Welcome! I hope I can help you find what you're looking for! Anytime you see an underlined word in a different color you're being offered
an opportunity to learn more than what you came here for. It's important to understand the true meanings of your emotions
and feelings as well as many other topics that are within this network. This entire network is set up to help those who want
to help themselves find a sense of peace in their lives - discover who resides within and recover from whatever life has dealt
you. Clicking on the underlined link words will open
a new window so whatever page you began on will remain waiting for you
to get back to it!
If you can't find what you're looking for here, scroll
down to see an entire menu of what is offered within the emotional feelings network of sites!
Before your baby is born, have you considered how you'll raise your child? Have you
thought about if you're really ready to be a parent? Are you going to be a single parent? Is the baby's father present to help
raise the child?
There are so many questions -
There's also so much information for you to take in. Children aren't born with a "parenting
manual." We all know that. But do we know what caused us to have emotional problems in our own lives? Are you aware of what childhood experiences may have influenced your relationships as an adult?
This site, Children 101, a resource containing
some invaluable insights reveals some things that you may not even be aware of concerning how little minds are formed & how the growth experiences in
early childhood shape our children's entire lives.
a personal note from kathleen ....
I have had the privelege of giving birth to 5 children in my lifetime. Although I'm not a stupid person,
not particularly uneducated concerning taking care of babies & children; I never knew how important every little thing
that you do as a parent has an effect upon your baby.
I certainly didn't know that some poor parenting practices could have a negative effect over the entire lifetime of your child.
Have you ever thought of that?
certainly never knew anything about it either. I honestly believe that the poor state of mental health in the baby boomer
generation is because our parents had no idea of what they were doing to us with their handed-down beliefs systems. They had
no idea of what had been done to them because of what their parents were taught.
It's a long horrible chain effect unfortunately for
all of us.
I'm so sorry to say that I did do damage to my own children. I can't say that I did
the damage while they were in the womb, but it certainly is possible that there were some negative ramifications therein.
After the birth of my first child, again, there was a completely
dysfunctional marriage, depression & emotional meltdowns consistently to cope with. I always felt an innate ability to
bond with my child(ren) as I breast fed them all, but there little lives were very limited because of the chaotic and violent
environment they grew up in.
It wasn't until my little loved ones grew up, during a time when my own situation was
tumultuous & extremely violent, that I realized the damage that had been done to my children. It wasn't until I began
my recovery from all my life dysfunctions, my mental illnesses, my eating disorder and my horrible lifestyle factors - that
I realized how much my sweet little children were not well adjusted after all.
It wasn't until I began to see my own daughters follow in my own dysfunctional footsteps,
that I knew I had to correct everything I could, by talking to them, teaching them what I had learned and by talking over
their unresolved emotions & feelings from wounds that were very very deep.
To the baby boomers out there that are also recovering...
It's time to get it together for your own sake first, then the sake of your grandchildren.
You can mend the relationships along the way with your own children, but it's wise to learn about raising emotionally &
physically healthy children before dealing with grandchildren! I'm there now & I know that it's a journey in checking
old bad habits before they happen.
Of course, my life is so much better now that many issues are moot, but
the ones that are important to consider... I keep in my mind constantly to be sure I am being the best grand mother I can
Love your children, love your grandchildren, love yourself.. please learn how to love
yourself... and your life will be well worth the efforts!
There's a new site in the network! I am almost finished
completing each page, but I can't wait anymore to tell you all about it! Please pay it a visit soon! It's an important topic!
and you can help support me in my writing ventures by visiting my health and happiness column for the Dayton,
Ohio area by clicking here! Even though you don't live in the Dayton area you can get some great health and happiness ideas by reading my column and
then looking for something similar in your area!
I do appreciate you so much!
Inside The Womb
What scientists have learned about those amazing first 9 months
- & what it means for mothers
By J. MADELEINE NASH
Posted Monday, Nov. 11,
2002 As the crystal probe slides across her belly, Hilda Manzo, 33, stares wide-eyed
at the video monitor mounted on the wall. She can make out a head with a mouth & two eyes. She can see pairs of arms &
legs that end in tiny hands & feet. She can see the curve of a backbone, the bridge of a nose. And best of all, she can
see movement. The mouth of her child-to-be yawns. Its feet kick. Its hands wave.
Dr. Jacques Abramowicz, director
of the Univ. of Chicago's ultrasound unit, turns up the audio so Manzo can hear the gush of blood thru the umbilical cord
& the fast thump, thump, thump of a miniature heart. "Oh, my!" she exclaims as he adjusts the sonic scanner to peer under
her fetus' skin. "The heart is on the left side, as it should be," he says," & it has 4 chambers. Look - 1, 2, 3, 4!"
Such images of life stirring in the womb - in this case, of a 17-week-old fetus no bigger than a newborn kitten - are at the
forefront of a biomedical revolution that is rapidly transforming the way we think about the prenatal world.
For although it takes 9 months
to make a baby, we now know that the most important developmental steps - including laying the foundation for such major organs as the heart, lungs & brain - occur before
the end of the first 3.
We also know that long before
a child is born its genes engage the environment of the womb in an elaborate conversation, a 2-way dialogue that involves
not only the air its mother breathes & the water she drinks but also what drugs she takes, what diseases she contracts
& what hardships she suffers.
One reason we know this is
a series of remarkable advances in mri's, sonograms & other imaging technologies that allow us to peer into the developmental
process at virtually every stage - from the fusion of sperm & egg to the emergence, some 40 weeks later, of a miniature
The extraordinary pictures
on these pages come from a new book that captures some of the color & excitement of this research: From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds (Doubleday), by photographer
Alexander Tsiaras & writer Barry Werth.
Their computer-enhanced images
are reminiscent of the remarkable fetal portraits taken by medical photographer Lennart Nilsson, which appeared in Life magazine
in 1965. Like Nilsson's work, these images will probably spark controversy.
Antiabortion activists may
interpret them as evidence that a fetus is a viable human being earlier than generally believed, while pro-choice advocates may argue that the new technology allows doctors to detect serious fetal defects at a stage when
abortion is a reasonable option.
We also know that long before
a child is born its genes engage the environment of the womb in an elaborate conversation, a 2-way dialogue that involves
not only the air its mother breathes & the water she drinks but also what drugs she takes, what diseases she contracts
& what hardships she suffers.
One reason we know this is
a series of remarkable advances in mri's, sonograms & other imaging technologies that allow us to peer into the developmental
process at virtually every stage - from the fusion of sperm & egg to the emergence, some 40 weeks later, of a miniature
The extraordinary pictures
on these pages come from a new book that captures some of the color & excitement of this research: From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds (Doubleday), by photographer
Alexander Tsiaras & writer Barry Werth.
Their computer-enhanced images
are reminiscent of the remarkable fetal portraits taken by medical photographer Lennart Nilsson, which appeared in Life magazine
in 1965. Like Nilsson's work, these images will probably spark controversy.
Antiabortion activists may
interpret them as evidence that a fetus is a viable human being earlier than generally believed, while pro-choice advocates may argue that the new technology allows doctors to detect serious fetal defects at a stage when
abortion is a reasonable option.
see the pictures from Time Magazine! Inside the Womb Trace the fetus from conception to birth
The other reason we know so
much about what goes on inside the womb is the remarkable progress researchers have made in teasing apart the sequence of
chemical signals & switches that drive fetal development.
Scientists can now describe
at the level of individual genes & molecules many of the steps involved in building a human, from the establishment of
a head-to-tail growth axis & the budding of limbs to the sculpting of a 4-chambered heart & the weaving together of
trillions of neural connections.
Scientists are beginning to
unroll the genetic blueprint of life & identify the precise molecular tools required for assembly. Human development no
longer seems impossibly complex, says Stanford Univ. biologist Matthew Scott. "It just seems marvelous."
How is it, we are invited
to wonder, that a fertilized egg - a mere speck of protoplasm & DNA encased in a spherical shell - can generate such complexity?
The answers, while
elusive & incomplete, are beginning to come into focus.
Only 20 years ago, most developmental
biologists thought that different organisms grew according to different sets of rules, so that understanding how
a fly or a worm develops - or even a vertebrate like a chicken or a fish - would do little to illuminate the process in humans.
Then, in the 1980's, researchers
found remarkable similarities in the molecular tool kit used by organisms that span the breadth of the animal kingdom &
those similarities have proved serendipitous beyond imagining. No matter what the species, nature uses virtually the same
nails & screws, the same hammers & power tools to put an embryo together.
Among the by-products of the
torrent of information pouring out of the laboratory are new prospects for treating a broad range of late-in-life diseases.
Just last month, i.e., 3 biologists
won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for their work on the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, which has a few more than 1,000 cells,
compared with a human's 50 trillion.
The 3 winners helped establish
that a fundamental mechanism that C. elegans embryos employ to get rid of redundant or abnormal cells also exists in humans
& may play a role in AIDS, heart disease & cancer.
Even more exciting, if considerably more controversial, is the understanding that embryonic cells harbor untapped
therapeutic potential. These cells, of course, are stem cells & they're the progenitors
of more specialized cells that make up organs & tissues.
By harnessing their generative
powers, medical researchers believe, it may one day be possible to repair the damage wrought by injury & disease. (That prospect
suffered a political setback last week when a federal advisory committee recommended that embryos be considered the same as
human subjects in clinical trials.)
visit Time's website to see a chart of the Actual Size View the embryo throughout the first trimester
To be sure, the marvel of
an embryo transcends the collection of genes & cells that compose it. For unlike strands of DNA floating in a test tube
or stem cells dividing in a Petri dish, an embryo is capable of building not just a protein or a patch of tissue but a living entity in which every cell functions as an integrated part
of the whole.
"Imagine yourself as the world's
tallest skyscraper, built in 9 months & germinating from a single brick," suggest Tsiaras & Werth in the opening of
their book. "As that brick divides, it gives rise to every other type of material needed to construct & operate the finished tower - a million tons of steel, concrete, mortar, insulation, tile, wood, granite,
solvents, carpet, cable, pipe & glass as well as all furniture, phone systems, heating and cooling units, plumbing, electrical
wiring, artwork & computer networks, including software."
Given the number of steps
in the process, it'll perhaps forever seem miraculous that life ever comes into being without a major hitch. "Whenever you
look from one embryo to another," observes Columbia Univ. developmental neurobiologist Thomas Jessell, "what strikes you is
the fidelity of the process."
Sometimes, though, that fidelity
is compromised & the reasons why this happens are coming under intense scrutiny. In laboratory organisms, birth defects
occur for purely genetic reasons when scientists purposely mutate or knock out specific sequences of DNA to establish their
But when development goes
off track in real life, the cause can often be traced to a lengthening list of external factors that disrupt some aspect of
the genetic program.
For an embryo doesn't develop
in a vacuum but depends on the environment that surrounds it. When a human embryo is deprived of essential nutrients or exposed to a toxin, such as alcohol, tobacco or crack cocaine,
the consequences can range from readily apparent abnormalities - spina bifida, fetal alcohol syndrome - to subtler metabolic
defects that may not become apparent until much later.
Ironically, even as society
at large continues to worry almost obsessively about the genetic origins of disease, the biologists & medical researchers
who study development are mounting an impressive case for the role played by the prenatal environment.
A growing body of evidence
suggests that a number of serious maladies - among them, atherosclerosis, hypertension & diabetes - trace their origins
to detrimental prenatal conditions.
As New York Univ. Medical
School's Dr. Peter Nathanielsz puts it, "What goes on in the womb before you're born is just as
important to who you are as your genes."
Most adults, not to mention
most teenagers, are by now thoroughly familiar with the mechanics of how the sperm in a man's semen & the egg in a woman's
oviduct connect & it's at this point that the story of development begins.
For the sperm & the egg
each contain only 23 chromosomes, half the amount of DNA needed to make a human. Only when the sperm & the egg fuse their
chromosomes does the tiny zygote, as a fertilized egg is called, receive its instructions to grow. And grow it does, replicating
its DNA each time it divides - into two cells, then four, then eight and so on.
If cell division continued
in this fashion, then 9 months later the hapless mother would give birth to a tumorous ball of literally astronomical proportions.
But instead of endlessly dividing,
the zygote's cells progressively take form. The first striking change is apparent 4 days after conception, when a 32-cell
clump called the morula (which means "mulberry" in Latin) gives rise to 2 distinct layers
wrapped around a fluid-filled core.
Now known as a blastocyst,
this spherical mass will proceed to burrow into the wall of the uterus. A short time later, the outer layer of cells will
begin turning into the placenta & amniotic sac, while the inner layer will become the embryo.
The formation of the blastocyst
signals the start of a sequence of changes that are as precisely choreographed as a ballet. At the end of Week One, the inner cell layer of the blastocyst balloons
into 2 more layers.
From the first layer, known
as the endoderm, will come the cells that line the gastrointestinal tract. From the second, the ectoderm, will arise the neurons
that make up the brain & spinal cord along with the epithelial cells that make up the skin.
At the end of Week Two, the
ectoderm spins off a thin line of cells known as the primitive streak, which forms a new cell layer called the mesoderm. From
it will come the cells destined to make the heart, the lungs & all the other internal organs.
At this point, the embryo
resembles a stack of Lilliputian pancakes - circular, flat & horizontal. But as the mesoderm forms, it interacts with
cells in the ectoderm to trigger yet another transformation. Very soon these cells will roll up to become the neural tube,
a rudimentary precursor of the spinal cord & brain.
Already the embryo has a distinct
cluster of cells at each end, one destined to become the mouth & the other the anus. The embryo, no larger at this point
than a grain of rice, has determined the head-to-tail axis along which all its body parts will be arrayed.
How on earth does this little,
barely animate cluster of cells "know" what to do? The answer is as simple as it is startling. A human embryo knows how to
lay out its body axis in the same way that fruit-fly embryos know & C. elegans embryos & the embryos of myriad other
creatures large & small know.
In all cases, scientists have
found, in charge of establishing this axis is a special set of genes, especially the so-called homeotic homeobox, or HOX,
HOX genes were first discovered
in fruit flies in the early 1980's when scientists noticed that their absence caused striking mutations. Heads, i.e., grew
feet instead of antennae & thoraxes grew an extra pair of wings.
HOX genes have been found
in virtually every type of animal & while their number varies - fruit flies have 9, humans have 39 - they're invariably
arrayed along chromosomes in the order along the body in which they're supposed to turn on.
Many other genes interact
with the HOX system, including the aptly named Hedgehog & Tinman genes, without which fruit flies grow a dense covering
of bristles or fail to make a heart. And scientists are learning in exquisite detail what each does at various stages of the
of the 3 Hedgehog genes - Sonic Hedgehog, named in honor of the cartoon & video-game character - has been
shown to play a role in making at least half a dozen types of spinal-cord neurons. As it happens, cells in different places
in the neural tube are exposed to different levels of the protein encoded by this gene; cells drenched in significant quantities
of protein mature into one type of neuron & those that receive the barest sprinkling mature into another.
Indeed, it was by using a
particular concentration of Sonic Hedgehog that neurobiologist Jessell & his research team at Columbia recently coaxed
stem cells from a mouse embryo to mature into seemingly functional motor neurons.
At the Univ. of California,
San Francisco, a team led by biologist Didier Stainier is working on genes important in cardiovascular formation. Removing
one of them, called Miles Apart, from zebra-fish embryos results in a mutant with two nonviable hearts. Why?
In all vertebrate embryos,
including humans, the heart forms as twin buds. In order to function, these buds must join. The way the Miles Apart gene appears
to work, says Stainier, is by detecting a chemical attractant that, like the smell of dinner cooking in the kitchen, entices
the pieces to move toward each other.
The crafting of a human from
a single fertilized egg is a vastly complicated affair & at any step, something can go wrong. When the heart fails to
develop properly, a baby can be born with a hole in the heart or even missing valves & chambers. When the neural tube
fails to develop properly, a baby can be born with a brain not fully developed (anencephaly)
or with an incompletely formed spine (spina bifida).
Neural-tube defects, it has
been firmly established, are often due to insufficient levels of the water-soluble B vitamin folic acid. Reason: folic acid
is essential to a dividing cell's ability to replicate its DNA.
Vitamin A, which a developing
embryo turns into retinoids, is another nutrient that is critical to the nervous system. But watch out, because too much vitamin
A can be toxic.
In another newly released book,
Before Your Pregnancy (Ballantine Books), nutritionist Amy Ogle & obstetrician Dr. Lisa
Mazzullo caution would-be mothers to limit foods that are overly rich in vitamin A, especially liver & food products that contain lots of it, like foie gras &
An excess of vitamin A, they
note, can cause damage to the skull, eyes, brain & spinal cord of a developing fetus, probably because retinoids directly
interact with DNA, affecting the activity of critical genes.
Folic acid, vitamin A &
other nutrients reach developing embryos & fetuses by crossing the placenta, the remarkable temporary organ produced by
the blastocyst that develops from the fertilized egg.
The outer ring of cells that
compose the placenta are extremely aggressive, behaving very much like tumor cells as they invade the uterine wall & tap
into the pregnant woman's blood vessels. In fact, these cells actually go in & replace the maternal cells that form the
lining of the uterine arteries, says Susan Fisher, a developmental biologist at the Univ. of California, San Francisco.
They trick the pregnant woman's
immune system into tolerating the embryo's presence rather than rejecting it like the lump of foreign tissue it is.
In essence, says Fisher, "the
placenta is a traffic cop," & its main job is to let good things in & keep bad things out. To this end, the placenta
marshals platoons of natural killer cells to patrol its perimeters & engages millions of tiny molecular pumps that expel
poisons before they can damage the vulnerable embryo.
Alas, the placenta's defenses
are sometimes breached - by microbes like rubella & cytomegalovirus, by drugs like thalidomide & alcohol, by heavy
metals like lead & mercury & by organic pollutants like dioxin & PCBs.
Pathogens & poisons contained
in certain foods are also able to cross the placenta, which may explain why placental tissues secrete a nausea-inducing hormone
that has been tentatively linked to morning sickness.
One provocative if unproved
hypothesis says morning sickness may simply be nature's crude way of making sure that potentially harmful substances don't
reach the womb, particularly during the critical first trimester of development.
Timing is decisive where toxins
are concerned. Air pollutants like carbon monoxide & ozone, i.e., have been linked to heart defects when exposure coincided
with the 2nd month of pregnancy, the window of time during which the heart forms.
Similarly, the nervous system
is particularly vulnerable to damage while neurons are migrating from the part of the brain where they're made to the area
where they will ultimately reside. "A tiny, tiny exposure at a key moment when a certain process is beginning to unfold can
have an effect that is not only quantitatively larger but qualitatively different than it would be on an adult whose body
has finished forming," observes Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist at Cornell Univy.
Among the substances Steingraber
is most worried about are environmentally persistent neurotoxins like mercury & lead (which
directly interfere with the migration of neurons formed during the first trimester) & PCB's (which, some evidence suggests, block the activity of thyroid hormone).
"Thyroid hormone plays a noble
role in the fetus," says Steingraber. "It actually goes into the fetal brain & serves as kind of a conductor of the orchestra."
PCB's are no longer manufactured
in the U.S., but other chemicals potentially harmful to developing embryos & fetuses are. Theo Colborn, director of the
World Wildlife Fund's contaminants program, says at least 150 chemicals pose possible risks for fetal development & some
of them can interfere with the naturally occurring sex hormones critical to the development of a fetus.
Antiandrogens, i.e., are widely
found in fungicides & plastics. One in particular - DDE, a breakdown product of ddt - has been shown to cause hypospadias
in laboratory mice, a birth defect in which the urethra fails to extend to the end of the penis.
In humans, however, notes
Dr. Allen Wilcox, editor of the journal Epidemiology, the link between hormone-like chemicals & birth defects remains
The list of potential threats to embryonic life is long. It includes not only what the mother eats, drinks or inhales, explains
N.Y.U.'s Nathanielsz, but also the hormones that surge thru her body. Pregnant rats with high blood-glucose levels (chemically induced by wiping out their insulin) give birth to female offspring that are unusually
susceptible to developing gestational diabetes.
These daughter rats are able
to produce enough insulin to keep their blood glucose in check, says Nathanielsz, but only until they become pregnant. At
that point, their glucose level soars, because their pancreases were damaged by prenatal exposure to their mother's sugar-spiked
The next generation of daughters
is, in turn, more susceptible to gestational diabetes & the transgenerational chain goes on.
In similar fashion, atherosclerosis
may sometimes develop because of prenatal exposure to chronically high cholesterol levels. According to Dr. Wulf Palinski,
an endocrinologist at the Univ. of California at San Diego, there appears to be a kind of metabolic memory of prenatal life
that's permanently retained.
In genetically similar groups
of rabbits & kittens, at least, those born to mothers on fatty diets were far more likely to develop arterial plaques
than those whose mothers ate lean.
But of all the long-term health
threats, maternal undernourishment -which stunts growth even when babies are born full term - may
top the list.
"People who are small at birth
have, for life, fewer kidney cells & so they're more likely to go into renal failure when they get sick," observes Dr.
David Barker, director of the environmental epidemiology unit at England's Univ. of Southampton.
The same is true of insulin-producing
cells in the pancreas, so that low-birth-weight babies stand a higher chance of developing diabetes later in life because
their pancreases - where insulin is produced - have to work that much harder.
Barker, whose research has
linked low birth weight to heart disease, points out that undernourishment can trigger lifelong metabolic changes. In adulthood,
i.e., obesity may become a problem because food scarcity in prenatal life causes the body
to shift the rate at which calories are turned into glucose for immediate use or stored as reservoirs of fat.
But just how does undernourishment
Does it perhaps prevent certain
genes from turning on, or does it turn on those that should stay silent?
Scientists are racing to answer
those questions, along with a host of others. If they succeed, many more infants will find safe passage thru the critical
first months of prenatal development.
Indeed, our expanding knowledge
about the interplay between genes & the prenatal environment is cause for both concern & hope. Concern because maternal & prenatal health care often ranks last on the political agenda.
Hope because by changing our priorities, we might be able to reduce the incidence of both birth defects & serious adult diseases.
reporting by David Bjerklie & Alice Park / New York & Dan Cray / Los Angeles
How They Did It
By DAVID BJERKLIE With
just a few keystrokes, Alexander Tsiaras does the impossible. He takes the image of a 56-day-old human embryo & peers
thru its skin, revealing liver, lungs, a bulblike brain & the tiny, exquisite vertebrae of a developing spine.
These are no ordinary baby pictures.
What Tsiaras & his colleagues are manipulating are layers of data gathered by CT scans, micro magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI) & other visualization techniques.
When Lennart Nilsson took
his groundbreaking photographs in the 1960's, he was limited to what he could innovatively capture with a flash camera. Since then, says Tsiaras, "there's been a revolution in imaging."
What's changed is that development
can now be viewed thru a wide variety of prisms, using different forms of energy to illuminate different aspects of the fetus.
CT scans, i.e., are especially
good at showing bone & MRI is excellent for soft tissue. These two-dimensional layers of information are assembled, using
sophisticated computer software, into a three-dimensional whole.
The results are painstakingly
accurate & aesthetically stunning. Tsiaras, who trained as a painter & sculptor, used medical specimens from the Carnegie
Human Embryology Collection at the National Museum of Health & Medicine in Washington as models for all but a few images.
The specimens came from a
variety of sources, according to museum director Adrianne Noe, including miscarriages & medically necessary procedures.
None were acquired from elective abortions. - By David Bjerklie
the Nov. 11, 2002 issue of TIME magazine
Into the mind of babies
Child Development examining babies & childrens fabulous
capacity to learn
by Dare Baldwin.
Imagine a toddler, perhaps 10 months old, sitting in a high chair in a kitchen, watching & listening as her parents prepare a meal & in the process, speak to each other & to the child.
Even such a seemingly simple, everyday event presents this small child with an enormous amount
of information to interpret. Her parents move rapidly from place to place, handling many different objects that they manipulate
in diverse ways, all the while maintaining a steady stream of conversation with one another.
Despite the complexity of her environment, in the coming months & years this child will somehow
find ways to make sense of the flow of language & action. She'll accurately link words to thousands of objects & actions
& thus add rich levels of meaning to her furiously expanding capacity for knowledge.
Psychologist Dare Baldwin's research
is dedicated to solving the riddle of what she calls humans' "phenomenal ability to acquire knowledge."
A recipient of
an NSF Young Investigator Award, which is designed to support the work of outstanding young faculty in science & engineering,
Baldwin has been focusing much of her attention on how young children & even infants, can amass & synthesize as much
information as they do.
to date suggest that even at a very young age, infants & children possess a remarkable ability to accumulate knowledge
by inference, from seemingly subtle clues, as activity & language swirls around them.
a larger scale, Baldwin says, "I'd like to understand all the different sorts of mechanisms that children can recruit for the purpose of acquiring knowledge & in turn learn
how knowledge acquisition affects children's performance across a variety of domains."
who has also been awarded the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology by the American Psychological
Association, recently has been involved in a number of NSF-funded studies related to knowledge-acquisition:
various colleagues investigated young children's sensitivity to social cues - such as gaze direction, body posture, gestures, emotional expression & more - as a source of information
about word meaning.
The research shows,
for instance, that children as young as 12-18 months spontaneously check where a speaker is looking when she utters a word
that is new to them & link the word with the object the speaker is looking at.
In this way, infants
avoid many potential word learning errors. They link words with the correct objects - the ones speakers are indeed referring to
- rather than to whatever objects happen to be capturing their own attention when new words are heard.
active in using social cues," notes Baldwin, "radically facilitates children's language learning."
In more recent research, Baldwin
& a team of colleagues found that autistic children lack these skills for making use of social cues to guide word learning,
which leaves them prone to errors in the word learning process. This research provides evidence for a connection between autistic
children's known deficits in social understanding & their known delays in acquiring language.
student Mark Sabbagh, Baldwin has also been studying whether 3 & 4 year old children evaluate another person's
apparent level of knowledge when acquiring a new word.
"Understanding the distinction between knowledge & ignorance, enables one to be a better world learner," Baldwin explains. "For example, imagine you've got a 3 year-old who's fascinated
by dinosaurs & she asks her parents to name this or that dinosaur.
might say, "I'm not sure, but it might be a pteranodon." The child should really not learn that label, because the
adult isn't sure. At the very least, she should peg it with some uncertainty." The two researchers have found that, indeed, young children are less likely to remember a word linked to an object
if an adult speaker expresses uncertainty about whether the label is correct.
research suggests that infants as young as 12-18 months are able to understand something about the intentions that underlie people's behavior. Infant's abilities in this respect are remarkable given that human behavior tends to occur
in a complex, rapid & continuous stream. Baldwin is now investigating the origins of these impressive abilities.
Baldwin wondered if infants,
even younger than one year of age, might have the capacity to identify structure within complex activity. Would infants recognize the "units of action" in the behavior of the person they're observing?
Would the infants recognize these units even when the units aren't demarcated, in any simple way, by pauses in the flow of behavior?
"i.e.," she says, "many of
our behaviors fall into a similar pattern: we fix our gaze on an object, touch it or otherwise manipulate it, release it &
move our gaze & body-orientation elsewhere, then repeat the process with another object.
If infants can identify each
goal-directed action as a discrete unit, they would have a leg up on discovering the intentions motivating such activities."
By running a series of experiments
with infants, Baldwin & colleagues collected evidence that infants indeed segment continuously flowing behavior into units
that coincide with the initiation & completion of intention.
The scientists used a series
of videotapes of adults performing simple actions, such as grasping a towel. Sometimes, the tapes were freeze-framed at the
completion of the action; other times, the tapes were freeze-framed in the middle.
The infants showed only moderate
interest in the tapes that showed the complete action. But they were transfixed by tapes that interrupted the expected sequence in mid-stream. That, says Baldwin, appears to be "the first evidence out there that infants this young are sensitive to the structure inherent in intentional action."
Taken as a whole, Baldwin's
research contributes significantly to our understanding of how social cognition, language & knowledge acquisition are linked in the developing brain.
Newborn Life: Key Controversies in the Last Decade by David Chamberlain, Ph.D.
In 1988, when Babies Remember
Birth was first published, scientists weren't ready to acknowledge that a newborn infant could possibly have a working
mind, while parents, blessed by close encounters with their own babies, were open to the idea.
This notable difference in
attitude between "experts" & parents still prevails, although the study of babies & their abilities became more popular
in psychology & medicine over the last decade.
The bulging bank of prenatal
& perinatal information now provides ever-expanding support for the unexpected abilities of babies in the womb, as well
as at their births.
Yet, this book in its documentation
of the advanced qualities of newborn memory & the far ranges of infant consciousness is still unique - & still remains
The superb memories &
mental abilities of babies described in The Mind of Your Newborn Baby (3rd edition)
push the limits of the current scientific frame of reference, requiring a shift to a larger paradigm of human nature &
Babies are comfortably at
home in the larger paradigm. Looking back on a decade of debates & discoveries related to newborn life, I have been particularly
interested in 3 important areas where skepticism persists, even as evidence continues to mount:
skepticism about all human memory, especially early memory
skepticism about infant pain perception & the failure in
medicine to grasp its significance
skepticism about the life-changing power of early parent-infant
communication & bonding
Memory, although it accompanies
us on our everyday rounds & for all practical purposes, functions marvelously, can still be personally vexing & puzzling
to the scientists who try to understand it.
Memory is hard to locate &
explain: it's a mystery of perfection & imperfection combined. Memory is a balky human instrument, not an Absolute Machine.
In this last decade, some
of these facts were hammered home in emotional court challenges, were spread widely by news media & led to considerable public confusion & disillusionment.
Can any human memory be trusted, especially the long-buried memories of birth & infancy?
Out of the turbulent waters
of debate between plaintiffs & defendants, between experts testifying on opposite sides & the collision of clinicians
& researchers in scientific associations came additional clarity about the fundamentals noted above.
pendulum lurched between extremes: Memories are sacred & automatically true & memories are little more than
fantasies & can't be trusted. Professionals may now be prepared to grant that while memories can't be guaranteed, they may be remarkably accurate.
Psychotherapists, though they
aren't detectives or lawyers, have learned that validity of memory is a legitimate concern & that they have an obligation to help clients discriminate between fantasy & reality.
When personal memories are
brought to court, they'll be vigorously challenged & be met with more criticism than respect. Accusations of child abuse & murder, based solely on memory & not otherwise verified, are problems which courts are probably incapable of judging.
Very young witnesses are especially
problematic for courts. Unverified memories of children are vulnerable to distortion at the hands of adult investigators (including sympathetic, but unwary, counselors) who can become engulfed in a fantasy which they themselves have helped to create.
Children are sometimes tempted
to tell stories to make your eyes bulge out! However, this possibility shouldn't mean turning a deaf ear to children. Child abuse is a shockingly common reality, often hidden or denied by adults to protect their own interests. For this reason, children must be heard, but with greater skill & understanding than in recent years.
A new appreciation has emerged for the special characteristics of trauma-based memories: These memories can be buried ("repressed") for long periods of time before being triggered by an event & admitted to consciousness.
That they were submerged for
a time isn't proof they're false. Few persons have had continuous spontaneous recall of
their birth (though I have known some), but, under various conditions, their long-lost memories
can be recovered & verified.
Children who have been severely traumatized may have no conscious memory they can offer, but, typically, they act out their memories in spontaneous play that is remarkably
revealing & accurate.
This form of memory is seen
in war veterans who encountered unimaginable displays of violence & death. Some members of the same battle group will
carry clear & specific memories, while others repress the experience totally - perhaps for decades - yet, like the children,
these veterans act out their anxiety & shock in daily life.
With therapeutic guidance,
these subterranean memories can be raised & healed. In my experiences with a great variety of traumatized clients in hypnotherapy, I came to recognize that "hidden" memories were walking around disguised as fears.
What seemed like lost memories
were "hidden" in plain sight. In everyday life as we all struggle to recover parts of ourselves "lost" in the past, we can
seldom meet the standards of "proof" required in court.
Our personal search for truth calls for a mixture of curiosity & prudence & as much objectivity as possible in judging what we've done & what others have done to us.
In academic circles, a long-standing
prejudice against the reliability of early memory (intrauterine memory, birth memory & infant
memory) is slowly collapsing. The least-likely period for memory to function, the intrauterine period, is increasingly
illuminated by ultrasound, making it possible for visionary experimental psychologists to show that memory & learning
systems are already functioning.
Babies still in the womb are
signaling that they have become familiar with rhymes repeated to them daily over a 4 week period. Likewise, immediately after
birth, babies exposed to parents' voices, musical passages, soap opera themes, news program sounds, sounds of their native
language, as well as tastes & smells introduced in utero - are all treated as familiar, that is, learned & remembered
from weeks & months in the past.
Memory experts have continued
to overlook the prima facie evidence provided by 2 & 3 year old children recalling specifics of their birth when they're
first able to speak.
This important evidence, published in magazines for childbirth educators & parents in 1981 & which I celebrated in this book, was
never taken seriously in scientific circles. All this time, we've had memory experts denying birth memory while new waves of 3 year-olds were continually proving them wrong!
Psychologists have been enthralled
with the theory of "infantile amnesia" since it was first stated by Sigmund Freud in 1916. The popular observation that people
rarely remember anything that happened to them before their 3rd or 4th birthday made the idea seem obvious.
The belief was further justified by theories of noted Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget which have dominated developmental psychology for the last 40 years.
Piagetian ideas about the limitations of newborn intelligence & its development in discreet stages are only now crumbling under the increasing weight of experimental
Tearing down the wall of illusion
regarding infant memory was accomplished by a handful of experimental psychologists, completing over 3 dozen crucial experiments, over a decade of time. Now, at last,
the theory of infantile amnesia is dead.
The principal idea in medicine
& psychology which made it difficult to accept any sophisticated early use of the mind was the idea that the immature & unfinished brain couldn't support memory &
Added to that was the difficulty
of testing true personal memory with infants who couldn't talk. For these reasons research was avoided & when evidence did appear, it was ignored or denied.
Under heavy odds, experimental
psychologists have managed to prove that children age 3, age 2 & age 1 are all capable of both immediate & long-term recall of events. Infants tested at 2, 4 & 6 months can recall details about hidden
objects, their location & their size.
Infants can recall procedures
involving a series of steps, even after long delays. And their ability to do so doesn't depend on their age, but on the same
factors & conditions which improve recall in older children & adults, such as the nature of the events, the number
of times they experience them & the availability of cues or reminders.
Those in the forefront of
this research conclude that babies are constantly learning & remembering what they need to know at any given time: Their memories aren't lost, but are continually updated as learning progresses.
The old belief that infants are mentally incompetent, still widespread today despite the evidence, has delayed acknowledgment of even elementary infant mental abilities. More importantly, this belief has blinded us to the evidence for the higher perception, telepathic communication & subtle forms of knowing which are
displayed by babies in this book.
For a century, babies have
fought a losing battle to convince physicians they can experience pain & that their pain matters. Medical denial of infant pain has been blatant in the practice of infant surgery without using anesthetics, the pain-filled rituals of neonatal
intensive care, the routine infliction of pain at birth & the circumcision of newborn males.
In the last decade,
this battle reached a critical turning point for surgeons, but for obstetricians, the outcome is still in doubt. Parents could have a lot to do with how newborns are treated.
Against a background of scientific
ignorance about what newborns could feel, experiments began in 1917 at Johns Hopkins Univ. to observe their tears, reactions to having
blood drawn, infections lanced & their wrists pricked with pins during sleep. Results were unequivocal.
When blood was taken from
the big toe, the opposite foot came up at once to push the needle away. Lancing produced exaggerated crying & pin-pricks,
even in sleep, provoked a protective response. Even rough cleaning & wiping at birth inspired battling movements & frantic efforts to get away.
Pain experiments continued
at Chicago's Lying-In Hospital in the 1920's & 1930's, at Columbia Univ. & Babies' Hospital, New York in the 1940's
& yet again in the 1970's at Washington Univ. School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The results were all the same,
but the evidence had little effect on doctors' beliefs. Handling of babies continued as usual. In the New York experiments, 75 infants were stimulated with a blunt safety pin at
intervals from birth to age 4.
After 2,000 observations,
researchers concluded that babies were born with an abnormally weak sense of pain, heat, cold & touch. They had overlooked
the fact that babies had been affected by the anesthesia given their mothers during labor & delivery!
Few people know that even
after the discovery of ether anesthetic in 1846, surgeons continued to operate on babies without offering them any relief from pain. Although doctors feared that the babies might be harmed by anesthetics, they had no such fear that babies would be harmed by surgery without anesthetics.
Physicians persisted in believing
babies had poorly developed brains & wouldn't know they were in pain. Believe it or not, this was still the case when I wrote this book 10 years ago!
Two powerful forces converged to change the situation in 1986 to 1988: parent-power amplified by media power & the power of brilliant
Helen Harrison & Jill
Lawson were mothers of children who were in neonatal intensive care who endured major surgeries without benefit of pain-killing
Furthermore, the children
were given a muscle paralyzer which prevented them from uttering a sound or lifting a finger in protest! One child went into
a decline after surgery & died a few days later, while the other acquired a life long phobia of doctors, hospitals & all medical procedures.
When these parents told their
story, it was spread via radio, television, magazines & journals attracting the attention of millions of people to the
topic of infant surgery without anesthesia. Their stories broke a silence of 150 years.
After an initial defense by medical authorities (using the traditional argument that babies didn't need anesthetics or might be harmed by them), the force of public opinion finally overwhelmed them.
At the same time, Mrs. Harrison
& Mrs. Lawson were telling their stories, a series of decisive research studies were completed at Oxford Univ. in England
by anesthesiologist Kanwal Anand & his colleagues.
Using advanced & comprehensive
measurement techniques, they followed groups of infants in surgery - with & without anesthesia - & showed that infants
both tolerated anesthesia well & had better surgical outcomes than did infants given no anesthesia.
Their work brought to light
previously hidden relationships between surgery without anesthesia & the physical shock that led to death a few days later.
The practice of operating on babies without anesthetic had been hurting & killing babies!
Facing the combined effect
of parent power & research genius, official guilds of surgeons & anesthesiologists announced an abrupt reversal in
policy: They promised to give the same consideration to infants as they did to all other patients in regard to adequate anesthesia
for surgery, ending a century and a half of discrimination, suffering & unnecessary death.
Sadly, in spite of this reform
in infant surgery, the routine infliction of pain continues in neonatal intensive care, in hospital birth & in the circumcision
of males, leaving millions of babies still being subjected to needless pain.
The problem seems most intractable
in the case of neonatology which invented itself in the 1970's when babies were considered insensate, machines were thought
of as saviors & technology was becoming a cultural god.
"cyborgs" (the product of machines) in the name of saving their lives.
Medical care of the weakest
& sickest babies, most of them born far ahead of time on the edge of viability, is a marvel of pain-inflicting engineering.
The man-made womb assembled by technocrats bears no resemblance to the womanly womb & surprisingly, no special effort
was made to achieve a real-womb analog.
In the nation's approximately
700 intensive care nurseries, pain is a way of life for babies who must be tied or immobilized while breathing tubes, suction
tubes & feeding tubes are pushed down their throats.
Tubes, needles & wires
are stuck into them & their delicate skin is burned with alcohol prior to venipuncture or accidentally pulled off when
monitor pads are removed. This is the everyday world of neonatology.
Analysts describe life in
this nursery as a "mixed blessing" because many babies die or are damaged for life, while all life-saving efforts are overshadowed
by pain. Although survival prospects have improved in the last decade, especially for babies over 3 pounds in birth weight,
no one can yet predict what the consequences to society will be for inflicting so much pain on so many premature babies.
Currently, as many as 400,000
babies per year are entering life thru man-made portals of pain. A new frontier of neonatology is fetal surgery-operating
on babies inside the womb. In the beginning, surgeons gave no anesthesia because they thought these babies were surely too
primitive to experience pain.
However, in 1994, neonatologists
measured the stress reactions of 46 fetuses during intrauterine blood transfusions & found an increase of 590% of beta
endorphins & 138% increase of cortisol after 10 minutes of the invasive surgery-clearly reflecting pain. Even the youngest fetuses mounted a strong hormonal response to the procedure.
Ironically, since the majority
of births moved from home to hospital in the US back in the 1940's, normal babies born at term have been introduced to a new
kind of pain: routine, medically-inflicted pain.
This pain is inflicted with
impunity because doctors continue to doubt both the reality of infant pain & its significance. Doctors are still assuming
that pain passes quickly & is soon forgotten. I believe these doctors misunderstand memory & underestimate infants.
The gauntlet of pain
a baby must run in a hospital birth may start with the insertion of electrodes into the scalp for electronic monitoring, or
with a wound to the scalp to obtain a blood sample - all this while the baby's head is still hidden in the birth canal &
there's the chance of injury to an eye or an ear.
A medical delivery often begins
with artificial induction of labor by rupture of the amniotic sac, which drains away the fluid which would have protected
the baby's head during labor.
The injection of pitocin,
designed to amplify contractions, will increase the pain of contractions for the baby. When a mother receives epidural anesthesia,
the efficiency of her labor is reduced so that steel forceps are frequently needed to pull out a baby's head.
This insult to the head is
quickly followed by a wrenching spinal insult as a baby is held in the air by the ankles & by painful washing & wiping
of sensitive skin to remove the waxy vernix caseosa.
Inevitably, there will be
an abrupt encounter with flat surfaces (another crude spinal adjustment) as an infant is
weighed & measured. The environment of medical birth is a room about 30 degrees colder than what babies have known before;
bright light is directed at the baby to help obstetricians see better, but such light is blinding to a baby & spoils first
sight; a needle is inserted to supply Vitamin K. A deep lancing wound to the heel is used to obtain a generous blood sample
needed for numerous tests.
All thru this process, the
screams & cries of the newborn baby dramatically expresses their shock & discomfort - with no apparent effect on the
obstetricians involved, who will treat the next baby exactly the same way.
This novel form of delivery
offered by obstetricians in hospitals is a baptism of pain. Birth wasn't like this in the thousands of years of human evolution
prior to the 1940's. Physicians believe it is "the best of care."
Cultural anthropologist Robbie
Davis-Floyd calls it a ritual of initiation into a technocratic society where machines are used to improve upon nature &
all babies have become cyborgs.
Perhaps the most violent routine
associated with hospital birth in America thru the entire 20th century is the practice of male circumcision, a surgery to
remove the sensitive skin which covers the head of the penis.
In the past, this surgery
was always done without anesthetic; today, it's frequently done without anesthetic, although medical researchers working with
the infants have been virtually unanimous in urging the use of local anesthetics.
Polls indicate that the obstetricians
& pediatricians who continue to do this excruciating surgery without adequate anesthesia still believe that babies don't
need anesthesia & believe that injecting it might cause infection - an argument contradicted by research.
60% of American boys (down from a high of 90% in decades past) are still subjected to this painful cosmetic surgery
which robs them of a functional & pleasurable part of their sexual anatomy.
The assortment of "reasons"
given by medical authorities for performing this surgery-that it would cure asthma, alcoholism, bedwetting, rheumatism, epilepsy,
syphilis, mental illness & would stop masturbation-have all been proved erroneous & absurd.
However, in recent years,
American doctors have continued the tradition of dire warnings based on flimsy evidence that an intact foreskin might contribute
to sexual diseases, cancer, urinary infections & even AIDS. There's no research that can possibly justify the mutilation
of the majority of American boys born each year.
Even with the humane use of
anesthetics to dull the immediate pain of surgery, this unnecessary operation involves shock & a long period of recovery,
violates trust between babies & parents, provokes fears of genital injury & inspires unconscious guarding of sexual
parts from further danger.
are particularly good learners, it's an unconscionable risk to subject them to sexual assault at the very start of life when
attitudes, patterns, & habits are being formed on a deep level of mind & body.
In a society of increasing violence,
especially the predominant violence of men against women, we should consider the possibility that a portion of it may be due
to the systematic perpetration of sexual violence on American males on one of the first days of life outside the womb.
We've been so little concerned
with the vulnerability of infants to violence that research on this subject has only recently begun, most of it designed to
check up on the survivors of neonatal intensive care & very premature birth. Their ranks include many decimated by physical
& mental disabilities & emotional illness. I know of no study yet made to explore the connection between pervasive
early trauma & antisocial behavior in later life.
Headline stories about serial
killers offer suggestive clues about the traumatic spawning grounds of our most brutal criminals, yet systematic research
is sparse. An exception is the study by Adrian Raine & colleagues (1994) which revealed
that birth complications, combined with severe maternal rejection, predispose to violent crime at 18 years of age.
In a cohort of over 4,200
males with both risk factors, 4% of the group accounted for 18% of the violent crime (murder, assault,
rape, armed robbery, illegal possession of a weapon & threats of violence).
Another rare piece of research
throws new light on the possible long-term effect of circumcision trauma.
A group at the Hospital for Sick
Children in Toronto (1995) studying the reactions of children to vaccination shots
4 months after birth, discovered that circumcised boys were more strongly affected by the vaccinations. Observers rated them
as suffering more & crying longer than boys who were left intact. Researchers suggested that the babies' pain threshold
had been lowered by the earlier trauma of circumcision.
While additional evidence
is needed to illuminate the long-term consequences of circumcision, the new information from Toronto is consistent with the
function of memory in sounding an alarm when there's danger of repeating a past trauma & with new understandings of how neurobiological set points are changed as a result of violent experiences.
The irony of this is that
the battle which freed babies from major surgical pain a decade ago must be fought all over again to stop doctors from routinely
inflicting pain on newborn babies.
When men took the place of
women at birth & birth moved from home to hospital in the 1940's, Mother Nature wasn't invited to come along. In the 1950's
prematurely born babies were starved for 48 hours for fear they might choke on "excess fluid."
Men advocated cow's milk instead
of mother's milk, advising women to feed their babies from bottles every 4 hours. Men coached mothers to let their babies
cry unattended & even opposed the use of rocking chairs!
In hospitals, men promoted
circumcision as if the excruciating pain & the robbery of sexual parts were matters of no importance to infants or parents & men insisted on taking babies away from their mothers to house them in nurseries.
In these days, fathers had
no rights & were barred from attending their wives during labor and delivery & mothers of pre-term babies were barred
from attending them in the nursery.
Today - 60 years later - rocking
chairs are back in vogue, babies are fed on demand rather than on schedule, mother's milk is more highly valued (though shared only for a short period of time with babies), fathers have gained access
to delivery rooms & both parents may visit their baby in the hospital nursery.
These reforms were due in
large measure to the persistence of Marshall Klaus & John Kennell, the pediatricians who first lifted the banner of "bonding"
& have carried it for 30 years.
Ironically, in the decade
since the publication of this book, bonding theory & research have been sorely tested. Critics attacked shortcomings in
research methodology, said claims for bonding were unjustified & pronounced the theory "a scientific fiction."
Fortunately, these academic
quarrels weren't sufficient to undo the major reforms which bonding had brought about, but, like most counter-movements, they
did bring about clarification in some of the more egregious interpretations of bonding.
Bonding, it turns out, isn't
limited to one specific time when all benefits are gained or lost, but should be considered a continuum of opportunity from pre-conception
onward. This fits with what mothers report, that their "moment" for falling in love with or "locking in" with a baby can come
at all different times.
Marshall Klaus tried to explain
that bonding was not an epoxy or contact cement & that they never meant to suggest that mothers who couldn't be with a
baby in the immediate period following birth would never be able to make up for this loss.
The original observations
that led to bonding theory correctly noted that there was magic in the air between mothers & babies. They may have been
too eager to believe that a period of minutes after birth could affect mothers & babies for years to come. Such things are hard to prove.
How long was the "sensitive" period for bonding?
At a meeting of the American
Medical Association in the 1970's, authorities agreed that 10 minutes was the precisely correct amount of time to set aside
for "bonding" after delivery!
This was epoxy theory at its worst,
although even this was better than the medical protocol of snatching babies from their mothers & fathers as soon as they
left the womb. What all parents need & all parents had - until they came to hospitals for birth in the 1940s - was unlimited
time for privacy & intimacy with their newborn baby.
Part of the real
magic of connections at birth is that babies & parents are wide open to each other at this time.
Parents frequently mention
the riveting intensity of eye-to-eye contact, made possible by the fact that babies are in a special state of quiet attention
immediately after birth. This state lasts only about 40 minutes & allows for profound & intimate communion while all parties are giving absolute attention to each other.
It's as though both babies
& parents are satisfying an immense curiosity about each other which they've nourished for many months. This timely state will all too quickly give way to a lot of sleeping,
a little crying & other preoccupied & distracted waking states. In a typical 24 hour period, a baby will be in the quiet alert state only about 10% of the time.
Other powerful forces are at work in this critical period just after birth. If the babies haven't been drugged & are left undisturbed
& warm on the mother's abdomen for about an hour after birth, babies will calm themselves, periodically look up at mother, begin to show signs of hunger & will climb upward, find the breast &
begin suckling, with no assistance.
Other provisions of Mother
Nature are the exchange of friendly nasal flora, the natural ingestion of Vitamin K in the colostrum, the unique elements
of mother's milk that coat the lining of the baby's intestine with an abundance of helpful antibodies which the mother has
accumulated during her lifetime - a priceless legacy - & the psychological consolation of being safely in the mother's embrace which is reminiscent of the heart & body sounds that were the music
of life inside the womb.
The baby's cry sounds trigger
the production of breast milk & the baby's suckling triggers the mother's hormonal chemistry to assist with the expulsion
of the placenta, providing further insurance against hemorrhage. This intimate & mutually beneficial start in life is
ideal & can be fostered by privacy, rooming-in & postponement of routine medical intrusions.
It could be worse, of course.
There are always many ways to make things worse, but we shouldn't routinely make things worse for mothers, fathers & babies,
especially when we have options to make things better.
More than a half century ago
medical anthropologist Ashley Montagu warned against separating mothers & babies at birth, advocated rooming-in &
sleeping with babies & encouraged carrying babies rather than putting them in cribs & play pens.
His was a prophetic, if largely
unheeded, voice addressing fundamental human needs. Closer to the time the first edition of this book was published, psychiatrist John Bowlby & pediatrician -turned-child-psychoanalyst,
Donald Winnecott, in England, were sounding the alarm that mental health was built on a foundation
of attachment between babies & parents.
Others sought to measure attachment. Marshall Klaus & John Kennell, inspired by this earlier work, devoted themselves to finding valid measures of the bond they observed in parents who were given time for privacy & contact after
birth compared to mothers & infants deprived of contact.
They were pioneers exploring
uncharted territory & their discoveries about the extraordinary power of the parent-infant connection were both illuminating & profoundly important.
Further evidence is coming
from unexpected sources. A cross-cultural experiment followed groups of 107 children in Greece & the US whose conceptions
were planned & unplanned.
The researchers hypothesized
that at the age of 3 months, babies who had been planned would show a higher differential vocal response to their mother (vs a stranger) than would the babies who were unplanned.
Their prediction was correct:
planned infants showed higher levels of cognitive capacity & attachment to their mothers than did the unplanned infants, as shown by vocal responses to mothers (vs a
female stranger) (1993).
Presumably, the planned babies
enjoyed an earlier & stronger bond with their mothers. In another study of the subtle, but powerful, nature of the bonding connection, a large cohort of 8,000 women were divided into those whose pregnancies were wanted or unwanted. All women were in a privileged
group who received early prenatal care under a comprehensive health care program. All were married & should have had a
reduced risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes.
The statistics for these 8,000
women revealed that babies of unwanted pregnancies had 2 1/2 times the risk of death in the first 28 days of life compared
to the babies from wanted pregnancies.
Apparently, a mother's attitude toward pregnancy reached the babies & was translated into a life or death equation (1994).
In a smaller experiment, using a hypnotic technique known as ideomotor signaling (described in
Chapter Six), 25 out of 26 women correctly identified the gender of their baby before ultrasound examination or before
birth. In the one case that was deemed incorrect according to ultrasound, the finger signal was correct, while the ultrasound
reading was false!
This remarkable finding again
suggests a potent connection between mother & baby in the womb making it possible to know the gender before any physical indications are available. Similarly, this psychological bond between mother & baby in utero has been confirmed in a series of recent experiments
with smoking & sham-smoking.
Babies clearly increased their
startle reactions to sham-smoking, a condition where no cigarette is lighted (1995). Since
there was never any smoke to affect the baby chemically, the connection between mother & baby was purely psychological.
10 years of additional evidence
since the publication of the first edition of this book shows that babies are better equipped to relate to us than we previously
As proof of human memory has
been pushed back from age 3 to birth, the period previously thought to be clouded by amnesia & from birth to life in the womb, we have reason to think more seriously about the birth memories our children are carrying.
When we believed that no mind could be working at birth, we never had to consider the consequences of needless pain & suffering on our
personal lives or on our social order. Now, we may be able to understand more fully the roots of violence in modern society & systematically set about replacing painful experiences with pleasant
ones at times before, during & after birth.
The extension of memory &
learning into the natal & prenatal period of our development awakens us to previously unthinkable possibilities for prenatal
communication, stimulation, modeling & bonding.
Formal research on prenatal
stimulation already confirms the important rewards that are available when the minds of babies & the minds of parents meet before birth or even before conception. I'll be writing about these
experiments & about the mind before birth in my next book.
This article is a chapter from the new book, The Mind of Your Newborn Baby (North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, 1998). It is reprinted here
by permission of the author, David B. Chamberlain, Ph.D.
Dr. Chamberlain is a psychologist, independent scholar, President
(1991-1999) of the Association for Pre & Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) & Editor of the Birth Psychology web site.
The Infant's Questions From The Parables
of Kryon by Lee Carroll (1996). Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Lee Carroll
and Hay House.
The human mother was startled indeed when the large male
angel appeared in her laundry room. "What are you doing here?"
"You expected me in the kitchen?" asked the angel.
"No, I didn't expect you at all!" the mother answered. "Why
are you here?"
"To grant your request," said the angel, as if it were a common
thing to appear in a human's home.
"I don't remember any request!" exclaimed the mother. "I hope
I asked for something good and that you didn't just overhear me swearing. I say things all the time when I'm mad."
"No, no," replied the angel. "Remember when you were looking
into the eyes of your son and murmured, 'If only we could talk to each other'? Well, I'm here to arrange that. Tomorrow night
when you go into your son's nursery, I will be there to allow you to speak to him, and he to you. You will have a brief time
where he can speak to you with the intellect of an adult and the language of an adult. I'll tell you more when I see you then."
And with that, the angel disappeared-slightly to the left of the dryer-and up a vent.
The mother was not frightened. After all, she believed in angels
and had been to the local angel shop many times. She had no way of knowing that real angels don't like angel shops. All the
popularity had taken the fun out of appearing before people. Some mothers even wanted to know where the angel got its costume-very
insulting to a real live angel.
The mother didn't sleep much that night, and when she put her
six-month-old infant to bed early in the evening, she looked deep into his eyes and said, "Tomorrow, you and I will actually
get to speak to each other!" She was excited indeed. He drooled in response.
She carefully crafted what she would say to him. Where does
one begin? How long would she have? Would she be able to communicate the difficult things of life? She started by thinking
of all the things she wanted to tell a child just starting out in life-about how a stove is hot, and a pretty fire can hurt-but
wait! The angel said the child would speak with an adult's mind. That would change everything! She would need to tell him
how to handle girls, and how to treat a broken heart, and how not to trust everyone, and how not to drive too fast. Oh my!
There is so much to tell him about being human, she thought.
The next evening, the time for the magic discussion slowly approached.
She waited with her infant son at her side in the nursery until the appointed hour, when the angel appeared again.
"Nice to see both of you," the angel quickly said. "Here are
the rules of the conversation. Mom, you can only answer. Son, you can only ask three questions. Then it's over." And with
that, the angel again disappeared-this time down the furnace grate.
This changes everything, thought the mother in silence while
looking at her son. Perhaps I am hallucinating. I'll bet my son simply goes to sleep now. Instead, the infant stood up!
"Mother," said the infant. "it's a magical day indeed that brings
us together like this. What a joy to be able to speak to you at this point in my life!"
The mother stood up at attention-with her mouth dropping in
amazement. She even drooled a bit.
"Only three questions can I ask," the boy continued from the
crib. "I want to know so much!" The boy was thinking about his first question as his mother was taking it all in. This is
real, she thought. My son is talking to me as if he were all grown up! What a miracle. What a gift. She could hardly contain
herself waiting for her son's first question. Would it be about philosophy or religion? Perhaps he would want to know the
best advice to guide him into a good career, or maybe he wanted to know how he should choose the best mate-one who would stick
around longer than hers did. The boy looked into his mother's eyes and asked the first question.
"Mother, I have laid outside this house on my back and was amazed
at the sky. Why is it blue?"
It was all the mother could do not to shout: "You wasted the
first question! Who cares why the sky is blue!" But the mother was so in love with her son that she patiently answered the
question according to the rules. She explained how the atmosphere and oxygen molecules refract the light of the sun and turn
it blue-at least that's what she believed. It sounded good, anyway. She anxiously waited for the next question. The next one
has to be better, she thought. Perhaps he would like to know what he should do with his life in order not to end up homeless
or with delinquent friends.
"Mother, my second question is this. Although I have been here
only six months, I notice that sometimes it is hot outside, and sometimes it is cold. Why is that?"
The mother was appalled. Another question wasted on dumb stuff!
How could this be, she wondered. Her son was innocent and alert. His question was important to him, and she treasured this
magic time they could have together. Slowly, she tried to tell him about the Earth and the sun, and how the Earth tilts slightly
as it orbits the sun, causing winter and summer, cold and hot. Finally, it was time for the last question. They had been at
it for almost thirty minutes, and so little had actually been communicated.
"Mother, I love you!" exclaimed the son. "But how do I know
you are really my mother? Do you have some kind of proof?"
What kind of a question was this? Where did that come from?
Who else would be his mother? Hadn't she cared for him every day of his life? What a disappointment this session had been.
She almost wanted to walk away and go back to the laundry room where this had all started. She thought of how she was going
to shove the angel in the dryer the next time she saw him. Her son, his innocent eyes wide open and alert, was waiting for
She started crying, but held out her hands and said, "Look at
my fingers; they are just like yours. My feet and my face look like yours. My expressions of joy and love are just like yours.
I am truly your mother. We have the same eyes and mouth-look!" With that, the child was satisfied, and he slowly laid himself
down on his mat and went to sleep.
That was it? This miracle of communication had come and gone,
and the mother had not had a meaningful conversation with her beautiful son. What happened? What went wrong? She spent a great
deal of time thinking about it all, and she mourned the passing of such an event without anything substantive being transferred.
Then the angel appeared again-up through the bathroom drain.
"Go away," the mother said before the angel could say anything.
"What a disappointment you turned out to be."
"I gave you the time," the angel said kindly. "I did not design
"What good was it? Why didn't my son ask anything important?
You told me he would have the mind of an adult, but he asked the questions of a child. You have tricked me with your so-called
"Dear one," the angel replied, "although your son was given
the language and the intellect of an adult, he had only the wisdom and experience of the six months he had been on Earth.
His questions were therefore the most meaningful ones he could think of, and you answered them all. Even the last one, which
was postured in fear, you answered correctly. In addition, you transmitted your love to him while you were together, and you
were not impatient with him. He did his best and was honest. What more could you ask?"
The mother sat down. She hadn't thought of that. Her son had
mustered up the best questions he could come up with. How could he know what to ask if he didn't have the wisdom she had?
And if he had somehow been given that wisdom, he would not have had to ask anything! Without any more communication, the angel
left for the final time-this time out the window.
The mother returned to the crib and spent a long time looking
at her precious son. "You did your best, my son," she said in a quiet voice. "It was good that we had time for a talk."
The Mind of a Newborn
Excerpt from The Mind of Your Newborn Baby by David B.
Chamberlain, Ph.D. North Atlantic Books: Berkeley, CA 1998 10th Anniversary edition of "Babies Remember Birth" (1988). (1999)
What do you see when you look at a newborn baby, bright-eyed, gazing straight at you?
Is there really
a person there?
or beet-red with rage, can this baby think & feel? For its small size, a newborn makes a powerful, compelling noise, but is it actually saying anything?
Until recently, there were
many theories about newborns but few known facts. For uncounted centuries, infants have been separated from the rest of us
by a veil of ignorance.
As close as we've been to
them, we didn't know how amazing they are. Common wisdom about babies was based on the obvious limitations of their size, weight & muscle power.
Consequently, babies were
described as sometimes adorable but incapable, subhuman, pre-human, dull & senseless & treated as such.
has held that infant cries were only "random" sounds, their smiles only "gas" & their expressions of pain simply "reflexes."
Misinformation about the newborn
has made parenthood more difficult & infancy more miserable.
A brighter future has been
dawning for infants. In the last 25 years, research on the newborn has flourished. An unprecedented combination of interest
in infants, investment of large sums of public & private money & innovative methods of study has resulted in new information,
much of it surprising.
Contributions to our widening
knowledge of the newborn come from diverse fields of science from embryology to psychology. This book gathers the most important facts from this wide literature for a general audience, especially new or prospective parents.
Leading researchers now sing
the praises of infants. Harvard's Berry Brazelton calls them "talented"; Hanus Papousek, a German pioneer in infant studies,
calls them "precocious"; famed pediatrician, Marshall Klaus calls them "amazing." Professor T.G.R. Bower, one of the most
innovative of all infant researchers, declares that newborns are "extremely competent" in perception, learning & communication.
Babes have come of age in
our century. Because so much has been discovered & momentum is still building, I think this will prove to be the century of the newborn, the time when we finally reach a full & factual knowledge of who they
At the beginning of this century,
only a handful of scientific papers about infants could be counted worldwide. By mid-century, almost 500 could be cited. In
the 1960's & 1970's, serious reviews of this literature suddenly had to cover at least 2,000 books & papers.
This information explosion
continues. Infants have been measured inside & out, filmed with cameras permitting analysis down to microseconds, watched
for hours on end & tested in clever experiments.
Results show that they pick
up information constantly & learn from their experience much as we do.
One of the exciting aspects
of this new knowledge is the verification of infant abilities at earlier & earlier ages. Timetables estimating the ages
at which particular talents are expected to appear have had to be revised again & again, bringing them closer to birth.
Many abilities are innate
& adult-like, surprising investigators & ruining theories. A fundamental rule of developmental psychology -that all
complex behaviors must start as simple behaviors & develop gradually-has become obsolete.
Surprisingly, many behaviors
start out complex. The truth is, much of what we've traditionally believed about babies is false. We've misunderstood & underestimated their abilities.
They aren't simple beings but complex & ageless, small creatures with unexpectedly large thoughts.
Babies know more than they
were supposed to know. After only minutes of repeated exposure to its mother's face after birth, a baby can pick her out from
a gallery of photos. Babies recognize the gender of other babies, even when cross-dressed, provided they're moving-something
adults can't do.
They're mentally curious &
eager to learn. Consider how smoothly the senses are coordinated at birth: eyes turn with the head in the direction of a sound;
hands go up to protect eyes from bright light; the first time at the breast, the baby knows how to suckle & breathe in
perfect synchrony; they shriek & pull away from a heel lance.
The territory of life before
birth has also been charted as never before. Thru the wizardry of the scanning electron microscope, fiber optics & special
lenses, ultrasound imaging & other measuring devices & laboratory techniques, we now have a comprehensive picture
of development of all parts of the physical system before birth.
These discoveries have added
to our understanding of the baby's many talents.
Neuroscientists have discovered
the timetable for development of the entire nervous system, For example, studies show that the sense of taste begins functioning
around 14 weeks after conception & the sense of hearing around 20 weeks.
After only 8 weeks of gestation,
stroking the baby's cheeks with a fine hair produces consistent reactions indicating that tactile sensitivity has already
During gestation, all the
structures are set in place that will enable the newborn to use the sense of smell as well as any adult. Similar preparations
are made for use of a wide range of visual talents. Learning
before birth has even been demonstrated in many experiments.
A host of scientific discoveries
provides formal verification of what many parents & grandparents have known all along: newborns are real persons. Parental
enthusiasm about newborn abilities used to be dismissed as vanity, bias, or hallucination.
Now science confirms that
infants are social beings who can form close relationships, express themselves forcefully, exhibit preferences & begin
influencing people from the start.
They're capable of integrating
complex information from many sources & with a little help from their friends, begin regulating themselves & their
Myths about Newborns
1. Babies Don't Feel Some
nurses & doctors are still telling parents that babies don't really feel things, that they'll not suffer during medical
procedures, or miss their mothers if taken away to a nursery. Anesthetics haven't been considered necessary for infants undergoing
Hospital delivery rooms, obstetrical instruments & medical
routines were all designed before babies were thought to have senses & thus with no regard for babies' comfort. Rooms
are frigid, lights blinding, surfaces hard and flat, the atmosphere noisy, the handling of newborns too upsetting.
Newborns are routinely traumatized & punctured.
Generation after generation, an unlucky majority of American
male babies have been subjected to circumcision for dubious medical religious, cultural & cosmetic reasons.
I can only assume that parents have tolerated this in the mistaken
belief that the baby will not know he is being tortured. He will.
Babies considered unable to feel are easily victimized; they
become non-persons with minimal rights. An earlier, more deadly, form of this view provided justification for infanticide
(mostly female), practiced widely thru most of human history.
In modern times child abuse, the once secret violence of parents,
is exposed to public view. Infants may be the last large category of persons to be fundamentally misunderstood, discriminated
against & abused.
In 1975 French obstetrician Frederick Leboyer called for a new
approach in Birth Without Violence. His colleagues denied the need for change & publicly recited the myth
that babies don't really feel or care.
The newly discovered truth is that newborn babies have all their
senses & make use of them just as the rest of us do. Their cries of pain are authentic. Babies aren't unfeeling; it's
we who've been unfeeling.
2. Very Poor Brains Probably
the most damaging myths about newborns are those about their brains. Reasoning from the gross anatomy of the brain at birth,
scientists concluded that it was "primitive" & poorly developed.
And, because it was only about 1/4 of its eventual weight &
volume, it was incapable of "higher" functions of thinking, meaning & memory.
For a hundred years this assumption has governed both medicine
& psychology, supporting abuses in obstetrics & pediatrics that are accepted as a normal part of birth.
Without a brain, babies could have no experiences, accumulate
no history, possess no self-consciousness or intelligence in effect, couldn't really be present.
This myth has artificially delayed the beginning of active parenthood
and prevented public recognition that newborns are persons. The reasoning is this: no brain, no person; no person, no need
In retrospect, brain experts made one of the classical errors
of science by dissecting the brain to find out how it works. The problem is that the brain works properly only if it is whole.
Separate parts aren't the system. Most serious was the error
of severing the brain from its connections with two other systems, the endocrine & immune systems. Medicine officially
divided the territory into 3 different specialties:
Current research shows all 3 are elegantly linked in one fluid
central intelligence system.
That the whole brain is more than its parts is illustrated by
a debate that has lasted for decades over the myelin sheathing that insulates nerve fibers. I ran into this wall personally
when I started to tell colleagues about the birth memories my clients were reporting.
Their immediate reaction was that such memories were impossible
because the myelination of nerve tracks wasn't complete at birth and therefore signals couldn't flow properly thru the nervous
The truth is that myelination begins in some places only a few
weeks after conception but isn't completed until adolescence. It's no measure of what a baby's brain can do.
3. Assembly-Line Brain Another
basic misunderstanding about the infant brain was that it was like an engine on an assembly line, not expected to work until
the last part was installed. Compounding this error was a prejudice that the parts of the brain formed first were "primitive"
and less valuable, while those added last were much more sophisticated and important. A half-truth at best, this theory has
kept scientists and parents alike from appreciating intelligence before birth and has justified inhumane practices at birth.
If the sophisticated, "advanced" parts of the brain were not yet developed, the reasoning went, the baby could not have meaningful
experiences. Memory and learning were out of the question.
The cerebral cortex, the symmetrical left- and right-brain structures
lying at the top of the skull, is formed last and does have those special convolutions, the latest evolutionary wrinkles that
give humans a competitive edge over other creatures. However, it was false to conclude that the cortex was not working until
finished and that the rest of the brain could not engage in complex activity. Long before the completion of the cortex, complex
systems for breathing, sleeping, waking, crying, spatial orientation, and movement are already functioning. The senses of
taste, touch, smell, and hearing are fully operative and coordinated. Even vision is advanced at birth, although the visual
portion of the cortex is not yet fully developed.
4. Babies Can't Think Until
recently, brain experts generally agreed that the newborn, like the beloved storybook character Winnie the Pooh, was "a bear
of little brain." A recent book on the nature of the child by a noted Harvard psychologist says the cortex of the young
infant resembles that of an adult rat!
With such poor equipment, how could a newborn think? Academic
psychologists use big words to deny infant mental activity: pre-symbolic, pre-representational, pre-reflective. In other words,
babies are without words & can't think. This relates to another myth-that in order to think, you must have language.
Recent investigations have shown that babies do a lot of thinking,
with or without language. You'll see evidence of this thinking when your newborn purposefully reaches out, gives an inquisitive
look, frowns (or screams) in protest, gurgles in satisfaction, or gasps in excitement.
Newborns also listen intently to their mothers reading stories
& prefer to hear again those heard weeks before birth. And note this: they listen attentively as long as mother reads
forward, but will stop listening as soon as she reads backward (nonsense) - another indication of good thinking.
More tellingly, infants are great dreamers, according to studies
of brain waves. They dream much more than you & I do. Meticulous observation by scientists of infant body movements &
facial expressions during dreaming shows that they act & look just like adults do when dreaming. How could they dream
5. No Sense of Self Without
physical senses & a fully furnished brain, the myth goes, there can be no sense of self & of other selves. Psychoanalysts
have declared that infants are "autistic" & unresponsive to social signals; they aren't ready for relationships, certainly
not for communication.
"Solipsistic" was the word renowned Swiss psychologist Jean
Piaget chose to describe newborns, meaning that they were out of touch with the outside world & totally preoccupied with
themselves. This theory is no longer defensible.
Although Piaget was a pioneering theorist in developmental psychology,
he didn't have the advantage of our present knowledge of newborns. He taught that it might take a newborn 18 months to escape
from being "egocentric" & to regard himself as an object among others.
Students of Piaget continue to state
Boston psychologist Burton
White wrote that newborns are helpless, can't think, use language, socialize with another human, or even deliberately move
about. He claims that for the first few weeks of life, a baby isn't very interested in any aspect of the external environment.
If you accept this view, you'll
be discouraged from having intimate dialog with your newborn & be deprived of the many gifts your baby is prepared to
give you. You & your baby are linked, not alien from each other. Your performance is a duet, not a solo.
Babies watch intently for changes in your face & can instantly
mimic expressions of sadness, happiness & surprise. Babies listen with incredible precision to adult speech. Films show
that they lead as well as respond in dialog with parents.
If babies were lost in
their own world, they wouldn't be so good at analyzing & responding to sounds.
They'll stop eating, even
when hungry, to listen to something interesting. If they hear other babies crying, they will usually be moved to cry with
them. If they hear a recording of their own cry, they may suddenly stop crying-an indication that they recognize themselves.
Psychologists have been finding
precursors of self-consciousness before the age of 2 or 3, when self -awareness had been thought to begin. One authority writes
that infants discover they have a mind & others have minds when they're 9 months old.
Colwyn Trevarthen believes that interaction between people is innately human & can be seen in newborns.
6. Babies Don't Need Their Mothers
This myth justifies keeping newborns in hospital nurseries & away from their mothers, a practice said to be
necessary to ensure the babies' health. The opposite is true. From its mother the baby receives antibodies to ward off infections,
as well as individual attention not available in a nursery.
Lying next to mother helps
the baby regulate its own body temperature, metabolic rate, hormone & enzyme levels, heart rate & breathing. Separation
of mothers & newborns is a physical deprivation & an emotional trial.
Mothers know deep within themselves
what scientists are just discovering-that relations between mothers & babies are mutual, reciprocal, even magical. A baby's
cry triggers release of the mother's milk, the only perfect milk on earth for babies.
Breast-feeding after delivery
speeds expulsion of the placenta & protects the mother from hemorrhaging. In addition, there's a vital power in the baby's
look & touch to turn on feelings & skills necessary for successful mothering.
Babies - need to hear their
mother's voice, learn her sleep cycles & recognize her body odors & facial expressions. Babies need to know their
mothers are all right.
7. The Age Myth Age is
a status category that works against infants. Without realizing it, we tend to discount age groups different from our own:
Somehow these "others" seem
woefully inferior, disabled & incapable of being persons as we are.
Generally, younger means lower
status. We think a baby isn't real enough to listen to, to learn from, or to protect from inhumane treatment. The baby will
become a person at some later time -perhaps when it can walk, talk, or go to school.
Myths aside, babies seem to
act as individuals long before birth, engaging in spontaneous activity to suit themselves, expressing preferences for certain
sounds, motions & tastes & reacting to danger in the womb.
Once born, from Day One, they
engage in many complex activities integrating sounds & sights, regulating their work & rest & demonstrating bona
Using their communication
skills they engage you in dialog, establish intimate relationships & without your realizing it, they begin teaching you
how to be a parent.
Emotion, a language for all ages, is worn on babies' faces. We're late in acknowledging this. Watch your infant for expressions of happiness, surprise, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, interest & distress.
Such is the mind of a newborn baby!
Infantile "Amnesia" is Dead! by David B. Chamberlain,
In academic circles, a long-standing prejudice against the reliability
of all early and very early memory is collapsing. The least-likely period for memory to function, the intrauterine period,
increasingly illuminated by ultrasound, has made it possible for visionary experimental psychologists to show that memory
and learning systems are functioning. Babies still in the womb are signaling that they have become familiar with rhymes repeated
to them daily over a four-week period. Likewise, immediately after birth, babies exposed to parents' voices, musical passages,
soap opera themes, news program sounds, sounds of their native language, as well as tastes and smells introduced in utero
are all treated as familiar, that is, learned and remembered from weeks and months in the past.
Memory experts have continued to overlook the prima facie evidence
provided by two- and three-year old children recalling specifics of their birth when they are first able to speak. This evidence,
published in magazines for childbirth educators and parents in 1981, was never taken seriously in scientific circles. Ironically,
for the last 16 years, we have had memory experts denying birth memory while new waves of three-year-olds were proving them
Psychologists have been enthralled with the theory of infantile
amnesia since it was stated by Sigmund Freud in 1916. The popular observation that people rarely remember anything that happened
to them before their third or fourth birthday turned an idea into dogma. It was further justified by theories of noted Swiss
psychologist Jean Piaget, about the limitations of newborn intelligence and its development in discreet stages. After 40 years,
these ideas are now crumbling under the weight of experimental evidence. Tearing down the wall of illusion regarding infant
memory has taken a handful of brilliant experimental psychologists, completing over three dozen crucial experiments, and a
full decade of time. As a result, infantile amnesia is dead.
A key idea in medicine and psychology which made it difficult
to accept any sophisticated early use of the mind was the idea that the immature and unfinished brain could not support memory
and learning. A further prejudice was that true episodic memory could not be tested with preverbal infants. These notions
made it easy to avoid research and to dispute the evidence as it appeared. What the experimental psychologists have managed
(against heavy odds) to prove is that children age three, age two, and age one are all capable of both immediate and long-term
recall of specific events in their lives. Infants tested at two, four, and six months can recall details about hidden objects,
their location, and size.
Ability to recall procedures involving a series of steps, after
long delays, depends not on age but on the same factors and conditions which improve recall in older children and adults,
such as the nature of the events, the number of times they experience them, and the availability of cues or reminders. Experts
now conclude that babies are constantly remembering and learning what they need to know at the time; their memories are not
lost, they are continually updated as learning progresses.
The old belief that infants are mentally incompetent has isolated
them and delayed discovery of their elementary abilities. More importantly, this belief has obscured the evidence for higher
perception, telepathic communication, and subtle forms of knowing which we have discovered in various forms of psychotherapy.
With another big barrier down, perhaps parents and professionals will be able to meet real babies more often.
A Baby Speaks
The Critical Importance of a Child's First Years
By Jan Hunt, M.Sc.
Statistics tell us that something has gone wrong
in our world. A steadily rising rate of social ills, and the proliferation of self-help books and therapy techniques for "reparenting
the inner child" attest to the sad fact that we have lost our way in raising our children.
It is up to us as parents - despite our personal
limitations - to give our children the right start in life: to help them become fulfilled, emotionally healthy adults, capable
of loving and trusting others. Philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote that "the entire ocean is affected by a pebble." Our children
should be like pebbles bringing forth waves of joy, not more sorrow and suffering.
Current thinking about our failure to fulfill our
children's needs points to the importance of the earliest years of childhood, making it clear that the first three years are
especially critical. What should we be doing during those years to ensure that our children have the best chance of becoming
healthy and happy - as they deserve to be? Consider what a member of that age group might recommend to us - if only they could
I am eleven months old. I can't
talk yet, so when I am hungry, tired, wet, lonely, ill, or in pain, I cry. It is the only means I have to let my parents know
that something is wrong.
If my crying is ignored, all that happens is that
my needs become greater - I get even more miserable. On top of that, I have to face the fact that apparently no one cares
about me. I'm sure Mommy would feel the same way if she were crying and Daddy ignored her. Believing that no one cares about
you is a very devastating thought.
When my tears are ignored, I begin to believe that
no matter how hard I cry, and no matter what is wrong, no one will ever come. If no one ever comes, I worry that I will die,
because I cannot meet my own needs yet. You see, I have no concept of time, and two minutes is forever to me.
Sometimes I stop crying - but I am not learning patience
- I am learning despair. When I stop crying, it means that I have lost all hope of ever being loved again, and all I feel
is helplessness and despondency. I worry that I will never learn to communicate with words if I am not allowed to communicate
with cries. And I worry that if I feel this frustration too many times, I will withdraw and stop feeling anything.
It sure can be frightening to think that no one cares
enough about me to meet my needs. In fact, when my cries are ignored, I begin to think the world is a really bad place, and
I worry that this will give me a negative and selfish outlook on life. But when my needs are met, I feel loved and secure
enough to return that love to others, and eventually to my own children. I do so want to become a loving, caring person, but
how will I learn to be like that if I don't see examples of it?
I get very lonely if I am separated from my parents.
For nine months, my mother and I were inseparable, and I felt so much love inside her. She was all I knew when I arrived on
this strange planet. It will require a certain amount of time - perhaps three years or longer - before my sense of trustis established and I am ready to spend extensive time with other caregivers. The more secure I can feel now, the sooner
that time will come. if I am forced to face this separation before I am ready, it will take a lot longer; in fact, I may never
reach the level of maturity that I hope to reach by the time I am an adult.
At night, I like to sleep next to my parents. Being
able to touch them and hear them during the dark hours of the night are my only means of knowing that they have not disappeared.
There are other reasons for wanting them near: their presence helps to regulate my heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature
and sleeping cycles, and their breathing regulates my own breathing.
I love to breastfeed. Breast milk is the best food
for me; it contains important substances, not found in formula, which will help to keep me healthy for many years. When Mommy
breastfeeds, she produces a hormone which keeps her happy too. Best of all, breastfeeding keeps Mommy and me close.
I have no desire to take unfair advantage of my parents.
I love them very deeply. I am simply asking for the same care that was given to babies for thousands of years until recent
history. If my needs are met, I will be free to demonstrate all the love and trust I was born with. All I want is a chance
to express that love fully.
1. Campbell, D. Ross, M.D. How to Really Love Your Child. Wheaton, Illinois:
Victor Books, 1980, pp. 29 - 36.
2. Rolfe, Randall. You Can Postpone Anything But Love. Edgemont, Pennsvlvania:
Ambassadore Press, Inc., 1985, pp. 54 - 60.
3. Bowlby, John. Attachment and Loss, Volume ll: Separation. New York:
Basic Books, 1973.
4. Lynch, James J. The Broken Heart -The Medical Consequences of Loneliness.
New York: Basic Books, 1977.
5. McKenna, James, "Aspects of Infant Socialization, Attachment, and Maternal
Caregiving Patterns Among Primates: A Crossdisciplinary Review, Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 1979, pp. 250 -
6. Sears, William. Nighttime Parenting. Franklin Park, Illinois: La Leche
League International, 1985.
The first three years of life are a period of
incredible growth in all areas of a baby's development. A newborn's brain is about 25 percent of its approximate adult weight.
But by age 3, it has grown dramatically by producing billions of cells and hundreds of trillions of connections, or synapses,
between these cells. While we know that the development of a young child's brain takes years to complete, we also know there
are many things parents and caregivers can do to help children get off to a good start and establish healthy patterns for
Frequently Asked Questions
The human brain begins forming very early in
prenatal life (just three weeks after conception), but in many ways, brain development is a lifelong project. That is because
the same events that shape the brain during development are also responsible for storing information—new skills and
memories—throughout life. The major difference between brain development in a child versus learning an adult is a matter
of degree: the brain is far more impressionable (neuroscientists use the term plastic) in early life than in maturity. This
plasticity has both a positive and a negative side. On the positive side, it means that young children's brains are more open
to learning and enriching influences. On the negative side, it also means that young children's brains are more vulnerable
to developmental problems should their environment prove especially impoverished or un-nurturing.
Which plays a more important role in brain development, nature (genes) or nurture (environment)?
Genes and environment interact at every step
of brain development, but they play very different roles. Generally speaking, genes are responsible for the basic wiring plan—for
forming all of the cells (neurons) and general connections between different brain regions--while experience is responsible
for fine-tuning those connections, helping each child adapt to the particular environment (geographical, cultural, family,
school, peer-group) to which he belongs. An analogy that is often used is wiring a phone network: genes would specify the
number of phones and the major trunk lines that connect one relay station to the next. Experience would specify the finer
branches of this network-the connections between the relay station and each person's home or office.
For example, each of us is born with the potential
to learn language. Our brains are programmed to recognize human speech, to discriminate subtle differences between individual
speech sounds, to put words and meaning together, and to pick up the grammatical rules for ordering words in sentences. However,
the particular language each child masters, the size of his vocabulary, and the exact dialect and accent with which he speaks
are determined by the social environment in which he is raised--that is, the thousands of hours he has spent (beginning even
before birth) listening and speaking to others. Genetic potential is necessary, but DNA alone cannot teach a child to talk.
Does experience change the actual structure of the brain?
Yes. Brain development is "activity-dependent,"
meaning that the electrical activity in every circuit—sensory, motor, emotional, cognitive--shapes the way that circuit
gets put together. Like computer circuits, neural circuits process information through the flow of electricity. Unlike computer
circuits, however, the circuits in our brains are not fixed structures. Every experience--whether it is seeing one's first
rainbow, riding a bicycle, reading a book, sharing a joke--excites certain neural circuits and leaves others inactive. Those
that are consistently turned on over time will be strengthened, while those that are rarely excited may be dropped away. Or,
as neuroscientists sometimes say, "Cells that fire together, wire together." The elimination of unused neural circuits, also
referred to as "pruning," may sound harsh, but it is generally a good thing. It streamlines children's neural processing,
making the remaining circuits work more quickly and efficiently. Without synaptic pruning, children wouldn't be able to walk,
talk, or even see properly.
What is a "critical period" in brain development?
Pruning or selection of active neural circuits
takes place throughout life, but is far more common in early childhood. Animal studies have shown that there are certain windows
of time during which the young are especially sensitive to their environment: newborn mice must experience normal whisker
sensation in the first few days of life or they will develop abnormal tactile sensitivity in the face region; cats must be
allowed normal visual input during the first three months or their vision will be permanently impaired; and monkeys need consistent
social contact during the first six months or they will end up extremely emotionally disturbed. Many of the same critical
periods appear to hold for human development, although we are less certain about their exact length. Thus, babies also require
normal visual input or they may suffer permanent impairment; children born with crossed or "lazy" eyes will fail to develop
full acuity and depth perception if the problem is not promptly corrected. Language skills depend critically on verbal input
(or sign language, for babies with hearing impairments) in the first few years or certain skills, particularly grammar and
pronunciation, may be permanently impacted. The critical period for language-learning begins to close around five years of
age and ends around puberty. This is why individuals who learn a new language after puberty almost always speak it with a
Are there critical periods in the development of every brain function?
Probably not. In the case of visual development,
certain abilities are more at-risk than others when a young child's vision is impaired by eye-crossing or other visual problems
(such as congenital cataracts). Thus, two visual abilities--acuity (the perception of fine detail) and binocularity (the coordinated
use of both eyes), which is especially important for depth perception--do depend on normal visual experience as a child, whereas
two other visual abilities--color and peripheral vision--are not impaired by visual problems in early life. A similar distinction
holds for language development: certain skills (including grammar and phonology--the ability to perceive and produce individual
speech sounds) are more sensitive than others (such as vocabulary size) to a child's experience with language in the first
few years of life.
We know much less about the development of other
mental skills, such as emotional functioning, mathematical ability, or musical skill. If their development is comparable to
vision and language, we may expect that some features will be subject to a critical period while others are not. One musical
skill known as "perfect pitch"--the ability to identify a musical note without reference to a tuning note--seems to develop
only in musicians who began their training before the age of seven (and then, not in all professional musicians). Similarly,
a child's social-emotional development depends on a positive, nurturing attachment to a primary caregiver, based on the higher
frequency of serious behavioral problems among children who were severely neglected during the first year or more of life,
(such as the thousands of Romanian children reared in state-run orphanages). Comparable problems emerge among monkeys who
are reared in isolation, and neuroscientists are beginning to understand how the lack of attachment in infancy alters development
of emotional areas of the primate brain.
Why does the developing brain undergo these critical periods in its development?
Neuroscientists do not yet fully understand the
biological basis of these critical periods. One theory is that they correspond to a period of synaptic excess in the brain:
between infancy and the early grade school years, the brain actually over-produces connections--some 50 percent more than
will be preserved in adulthood. During the critical period, a child's experience--sensory, motor, emotional, and intellectual--determines
which of these synapses will be preserved, through pruning of the least useful connections. In this way, each child's brain
becomes better tuned to meet the challenges of his or her particular environment.
A related theory holds that learning itself creates
critical periods in a child's brain. That is, the longer a child has been exposed to one type of experience or environment,
the less likely he or she will be able to reverse the synaptic learning that has already taken place. Animal studies provide
some support for this theory. For example, kittens that are deprived of all vision (as opposed to the vision in just one eye)
in the first few months of life show a delayed critical period for visual experience, beginning from the time their deprivation
ends. Similarly, songbirds normally learn their species-typical songs early in life, by listening to adults of the same species.
However, when newly hatched birds of certain species are isolated, permitting them no song exposure during early life, their
critical period for song learning is delayed, even as late as adulthood.
When is the brain fully developed?
In some way, never. Our brains are continually
re-shaping themselves to meet the demands of everyday life, even throughout adulthood. However, there are certain aspects
of brain structure and function that do level off during development. For example, the number of neurons peaks even before
birth; some 100 billion are formed during just the first five months of gestation. (Recent evidence suggests that new neurons
are produced throughout life, though far less rapidly, and probably in numbers sufficient only to replace those that gradually
In spite of the great number of neurons present
at birth, brain size itself increases more gradually: a newborn's brain is only about one-quarter the size of an adult's.
It grows to about 80 percent of adult size by three years of age and 90 percent by age five. This growth is largely due to
changes in individual neurons, which are structured much like trees. Thus, each brain cell begins as a tiny sapling and only
gradually sprouts its hundreds of long, branching dendrites. Brain growth (measured as either weight or volume) is largely
due to the growth of these dendrites, which serve as the receiving point for synaptic input from other neurons.
Another way of measuring brain development is
to look at the speed of neural processing. A newborn's brain works considerably more slowly than an adult's, transmitting
information some sixteen times less efficiently. The speed of neural processing increases dramatically during infancy and
childhood, reaching its maximum at about age fifteen. Most of this increase is due to the gradual myelination of nerve cell
axons (the long "wires" that connect one neuron to another neuron's dendrites.) Myelin is a very dense, fatty substance that
insulates axons much like the plastic sheath on a power cable, increasing the speed of electrical transmission and preventing
cross-talk between adjacent nerve fibers. Myelination (the coating or covering of axons with myelin) begins around birth and
is most rapid in the first two years but continues perhaps as late as 30 years of age.
Synaptic development is a more complicated issue.
Synapses are the connecting points between the axon of one neuron and the dendrite of another. While information travels down
the length of a single neuron as an electrical signal, it is transmitted across the synapse through the release of tiny packets
of chemicals or, neurotransmitters. On the receiving (post-synaptic) side, special receptors for neurotransmitters change
the chemical signal into an electrical signal, repeating the process in this next neuron in the chain. The number of synapses
in the cerebral cortex peaks within the first few years of life, but then declines by about one third between early childhood
How does nutrition affect the developing brain?
is most sensitive to a baby's nutrition between mid-gestation & 2 years of age. Children who are malnourished - not just
fussy eaters but truly deprived of adequate calories & protein in their diet - throughout this period don't adequately grow, either physically or mentally.
are smaller than normal, because of reduced dendritic growth, reduced myelination & the production of fewer glia (supporting cells in the brain which continue to form after birth & are responsible for producing
Inadequate brain growth
explains why children who were malnourished as fetuses & infants suffer often lasting behavioral & cognitive deficits,
slower language & fine motor development
poorer school performance
birth weight - & brain size - do depend on the quality of his or her mother's nutrition
should gain about 20% of their ideal pre-pregnancy weight (e.g., 26 pounds for a 130-lb
woman) to insure adequate fetal growth. This requires consuming an extra 300 calories per day, including 10-12
extra grams of protein.
brain growth depends critically on the quality of a child's nutrition. Breast milk offers the best mix of nutrients for promoting
brain growth, provided that breast-fed infants receive some form of iron supplementation beginning around 6 months of age.
infant cereals are fortified with iron & breast-fed babies require this supplementation at 6 months whether or not their
mothers are iron-deficient.)
has been clearly linked to cognitive deficits in young children. Iron is critical for maintaining an adequate number of oxygen-carrying
red blood cells, which in turn are necessary to fuel brain growth.
should receive formula that contains iron.
of the rapid pace of myelination in early life, children need a high level of fat in their diets - some 50% of their
total calories - until about 2 years of age. Babies should receive most of this fat from breast milk or formula in the first
year of life & breastmilk remains an excellent source of liquid nutrition into the toddler years.
cow's milk can be introduced after the first birthday & provides an excellent source of both fat & protein for toddlers
in the 2nd year. After 2 years of age, children should begin transitioning to a more heart-healthy level of dietary fat (no more than 30% of total calories), including lower-fat cow's milk (1 or 2%).
Imagine you spent the next 9 months in a zero-gravity comfort chair made of water (amniotic fluid), that you were continuously fed the best & most
nutritious food & the only sound you heard was a smooth, comforting, muted low-frequency vibratory sound, accompanied by the steady pulse of a mother's heartbeat.
During this long gestation period, you'd become quite used to this environment & very relaxed. But at the moment of birth, you would immediately be bombarded with a shocking, new environment
that was noisy, chaotic, bright, loud & quite physically uncomfortable.
The transition between "pre"-natal & "post"-natal can be a nightmare for a
newborn. The infant is pummeled with new sounds they've never heard before & in fact, sound annoying & aggressive. The effect might be compared to wearing earplugs while attending a loud rock concert & then halfway thru the show, pulling
the earplugs out. The 'shrillness' of the 'new' sound can be startling.
What Does the Womb Sound Like?
The sounds & noises that we all live with in our daily lives are distracting & even frightening to a newborn baby. Why? Because those sounds never existed inside the 'safe chamber' of the womb.
The sound world of the pre-born is one of internal/maternal
low frequency, rumble, vibrations & a muted quality of sounds emanating from the world outside the mother.
In fact, every one of the other products promoted as "baby sleep
aids" or "baby sleep music", while appealing to parents, contains audio content that is completely
foreign to an infant's ears.
Popular research indicates that an
infant's hearing range isn't fully developed. The research, however, doesn't take into account what the baby feels. Low frequency
is mostly felt, not heard. Inside the safety of the womb, the baby hears predominantly low frequency sounds & nearly nothing
What the baby
hears predominantly is the mother's heartbeat. How the baby perceives the sound of the heartbeat is crucial. Most off-the-shelf
baby sleep tapes, CD's & audio products offer the sound of synthesized heartbeats or ultrasound translations, but the
BabySleep System™ audio track uses actual mother's heartbeat recorded thru a condenser microphone adapted to the "bell"
of a stethoscope.
An intrauterine heartbeat
recorded through ultrasound or doppler methods produce a sound that is NOT AT ALL what the baby hears inside the womb.
For instance, that "swishing" sound that's popular in ultrasound monitoring (called "doppler ultrasonography")
is caused by the machine itself. That is NOT what it sounds like inside the body.
The sound of the
mother's heartbeat that the baby actually hears inside the womb is totally different than any sound that exists outside the
womb. No other product on the market has attempted to work from within the womb itself.
Baby Sleep System technology uses recordings taken from INSIDE the body, not OUTSIDE. As you listen to the CD, it sounds as
if you (the listener) are underwater.... just as your baby remembers it.
Actual recordings of mother's heartbeat were taken,
then slowed down to a consistent 72 beats per minute. This is the "tempo" of a perfectly rested mother's heartbeat. Tests have proven that the prenatal baby
is most relaxed when the mother is calm & rested.
Studies conducted by the late Dr. Lee Salk,
eminent Child & Family authority, showed that playing a heartbeat sound recorded from the chest & set to a metronome
speed of 72 BPM had various positive effects on newborn babies.
The babies gained weight at
a faster rate & they were found to breathe deeper & more regularly when compared to babies who weren't exposed to
the heartbeat sound. Salk also noted heart rates played at more than 90 BPM resulted in increased excitability & agitation
among those babies.
A mother's heart rate can
exceed 120 BPM during moments of physical stress.
The miracle of life that starts
with just a single egg & a single sperm may be even more incredible than we think...
by Stuart Carter
techniques - 3D & 4D scans are opening up a unique portal on the miracle of life that starts with just a single egg &
a single sperm. With remarkable findings revealing that the foetus dreams, jumps, sucks it thumb, open it eyes & reacts
to pain far earlier that ever realized before. The essential senses, hearing & seeing also develop far earlier that we
had ever realized.
It all starts with
a humble sperm - & there are loads of them - around 300 million per ejaculation to be exact - & the largest cell in
the body - the female egg. In 9 months (38 weeks) this single fused cell will grow to 2
trillion cells with 200 different cell types - a complex self sustaining human baby.
A sperm can survive
for about 48 hours (yes 48 hours!) & it can take 10 hours to reach its destination -
the female cell waiting in the fallopian tube - swimming at the mightily impressive rate of 3mm per hour.
is as brutal here as anywhere in the outside world - only a few healthy sperm will make the entire journey & the first
to penetrate the female cell wall will be the winner. Within 12 hours the nuclei of sperm & egg fuse and the blueprint
for building a new human is complete.
The 23rd chromosome
determines the sex of the baby – all the mothers eggs have X chromosomes & the sperm carry either X or Y in equal
If the X sperm gets
thru then it’s a girl & if it is the Y a boy.
Pregnancy is divided
into 3 equal blocks called 'trimesters'. In the first trimester, up to 9 weeks, the foetus will form a complete human body
with limbs, nerves, organs & muscles. This is the most fragile part of the pregnancy when the foetus is most at risk.
After around 2 months
the whole body begins to move & twitch. The placenta has formed & has taken over from the yolk sac the job of providing
nourishment for the embryo. The intestines are formed & the foetus can move its legs & head but the eyes remain fused
Even at this early stage
the foetus responds to stimulation - when prodded its tiny hands will close - & this is the point at which its
own heart beat can be heard with a stethoscope. In fact 4D scans reveal that the foetus can already suck, yawn & swallow
- possibly all automatic reactions.
Is the foetus practicing
for when it will burst in to the real world? At about 9 weeks the foetus starts announcing its existence with a series of
leaps, using the walls of the uterus like a trampoline. This early on there is still plenty of space in which to flex its
By the end of the
first trimester everything is in place – ready to develop & grow.
2nd trimester the limbs start to function more fully. Now there's much less risk of miscarriage. The fist normal ultrasound
scan takes place around 11-14 weeks to establish an accurate delivery date & to measure the crown to rump length &
make sure everything is okay.
The scan could
reveal Downs Syndrome or other genetic abnormalities. It might also reveal twins. In fact twins are fascinating because their
close bonding starts in the womb where there's close contact of arms, legs & mouths.
Non identical twins
are separated by a membrane as there are 2 separate placentas. Multiple births run in families - if your mother had twins
then you're more likely to have them too. At the fist scan this is always a shock, but also a delight to the families - especially
when they can hear two distinct heart beats.
At 10 weeks the
genitals can be clearly seen, but it's still hard to be sure if it's a boy or a girl. In a girl the tiny ovaries are already
producing her lifetime supply of eggs & in a boy the rudimentary testicles are already producing testosterone.
At around 4 months
the foetus can be seen playing with its own umbilical cord – often getting it wrapped around its body. But it's still
very elastic & presents no danger at this stage. When prodded thru the abdomen the baby squirms - it can bend & twist
its fingers, hands, wrists & toes. The heart has settled to around twice an adults heartbeat rate – 120-160 bpm.
One of the most
important reactions the baby will have is now developing - the grasping reaction. It'll spend plenty of time practicing by holding
on to the umbilical cord, the other hand, toes, feet & face.
In the case of twins
they hold on to each other. Digestive & urinary tracts are in full swing with the baby swallowing & circulating its
own amniotic fluid - breathing the fluid in & out of its liquid filled lungs all the time. This is around the time the
baby’s mother will feel its movements for the first time.
The eyes were previously
thought to remain fused until around 24 weeks. But 4D ultrasound scans have revealed babies opening their eyes by the 16th week.
in there but the eyes are still not fully functional anyway. By the 18th week the foetus has reached the half way stage. At
21 weeks, the end of the second trimester, everything is fully formed if not fully grown.
At this stage a
few babies can survive outside the womb but most would still die or suffer from severe difficulties. But most will remain
where they are & put on a bit of weight & practice some vital skills for survival in the outside world.
The mother is becoming
increasingly aware of the changes happening inside her body. Her baby can taste & smell the amniotic fluid in which it lives. Doctors know
that the amniotic fluid can taste of garlic, onion & even curry. Too much spice & the foetus will stick out its tongue!
And it can hear
not only what goes on inside the womb, but also the rest of its mother’s body & sounds from the outside world. The
most dominant sound is the mother’s heartbeat, followed by the gurgling in her stomach. Strangely it can hear it father’s
voice best if he is close – the lower frequency waves can penetrate the abdomen wall more easily.
It's thought that the foetus can sense pain from 24 weeks on - & possibly even earlier. This is also the time the baby could
be born & stand a chance of surviving - & it's also the latest time that abortions can be carried out in the UK or
The baby can now
open its eyes regularly - but only the very brightest light can get thru the abdomen wall. At 25 weeks the eyes are fully
formed but the pigment will only mature when it's born - the pigment cannot properly form without light. The baby will drink
2 litres a day of amniotic fluid. It serves no nutritional value but does help perfect the art of swallowing - so important for later survival.
around 90% of their time asleep but when they're awake they can be full of beans, often exhibiting the ‘startle’
reflex where it throws it arms & legs out if it hears a loud noise.
The baby has been
hard at work sucking its thumb since the 11th week. By the 25th week it'll suck its fingers, toes
- in fact anything it can get hold of. At week 26 it is possible to hear the foetuses own heartbeat by pressing your ear to
the mother’s abdomen.
Its heartbeat is
twice as fast as it mother’s. And it ‘breathes’ just like a newborn, except that its lungs are filling with
fluid rather than air. The air sacs inside the lungs are still closed & will not open until the moment of birth.
By the 7th month
the baby kicks & hiccups just like a new born. And when it is asleep 4D scans reveal that it experiences REM – rapid
eye movement - as far as we're aware a clear indication of dreaming.
What is it dreaming
of – its mother’s voice, her heart beat or the loud noises outside? We don't know.
The cry of a new
born baby already exhibits some of the speech features & rhythms of its parents. A French newborn baby prefers to look
at a French speaking person & a Russian newborn at a Russian speaker. Incredible but true.
And fast music
can stimulate the foetus. Music similar to the heartbeat rhythm will have a soothing effect but faster music will agitate
it. At 32 weeks a foetus can recognize a piece of music & move in time to it.
Also it can remember
things extremely well. If its mother has watched a lot of one soap opera – after it's born it's more likely to be calm
& quiet when that program is playing on the TV. So our bad TV habits start before we are even born!
By the 9th month
the baby inverts itself so the head is pointing down ready for its exit into the big wide world. The baby is putting on weight
- mostly fat - with less & less space to move around inside it mother.
How the birth process
starts is still a mystery but we know it has something to do with the placenta. At some point the placenta stops the release
of progesterone & this somehow kicks off contractions in the uterus wall.
During the first
phase of labor the cervix expands to allow the baby to pass thru. Birth is a particular problem for humans – our brains
& therefore our heads are large & this is the trickiest part to get out of our mothers.
Large amounts of
adrenalin are released inside the baby to keep its heart going just in case the umbilical cord is squashed & the oxygen
supply is cut off. The adrenalin also helps kick start the lungs for a lifetime of work.
Finally after 9
months the baby is thrust into a bright, noisy world. For the fist time the baby has to breathe & feed on its own. As
its incredible odyssey inside the womb comes to an end another journey begins – the journey of life.
Thru many windows of observation,
we can now see - for the first time in human history - what's actually happening in the womb.
There's good news &
bad news. We can no longer think that the placenta can protect the prenate from anything bad going on in the mother's body, or that the mother's body can
protect the prenate from bad things going on in her world.
Mother & baby face together
the perils of air, water & earth compromised by the toxic residues of modern chemistry & physics. Parents are perhaps
the last ones to learn (& their children the first ones to suffer) these tragic realities
of modern life.
Pollution has many sources,
beginning with the physical environment surrounding the mother & father. Numerous chemicals loose in the environment reach
them where they work or find them in the garage or in cleaning supplies in the kitchen.
pesticides, preservatives, fumes & various forms of radiation are capable of interfering with reproduction. Chemical pollution
also reaches us in the medical system thru prescribed drugs which may put the well-being of the prenate at risk.
Some medicines, like aspirin
are hazardous at birth, as are some powerful anesthetics. Not long ago, an antibacterial soap used widely in hospitals
& dispensed in public areas was discovered - after years of use - to be neurotoxic.
Parents, too, can be a source
of contamination & injury to the unborn baby as a consequence of their personal habits & lifestyle choices. Drugs
thought to be harmless to adults can be harmful to babies because they aren't able to handle these chemicals in adult
& aspirin, substances ubiquitous in adult life, can affect the course of growth & development of babies. The
damaging effects of alcohol have been known for centuries & the most recent research (2005)
warns that no level of alcohol in the pregnant mother is safe.
Not so well known & perhaps
not yet even tested, are the toxic effects of experimental "street drugs" which damage parents as well as babies.
All these discoveries are revealing the profound importance of very early parenting, beginning, not at the time of birth,
but even before the time of conception when it's still possible to avoid a host of serious problems.
An additional reason for parents
to begin active parenting at conception is the discovery that babies in the womb are also developing more rapidly than previously
thought possible. From the 2nd month of pregnancy, experiments & observations reveal an active prenate with a rapidly
developing sensory system permitting exquisite sensitivity & responsiveness.
Long before the development
of advanced brain structures, prenates are seen interacting with each other & learning from experience. They seem especially
interested in the larger environment provided by mother & father & react to individual voices, stories, music &
even simple interaction games with parents. The quality
of the uterine environment is determined principally by parents.
The opportunities for parents
to form a relationship with the baby in the womb are significant & remarkable. This contrasts sharply with the previous
view that prenates didn't have the capacity to interact, remember, learn, or put meaning to their experiences. Only a decade
ago, doctors typically told pregnant mothers & fathers that talking to a baby in the womb was useless & unrealistic.
Now there's mounting
evidence for memory & learning in utero & for precocious communication before the stage of language. These
abilities of unborn babies underlie the successes reported in a series of scientific experiments with prenatal stimulation & bonding.
They're also a basis for the
personal stories occasionally shared by children & adults about their experiences before birth.
The Importance of Prenatal Sound & Music Column Editor: Giselle E. Whitwell, R.M.T.
Overview of the Field
Music has played an important role in different cultures since time immemorial. It has profoundly affected human beings in their physical, mental, emotional
& spiritual well being. But only in this century has music begun to attract scientific attention. The research at the
Univ. of California in Irvine has provided some information about the effect of Mozart on the spatial & mathematical intelligence
Recently, an article in the
Los Angeles Times newspaper (11/9/98) reported neurobiological research to the effect
that "undeniably, there is a biology of music." Music is destined to play a more active role in the future of medicine.
The following ideas illustrate how music affects
our early development.
The Importance of prenatal music was born in my awareness over 20 years ago when I was expecting my youngest son. Thru my communication with him telepathically & thru his delay in arrival I was able to attend a music
conference that was very important to me at that time.
The doctor thought it would be dangerous for me to participate in something very active aside from the fact that he was due that
week & being the second child, he surely would arrive early if not on time.
Well, our son
was born the day after I attended this stimulating week of singing & gentle movement.
Already at that time I observed
that lullabies were relegated to the past: young mothers no longer knew this folk song tradition. Michel Odent, M.D., believes that women have a profound need to sing to their babies but that the medicalization of birth has upset this process.
In the past, women all over
the world have sung lullabies to their babies. These were very important because as we now know the fetus is having first language lessons in the womb. The inflections of the mother tongue are conveyed
not only thru speech but most importantly thru song.
The singing voice
has a richer frequency range than speech. In fact, studies in other disciplines such as linguistics & musicology (e.g., David Whitwell, 1993) point out that there was a time when speech was song & therefore
singing is the older of the two.
Babies born of deaf mothers
miss these important first lessons in language development. French pioneer Dr. Alfred Tomatis mentions being intrigued by the fact that song birds
hatched by silent foster mothers can't sing.
What the baby learns
in utero are the intonational patterns of sound & the frequencies of a language in his/her particular culture. Frequency
is the level of pitch measured in Hertz (Hz.) This range varies between 16 to 20,000 Hz.
There's very little distortion
of the mother's voice as heard by the fetus whereas other external voices sound more muffled, especially in the higher frequencies.
According to Rubel (1984), the fetus is responsive first to lower frequencies & then
to higher ones.
Verny & others have noted
that babies have a preference for stories, rhymes & poems first heard in the womb. When the mother reads out loud, the
sound is received by her baby in part via bone conduction.
Dr. Henry Truby, Emeritus
Professor of Pediatrics & Linguistics at the Univ. of Miami, points out that after the 6th month, the fetus moves in rhythm
to the mother's speech & that spectrographs of the first cry of an abortus at 28 weeks could be matched with his mother's.
The elements of music,
namely tonal pitch, timbre, intensity & rhythm, are also elements used in speaking a language. For this reason, music
prepares the ear, body & brain to listen to, integrate & produce language sounds.
Music can thus be considered
a pre-linguistic language which is nourishing & stimulating to the whole human being, affecting body, emotions, intellect & developing an internal sense of beauty, sustaining & awakening the qualities in us that are wordless
& otherwise inexpressible.
The research of Polverini-Rey
(1992) seems to indicate that prenates exposed to lullabies in utero were calmed by the stimulus. The famous British violinist Yehudi Menuhin believes that his own musical talent was partly due to the fact that his parents were always singing & playing music before he
The Sound Environment of the Womb
The sound environment of the womb
is very rich. There are various interpretations as to the noise level, ranging between 30 to 96 dB. (decibel being a measure of sound intensity or loudness).
A whisper can
register 30 dB., a normal conversation is about 60 dB. & rush hour traffic can average about 70 dB. On the other hand,
shouted conversations & motorcycles reach about 100 dB. Rock music has been measured as 115 dB. & the pain threshold
begins at 125 dB.
Yet, recent research
with hydrophones have revealed that the womb is a "relatively quiet place" (Deliege & Sloboda,
1996), something comparable to what we experience in our environment between 50 & 60 dB.
Uterine sounds form a "sound
carpet" over which the mother's voice in particular appears very distinct & which the prenate gives special attention
because it's so different from its own amniotic environment.
These sounds are
of major importance because they establishes the first patterns of communication & bonding. Some researchers have discovered that newborns
become calmer & more self-regulated when exposed to intrauterine sound (Murooka et. al 1976; DeCasper 1983;
The soothing sounds of the ocean
& water are probably reminiscent of the fluid environment in which we began life. Tomatis suggests that the maternal heart
beat, respiration & intestinal gurgling, all form the source for our collective attraction to the sound of surf &
may have to do with our inborn sense of rhythm.
Prenatal sounds form an important developmental component in prenatal life because they provide a foundation for later learning & behavior. With fetal
sound stimulation the brain functions at a higher level of organization.
The ear first appears in the
3rd week of gestation & it becomes functional by the 16th week. The fetus begins active listening by the 24th week. We know from ultrasound observations that the fetus hears & responds to a sound pulse starting
about 16 weeks of age (Shahidullah & Hepper, 1992); this is even before the ear construction
The cochlear structures of
the ear appear to function by the 20th week & mature synapses have been found between the 24th &
28th weeks (Pujol et al. 1991). For this reason most formal programs of prenatal
stimulation are usually designed to begin during the third trimester.
The sense of hearing
is probably the mostdeveloped of all the senses before birth.
4 month-old fetuses can respond
in very specific ways to sound; if exposed to loud music & their heart beat will accelerate. A Japanese study of pregnant
women living near the Osaka airport had smaller babies & an inflated incidence of prematurity-arguably related to the
environment of incessant loud noise.
Chronic noise can also be
associated with birth defects (Szmeja et al. 1979). I recently received a report from a
mother who was in her 7th month of pregnancy when she visited the zoo. In the lion's enclosure, the animals were
in process of being fed. The roar of one lion would set off another lion & the sound was so intense she had to leave the
scene as the fetus reacted with a strong kick & left her feeling ill.
Many years later,
when the child was 7 years of age, it was found that he had a hearing deficiency in the lower-middle range. This child also
reacts with fear when viewing TV programs of lions & related animals. There are numerous reports about mothers having to leave
war movies & concerts because the auditory stimulus caused the fetus to become hyperactive.
Alfred Tomatis notes that
the ear is "the Rome of the body" because almost all cranial nerves lead to it & therefore it's considered our most primary
Embryonically, according to
him, the skin is differentiated ear & we listen with our whole body.
In order to better understand the role of music in its elements of rhythm & melody, we must briefly clarify the two parts of the inner ear.
These are the vestibular system & the cochlea. The vestibular system controls balance & body movements, including
the integration of movements which make up the rhythm of music-making the vestibular system the more archaic.
And according to Paul Madaule
(1984) "it is in fact because of the vestibular system that music seems to have an impact
on the body." At around 4 ½ to 6 weeks gestational age the vestibular & the cochlear systems become differentiated, at
7 ½ the auditory ossicles start to grow & at 4 ½ months the ear of the fetus is already adult-like in shape & size.
The cochlear system enables
the transformation of acoustic vibrations into nervous influx, thus allowing the perception of melodies which carry higher
frequencies. Knowing this, one can have a better understanding of the intimate relationship & unity of rhythm & melody.
George Gershwin expressed
this nicely: "Music sets up a certain vibration which unquestionably results in a physical reaction." With this in mind, we
should choose for early music stimulation melodies & rhythms that are simple.
Tomatis has a
unique view of the function of the human ear going beyond what is traditionally assumed. He regards it as neither an instrument
solely for hearing & listening, nor an organ for the maintenance of equilibrium & verticality.
For him the ear is primarily
a generator of energy for the brain, intended to give a cortical charge which is then distributed throughout the body "with the view to toning up the whole system &
imparting greater dynamism to the human being" (Gilmor & Madaule, 1984, p. 6).
Hence the importance of right sound stimulation which will lead to vocal expression, listening & thinking. Sound, music & human development are intricately interwoven.
Clearly, the vestibular
system progresses rapidly as seen by the active movement of the fetus in utero.
As early as the 1st trimester,
regular exercise patterns have been observed with ultra-sound: rolling, flexing, turning, etc. (Van
Dongen & Goudie, 1980). The movements appear as graceful somersaults, flexing of the back & neck, turning the
head, waving arms, kicking legs - all self initiated & expressive in nature.
When the baby moves in
utero, the heartbeat accelerates. DeMause (1982) summarizes reactions of the 2nd
trimester as follows:
"The fetus now floats peacefully, kicks, turns, sighs, grabs its umbilicus, gets excited at sudden noises, calms down when the mother talks quietly & gets rocked back to sleep as she walks about."
The fetal heart
is fully developed by the 2nd trimester & its pulse rate oscillates between 120 to 160 beats per minute. Some think the distinctive rhythm of the mother's heart beat in utero is the basis & our attraction to drumming, rock rhythms &
the African tribal beat.
Salk (1960), Murooka (1976) & De Casper (1983)
provided evidence that newborns learned & remembered their mother's heart beat in utero. Ashley Montagu (1962) suggested that the universal appeal of music & the soothing effect of rhythmical sounds may be related
to the feeling of well being assumed to exist in utero in relation to the mother's heartbeat.
Salk (1960) showed that newborns in hospitals listening to heartbeat sounds gained weight at a faster rate. Likewise, breathing was deeper & more regular among these babies.
According to W. Ernest Freud "rhythm itself provides a most reassuring 'cradle' because of its promise of repetition &
Sound & Learning in Utero
The powerful connection between sound / music & prenatal memory/learning have been revealed in formal experiments, parental observations,
clinical records & first person reports. Chamberlain (1998) using Howard Gardner's concept
of multiple intelligences, has presented evidence for musical intelligence before birth. Peter Hepper (1991) discovered that prenates exposed to TV soap opera music during pregnancy responded with focused &
rapt attention to this music after birth - evidence of long-term memory.
On hearing the music after birth,
these newborns had a significant decrease in heart rate & movements & shifted into a more alert state. Likewise, Shetler
(1989) reported that 33% of fetal subjects in his study demonstrated contrasting reactions
to tempo variations between faster & slower selections of music. This may be the earliest & most primitive musical response in utero.
The pioneering New Zealand fetologist,
William Liley, found that from at least 25 weeks on, the unborn child would jump in rhythm with the timpanist's contribution
to an orchestral performance. The research of Michele Clements (1977) in a London maternity
hospital found that 4 to 5 month fetuses were soothed by Vivaldi & Mozart but disturbed by loud passages of Beethoven, Brahms & Rock. Newborns have shown a preference for a melody their mother sang in utero
rather than a new song sung by their mother (Satt, 1987).
Babies during the 3rd trimester
in utero respond to vibroacoustic as well as air-coupled acoustic sounds, indicative of functional hearing. A study by Gelman
et al. (1982) determined that a 2000 Hz. stimulus elicited a significant increase in fetal
movements, a finding which supported the earlier study by Johnsson et al. (1964).
From 26 weeks to term, fetuses
have shown fetal heart accelerations in response to vibroacoustic stimuli. Consistent startle responses to vibroacoustic stimuli
were also recorded during this period of development. Behavioral reactions included arm movements, leg extensions & head
aversions (Birnholz & Benacerraf, 1983).
was observed after the conclusion of stimuli. Research by Luz et al. (1980 & 1985) has
found that the normal fetus responds to external acoustic stimulation during labor in childbirth. These included startle responses
to the onset of a brief stimulus.
New evidence of cognitive
development in the prenatal era is presented by William Sallenbach (1994) who made in-depth
& systematic observations of his own daughter's behavior from weeks 32 to 34 in utero. (The
full report of his findings is available on this website in Life Before Birth/Early Parenting)
most research on early learning processes has been in the area of habituation (Querleu et al.,
1981), conditioning (Van de Carr, 1988) or imprinting sequences (Salk, 1962).
observed that in the last trimester of pregnancy, the prenate's learning state shows movement from abstraction & generalization
to one of increased specificity & differentiation.
During a bonding session using music,
the prenate was observed moving her hands gently. In a special musical arrangement, where dissonance was included, the subject's
reactions were more rhythmic with rolling movements.
prenatal music classes, Sister Lorna Zemke has found that the fetus will respond rhythmically to rhythms tapped on the mother's
From what research is telling us,
we may presume that prenates would prefer to hear lullabies sung by their mothers, or selected slow passages of Baroque music
such as Vivaldi, Telemann & Handel which have a tempo resembling our own heart beat at rest. Recent research has shown
that 4 month old infants demonstrate an innate preference for music that's consonant rather than dissonant (Zentner & Kagan, 1998).
However, this allows great
latitude in the selection of music which babies & their mothers might like to hear. Our ultimate objective, of course
is to help create not a musical genius but a person well integrated in his physical, emotional, intellectual & spiritual
Taikyo, A Japanese Prenatal Education Program
Created by Yoshiharu Morimoto, M.D.
Giselle E. Whitwell, MT-BC, CCE, DOULA
Dr. Yoshiharu Morimoto is a pioneer in the field of pre-birth
education who established in 1989 a Pre-Birth Education Center in Osaka, Japan. Sixteen years later, he reports that 7,000
fetuses have been exposed to the techniques that he has created for pregnant mothers & their partners.
I was privileged to learn about this program in a 3 day workshop
offered by Dr. Morimoto in Los Angeles in March 2005. To date, he hasn't written about his program. What follows is a brief
introduction to 6 aspects of this program, 1 of which is music.
In addition to his dedication to prenatal education, Dr. Morimoto is CEO & Chairman of the IVF NAMBA Clinic, where he annually supervises 4,000 cases
of in-vitro fertilization. He teaches at the Kansai Medical Univ. & travels extensively to present his work. He can be
reached with email at email@example.com
became interested in issues of both birth & death thru his patients & their reports. An older patient dying of ovarian
cancer reported on an out of body experience in which she saw a wonderful garden.
In a near-death experience
she encountered a Buddha & died shortly thereafter.Dr. Morimoto has researched
such profound matters in Tibetan writings & in the Hindu Sutras.
Members of these
cultures believe that spirit is old, dwells in the sky & enters into mothers when they're sexually engaged with their
partners - all part of a long journey of incarnation.
Yet the mystery
of where we go after death or what happens before birth has continued to intrigue him. Although he concedes we have no means
of knowing from where our baby's soul comes, in his fertility clinic he has arranged for an incubator in which music is played
from the earliest stages of life when sperm & egg meet.
In Dr. Morimoto’s experience, children typically remember their
birth stories until the age of 6 years when memory of the event begins to fade. He recommends to parents that when the children
are in the water taking a bath or are near water sounds they casually ask them about their experience at birth.
He suggests questions like
What was your experience like in the womb?
What did you do?
How did you come out of your mother’s womb?
To the last question
one child described turning once around inside, setting his head, rushing into the pelvis & a final head turn at the end.
The doctor has heard
many testimonies of memories from children remembering scenes & situations in utero, some of which represent astute psychic
perceptions that we would probably label as clairvoyance, telepathy, or remote viewing.
For example, a pregnant
woman visiting Tokyo was powerfully impressed by the cityscape of tall buildings she saw there. Later when her child was 4,
the child described this scenery in great detail as if she had been there & seen it herself.
Babies have remembered
after birth things they had seen & heard while inside, although their vision shouldn't have been possible
from inside & should have been only partially developed at the time. One child remembered the deaths of a brother &
a sister prior to his coming into the family - a story that reminded Dr. Morimoto of a fairy tale, The Blue Bird, by
Belgian poet & playwright Maurice Maeterlinck.
In this work, the
author describes how the soul of a baby, waits in the hall of the Blue Palace (Paradise) to be born & comes down when
called by the mother.
Another baby, still
in the womb, every day would alert her mom 5 minutes before her dad would arrive home from work - a perceptive ability the
doctor refers to as “pre-vision.”
reveal the communication of animals (dogs, cats, birds) with the baby in utero. After receiving fertility treatments, one
mother’s dog "Momo" began sleeping on mother’s stomach. One day the mother felt the movement of the baby when
the dog was on her.
From that time on the dog began communicating directly with the baby by tapping the belly - & the baby responded.
After birth, the dog displayed much love for the baby & would comfort him, often communicating & attending to him first before alerting the mother.
Through the years, Dr.Morimoto
has collected many drawings from young children depicting their experience in the womb. He finds the drawings of 5
year old children quite astonishing.
In one of them we see the image of a placenta. In another the
umbilical cord is shown with its 3 interior vessels. These spontaneous sketches of life before birth are anatomically accurate.
Dr. Morimoto ponders these findings & questions how & why the fetus can see outside the womb thru the
amniotic fluid & the thick wall of the uterus. One way he explains it is that mother & baby are like two synchronized
He finds support for this in the work of Stanislav Grof & concepts of the collective unconscious by Carl Jung. He believes mother & baby communicate with each other in the deep layers of their unconscious
Elements of the Osaka Pre-Birth Education Program
are held for mothers (& fathers) during their 2nd & 3rd trimester of
pregnancy.Initially, there are 2 concentrated meetings of 4 hours each, where
the parents learn the basic techniques they'll continue to practice by themselves during the remainder of the pregnancy.
The first purpose is to bond with the baby in the womb. Thru this process the baby is then connected to the
larger world using mother as the gateway resonating with other relatives, neighbors, the community at large, nature, the earth,
the cosmos - everything alive.
The 16 year old program
consists of 6 areas of development & activities.
1.Autogenic training: This is a
special approach to relaxation.A psychologist at the Center leads pregnant women
who are reclining, sometimes sitting, in a darkened room for deeper relaxation purposes.
created by Johannes Schultz, a German doctor in 1932, requires time & practice initially but is said to offer greater
benefits than simple muscle relaxation.
The word autogenic derives from two Greek words, autos (self)
& genous, (generated), or “self-generated.”The technique focuses on certain phrases & images conditioning the body for a relaxed response, i.e.:
"feel your arms growing heavier & warmer ... your breathing is calm & smooth."
The result is a deep state of both physical relaxation & mental peace & should be led
by someone trained in the method. Some compare it to self-hypnosis. Mothers are taught to begin talking to their babies
in the womb.
Later during labor
& delivery mothers suggest to their baby to make themselves round & relaxed for an easier passage thru the vaginal
canal. Thus, autogenic training contributes to an easier birth experience.
2.Imagery Work: Sand Play & Paper Mache: The object of imagery exercises is to stimulate the right brain, which is important for the birth process.
Sand play is
a therapy technique used particularly with children & special education students to assist them with stress &/or trauma.
However, in this case, mothers are asked to create a scene in which they make a home for their baby.
As they do this there is an opportunity to return to their own infant years & access feelings of that time period, remembering
what it feels to be childlike.
encourages the emergence of a natural empathy that mothers can use to nurture their own babies.
In paper mache
mothers fashion the face of their expected baby. Some will have seen an ultrasound photograph of their child, most will not,
but what's remarkable is that about 25% of the time the sculpted face will resemble the baby after birth - a fact that surprises
3.The Kick Game: The idea to include this game in the Osaka program was
stimulated by a visit to obstetrician Rene Van de Carr in Hayward, California. Rene is famous around the world for his prenatal
curriculum called the “Prenatal University.”
was fascinated when he observed the Kick Game between mothers & babies in the womb. He has adapted this game somewhat for his program in Japan. This
technique includes the following steps:
(1) When the
baby spontaneously kicks the mother's abdomen, she taps gently in that same place & says "kick baby, kick!"
establishes a conditioned reflex in the baby to adult touch & voice, making possible a “game.” Mothers are
encouraged to persist in this process until it's learned. Dr. Morimoto notes that babies in the womb sometimes “request”
this game if the mother forgets or skips a day.
He also reports
that parents & babies have an 80% success rate is achieved this game with regular practice.
(2)The next step
is to tap in the opposite direction.Also, after the baby kicks & responds
on one side, the mother can tap on the opposite side, making the game more exciting.
He estimates a 60% success rate on this level.
(3)Introducing the concept of number. The mother taps any number of times & waits for the baby to respond
with the same number of kicks. One mother reported that her baby was very fond of the number ten!
The doctor believes that babies are very smart & some develop the concept of number doing this.A
30% success rate is found at this level of difficulty. Dr. Morimoto cautions mothers not to tap too hard when engaged in this
4.Conversation Skills (Taidan): The
Japanese word "taidan" means to convey the necessary skills to communicate with the fetus.It's derived from tai – fetus & dan – communication, meeting; a word created by Dr.
Morimoto for the purpose of his work.
In order to achieve his aim, Dr. Morimoto has placed Pregaphones
in the labor & delivery rooms so that parents have access to these at any
created in the USA by Ms. Hodson, president of the company. They are small megaphones with the wide end placed on the mother's
womb & the narrow mouthpiece end for the mother to speak to her baby.
is to direct the sound to the baby. According to Dr. Morimoto 4 principles should be followed in addressing the baby:
a little louder than normal
from the heart!
of communication are gained by exercises involving the senses of looking, listening, tasting, touching & smelling.Mothers are encouraged to experience the senses fully while working with flowers at
the Center or in daily living activities such as cooking & then to share these feelings with their babies in the womb
as if preparing them for what awaits them after birth.
Taikyo is practiced
in the classroom & whenever possible at home throughout the day whenever possible.
5.Music: Live music is played to class participants immediately
following the autogenic practice while they're still resting in a darkened room.
music will be in the form of a piano & violin duet & drawing upon a variety of styles from Mozart to modern music.
Dr. Morimoto has noticed that some babies can recognize music after only one hearing in the womb - just one reason why he
thinks fetuses are operating on a genius level.
Music appropriate for Taikyo should have certain energetic & technical qualities
which Dr. Morimoto determines by spectral analysis. This sound should contain the 1/f fluctuations of sound in the middle spectrum that show the greatest stability, compared with the 1/f2 fluctuations which are monotonous & boring, and the 1/f0 fluctuations
that are chaotic & irregular.
Music & sounds in the 1/f range are reported to have healing power, repair damaged tissue & provide
energy for creativity without boring people or making them tense. Morimoto’s spectral research with streams & waves
of water show they have fluctuations similar to the music of Mozart & the Plum Flower passage in Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker
mothers are invited to come together after the birth to share their experiences. More frequently in the last 10 years, mothers
are accompanied by their partners who join in the various exercises. This is a voluntary choice on their part.
no control groups have been used in the Morimoto program, making it impossible to make empirical comparisons with other programs,
interviews & reports from a small group of one year olds & 4 year olds exposed to the program in utero are very positive.
Over 95% of mothers felt that the program was “effective”
in meeting their expectations. Almost 80% felt that their children were “easy to care for” because of their good-natured
Similarly, almost 80% reported their children don't
cry at night & are generally loved & appreciated by others.
About 40% of the mothers studied reported an easy
delivery, but most mothers felt positive attachment to their babies after delivery.
Most mothers were pleased with the rapid growth
& development of their children & rated the 4 year olds high on “curiosity.” They also felt their children
were very friendly & not afraid of strangers.
An unspecified test indicated that the children showed “high” ability & “sociability.”
Reflecting on his overall impression of the effect of the
program on mothers & babies during the last 16 years, Dr. Morimoto feels sure that early bonding is the foundation for
the child’s personality & future life. He has constructed a chart with concentric circles illustrating the centrality
of bonding to the favorable development in life.
If the baby can first bond with mother, he or she
will progress to bonding with relatives, neighbors, animals & plants & to the larger cosmos.
On the other hand, if someone fails to form a bond with their mother, it could be difficult to establish a bond with others & society at large.
A failure at the beginning might be a prelude to future unhappiness & violence to self & to others. Therefore, prenatal education, in nurturing our social nature could save the financial resources that are
being consumed by social ills today.
Doctor Morimoto estimates that he has educated around 7,000 fetuses thru his program & he sees these babies
as alert, active & innocent, possessing a “radiance” & curiosity, a stable mind & attractive personality.
He believes that these babies are gentle & prepared to understand the feelings of others, able to love & be loved & approach life with bright eyes & bright minds. His hope is that the program he has designed informs babies about the wonderful & attractive world they come to live in.
He's driven by an ecological vision that declares “We need to maintain the earth & nature in a non-polluted & beautiful state in order to pass it along to our offspring with
Editor's Note: Giselle Whitwell is
a practicing prenatal music therapist in the Los Angeles area who has been a music educator for almost 20 years. For the last
7 years, she's given lectures & workshops on prenatal music in the US, Asia & Europe.
To facilitate her work with pregnant women, Giselle is currently in the process of becoming a Certified Childbirth Educator.
She welcomes your stories or questions on the role of sound in the prenatal period of development. Please contact her
at Winds, P.O. Box 280513, Northridge, CA 91328 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Gajanan Shridhar Kelkar has
directed a unique prenatal program in Lonavla, India, for the last 18 years, although this program has been in existence much
longer than that. The philosophical foundation of this program is based on the teaching of Swami Vijnananand, who became Mr.
Kelkar's mentor & spiritual guide while he attended college.
An Ashram was dedicated to
the activities & interests of the Swami who not only stressed science but other subjects as well. The prenatal work was
one of the earliest programs alongside others related to the wellbeing of mankind. Mr. Kelkar's expertise in engineering &
electronics has enabled him to design & construct particular machines used in this prenatal program.
Music & sound
is interwoven in this curriculum in the form of chants, mantras & prayers, what we would call vibrational medicine today.
These forms are ancient & still being practiced today, an integral part of the culture of India. Chanting in general has
enjoyed a revival in the USA during the last decades, especially with several recordings by the Monks of Silos & others,
but these are Gregorian Chants with Latin text not to be confused with the older Sanskrit chants from India.
The latter have been disseminated
mostly thru the practice of yoga. Frequently, the stretches & postures are followed by a period of brief meditation where
Indian chants are heard to support a feeling of peace & tranquility of mind.
In addition to
the Gregorian & Indian Chants alluded above, the Buddhist, Tibetan & North American Indian Chants have also received
wide exposure. Chants are sacred songs, prayers in sound, hymns that have been a source of inspiration & solace not only to those who sing them but also to the attentive & devotedlistener.
The Vedas, one of the oldest
sacred text of India, dating back as far as 3,000 years ago, expresses the concepts embodied in chanting, phrased in language
that is difficult to understand. Olivea Dewhurst-Maddock1 has given us a loose translation & summary of the 4 stages of chanting:
1. There is silence &
formlessness 2. The creative Word precipitates the cosmos & the interaction of all
energies. 3. The individual consciousness hears the Word, recognizes it & returns the separated parts to the whole, by singing the music in a "sacrifice" of song. 4. One reaches fulfillment within reunification.
Mantras on the other hand
are words, syllables, phrases or simply sounds that are spoken inwardly or subvocally & when repeated or spoken out loud
may transform into chants.
Thru repetition they acquire
more power due to the quality of resonance, they're able to clear the mind of superficial layers of thought & making one more receptive to the inner voice of Spirit.
According to Kay
Gardner, the power of mantra vibrates the spiritual body thru thought. It isn't necessary to know what the mantra means for its effectiveness "for it is the sound itself, without intellectual
translation, that touches the spirit."2
The most sacred & well-known
mantra is OM or its variation AUM. Each culture & religion has its own mantras such as Shalom (peace) in the Jewish
language; Om Ah Hum (The Trinity of Power: Creation, Maintenance, Dissolution) from Buddhism & Insha Allah
(If God wills) an example from Islam, etc.3
The origin of the word
mantra derives its meaning from the Sanskrit verb man which means to think, contemplate, or meditate & tra, to free oneself. When mantric sounds transmit a spiritual awareness it is elevated to the level of Shabda or Sacred sound. Mantras have survived thru the centuries via an oral tradition, from
teacher to student.
Chanting a mantra can harmonize
all levels of our being: the physical, emotional, mental & spiritual bodies. Generally, it'll consist of predominantly
long, open vowels, designed to impose a new rate of vibration on the person chanting it, creating a new resonance.4
One of the mantra's
used in the Prenatal Project of India is known as the Gayatri Mantra, one of the oldest Sanskrit mantras known also
in the West thru recordings, it's one of the most beautiful & famous ones.
There's a healing dimension
associated with mantras as cited by a cardiologist Dr. P. Pandya from India who found that a particular mantra was able to
reduce the stress level of his cardiac patients. Thru his research, he found that the mantra brought not only neurological changes but also psychological
Reciting the mantra resulted
in the release of endorphins, thereby bringing a feeling of serenity & wellbeing.5
the practice of mantras has a spiritual purpose, to attune ourselves to our divine nature. Dr. Harold Coward described this
practice as follows: "By concentrating one's mind on a mantra, the devotee invokes the power inherent in divine intuition
& so purifies his consciousness"6
Prayers recited out loud or
in silence can be considered as the manifestation of the "Creative Word," they have been a vital part of all religious teaching
& proven to be a powerful means of affecting change in oneself & others thru its positive suggestions.
One such story
comes from within our medical community. A report published in the Journal of Reproductive Health, October of 2001, states
that women at an in vitro fertilization clinic in Korea had a higher pregnancy rate when unknown to the patients, total strangers
were asked to pray for their success.
The researchers found that
women who were prayed for became pregnant twice as often as those who didn't have this benefit. The team of researchers was
lead by Dr. Rogerio A. Lobo, who is Columbia's chairman of obstetrics & gynecology.
Music & sound
can embody a variety of approaches during pregnancy & birth. The inclusion of prayers, chants & mantras in the
Prenatal Project of India form part of a greater whole, honoring their ancient cultural traditions. In such a case it's best not to isolate the parts for we can better comprehend the whole by keeping its integrity.
Our western way of thinking inclines us to analyze & separate the parts of a system forgetting at the end to look at the whole context once more.
In regard to nurturing & preparing future parents for conception, pregnancy, labor & delivery we need to start thinking again of synthesis, as we all know that the stages from conception to birth & thereafter are closely linked.
The program of
the Prenatal Project of India is a beautiful example complete in itself that needs to be viewed as such & that is our justification for presenting it here in its entirety.
The power of sound is still
unexplored in our consciousness when it comes to application for purposeful means. All sounds whether it's our voiced exhalation,
a word, phrase, chant, mantra, or song can become a powerful influence & energy for achieving a desired result, each carrying a specific frequency or vibration.
The quality of the vibration
will depend on the intensity, desire & will of the one producing it. Because most of us aren't fluent with the forms discussed in this introduction, we've
found modern equivalent ones such as affirmations & toning practices to create personal vibrational tools for ourselves.
Regardless of the form,
the intent is to align our physical selves with the more spiritual energies of life.
There are several prenatal
stimulation programs around the world but few focus on the spiritual aspect of pregnancy & for this we're grateful to the Swami of India & his vision. We believe that culture plays an important role in nurturing the unborn baby. One can't exactly transpose ideas from one culture to another without taking into account
their belief systems, religion, life style, etc.
However, we can learn from
one another & find corresponding ways of support for pregnant couples & their babies as they enter this world.
A Prenatal Project in India
Editor's Note: Gajanan Shridhar Kelkar
has directed a unique prenatal program in Lonavla, India, for the last 18 years, although this program has been in existence
much longer than that. The philosophical foundation of this program is based on the teaching of Swami Vijnananand, who became
Mr. Kelkar's mentor & spiritual guide while he attended college.
An Ashram was dedicated to the activities
& interests of the Swami who not only stressed science but other subjects as well. The prenatal work was one of the earliest
programs alongside others related to the wellbeing of mankind. Mr. Kelkar's expertise in engineering & electronics has
enabled him to design & construct particular machines used in this prenatal program.
Please contact him at Manashakti REST
New Way, 76, Mumbai-Pune Road, Lonavla. Dist: Pune, Maharashtra, India. 410401. or send email to email@example.com
The Prenatal Project of India is a program used to instill 'good
moral values' during the prenatal period. It is based on the Vedic concept of 'Prenatal Education' & is designed with
modern scientific concepts & instrumentation.
This prenatal project is viewed as a service oriented program,
to cater to the needs of society to foster good values. Manashakti Research Center (REST) New Way, Lonavla is a unique center
in India that has developed this project & has been implementing it for the last 35 years.
Outline of the Manashakti (REST) New Way.
The name 'Manashakti' derives from the Sanskrit word 'Manas'
meaning 'Mind,' & 'Shakti' which indicates 'Power.' Hence, 'Mana Shakti' suggests 'Mind Power.' 'Manashakti' is a public
charitable trust having diverse services & research branches.
The founder of this trust was a thinker, Swami Vijnananand,
who established the "New Way," & lived from 1918 to 1993 when he took Samadhi. This is a special term used to differentiate
normal death from a willful separation of mind from the body.
Apart from bequeathing the basic principles he was instrumental
in creating more than 60 electronic machines that were developed at the Research Center.
Brief Introduction to "Manashakti REST New Way" Center
Manashakti REST (Research Education Sanatorium Trust) New Way
is a public charitable trust engaged in research & social service oriented programs. As the name indicates, the research
is directed towards 'peace of mind' by studying various facets of the mind.
The Swami has authored over 250 books in 5 languages. He also
wrote over 29 papers & articles, which appeared in the Times, Blitz, Indian Express, Free Press & many other publications.
Scientists, thinkers, doctors & educators of international
repute were associated with his research.
Manashakti REST New Way has for its mission the dissemination
of knowledge for the welfare of all members of society. The work is available for the benefit of all religions, castes, creed
& sexes. The Manashakti Trust doesn't accept any donations, or grants, nor does it charge any fee for its education /
Activities of "Manashakti REST New Way"
I. Study Seminars (Ranging from 3 days to 1 month, all ages)
II. Machine Tests III. Publications/Books IV. Performance of social/cultural rituals V. Outstation programs
1. Study Seminars
29 different types of study courses are conducted by the Trust
at Lonavla. The courses cover the entire life of an individual & deals with problems ranging from the stages of pre-birth
to post death.
The study courses address specific age groups & subjects,
children of 1-7 years, then age 8 to 14, 15 to 21 & finally from 22 to 28 years of age. The study courses for parents
of respective age groups are conducted simultaneously.
There's a special course for aspiring parents who receive instruction
regarding good values for nurturing the fetus in the pre-birth stage during the 9 months.
The study courses for adults are divided into various subjects
in order to help them to be free from ailments, tension, envy, etc. & promote success in their work or profession as well
as in their private lives.
The subjects also cover topics which provide answers to the
various queries a human being might normally have, such as life objectives, meditation, the concept of mantra, God, Salvation
All the study courses are based on a scientific, logical &
well-structured syllabus. The remedies suggested are easy to follow, inexpensive, practical for the home without any significant
aids or tools. The study courses, both for children & adults have been conducted for years & are immensely popular
in the region of Maharashtra (India).
The machine tests conducted by the Research Center are quite
unique. Most of these tests are conducted on the thought level. The main object of these tests is to assess the energy expenditure
of an individual & to try to attain coordination with the inner energy quanta.
The Research Center thus strives for tension-free success at
every stage in life. The equipment needed for these tests is developed in the Center, with the use of high-tech knowledge.
Some of these tests are computerized. All the tests & equipment have been developed under the guidance of Swami Vijnananand,
based on his long-standing research & profound study of the'Mind'.
Prenatal Program - Sanskar - Sanskar in Sanscrit
means good or positive values.
Before going into details of how good values are assimilated
at the Research Center, it's important to have a glimpse of the historical heritage of this concept.
The Indian History of Prenatal Sanskar
The story of Abhimanyu is
well known in the Mahabharata. Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna, learned how to enter the Chakravyuha (the
strategic arrangement of warriors to entrap & defeat the enemy) when he was in his mother's womb. He had heard
& remembered the narration of the technique by Krishna to Subhadra during her pregnancy.
Before the birth of Buddha,
his mother, Mahamaya had followed certain specific rituals. In the month of Ashadh, she celebrated the 7 day festival &
gave alms to the poor. She did penance by giving up some of her pleasures. After the festival, Mahamaya had a dream in which,
Bodhisatva, by the name of Sumedh, asked permission to take birth in her womb.
She happily consented. Later, a brilliant son was born to her in the pleasant environments of Lumbini. He became Lord Buddha.
was born, his mother, Devaki had a dream that Lord Vishnu had entered her body.
When Pralhad's mother was
pregnant with him, she used to listen to devotional songs. Therefore, even though Pralhad took birth in a Rakshasa family, he became a devotee of Lord Vishnu.
The mother of the freedom fighter,
Savarkar used to read the courageous stories from the Ramayana & Maharana Pratap to her son when he was in her womb.
Rishi Udalak was a great saint.
He had an able disciple called Kahod. The rishi gave his daughter, Sujata in marriage to Kahod. Once when Sujata was pregnant,
Kahod was reciting some shlokas. The baby in the womb realized the recitation was incorrect & asked him to correct it.
Kahod was livid with rage.
He put a curse on his son
so that he would be born bent in 8 places. The child, Ashtavakra was born bent in 8 places. The father's angry thoughts affected the baby.
When tabla maestro, Zakir
Hussain was in his mother's womb, his father, Ustad Allah Rakha used to beat lightly with his fingers on his mother's abdomen.
I. To welcome the baby with good thoughts. II. Imparting sanskar to the fetus. III. Improve the emotional health of the parents. IV. Increasing the active
participation of the father during pregnancy. V. Increasing the courage & confidence of mother during labor.
The intention of "The New Way" behind this project is to mold the future generation & society at large. There's no intent of personal gain. This is the work of a nation, of building humanity . Along with the welfare of the child, the parents will
be able to reduce tension in their lives.
The project aims at building
healthy, intelligent, honest, responsible individuals & a united society.
Prenatal Program / Tests
The above goals are achieved thru a series of stages as suggested below.
Temperament coordination test of both partners before marriage.
Stage II - Post
marriage adjustment test.
Three day study course to be taken any time before or during pregnancy (preferably before conception).
Stage IV - Stroboscope
test for improving the concentration of the parents. (during the first 6 months of pregnancy)
Stage V Fetuscope test (after
6 months of pregnancy)
Stage VI Post delivery personality test for parents.
Stage I: Pre-marital temperament & coordination tests for
The efforts are
made to bring into the world a "whole child," not only at conception but long before then, at the time of selecting one's
partners. There should be compatibility between both partners at the mind level.
Hence, efforts are taken by
the New Way to match those partners desiring a baby. A happy, satisfied pair will definitely have the right temperament during the pregnancy period. Therefore, a psychological test is conducted
of aspiring parents & remedial measures are suggested to modify their personalities.
Stage II: Post-marriage adjustment test.
During the 1st year of marriage
both of the partners are new to their environment taking time to understand one another & adjusting to this situation. If there's no proper adjustment for some reason during the first year itself,
the gap goes on increasing & even after 20 years of married life the possibility of 2 minds coinciding with each other
gets more remote.
This test is useful for the
attainment of a happy & contented married life as & when required.
Stage III: 3 day study course.
A three day study course on prenatal sanskar is carried out
at the main Center. The focal points of this course are the communication with the fetus, in order for him to absorb good
values (sanskar) and the education of the parents in regards to their thinking and behavior during the prenatal period. Videos
of the development of the baby in the womb, lectures by experienced doctors on nutrition and behavior during pregnancy also
form part of the curriculum.
Stage IV: The stroboscope test
A stroboscope is an instrument that is normally used in the
industry to measure the speed of moving objects. Dr Walter Grey, the famous neurologist, first used it for brain experiments
in epileptic patients. It was realized that intentional concentration on light has great potential for improving the energy
potential of an individual. In the pre-natal program, the stroboscope is used to increase the concentration of the parents
making use of the biofeedback principle.
From the stroboscope, a flickering white light is emitted at
a particular frequency in the alpha range(8 to 13 per second). This test is generally done in a group setting. All
the participants are told to think about their future child, their goal and to concentrate on the light. The Stroboscope emits
white light, but when the group looks at it with a particular intention, every participant sees a different color according
to his or her goal and inner personality. This is because each person absorbs only that part of the light, which he requires.
Only visible light is used. There is no ultra violet or infra
red radiation emitted from the stroboscope. Individuals affected by epilepsy or those who suffer from visual problems are
advised not to take part in this test. Since its inception in 1993, more than seven thousand parents have taken advantage
of the benefits it offers.
The principle behind the stroboscope test
Flickering seems to alter the brain wave activity of the whole
cortex instead of just those areas associated with vision. The brain responds by falling into the same frequency as that of
the flickering light. There is a breakdown of some of the physiological barriers between different regions of the brain, resulting
in better synchronization, mental clarity, and better intellectual functioning.
Each participant gains energy due to the principle of "resonance"
since the objective of each individual is the same. Secondly, the important property of the flicker of light (in the range
'alpha' in this case) has the capacity to carry a transfer intention or intelligence that has been modulated by the person.
The resultant color is given for concentration. The color is
chosen by each individual subconsciously and is useful for the coordination of logical and emotional thinking necessary to
achieve the goal. Color and emotion are closely linked. Concentration on the prescribed color causes optimization of mental
energy, improving mental clarity and concentration.
Instructions at home for the stroboscope test
Take a 3" by 3" plain white paper. Draw a circle of one centimeter
in diameter in the center and color it with the respective color that you saw during the test. At a fixed time everyday concentrate
on this chromo color point. You should follow this practice for a minimum of three months to increase your concentration.
Stage V: The fetuscope test
This test is taken after six completed months of pregnancy when
development of the main organs is near completion and the fetal heart rate can be measured easily. The thought impressions
of Swami Vijnananand are directed toward the fetus. The objective is mainly to transmit good values to the baby. Also certain
questions are asked of the parents regarding their expectations of their unborn child and the variation in their pulse rate
The intention behind using the fetuscope is as follows. The
mind has an effect on the body, and the fetal mind is responsive. The mind itself cannot be measured. We can only measure
its effect on the body through various mechanisms such as pulse and heart rate, breathing, skin and brain resistance, etc.
Pulse and fetal heart rate measurements are easily recorded. Emotions cause change in the pulse. The basic emotions of fear,
rage, courage and peace are present in every human being right from conception just as they are present in other organisms
of nature in various stages of development. Parental and fetal emotions are measured in the test.
The heart rate is a good indicator of the fetal personality.
By monitoring it we can determine how a particular child reacts to stress and fright, and hence learn something about its
personality. In one study, a recording of the fetal heart rate was done and the results were divided into low and high reactors.
Low reactors were ones with a continued steady heart rate. There was little disruption by any external noise. Fifteen years
later these children were still rarely upset by the unexpected. These researchers found they remained in control of their
emotions and behavior. The babies which showed high fluctuations to noise in utero were as teenagers still highly emotional.
Any pregnant woman who has completed six months of pregnancy
can participate in this test along with her husband, parents and in-laws. The parents are asked certain questions regarding
their expectations of this child. The fetus is directly addressed during the test. A tape with the voice of Swami Vijnananand
is played in which the fetus is welcomed, encouraged and requested to improve its good qualities and take a decision to live
a well-balanced fruitful life and not to have small selfish, self- serving motives only, in its attitude towards life. Resting
and pulse rates of the parents and the fetal heart rate, before and after the test, are taken for recording the mental impressions.
The direction of the fetal heart rate variation may be opposite
to that of the maternal pulse variation, that is, the maternal pulse rate may increase whereas the fetal heart rate may decrease
at the same time or vice-versa. This proves the separate personality of the fetus from that of his or her mother. Depending
on the pulse variation the parents are given chromo concentration points on which they are told to concentrate every day.
Concentration is suggested on the prescribed color to bring the pulse variation back to normal.
Concentration on the candle flame with an inner wish for improving
the qualities of the child is done. Prayer, chromo-concentration and personal counseling is given to the parents regarding
the importance of direct and indirect communication with the fetus. Advice is also given regarding preparation for the delivery
and communication of thought impressions by the mother to the child during breastfeeding.
The principle behind this test
The main requirement to transmit "good values" is first to
establish communication with the baby in the womb. Thoughts and feelings of the parents affect the baby. The researcher (Swami
Vijnananand) directs intentional, selfless, good thoughts towards the baby. Even before the thought is expressed, it remains
in an unexpressed form in the mind. At that time, its wavelenght is the shortest and its energy is at the maximum level. Intentional,
directed, selfless, unspoken thoughts lead to maximum sanskar in the baby.
The thought radiation being imparted to the baby has the following
essential points: I. The baby should know that he or she is wanted in the family and the world. There is a hearty welcome
to the baby by the parents and other well-wishers. II. There is a rational appeal to the baby for choosing a correct path
in life, without the imposing ideas of father or mother or even the well-wisher. The baby is given freedom of selecting his
own. III. The researcher or well-wisher is detached and without a specific selfish interest.
The intention-motion-reaction principle is used in the test.
Intention is the basis of any motion or action. Intention causes a marked difference in the effect of the action. When the
intention is selfless, the ability to transmit energy increases. Thoughts radiated with good intention produce desired effects.
Instructions for the fetuscope test at home
The parents are told to recite a prayer daily for their unborn
baby. The prayer includes verbal thoughts, welcoming the baby and appeal to the baby to become a 'good personality' or 'ideal
child'. Along with this, parents also recite the 'Gayatri Mantra', which has the power of making sacrifices. The mother and
father go through literature that elevates the emotions of 'courage' and 'peace'. They also concentrate and meditate on the
specific color symbol suited to their inner personality.
Prayer said by the parents:
"We pray in the name of the Highest Truth. We believe that everyone
stands by his own causality, self or karma. To the extent to which the karma of all three of us has conjoined, my prayer should
contribute to, and ameliorate this child. Though I do not wish any change in the chosen course of this child, I harbor a natural
desire for the good of this child. Little baby we welcome you!"
"Come to enjoy a fruitful and realized life. On our
part we would like you to be .. and develop . skills if you have no objection. In pursuance of indication from you, namely
.., we shall try to offer facilities for the same. Else let this prayer work to that end as much as it can. We submit this
prayer for the good of yourself, our family, our nation, mankind and the world as a whole. Let this step purify all of us
to attend to what we desire and deserve. May the Good Spirit in us help all of us." ( In the dotted spaces, the parents can
suggest their wish to the baby).
Stage VI: Post delivery personality test for the parents.
After birth, in the learning process, the temperaments of both
parents play a major role in the overall development of the baby. It is observed that the child first acquires the temperamental
weaknesses of the parents. Hence a personality test of the parents is conducted after three months of delivery and up to two
This program has been implemented for more than 35 years and
we have found many astonishing and positive results. More than six thousand parents have taken part in the project and they
are quite satisfied with the outcome. In more than 70% cases of the delivered babies adopting this procedure, we have found
that the 'courage' temperament has increased. The baby is more alert, attentive, receptive and intelligent.
This project has become a tool for social revolution
in order to spread good values in our society. The baby in the womb is affected by the thoughts and emotions of his parents.
Therefore, it becomes essential for them to avoid negative thoughts, bad habits and to maintain a cheerful atmosphere.
The process continues after delivery. Thus, you will
find a gradual but steady change in the social environment as well as a strong coherent society based on unity and sacrifice.
Music Aids Development in the Womb By
Gabriel F. Federico, M.T., Buenos Aires, Argentina* (Translated by Giselle Whitwell)
At the moment of birth babies have already accumulated a host
of experiences and memories shared with their mothers (and fathers). Together, they enjoyed both pleasant and unpleasant sensations.
If we think about rhythm and its different manifestations in utero, we can find it expressed in several ways. Rhythm exists
in the spontaneous movements of the fetus, in intrauterine breathing movements, heart rate, sucking and kicking, in states
of alertness and quiet, and partly in reaction to what is heard, for example the mother's heart, breathing variations, and
The shape of the human ear is a metaphor for the design and
shape of the human embryo. The fetus receives sound information from the outer regions of the mother through its own auditory
system. With support from touch, taste, and smell, hearing plays a prominent role in connecting us to the outside world while
we are in the womb. Hearing is naturally complex and stimulation varies when the fetus changes positions in the uterus. Both
sound vibrations and perceptions change. If liquid is a different conductor of sound than bone medium, will not this also
demand changes in intrauterine hearing? In an eight-month-old fetus in the cephalic (head) position, there will be much more
sound from bone conduction. Sound vibration will also be affected by the location of the hipbones of the mother. This cavity
will augment, by a chain of vibrations, the responses of the small bones of the middle ear of the fetus. At this gestational
stage the fetal middle ear is already full size.
Similarly, fetuses that are in the breech position will receive
more intense intrauterine sound. This is the result of the proximity of their auditory system to the sounds of the mother's
heartbeat, as well as the circulatory sounds of the placenta, among other noises and sounds. In the breech position, the vibratory
conduction is more muffled and will need a higher volume so the fetus could equally sense it, as compared to the fetus in
the cephalic position.
Prenatal Brain Stimulation
We have to think that the intrauterine environment of the fetus
is deeply affecting personality development. It is known that at the moment of birth the newborn baby has nearly all the neurons
needed for life. Thus, the womb is the place where the brain develops and begins working. This stimulation takes place with
the exchange of experiences between the fetus and the environment in which it is immersed. The development of the brain will
be enhanced if we can offer the appropriate stimuli for this to happen. It will depend much on the quality of what the mother
will transmit to her baby whether the imprinting will be made in a positive or negative way.
An example of what a mother could transmit to her unborn child
follows. One day, I had an appointment with a 10-month-old baby, a constantly crying child. Nothing seemed to help him. The
parents tried all means to quiet him down, including the music of Mozart. Herein lay the real meaning of the crying! The mother,
at a later appointment, reflecting on her pregnancy, had used the music of Mozart to relax during the last months of her pregnancy.
However, during this same period, two months before the baby's birth, her own father had died in a car accident! Consequently,
the baby had been nourished with the mother's anguish and associated the music of Mozart with this sad situation.
The mother thought she was "relaxing" but in reality, while
she was listening to Mozart, she was crying about the death of her father. Unconsciously she was internalizing her anguish,
and not wanting to share it with anybody else. Though without realizing it, she was sharing this experience with her unborn
child. As time went by, the mother recovered from her loss but this type of music had left its mark on her baby. This was
the reason that whenever he heard Mozart, he cried. I taught the parents how to work with their baby. Slowly he started to
quiet down but he continued to be much affected by the music of Mozart as well as being very sensitive to all types of music.
Hearing at Birth
At birth, the sound environment impacts the neurovegetative
system. The baby has to make a great effort to adapt to this extra-uterine sound. From birth the bombardment of the sound
environment continues to grow. If babies who were prenatally stimulated hear familiar music, they usually turn their heads
in the direction where the music is coming from. Such babies can change their facial expressions while listening to these
rhythmic sound variations, perhaps even smile and increase their sucking. Their pupils might dilate and eyes begin to stare
for 4 to 10 seconds. They will stretch their small fingers and toes, trying to catch the stimulus. Cardiac rate will probably
slow down a bit and breathing become more regular.
These babies will not necessarily respond to repetitive sounds,
but will probably respond to sounds with melodious variations. They will be able to distinguish the intensity, tone, and pitch
of sounds and be more alert and sensitive when this stimulus is present. The abdomen will relax. Their crying will not convey
misery but be more like the very small sounds of a kitten. They will recognize voices, especially mother's.
If we must take into account all these manifestations of sound,
we will naturally organize the first extra-uterine month of life in a special way. This first month of life is characterized
by adaptation, not only by the new mother but by her baby. They continue to bond, know, and understand each other in a different
way than before. We have to sympathize that babies must adapt to the new environment of the hospital. After this environment
a new one will be presented, the family home. Home is, of course, where baby and mother made their original adjustment to
each other, but now this is complicated by expanded physical sensations and the potential for interactions with others. These
new adaptations are eased if babies have the opportunity to spend ample time with the mother alone.
In this new period at home we can observe the advantages of
the previous prenatal stimulation. Music will help to organize this developmental stage also. If we play as background music
what was played during the pregnancy, while the baby is resting (but not sleeping), these melodies will recall intrauterine
listening, giving a feeling of security and trust. It is suggested not to sing the same song while feeding and bathing, lest
the different feelings be confused. It is possible that one night if babies hear the same song they will be unable to interpret
if this means they will be fed or bathed!
The Birth of My Son Nicholas
As with any new life, Nicolas brought lots of happiness to all
his family members especially to his parents and brother Matías. His delivery was very beautiful and fast, with only three
pushes. He was placed between us in the hospital room. During his birth I was with Natalia, my wife, holding her and speaking
to her tummy to help her. I believe that the presence of the father during delivery is very important. Babies are conceived
by two people and these same two people need to be there to receive them during their birth. We did not make use of an epidural,
which helped Natalia to have a faster recovery.
In the delivery room we were hearing music and doing relaxation
exercises. Right at the moment of birth I was helping Natalia, giving her strength. When the baby's little head appeared,
he immediately opened his eyes. What was amazing is that he did not cry, he made some soft sounds and moved his little arms,
all without crying. The first image he saw was that of his mother and father together. Obviously, we started talking and singing
to him. Fortunately, our desire was respected to be the only ones speaking during labor and delivery.
As it happened, during the birth of Nicolas there were three
other births taking place simultaneously, and for this reason we were left with only a nurse to weigh, clean and measure the
baby, while Natalia expelled the placenta. This was an unforgettable experience. I felt a very close contact in the exchanges
with my baby through our eyes and in the way he responded to my voice, as I sang to him all the time.
Nicolas was stimulated with music during his gestation and we
were able to have many different prenatal experiences. We could appreciate the results even before our baby was one month
old. One of the prenatal experiences we designed was the use of a pair of small, fine quality loud speakers that were placed
on Natalia's tummy. We played different kinds of music on a varied day/evening schedule. For example, I used Bach's music
every morning while waking up, used different selections when Natalia was going to sleep, and still other pieces for our prenatal
Our baby responded from the very first moment of life to all
the music we had used, but particularly to the music heard during the relaxation exercises; these pieces soothed him the most.
I think this is so because it brings back memories of this time when we always sang this music together. Also, it was the
music I used during the labor and was the first heard immediately after birth. When we played Bach, the music for awakening,
we found that Nicolas would be very alert, would open his eyes and look for the source where the sounds were coming from.
We saw a very special effect with the music played when Natalia was getting ready to sleep. This music had a pleasant relaxing
effect on Nicolas; I believe it is because Natalia's body was so relaxed when she was falling asleep. When the baby is uncomfortable
now we play this music which helps him relax and he goes to sleep easily. An important thing we realized is how the music
facilitated the family's adaptation and preparation for the arrival of Nicolas.
After the first month of life the music for getting him to sleep
was no longer needed, neither was the music to regulate the hours for breastfeeding or to keep him alert. Today, seven months
after having stimulated our son in this way, we enjoy his presence very much. From the first month after birth, Nicolas has
slept between ten to twelve hours, which has permitted us to get our rest and therefore enjoy family life much more. He continues
growing without any problems and is fed in the most natural way at the breast of his mother.
The Maternal Womb: The First Musical School for the
Baby by Ruth Fridman
Editor's Note: Prof. Ruth Fridman has been
a pioneer in revealing the important effects of the first sounds that babies hear including the sound of mothers singing to
them in the womb, at birth and as infants. In this paper she reminds us of her inspirational work with pregnant mothers she
teaches to compose lullabies to sing to their babies. Her many presentations, travels, books, and song books are included
in the impressive list of career milestones at the end of this article. Ruth served a term as President, International
Music Society for Prenatal Development (IMSPD). Please direct any correspondence to her at Coronel Diaz 1564, 1425 Buenos
Aires, Argentina or via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
In 1971 I began to tape sonorous rhythmic intonated expressions
of many infants. It interested me how early infants could begin to sing, to repeat melodies and tap rhythms. I had the feeling
that these manifestations had a special origin, that the cultural environment was not the only cause. As I had several ideas
about it, I started taping the voices of babies who were full term, premature, or significantly retarded. I recorded their
expressions from their birth up to fourteen months old. The taping took place in a children's hospital of Buenos Aires. As
I listened to the babies' cries, I realized that if I separated the cry from the sounds included in it, it could be labeled
as "musical". Analysis through electronic devices confirmed my hypothesis. Baby cries had the proper characteristics of sound:
frequency, timbre, and intensity. When reviewing the bibliography about infant sounds, I did not find any systematic study
of the first mass of sounds and their sonorous rhythmic structure in relation to musical activity. Infants' most elementary
vocal rhythmic schemes make up the physiological matrix for future language and music acquisition.
The analysis of infant cries led me to study their expressions
from the very instant of their birth. I first undertook a longitudinal study of three newborns up to their first year of life.
After this I studied triplets and a Cesarean-born child. The main feature of the first group was that one of the babies sang
properly when she was 9 months and 7 days old. The processes used with these infants has been described in my book The Beginnings
of Musical Behavior (1974).
My work with infants from their birth on made me realize how
important music is during the gestational period. I started teaching music to pregnant women. Both, the mother and the unborn
What is the advantage of the musical stimulus? Mothers discovered
personal characteristics they were unaware of as I encouraged them to create lyrics and tunes for their unborn babies. Through
a questionnaire, I learned about their musical knowledge and preferences, as well as their doubts, fears, and hopes (Copies
of this questionnaire are available from the author). As a result of my research, I decided to work with pregnant women. I
was greatly moved by their anxieties, fears, and doubts. I also felt that if a pregnant woman sang to her baby as I had done
with my two children, she would establish a closer bond with this baby.
A video made at the Fernandez Hospital and at the San Martin
Education and Cultural Center, reveals the mother's emotion, expression and interest in creating short songs. They did it
shyly but with great tenderness. Many of the lyrics revealed their fear of losing the baby, or that it might be defective,
and other worries. I had not expected to find these problems. Since I could not help, I suggested they consult a therapist.
(I was afraid they would reject my suggestion and stop attending my classes but fortunately this did not happen.)
The experience I had at the hospitals was very productive, in
spite of the limited time and space I was given to work there. Pediatricians and neonatologists supported my work, but not
the obstetricians and midwives. I will never forget a couple who attended the second class at the Fernandez Hospital bringing
a guitar and a quena (Indian reed flute). The man sang the song they had composed for their unborn baby, and the woman introduced
the song by playing the quena. I also remember when the mothers came to show me their newborn babies, they reported how they
used music at the birth of their babies. This was also true of the single women.
Every pregnant woman is a different world. I invited each to
dream about their unborn babies, to imagine their unborn babies little bodies, to imitate the movements babies made inside
the womb, to draw pictures for them, and to pamper them with words. They created both a musical and a spoken language as I
encouraged them to tell their babies where they were and what they were doing at the time, commenting on whether it was warm
or cold, and such. It was quite an experience for them!
The inner language of feelings, which is present in every human
being, became a powerful form of expression for these mothers, different from formal language. I remember when I had a similar
experience with my two children, and how it brought me closer to the human being inside me. I believe the advantage of these
activities is that they establish a prenatal bond which contains tenderness on the part of the parents to be, a promise of
protection, and the wish to see and hold the baby in their arms. Pregnant parents created these songs naturally, songs that
would stay with them the rest of their lives, invented in a period of love, anguish and expectancy. It is of great significance
for babies to hear music, to hear parents talking to them, and to be gently massaged during the gestation period. The mother's
emotional expressions benefit both herself and her baby. When pregnant women sing, the unborn babies answer by moving their
bodies. They are little acrobats when they have enough space. These rhythmic movements of the unborn are certainly very important
to motor development. And according to some experts, fetal movements provide an activity which contributes to the development
of psychic functions as well.
I worked most enthusiastically at the San Martin Cultural Center
where women attended my classes of their own free will. At first, they came out of curiosity but they listened with great
interest. These classes were also attended by male parents, doctors, and professionals who wanted to learn about musical training
of mothers-to-be. In my opinion, these musical experiences should be offered at every maternity hospital and would improve
the mental and emotional health of both parents and children. The last trimester of gestation is especially important and
parents must make the most of this period of rapid growth.
At times I worked with babies in incubators. All the sounds
they had heard in the womb and were familiar, were now replaced by the noises of the incubators. The previous experience of
natural sounds was lost. Therefore, I advised parents to record their voices and songs for their babies in incubators. Although
nowadays, a radio is sometimes placed in incubators as a stimulus, I think the parent's voices are best.
Mothers quickly demonstrated that music was not the property
of elete members of society or those with advanced education. My students at the San Martin Education and Cultural Center
and at the hospitals came from all different socioeconomic classes and different cultural levels. However, each of them was
able to create songs and to communicate with her baby in a personal and genuine way. Each of them found their own way and
their own rhythm as they progressed through pregnancy. Not only did they realize they had conceived a human being but many
of them discovered a way of communication they had never thought of before. In music, mothers would say things they would
not express verbally.
Although lack of communication, lack of essential stimuli, and
other maladaptive problems are inevitable in some cases, I believe sincerely that babies and parents could avoid or resolve
many of their difficulties if they were offered prenatal music classes maternity hospitals. Beside the experiences I have
shared briefly with you here, I can confirm by observing the babies from their birth onward that music was a formative element
in their lives. When a baby has been stimulated by his mother with music, by the fifth month the baby already shows affective
memory towards sound. At only nine months old, one of these babies was singing the song his mother had systematically sung
throughout his prenatal days.
Finally, I am hopeful that the scientific contributions of neuroscience,
genetics, and psychology will help to illuminate the nature of the very early musical responsiveness which appears to be an
innate function of all human beings.
Music and Perinatal Stress Reduction by Fred J. Schwartz,
Editor's Note: Dr. Fred Schwartz is a board certified
anesthesiologist, practicing at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a member of the International Society for Music
in Medicine, the National Association for Music Therapy as well as APPPAH. He has used music in the operating room and delivery
suite for over 20 years, and for the last 10 years has also produced music for pregnancy, childbirth and babies. Direct all
correspondence to 314 Woodward Way NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30305 or email: email@example.com. This article was published by permission of Dr. Schwartz and the
Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, 12(l), Fall 1997
Abstract: The author uses his experience as an anesthesiologist
involved in music medicine to discuss the psychophysiology of perinatal stress. The use of music as an adjunct to medical
care for mother and child in the prenatal and postnatal period, as well as the implications for improved outcome and medical
cost savings are addressed. The importance of the fetal auditory environment as a conduit for communication and learning is
From the viewpoint of the anesthesiologist, consciousness is
manipulated both chemically and psychotherapeutically to result in decreased pain, altered recall, and a decreased stress
response. One of the common elements in my work has been the use of stress reduction techniques during various states of consciousness.
I have found that both anesthesia sedation and general anesthesia can open up pathways in the mind to healing therapies. Music
and guided imagery can also have powerful healing qualities. When used together during anesthesia, these audio therapies can
be used to complement the stress reducing properties of anesthesia and promote faster healing.
Some of the benefits of music in the labor and delivery suite
that complement anesthesia are that it speeds up labor and decreases the amount of pain. It also decreases the stress response
to labor which is beneficial to both mother and newborn. Couples coming to a delivery suite frequently perceive it as a foreign
and unfamiliar environment. The act of choosing a musical program for childbirth allows a couple to exert some control over
their environment. Music is very personal in that a particular piece may have a connection with certain past experiences and
emotions. This acoustical painting of the hospital environment has been shown to make it less hostile and less anxiety provoking
for patients. Since pain and enjoyment emerge as two distinct, though related dimensions of the birth process, music can express
both the struggle and the joy of the occasion. The beauty here is that the benefits of the music can be utilized during natural
childbirth, with childbirth under epidural anesthesia, and if need be during Cesarean section. Music can help the newborn
know that a special event is happening and when the newborn comes into this world the music along with the familiar sound
of voices is indeed special.
Music is particularly useful during Cesarean sections. Most
anesthetics for C-sections are performed under epidural or spinal anesthesia. The pregnant mother is anesthetized from the
chest down. Usually no intravenous sedatives or narcotics are given to the mother until the baby is born, because these can
cause sedation or respiratory depression in the newborn. There is often some degree of discomfort for mother before the baby
is born, when the uterus is manipulated. Music is an effective way to decrease the discomfort here. I try to get a feel for
what the couple and their unborn child find soothing. If they do not have an idea of what they want to hear, I usually suggest
classical music or new age music. To me, this type of music fits beautifully with C-sections. To give you an idea of the contrast
of requests I have had I will relate to you a Friday evening when there were 3 C-sections in a row. The first 2 were done
to Beethoven Piano Sonatas. Our last couple was asked what they and their baby wanted to hear, and the mother replied, "My
baby only likes rock and roll, but you have to play it real loud." She picked Bruce Springstein's "Born in the USA" and this
did seem fitting for the occasion.1
An exaggerated stress response has negative effects during pregnancy
and childbirth, just as it is detrimental in most disease processes. Most of the physiologic effects of stress are mediated
through stress hormones called catecholamines. In the pregnant patient, elevated levels of these stress hormones cause decreased
effectiveness of uterine contractions (Simkin, 1986). Some of these patients end up needing C-sections because of this. Intense
anxiety has been associated with fetal death in the third trimester (Myers & Myers, 1979). More commonly, the extremely
anxious patient in labor will have high catecholamine levels which decrease placental blood flow and can cause fetal distress.
This is further compounded if the laboring patient hyperventilates, which can further decrease placental blood flow.
Music's ability to slow respiratory rates and decrease the stress
response is beneficial during labor. It has been shown to have the ability to shorten labor (Winokur, 1984). Even when the
course of labor does not speed up when music is utilized, the perceived length of labor decreases (Clark, McCorkle & Williams,
1981). Other studies have shown that when music is played, pain is decreased (McKinney, 1990, Hanser, Larson & O'Connell,
During my wife's first pregnancy, I began to think about the
environment of our unborn child. I knew that the fetus could respond to music and sound in the womb and I became fascinated
with the implications of the constant exposure of the fetus to placental blood flow sounds. Some earlier studies had been
done by psychologist Lee Salk (1973), who noticed that most new mothers exhibited a natural preference for holding their infants
on the left side of their chest near the heart. Dr. Salk analyzed a number of popular books containing a large number of photographs
and artistic representations of infants and adults. Almost 80% of these showed mothers holding their infants on the left side
of their chests. This preference extended across all cultures. Balancing groups for left and right-sided dominance, Dr. Salk
then replicated this left-sided preference in a large group of new mothers and babies (and used these heart sounds to calm
newborns in the hospital nursery). He reasoned there was an imprinting of placental sounds in utero so that sounds after birth
remind the baby of the womb experience. This would explain some of the rhythmic similarities of modern music to intrauterine
Others have connected the similarities between womb sounds and
the "nonsense sounds" that mothers use in talking to their babies. Some of these calming sounds are hush, hush (English) shah
(Yiddish), ushuru (Ethiopian), and Insh'allah (Egyptian). Perhaps the similarities to womb sounds also explain the spiritual
use of similar sounds in different religions, i.e. "Om" in Buddhism), "Shalom" in Hebrew, Tibetan overtone chanting, and Gregorian
Ultrasound studies have shown that at 16 weeks gestation the
fetus can respond to outside sound (Hepper, 1994, Shahidullah & Hepper, 1992). The sounds of the blood flow through the
placenta can be heard at a very loud level in the womb. For the lower sound frequencies below 500 Hz, mean sound levels are
80 decibels with peaks to 95 decibels (Gerhardt & Abrams, 1996). This is about as loud as it gets on a crowded dance floor
on a Saturday night. A good deal of attention has been given to the so called Mozart Effect where exposure to this music briefly
increased spatial IQ in college students (Rauscher, Shaw & Ky, 1995), as well as work with preschool children showing
that music training can enhance language development, spatial, and mathematical abilities (Rauscher, et al, 1997). Evidence
points to the fact that similar learning benefits extend far back into the prenatal period, and that the sounds and rhythms
in the womb may contain information important to the development of the fetal brain (Devlin, Daniels & Roeder, 1997, Shetler,
1989). The newborn can differentiate a recording of his own mother's prenatal womb sounds from a recording of another mother
(Righetti, 1996). The newborn can also differentiate emotional content in the recording of his prenatal womb sounds and respond
with changes in movement and heart rate (Righetti, 1996).
There is a vast amount of potential information available to
the fetus that can be given in the playing of just one musical note or in singing or talking a single syllable. The content
of this sound is both informational and emotional and can be used by the fetus in profound ways. The synaptic network in the
fetal brain as well as the infant brain undergoes learning-dependent reorganization. This process involves synaptic "pruning"
or regression of neural circuits, as well as synaptic sprouting in the developing brain. This is consistent with the observation
of psychologists that infants and children may have enhanced behavioral abilities that they lose later in life (Johnston,
1995). Since fetal hearing is probably the major component of this learning-dependent synaptic pruning and sprouting, the
fetus is participating in a second and third trimester auditory amphitheater that is perhaps more important that any later
classroom. We have only begun to explore the connection between sound and neurobiological development in the fetus and newborn.
My interest in the fetal audio environment led to a musical
collaboration with Burt and Joe Wolff. We produced a musical recording of womb sounds and female vocal sounds' called Transitions(tm)
and a subsequent series of womb sound recordings for pregnancy, childbirth and children.2 It was clear to us that this type
of music was very soothing to the newborn, and especially for the premature baby.
A subsequent study showed that stimulation with the Transitions(tm)
womb sound music was helpful in the care of mechanically ventilated, agitated premature babies with low oxygen levels. Significant
increases in oxygen saturation as well as decreased levels of agitation were found with the use of music (Collins & Kuck,
Another study showed that when lullaby music was played in the
neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) that there were less episodes of oxygen desaturation (Caine, 1991). No doubt that some
of the high-decibel sounds from alarms and equipment in the NICU are harmful to the neonate. In one study a group of premature
babies were insulated from their audio environment with earmuffs (Zahr & Traversay, 1995). These infants had higher oxygen
saturations and spent more time in sleep compared to control group infants. Other studies have shown a doubling of daily weight
gain when premature babies in the NICU were given music therapy (Caine, 1991, Coleman, Pratt & Abel, 1996). Additional
studies using music with premature babies have shown a 3- to 5-day earlier discharge from the NICU (Caine, 1991, Coleman,
Pratt & Abel, 1996, Standley, 1996).
Increased stress response consumes precious calories. It is
now clear that the use of music therapy not only has a beneficial effect on the growth and development of premature babies,
but may lead to cost savings in their medical care--a significant problem in modern society. In the United States alone, the
extra cost of intensive care for these low birth weight infants is over $1,000. per day or over 3.5 billion dollars a year.
Later added costs of special education and continued medical expense for these children are even larger than the initial costs
for their NICU care (Lewit, et al, 1995). Many of these babies suffer hearing and visual impairment, mental retardation, cerebral
palsy or learning disabilities. Ultimately, the uncountable costs are paid by human beings who are not able to realize their
full potential. So it appears that with a relatively small expenditure for music in our neonatal ICU's we could decrease the
time in the NICU by over 3 days and save over $3,000. for every premature baby.
Premature birth is the predominant cause of low birth weight
and neonatal mortality in the United States (Wegman, 1996). In the US almost one in one hundred babies dies shortly after
birth. (Paneth, 1995). This is the highest mortality rate of all the industrialized countries. Despite our best efforts, the
consequences of premature labor will continue to be a huge problem for society. Despite a large investment in research and
programs to prevent premature birth, the incidence of prematurity in the US has not decreased (Paneth, 1995).
A number of risk factors have been associated with prematurity
and low birth weight (See Table 1). Many of these factors are interrelated. In the United States, a large amount of premature
births occur in adolescents, a group with higher rates of poverty, lack of prenatal care, poor nutrition, stress, tobacco
use, alcohol intake, and drug abuse (Shiono & Berman, 1995, Hedegaard, Henriksen & Niels, 1996).
To gain more insight into premature birth it is interesting
to look at some of what we know about how labor is initiated. Thousands of years ago, Hippocrates believed that the baby decides
when the birth process begins-a fact that has been confirmed by research today (Nathanielsz, 1995). Evidence points to fetal
initiation of labor about 2 to 3 weeks before birth. In the fetal brain, the hypothalamus increases secretion of CRH (corticotrophin
releasing hormone) and this stimulates the pituitary to release ACTH (adrenocorticotrophin). This stimulates the fetal adrenal
cortex to secrete cortisol. The placenta reacts by producing more estrogen and less progesterone which eventually triggers
the contractions of labor.
Since we know that the fetus is involved in initiating labor,
it is interesting to wonder why the fetus would initiate premature birth. We know that pregnancies filled with stress are
more inclined to conclude prematurely. Use of tobacco and cocaine also increase the stress response in the mother and this
is probably true for the fetus as well. There is a biologic explanation for the fetus being able to react to maternal stress
by initiating labor. In the human species, our fight or flight stress response was often effective for our survival. In modern
times, the stress response is seen as a catalyst for disease. It stands to reason that for biologic survival of the species
there would be a mechanism to allow initiation of labor under stressful conditions. Especially in the past, it was much more
common for the pregnant woman and fetus to be exposed to the risk of cataclysmic death from the environment or infectious
diseases and epidemics. In these situations, some of these premature babies might survive. For the mother, delivery of the
baby would allow her to direct her energies toward survival and future childbearing. Despite a large amount of research dedicated
to prevention of preterm labor, the incidence of prematurity in the US has not decreased (Paneth, 1995).
Table I Factors Associated with Low Birth Weight
Age below 18 years Drug and alcohol use Previous preterm delivery Infection Tobacco use Lack of prenatal
care Maternal stress Poverty
A number of factors
have been associated with the risk of prematurity and low birth weight (Table 1). Many of these factors are interrelated.
In the United States, a large amount of these premature births occur in the adolescents, who as a group have higher rates
of poverty, lack of prenatal care, poor nutrition, stress, tobacco use, alcohol intake, and drug abuse (Shiono & Berman,
1995, Hedegaard, Henriksen & Niels, 1996).
To gain more insight into premature birth it is interesting
to look at some of what we know about how labor is initiated. Thousands of years ago, Hippocrates believed that the baby decides
when the birth process begins. There is now good evidence to show that the fetus does initiate labor (Nathanielsz, 1995).
Evidence points to fetal initiation of labor about 2 to 3 weeks before birth. In the fetal brain, the hypothalamus increases
secretion of CRH (corticotrophin releasing hormone) and this stimulates the pituitary to release ACTH (adrenocorticotrophin).
This stimulates the fetal adrenal cortex to secrete cortisol. The placenta then produces more estrogen and less progesterone
and this eventually sets off the contractions of labor.
Since we know that the fetus is involved in initiating labor
it is interesting to speculate on why the fetus would initiate premature birth. We do know that pregnancies that contain a
lot of stress are more inclined to be concluded prematurely. Tobacco and cocaine use increase the stress response in the parturient,
and this likely is true also in the fetus. There is a biologic explanation for the fetus being able to react to a maternal
stress response by initiating labor. In the human species, our fight or flight stress response was often effective during
primitive times for our survival. Although in modern times this response has become more of a catalyst for disease. It stands
to reason that for biologic survival of the species there would be a mechanism to allow initiation of labor under stressful
conditions. In the past, it was much more common for the pregnant woman and fetus to be exposed to the risk of cataclysmic
death from the environment or infectious diseases and epidemics. In these situations, some of these premature babies might
survive. For the mother, delivery of the baby would allow her to direct her energies toward survival and future childbearing.
As far as other possible mechanisms
for initiation of labor, there could be some hormonal transfer from the mother to the fetus through the placenta. Or perhaps
a lack of certain nutrients either from poor maternal diet or decreased supply of these nutrients via decreased placental
blood flow. Perhaps there is a kind of dialogue that goes on during pregnancy between the mother and her unborn baby that
is interrupted in some way by maternal stress. What about the transfer of emotions (or lack of) from the mother to the fetus?
It is obvious that the expression of love, nurturing and acceptance is expressed by the mother to the fetus by her voice;
through the wide gamut of tonality, rhythm and inflection produced by her talking and singing. It is very possible that this
vocal information (or lack of) has an effect on the fetal initiation of labor. It is intuitive that there is a profound interplay
of information and emotion involved in this sacred and precious dialogue.
Another possibility is that
fetal hearing of the maternal blood flow sounds may in some way cause the fetus to initiate premature labor. Is there some
way in which the fetal brain processes changes in womb sound rhythms? Biologic rhythmicity is a fundamental aspect of healthy
human beings. For example, the rhythm of our heart beat is not like a metronome but contains a beat-to-beat variability. As
we age the variability of our biologic rhythms decrease. And when we reach death, there is no rhythm or variability. The fetus
in distress usually has a decreased variability of the fetal heart rate. These changes are sometimes used diagnostically to
make clinical decisions during pregnancy and childbirth. Since the predominant rhythmic component of fetal intrauterine hearing
is the sound of the mother's blood flow pulsing through the placenta, is it not likely that the fetal brain uses this sound
and rhythmic information in deciding to initiate labor? We know that maternal stress often manifests in a hyperactive sympathetic
nervous system and a decrease in maternal heart rate variability (Ekholm, et al, 1996). So perhaps the fetus perceives decreases
in maternal heart rate variability and uses this information as part of the initiation of preterm labor.
Another possible cause for
preterm labor is an exaggerated maternal apprehension for the safety of the baby as well as the worry that Braxton Hicks contractions
are foreboding a premature labor (Cheek, 1995). This will usually provoke a call to the midwife or obstetrician and bedrest
and other treatments to prevent preterm labor. This will often increase the patient's anxiety even more and lead to continuing
painful Braxton Hicks contractions. The quality of telepathic communication from the mother to the fetus will reveal anxiety
and be picked up by the fetus. This may provoke initiation of the labor cascade by the fetus. Hypnosis during this time has
been successful in prolonging the pregnancy (Cheek, 1995, Omer, Friedlander & Palti, 1986).
What appears to be a common
attribute here is that an exaggerated maternal stress response can lead to the initiation of preterm labor. Besides the documented
clinical use of hypnosis in the treatment of preterm labor, meditation has been documented to decrease stress hormone levels
in various clinical situations (Sudsuang, Chentanez & Veluvan, 1991).
Music alone has been shown
to diminish stress-induced increases in stress hormones (Spintge & Droh, 1987). Music
combined with guided imagery also decreases stress hormone levels (McKinney, Tims, Kumar &
Kumar, 1997; McKinney, et al, 1997 & Bonny, ND). Music therapy has also decreased maternal stress for pregnant
adolescents (Liebman & MacLaren, 1991).
My interests led me to develop
a tape of guided imagery with music to affect the maternal-fetal dialog, The Transitions Maternal & Fetal Wellness Program(tm)
(Schwartz & McDonald, 1996).
By using this tape, I hoped
to positively influence some of the risk factors related to preterm labor & low birth weight. The tape was designed to
reduce overall stress, strengthen communication between mother & fetus & to get mother to center on the here &
now. Messages gently alert the mother to the dangers of alcohol, drugs & smoking & to the importance of nutrition
Initial anecdotal reports
from a group of low socioeconomic mothers have indicated higher birth weights in the mothers exposed to this guided imagery
& music (Hetty Watters, 1997). A large multi-center study is being initiated to explore
these benefits to various populations.
Communication Before Conception: A Spiritual Frontier Column Editor: Elisabeth
Elisabeth Hallett is a college psychology
major who went on to become a nurse, yoga teacher & independent writer / researcher. She's the mother of 2 children, author
of 2 books: "In the Newborn Year: Our Changing Awareness After Childbirth" (1992) & "Soul Trek: Meeting Our Children On
the Way to Birth" (1995) & likes affiliating with 2 groups APPPAH & The Institute of Noetic
Sciences. She is also an enthusiastic Webweaver & welcomes your participation in this column. Her email link is at the end of this story.
Introduction How I Stumbled
Across A New Frontier Elisabeth Hallett
About a dozen years ago, I
stumbled across a mystery. I was working on a book about the postpartum bonding time, gathering parents' personal stories,
when I was struck by an unexpected fact.
Quite a few parents
emphasized that their connection with their baby had begun long before the actual birth. They told of sensing contact & communication during pregnancy
- & in some of the most spine-tingling accounts, even before conception itself.
I was hooked! I had to learn
more about this unknown dimension of parenthood. (The fact that I was hoping to have a 2nd child,
despite fertility problems & miscarriages, added to my interest.) Delving into the mystery of pre-birth communication
led to writing & publishing Soul Trek: Meeting Our Children on the Way to Birth.
But it didn't end there.
Like the more familiar Near-Death Experience, this is a phenomenon that opens up whole new vistas of thought & speculation.
Can our unborn children communicate
with us - even before conception?
A surprising number of
parents have experiences that suggest it. Their stories raise intriguing questions.
Do children come to us
from a spiritual dimension?
Do they come randomly,
or to a specific family? Do they have any choice in the circumstances of their birth? These questions & more will be explored in upcoming installments of this column, thru the experiences
of people like ourselves.
Some experiences are
dramatic; some are subtle & fleeting. And some, like the story of Steven & Miriam, are life-changing.
Long before she met her husband,
Miriam realized she had a strong aversion to motherhood. She was so determined to avoid pregnancy that at the age of 23 she underwent tubal ligation.
Later, when she
& Steven married, they agreed that children were not an option. "For the first 3 years of our marriage," Steven says,
"we didn't give it another thought - it just felt right to be a couple.
We worked with a series
of counselors over the years to improve our communication & understanding of ourselves. Then we met Helen Bonnie, the creator of Guided Imagery Through Music & her sister-in-law Rosalie Lindquist."
As Miriam & Steven
explored this type of therapy in a series of individual sessions, their experiences were profound - & very different.
Miriam recalls: "My sessions
centered on what seemed to me to be past life experiences, many horrible events surrounding pregnancy & childbirth, continual
loss thru dismal &/or violent means!
After each session,
the people acting as our guides had us draw a mandala or some other representation of the experience. My drawings were uniformly
"My final session was much
different from all the others. A guide, obviously myself in fairy godmother garb, appeared to me & took me back to several
of the key figures I had identified with in my past life experiences. She mediated for me & asked the people from the
past to help me out by keeping their fears & sharing with me only their talents & positive aspects.
It was incredibly healing
& it prepared me for my husband relating his experience."
Steven picks up the story:
"During one session, I saw a beautiful toddler with blond hair & blue eyes who held out a box which contained a lotus
flower & was illuminated. I drew a picture of this child afterward. When I arrived home I showed Miriam the picture &
told her that I had seen our baby.
She was a bit taken aback
& suggested that a baby might be a metaphor for some new aspect in our lives. Besides, there hadn't been anyone with blue
eyes in my family for 3 generations. I told her that I thought it was the image of a real baby.
"From then on, we both had
numerous dreams & images of this child & eventually decided to be open to him joining us. We spent a year doing pre-conception
preparation - our health, environment & relationship were reworked."
This period of preparation
included surgery to reverse Miriam's tubal ligation. She adds, "I also made a commitment before our Rabbi, family & friends to raise our child(ren) as Jews. Interestingly, this was June 10th & our son Langston
was conceived on June 11th."
Says Steven, "We didn't 'hear'
much from him during the time between his conception & his birth. I guess he didn't have much to say. As you might have
guessed, he looked just like the picture I drew, blue eyes & all. Langston just had his Bar-mitzvah earlier this month
& has always been highly motivated about participating in this religious path.
He's been an exceptional
person since pre-conception & we cherish our relationship with him."
I would like to point out
some of the features of this wonderful story. It was Steven who felt the first connection - these experiences don't happen just to mothers.
After the first contact,
there were many others until the baby was conceived. As Miriam describes it, "He seemed to be continually tapping us on our
shoulders, reminding us of his presence."
Finally & most moving,
is the apparent purpose behind the couple's visionary experiences. Without them, they probably would never have chosen to
have a child. Did Langston initiate the contact that led to his birth?
These are some of the
threads we'll pick up in future columns.
Please join me in exploring this
remarkable frontier. If you feel you may have experienced contact or communication with a child before conception,
please consider sharing your story. You can contact me at this e-mail or by snail-mail at Elisabeth Hallett, Box 705, Hamilton
Hearing the Soul's Voice: A Midwife's Story
by Elisabeth Hallett
This column has
focused on communication before conception - the mind-bending evidence of a pre-existing, conscious soul. But does the soul's communication stop at conception?
I propose that
it continues throughout pregnancy and that it has wondrous practical implications.
As dream researcher Robert
Moss affirms, "The unborn child communicates not only with its mother, but with receptive people in its environment who may find themselves cast in the role of interpreters or message-carriers"(Dreaming True, NY: Pocket Books, 2000, p.171).
Moss calls these receptive people "soul-helpers," and the information they receive is often about a neededchange to benefit mother and/or child, such as adding more protein to the mother's diet.
Sometimes the message
is more like an announcement, as if the soul is introducing itself to a 3rd person who'll carry the news to the parents. Thru
these interactions with an "outsider," independent of any physical connection, the unborn soul adds weight to the evidence that it exists.
The soul's ability
to communicate opens up new possibilities for easing the transition of birth for both mother and baby. Claire Winstone, a student of perinatal psychology,
realized while recalling her own birth that there had been no one present who was aware of what she was experiencing.
She has suggested
having, at each delivery, one attendant whose task is to maintain a connection with the baby (At her website, www.speaking4baby.com, Claire welcomes accounts
of such communications from & with babies)
It's exciting to
learn that some babies and some birth attendants have already discovered how to use telepathic communication in pregnancy and labor.
"Joy" (not her real name) is a nurse midwife in private practice. She's allowed me to share her story and hopes that others will be encouraged by it to believe they may indeed be hearing from the unborn soul.
unborn baby of one of my patients "talks" to me telepathically. Most often this happens during labor to suggest some position
change to make descent easier, or to tell me of a change in maternal blood pressure, maternal fever and so on. This nformation always proves true and often shortens labor.
I use the information
to bring up the subject nonchalantly with the mother and we talk about options from there. These communications don't happen with every baby, seem to be for specific purposes and end abruptly with the delivery of the baby's head, almost
as if it has passed through some veil and communication isn't possible for me now.
At least 3 times
I have heard a joyful "I'm coming! I'm coming right now!" as the baby makes a rapid descent and precipitous delivery.
I'm rushing to the bedside
fumbling with my gloves. I ask the baby, "Would you please wait until I get my gloves on?" The reply is always the same: "I
can't. I've got to come right NOW!"
I know the mothers
and fathers must wonder why their nurse-midwife is bursting out laughing as their little one is entering the world but I get
tickled at the baby's excited comments and insistence on rushing right out!
Joy's abilities expanded dramatically in response to an urgent need. It began when she received a telephone call from the mother of her friend Lynn (not her real
name): "We just found out Lynn was raped several months ago and she's pregnant - pretty far along. Will you come over
You can imagine the genuine shock we all felt - including the birth mother. She'd been in deep denial about the assault and the pregnancy. Even though she was 6 months along, she hadn't allowed herself to accept it until the doctor's visit that day proved the pregnancy.
This shows one
of my "blind spots." I'm sure all of us who see and hear things must have blind spots and it's important to know what yours are! I'm not one of those people who can just look at a woman and say, "You're pregnant" long before she
knows or shows.
I can't know a woman
is pregnant until she knows and accepts it. Often then I can know the sex of the baby.
Up until this time,
I had only short, specifically purposeful communications with a few babies of my patients - approximately 3 or 4 a month. But that night started a long-term, frequent connection between Lynn's baby and me.
He started talking
to me that night very soon after I arrived at her mother's home.
I knew the baby was a
boy. He expressed disappointment that his hiding place had been found out. It was almost like a little boy with a secret tree house that has just been discovered
He knew he'd be
discovered at some point, but he was "bummed out!" He said his mother knew about him, of course, on some unconscious level
and that the family dog had known about him from almost the beginning.
But he was terrified
by the family reaction to his presence. He kept saying over and over, "Don't let them hurt me... Please don't let them hurt me."
As a nurse-midwife,
I was the immediate objective consultant who laid out all the options for my friend. She was about to start the last possible
week where termination was legal in our state. As much as I disliked that option this late in pregnancy and as hard as it
was to discuss above the roaring comments by the baby, I still presented all options to Lynn in a nonbiased fashion.
This was her decision
to make. After several days she chose adoption as the option she wanted. We all agreed to support her in any decision. But the baby expressed relief to me with this one.
pregnancy he continued to talk to me, frequently at times and then not for days at other times. He explained that to him it
didn't matter how he was conceived but that he was coming for a purpose. I asked him which he would choose, if given a choice
between being raised by his biological mother or being adopted.
He seemed to know
so much more about the "big picture." After Lynn had picked out the adoptive family, he seemed to be pleased that all was
going as it should be.
asked me to share with his biological family that he knew them all - mother, grandmother, grandfather, uncle - and that he loved them dearly even though they may not see much of him after birth. He even knew the adoptive family by name. Love for all of them came flowing over me like ocean waves.
They were the most intense
feelings I think I've ever experienced. I couldn't help but break out in tears and shake all over. When I asked what he wanted me to call
him, he told me "Kevin." Incidentally this isn't the name chosen by the adoptive family. He said their name for him "was okay for out there, but for now you should call me Kevin."
Because the family
had known Joy for years and knew of her clairvoyant abilities, she was able to share this experience with them and they found
it comforting. Her telepathic connection with "Kevin" eased the traumatic situation not only for him but for the whole family.
Most of the time
when he talked to me I was just doing my usual chores when a feeling came over me and his words started spilling into my head, totally unsolicited and unexpected.
Only a few times
did he "zap me" while I was meditating. On two occasions when he came to me while I was meditating, I went with him to his "womb" instead of mine (pardon the pun). I could see the red/pink
striations of the inside of the uterus thru a milky veil (the amniotic bag).
I could hear the
maternal heartbeat and intestines. And most amazing of all, I could clearly see Kevin's face! You can imagine my shock when
he was delivered - actually when just his head was delivered - and he rotated his shoulders internally as babies do.
I looked upon the very
same face I'd seen these two times in meditation. Now I know I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was about to fall over! I have to admit this in-utero conversation was
a little too weird for me.
I felt I had invaded
the mother who had been invaded by the rapist months earlier and I haven't been able to tell her about that.
When the time for
his birth came (an induction as the baby was overdue), the initiation of labor was slow.
Lynn asked me to go home for a while to check on my daughters. While there, I did a little meditation and sought out Kevin.
This was the first time
I initiated the conversation. I knew that no baby ever spoke to me after delivery of the head, so I wanted to say goodbye
and also to ask how he was doing.
He kept telling
me over and over, "I am afraid... I am afraid to come out. I think it will hurt and I know there will be a lot of sorrow from my mother when she gives me to the other family. I am afraid." I reassured him that the grandmother and I would be there with him and his mother the whole time and that it was going
to be all right.
I told Kevin, "Yes,
the parting will be painful, but the adoptive family loves you so very much. For all our pain, they have an equal measure of joy. Your birth will be okay. We will be there with you and your mama."
Only about 30 minutes
after this conversation, Lynn's mother called me to come back to the hospital - labor had suddenly become intense and she
wanted me. Kevin only talked to me once in labor, about a needed position change for Lynn because he was having trouble turning his head to get into the pelvis "this way."
It was short and sweet,
as so many other conversations with babies had been for me - specific in nature. After the position change, Lynn rapidly dilated
from 4 centimeters to complete and her 4 1/2 hour labor was soon over.
Joy's story raises
some important questions. How rare is her telepathic gift?
Can it be taught
to other birth attendants?
In Joy's case,
the "hearing" developed spontaneously in her midwifery work. At first, she says, "I thought it was another of those strange things that I needed to keep to myself and not share with anyone."
Like many others,
Joy had been silenced as a child when she spoke of seeing spirits and colors around people. Perhaps there are many midwives,
nurses and physicians who hear babies communicating with them, but hesitate to reveal their experience.
Given the discovery
that the unborn child is, in Thomas Verny's words, "a feeling, remembering, aware being," given the evidence that the soul communicates even before conception, isn't it time we explore such a promising possibility?*
*This article draws upon a chapter of my new book, Stories of the Unborn Soul: The Mystery
& Delight of Pre-Birth Communication (iUniverse, 2002), available thru bookstores, from my website, www.light-hearts.com, or from online bookstores such as Amazon.com.
the following web links are provided
for your convenience in visiting the source sites of the information displayed on this page:
Click here to visit the Red Cross page that allows you to access your local
chapter of the Red Cross by entering your zip code in the specified box, to see how you can help in your area. You can also
call your local Red Cross Chapter that you can find the number for online or in your local phone book to volunteer for any openings that may need to be filled or you can find another way to help others there
you've been visiting children
please have a great day & take a few minutes
to explore some of the other sites in the emotional feelings network of sites! explore the unresolved emotions & feelings that may be the cause of some of your pain & hurt...
be curious & open to new possibilities! thanks again for visiting at anxieties 102!
almost 30 sites, all designed, editted & maintained by kathleen!
until next time: consider
yourself hugged by a friend today!
til' next time! kathleen
this is simply an
informational website concerning emotions & feelings. it does not advise anyone to perform methods -treatments -
practice described within, endorse methods described anywhere within or advise any visitor with medical or psychological
treatment that should be considered only thru a medical doctor, medical professional, or mental health professional.
in no way are we a medical professional or mental health professional.