy Holy Spirit sanctify him and renew him unto life everlasting, that he may be a comminucant of Thy Heavenly Kingdom. Amen.
Reference: Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Counsels IV: Family Life, pp 90-91