Studies show that babies prefer quiet, harmonious music. Lullabies are always appropriate. Babies can be shocked by big, unexpected sounds. An ultrasound video from Italy shows a baby peacefully resting in the womb while music is playing in the background. Suddenly, the parents’ enter into a heated discussion. The father screams. He shatters a glass against the wall in a fit of rage. The baby freaks out displaying a whole body jerk. Those are things that baby can hear in womb. VIDEO (hearing in the womb)
In another case, the sound of an earthquake near an Italian maternity hospital created panic in the pregnant mothers. No one was injured, but their babies remained in a hyperactive state for two to eight hours as measured by their heart rates. This was followed by a phase of reduced motility lasting one to three days, suggesting a state of shock or withdrawal in the unborn babies.
Loud music may produce strong kicks of protest. Dr. Wendy Anne McCarty shares the case where a baby became agitated and was kicking his pregnant mother at a music concert. The couple left the hall and talked to their baby, “Oh sweetie, that music was too much for you. We’re sorry. Daddy and I want you to be comfortable.” Expressing that type of consideration builds positive trust and security.
The basic parts of the brain are in place by 8 weeks after conception. From this foundation, brain parts send out branches and establish billions of connections necessary for the coordination of the nervous system. This process continues for years after birth. It is best to assume the brain is already working and to love your baby and communicate without any waiting period.
Research confirms that premature babies express emotions and can experience pain. Ultrasound observations, especially among twins, reveal emotions including anger, fear, and affection. Babies react to amnio needles that intrude into the womb with shock, withdrawal, and aggression. Studies of pregnant mothers watching upsetting loud, scary, or violent movies suggest that babies become upset along with their mothers. In some cases, pregnant mothers exit the theater because the baby in the womb is creating such an uncomfortable disturbance for them.
A few studies measured the reaction of prenates to parental intercourse during the third trimester and found that babies react to orgasms with wildly erratic and plunging heart rates: bradycardia, tachycardia, accelerations and decelerations greater than 30 beats per minute, and, in some cases, loss of beat-to-beat variability. In late pregnancy, when space is tight and baby senses are keen, intercourse may not be the ideal way to make love.
The baby knows and feels everything. Communicate your feelings and decisions, allowing no lapses of affection and affirm the goodness of the child. (See Sleep Talk and “Love Thought communication.”)
Children’s prenatal memories as well as studies of prenatal sensation, perception, and attachment show that babies know and feel more than we ever thought possible. Babies in the womb have their own emotional life and are capable of disappointment, depression, anger, and fear. It is naïve for parents to think they could keep their relationship a secret from a baby in the womb.
The clinical observations of obstetrician David Cheek concluded that the baby triggers premature labor when it is afraid. He found that if mothers reassured the babies verbally that they were safe and should remain inside, premature labor stopped.
Every baby is stimulated by the natural environment of the womb while being carried about by a normally active, expressive mother. This means exposure to music, singing, voices, rhythmic dancing, exercise, bathing, touching, etc. Harm is not likely unless experiences are taxing, jolting, or violent.
Programs of prenatal enrichment confirm that prenates are alert, aware, socially oriented, and are learning from experience. Furthermore, test results demonstrate that the extra stimulation has a positive influence on brain development.
On the other hand, Dr. Marcy Axness and Laura Uplinger, international proponent of prebirth parenting and conscious conception, offer some words of caution on programs of prenatal stimulation in the following article.
Some Thoughts on Prenatal Stimulation
by Dr. Marcy Axness and Laura Uplinger
[This article originally appeared in the Winter 1999 quarterly newsletter of APPPAH—Assn. for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology & Health—as a response to the reviewed research demonstrating that prenatal stimulation and learning programs lead to developmental gains in the post-natal infant. One such program directs the pregnant mother to pat-pat-pat and rub-rub-rub her belly, while repeating those words at the same time, presumably so that the baby begins to learn that there is a difference between pats and rubs—both in the sound of the word and the feel of the sensation that accompanies the word.]
I am floating, weightless, in my sea of dawning life....my energies being spun into cells....with you I am weaving life into the organs of my body...you are offering me your very substance, who you are, how you feel, what you think....your very perceptions of the world, of this life of yours...and of mine. I hear the sounds of your day, I feel the embrace of your womb, I delight in the undulations of your movement, your walking, your dancing, your taking a simple shower. Your heartbeat sets the rhythm of my existence. I am enthralled by everything you are. I ripen in the glow of your love, under the caress of your voice, as you share with me your songs, your imaginings, your—
“Tap tap tap.” “Rub rub rub.”
Now, you want to teach me something. Train me. Interrupt our poetry. Don't you trust this flowering I do each day in the womb of your body, in the womb of your life? Am I not enough? Are we not enough?
We see prenatal stimulation research as a double-edged sword in the hand of those who now understand how much babies learn in utero, and we encourage all of those dedicated to babies and mothers to consider very carefully how we use this body of knowledge. Yes, it has provided us with clear and compelling evidence of the sentience of the fetus, and his capacity to learn and remember, but do we really know why prenatal stimulation has worked? Could it be less because of the systematic stimulation itself, and more because of the recognition of the fetus as a receptive, present being, which is inherent in these approaches? We suggest that this recognition engenders affection and a communicative relationship, and that more than anything is what promotes the enhanced development, not the tap-tap-tap.
In our opinion, the realm of prenatal stimulation veers into a territory of stunning arrogance, the same territory in which obstetricians can actually be heard using the phrase, “an uneventful pregnancy.” An uneventful pregnancy??! Have we grown so sophisticated, so technologically blindered that we can speak so cavalierly about this extraordinary, mysterious stream of events? Is this why we feel the need to go in and tinker, tweak and, in our ultimate, conquering mentality, create a “New and Improved” baby? Exert our heroic efforts to orchestrate some miracle that we in our limitation cannot perceive as already there?
We understand that in our culture today, anything bearing the label “educational” garners an enthusiastic embrace. A toy cannot simply be a toy; it has to be educational. Play cannot be for its own sake, it needs to be organized, improved upon, and packaged as educational. When we systematically require the attention of the baby in the womb, according to some structured program, are we not possibly disturbing some unfathomable growth process that is taking place perfectly well in the scheme of fetal development? Are we not somehow betraying the oneness of mother and baby as enthusiastically as we decry their separation at birth? Would a gardener disturb the roots of a growing tree, or rather, would he feed the earth that sustains that new tree?
We wonder about the messages inherent in these prenatal stimulation exercises. That while I love him I need more from him somehow? That I want him to perform better? That there are already conditions being imposed on my relationship with him? In the stimulation approach it seems that both baby and mother suffer a kind of loss. For the baby, it is “I am not okay just being me. I have to accomplish something, “maximize my potential.” Otherwise, I'm not good enough.” For the mother it is, “I am not enough, not able to provide the best for my baby by being myself.”
There are more life-enhancing approaches to enriching fetal development other than the kinds of mechanical, prefab, uninspiring approaches described in our last APPPAH Journal. The very understanding that love is what fosters the growth of our nervous system and our intelligence seems to have drowned. Were we listening when cell biologist Bruce Lipton addressed rapt audiences at our last two APPPAH Congresses? There is either love and growth, or fear and the halting of growth, a phenomenon observed on cellular, organic, psychological, and spiritual levels. (And isn’t the stimulation model based on an oblique kind of fear? That the baby, left to the mysteries of life and his loving connection with his mother won't be quite enough?) If a mother wants to foster the intelligence of her child, love and communion—with herself, with life, and with her baby—must be the essential curriculum.
Instead of stimulating the fetus, let us inspire the mother. As individuals and as a society, let us support her by offering her more means through which she can be at her best, at her most authentic.
Ahh....you are back...yes, I need you...for me...with me...with the gift of love...and of trust...that we are enough.
The psychological impact of IVF technology is yet to be revealed. Dr. Marcy Axness in her book Parenting for Peace in the section titled “Attuned Conception: A Quantum Collaboration with Chaos” writes:
Researchers have long wondered whether there might be subtle changes in an embryo that is grown for several days in a petri dish, as IVF embryos are, and if so, whether there would be any consequences. Tentative answers are starting to emerge: some studies indicate that there may be some abnormal patterns of gene expression associated with IVF and a possible increase in rare but serious genetic disorders linked to those unusual gene expression patterns.
My intention is not to put down or create undue fear about IVF, but rather to point out the technoscientific hubris that permeates our era: because we had the sophisticated means to join sperm and egg outside the body’s natural processes we went ahead and did it, without a full understanding of the intricate developmental processes we were supplanting with pipettes and petri dishes.
Richard Rawlins, director of the IVF and assisted reproduction laboratories at the Rush Centers for Advanced Reproductive Care, says he never gets questions about the possible consequences of growing embryos in the laboratory. “I have never had a patient ask me anything about it, he said, adding, “For that matter, not many doctors have ever asked, either.” He has “gradually become slightly less optimistic about the things that are known about the health of the children” born after IVF and related procedures.
Relier cites research emphasizing the importance of the fallopian tube in conception and implantation, describing its developmental role on five different postovulatory days, including the secretion of specific long-chain proteins, the preservation of sperm motility, and activation of genomic expression. “This action is essential for the first steps of growth but almost absent during in vitro fertilization, reducing the efficiency of this technique with possible long-term consequences after birth.”
Along with those five days in the fallopian tube that are eclipsed with the use of assisted reproductive technologies, might there be other unrecognized forces at work at conception, something that might beckon to those of us seeking to bring new beings to life who are organized for peace and vibrant growth from the very beginning?
More research into the cause of infertility and addressing the issue at the source is needed.