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The Conscious Baby Birth Initiative

Carrie Contey, M.Ed.

Thanks to the pioneers of pre- and perinatal psychology we are gaining awareness of how birth profoundly imprints itself on our health and behavior. Verny writes, How he is born – whether it is painful or easy, smooth or violent – largely determines who he becomes and how he will view the world around him. Whether he is five, ten, forty or seventy, a part of him always looks at the world through the eyes of the newly born child he once was. (1981, p.97)

In his landmark study, Chamberlain (1986) found that under hypnosis children were able to recall very minute details of their birth experiences. These stories were matched to the reports given by their mothers who were also under hypnosis.

Chamberlain concludes,

The content of birth memories suggests a sophisticated level of physical, mental and emotional consciousness at birth, beyond anything predicted by developmental psychology. In this light, many routine practices in obstetrics need to be re-evaluated from the baby’s point of view. (1986, p.94)

The purpose of this paper is to suggest ways to facilitate a better birthing experience for all newborns based on the belief that babies are physically, mentally and emotionally conscious at birth.


A growing body of experimental, clinical and anecdotal evidence supports the idea that consciousness exists before and during birth. Wade (1998) points out that in regression many people are able to recount incidences that took place long before any significant brain development has occurred. The therapeutic work of Chamberlain, Castellino and Emerson, among others, acknowledges, validates and strives to heal the often-traumatic birth memories individuals of all ages harbor. In September of 2000, I attended my first process workshop facilitated by Ray Castellino. During my two-hour session I was able to re-experience my own non-labor cesarean birth and discover some key information about my physical and emotional states at the time of birth. Finally, I was able to heal a chronic neck pain that was with me my whole life, the result of a birth insult. I was also released some of the emotional felt around being taken from the womb before I initiated labor. If we were not conscious during birth, we would neither remember the events nor need to heal the trauma which occurred.


Physically, an emerging newborn is well aware of his or her environment during birth. All five senses are well developed in the full-term newborn many weeks before birth. During birth a child is seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling everything around him or her. Some suspect that the newborn’s senses are far more heightened than the senses of the adults’ present during birth. Frederick Leboyer states that birth is “A sensory experience so vast we can barely conceive of it” (1975, p.15).


Leboyer (1975) brought to light the elements necessary for welcoming new people gently into the world. Listed below are some suggestions for the birthing environment based on what we know about the senses of new people.

SEEING – Because a baby’s eyes are so sensitive and used to seeing light filtered through mother’s belly, the lights should be dimmed. We must allow baby’s eyes to adjust to the outside world slowly and naturally.

HEARING – Likewise, a baby is used to hearing sounds that are muffled by flesh and fluid so speech should be soft and external noises should be kept to a minimum.

TASTING – Nothing should be placed in the newborn’s mouth before he or she has a chance to breastfeed. Babies are expecting to taste their mothers’ milk soon after birth. Imposing bottles or syringes on them during the perinatal period is invasive and detrimental to bonding.

SMELLING – Babies are sensitive to smells. The birth environment, especially in a hospital setting, can be overwhelming to the olfactory system. We must be mindful of the potency of the natural and non-natural agents used around the baby during birth.

TOUCHING – We speak to the child through our touch (Leboyer, 1975). Through touch we communicate love, fear, tenderness, violence, confidence, ineptitude, etc. So how should the child be handled? Within seconds after birth, mother’s hands should be the hands that welcome her children and reassure them that they made it and they are safe and loved. Anyone else who has contact with the baby should use respectful, loving touch when handling the newborn.


The work of Van de Carr (1988), Manrique (1998) and Panthuraamphorn (1993) yields proof that babies are learning in utero. More and more parents are talking to, playing music for and bonding with their prenates. If babies can learn in utero, one could easily infer that they are learning during birth as well. Not only are prenates taking in the sensations of the birthing environment, they are mentally processing the information and developing patterns of being in the world based on the information gathered. For example, Chamberlain (1987) describes the story of Steward an adult patient who grew up believing he was a “difficult kid” and “not normal like regular children.” When he was regressed back to his birth, he discovered the source of these core beliefs about himself. During his labor, the doctor became angry and frustrated that he was not dropping. Subsequently, the doctor told Steward’s mother that she “had a stubborn child” who was “difficult” and “would be late for everything”. When we gain access to the sources of our core beliefs, we are able to acknowledge and re-pattern the way we exist in the world.

Babies are not only affected by the words said to them during birth but also the emotion surrounding the event as well. In his book, From Parent to Child: The Psychic Link, Jones discusses the telepathic connection between the mother and her unborn child.

The unborn child is affected by what the mother thinks, feels and experiences. Tension in the delivery room can contribute to problems just as much, if not more so, than bacteria. On the other hand, positive thoughts directed to the mother and baby can contribute to a more rewarding experience for both (1989, p.90).


A powerful and positive birth setting is created when everyone in attendance is able to slow down and hold the image of the emerging baby as a conscious, sensitive, aware person who has the innate knowledge of how to be born (McCarty, 1996). Addressing the baby and telling him or her what is happening to both baby and mother during the birth is also important. This is most crucial during any invasive procedures. Through re-birthing and other therapeutic techniques that allow people to re-experience their births, we know that often birth is scary, stressful and painful for the newborn. Verbally reassuring babies that they are safe and supported during their journey can alleviate some of the fear they experience.

Leaving the womb is disorienting and shocking to the system. Once the baby is born, everyone in attendance must be mindful of how they place their attention on the baby. “The more we can learn how to be present, relaxed and centered in our own bodies, the more babies can then stay oriented, connected and present with theirs” (McCarty, 1996, p.25). Above all, the birthing environment should be filled with love, joy and reverence for newborn child.


Through a monumental study Brackbill (1985) concluded that drugs administered during labor and delivery significantly affects the infant’s behavior. Some of the known effects of drugs on the baby are: Abnormal fetal heart rate, interference with normal newborn reflexes, inhibited sucking response, difficulty with breathing and excessive drowsiness (Simkin, 1991). When I was regressed back to my birth I was overwhelmed by a heavy, cloudy sensation that made me want to fall asleep. It was clear that I was reliving the effects of the anesthesia that my mother received prior to my birth. I made a conscious effort to stay awake during the process, but it was not easy. My breathing was labored, and it was difficult to move my limbs. Several times I broke into hysterical laughter brought on by the nitrous oxide my mother inhaled. I laughed but the emotions inside were fear and anger. Not having control over my body or emotional state was very disconcerting. Of 59 published studies not one found any beneficial effect of medication on the prenate (Brackbill, 1985). From the perspective of the child there should be no drugs used during labor and delivery. Since there are situations when drugs are necessary such as cesarean deliveries, they should be used cautiously and parents and the babies themselves should be well informed of the effects of the drugs.


It is essential that babies remain with their mothers immediately after birth so bonding can begin. Bonding is the process by which a secure attachment is formed which ensures the continued care necessary for survival of the new child. Bonding is the original and immediate connection between mother and baby (Gaskin, 1990). Both newborn and mom are instinctually prepared for and expecting to bond face-to-face, skin-to-skin and mouth-to-breast immediately after birth and for the next several months. According to Castellino (1997), “Healthy bonding and attachment are the outcomes of a whole sequence of events that are somatic, neurophysiological and psychological in nature” (p.18).

Upon delivery, and before the child is taken away from the mother for bathing weighing or other interventions, he or she should be placed naked on the mother’s abdomen. In that position the child smells her smell, feels her warmth and hears her voice. Once again, they are together and seeing each other for the first time. Shortly after birth the child enters the quiet alert state. During this time the newborn is very still, often molded to the mother’s abdomen, but able to see, hear and respond to their new environment. At this time most mothers coo at and stroke their babies.

For the next hour, if the surroundings are calm, and the baby received no pain medication via the mother during labor, he or she will begin a process called delivery self-attachment. Delivery self-attachment is a newborn’s ability to find their way to the mother’s breast, latch on and begin suckling (Castellino, 1997). The four-part delivery self-attachment sequence is as follows: For the first 30 minutes, the newborn remains in the quiet alert state looking up at the mother and observing the new environment. Between 30 and 45 minutes, the lips begin smacking and the infant begins to drool. With support under the feet, the baby begins to inch forward towards the breast. When the infant reaches the level of the mother’s breast he or she will begin rooting around for the nipple. Finally, between 45 and 60 minutes the baby latches on the areola and begins to nurse (Klaus Kennell, Klaus 1995).

As noted above, all new moms are equipped with bonding instincts as well. For example, early nipple stimulation by the newborn during breastfeeding releases a hormone called oxytocin, which is responsible for naturally contracting the uterus and reducing blood flow as well as signaling milk let-down. Subsequently, each time the baby nurses, mom’s oxytocin level increases which has a calming effect on the mother and naturally increases mother’s affinity towards her baby (Klaus, Kennell, Klaus, 1995). In essence the bonding system is set up so that nurturing begets nurturing.


No longer can society afford to ignore the consciousness of the newborn and the detrimental effects of our current methods of birthing. We must honor and respect the birthing process and yield to the innate wisdom of the newborn. I am strongly committed to working towards raising humanity to the next level of evolution. I know that our only hope for such a leap is to change how babies are treated during birth. I envision, based on some of the ideas presented above, a document which outlines evidence-based ways we can create the optimal birth setting for all new people. Perhaps it will be called ‘The Conscious Baby Birth Initiative.”

Nurturing The Unborn Child: A Nine-month Programme For Soothing, Stimulating and Communicating with Your Baby – Part 1

Thomas Verny, M.D. and Pamela Weintraub


Scientists have recently discovered that the foetus is a very sensitive individual. Not only can it develop a very strong bonding with its pregnant mother and father, it can also respond to the outside world.

A 4-month-old foetus can feel the strong rays of light shone on its mother’s stomach and is able to raise its hand to cover its eyes. It also has senses of touch and taste. The sense of hearing is developed when the foetus is 5 months old. New York Einstein Medical College also pointed out that the brains of foetuses who are 28 to 32 weeks old have learning ability.

Physically speaking, whatever the mother has drunk, eaten and smelt will be passed on to the baby through blood circulation. Emotionally speaking, the baby will also be affected. For instance, if the mother is under great stress for a long time, the actions and behaviours of the mother will also influence the baby greatly. When the mother caresses her stomach, talks, sings, or dances, the foetus will know that the mother is “there”, and it will move its body or kick to respond to the mother. The mother should be able to differentiate between a happy kick and a disturbed kick.

The baby’s experience at birth will also have some influence on its way of life in the future. Recent reports show that, babies who experience difficult births are more likely to commit suicide or use drugs as compared to those who have smooth deliveries. These early experiences not only reflect a child’s personality, they will also have unimaginable effect on the child’s future physical and emotional development.

The “Womb-Regulating Method” introduced here can help you and your spouse to bring up a cool-headed and confident child who is able to lead a happy life. This method is easy, systematic and it can explore the baby’s intellectual and emotional potentials fully. When you begin to practice this method, firstly, you have to be fully relaxed, in order to remove the hormones built up in your body due to anxiety and stress. Not only will constant practice enhance your ability of managing your emotions, it will also enhance the relationship between the husband and wife and reinforce family cohesiveness. Your unborn baby will be able to feel the warmth and love throughout the entire process.

This method has 47 practices that can be adjusted according to the needs of the mother and foetus. Some of these practices can be carried out repeatedly throughout the 9 months of pregnancy, whereas some have to be carried out at specific stages of pregnancy.


If you discover that you are pregnant, you will have mixed feelings of happiness, uncertainty, fear etc. The sooner you are able to recognise these emotions, the easier your pregnancy will be. Your unborn child needs love just like you need food and air. Hence, you and your spouse should constantly emphasise positive feelings. Listening to classical music helps you to stay calm and to understand your inner feelings. According to research findings, the rhythm of classical music ranges from 60 to 70 beats per minute. This is rather close to the heartbeat of human being at resting state. It will help to enhance the ability of concentration and keeping calm. Rock music or sound of siren and alarms have negative effect on the unborn child.


Listening to music can help you to relax, to calm your growing baby down and to stimulate the brain cells responsible for concentration and learning abilities. We suggest using Bach, Mozart, Handel, Corelli and Vivaldi’s classical music. Your spouse’s or best friend’s musical recordings will also be able to achieve similar effects. Do it at least twice a week and each time should last 60 minutes.

Note: Do not listen to music that will cause you and your baby to fall asleep.

Give yourself some quiet time, this practice can help you to maintain clarity of mind and positive thinking. You have to relax your body and be free of worries. Sports psychologists often use this method to enhance concentration and performance in sports.

Do it for 20 minutes a day and you’ll feel recharged and refreshed. First, find a quiet corner in your house, sit on a comfortable chair and listen to music for 10 minutes (You may use the music found in our cassette tapes or any popular light music). Then listen to the instructions pre-recorded by you or your spouse. Do not attempt to analyse that audio recording, let it bring you to an imaginative world.

Close your eyes, take 2 deep breaths. Continue to breathe deeply and evenly, put your attention on the rhythm of breathing in and out, on the feeling of your body or any imagination, feelings, emotions that’s related to yourself. If there’s any intrusion of unrelated thoughts, let them go like white clouds drifting across the horizon.

Now, concentrate on your feet, pay attention to the pressure placed on your feet and the way the feet are positioned. Pay attention to your soles, heels, toes and ankles. Now, curl your toes towards your soles, as if attempting to touch the soles with your toes. Curl your toes further down, down, down and stop. Alright, relax.

Inhale, exhale, relax, relax. Every breath is able to make you feel more relaxed, but not to make you feel sleepy. You are still fully awake but completely relaxed. Now, shift your attention to your calves, the part from your knees to your ankles. Tighten every muscle in your calves, tighten, tighten, tighten, alright, relax. Inhale, exhale, relax, relax. Every breath will help to make your body more and more relaxed.

Now, tighten every muscle in your thighs. Tighten every muscle in your lower abdomen. Tighten every muscle in your buttocks. Tighten, tighten, tighten, alright, relax.

Inhale, exhale, relax, relax. Continue to breathe in and out smoothly. Every breath taken in will bring you lots of oxygen and energy. Every breath let out will get rid of carbon dioxide and waste gases in your body. Imagine with every breath taken in, you have inhaled all the love and support in the world; with every breath let out, you have released all negative emotions and anxiety.

Now, let’s focus on another part of your body – the spine, from the upper part of your neck right up to lower waist. Press this part of your body closely against the chair. Press harder, harder, maintain this posture, alright, relax. Feel the tiredness in your back and chest.

Inhale, exhale, relax, relax. Every breath will help your body to relax. When you inhale, every muscle and cell is nourished and energised. When you exhale, every muscle and cell is cleansed. Your body and your unborn baby will enjoy this exercise totally.

Now, focus on your shoulder, neck and all your anxiety, stress and worries. Raise your shoulders towards your ears, as if you are trying to touch your ears with your shoulders. Raise it up, up and up, alright, relax.

Inhale, exhale, relax, relax. Now raise your hands up a few centimetres, clench your fists, clench hard, hard and harder, alright, relax.

Inhale, exhale, relax, relax. Continue to breathe in and out evenly. Every breath will help you to be more relaxed. You will feel comfortable and secure.

Now, focus on your face, pay attention to every muscle around your eyes, mouth and chin. Now close your eyes, tighten the muscle around your mouth, tighten, tighten, tighten, alright, relax.

Inhale, exhale, relax, relax. Now your body and mind are relaxed. The music is going to be played soon. Listen to the music, let it bring you to all the places that you should go to. Go with the flow of the music, don’t force yourself. You deserve to feel relaxed; you have to relax; your unborn child has to relax too.

After you’ve finished listening to this music, you’ll be completely relaxed and feel refreshed. (Play music for 10 minutes.)

Now, slowly regain your initial state. Move your fingers and toes, open your eyes, remember to maintain this calm state. You should still be relaxed, use your five senses to feel the surrounding. Now that you are recharged and relaxed, you can stand up and continue with your day.

*The person who is recording the instructions should do it slowly and calmly. Pause where appropriate.


In your diary, you can vent any uneasy feelings you have deep in your heart. When you are able to acknowledge your emotions, you will develop a sense of responsibility and will make positive changes in your daily life.

(To be continued)

Children Education (4th Lecture – The End)

Dr Rudolf Steiner
15 Aug 1924, England

When you have successfully led the children to complete the simple drawing, you can then increase the level of difficulty.

You can draw this image (see left half of Image b), after you manage to convince the children that the image is incomplete, you may guide them to complete the other half of the image (see right half of Image b). Through this teaching approach, you can sensitise children to shapes and also help to cultivate a sense of symmetry and balance in them.

This teaching approach can be explored further, for instance, you can make them realize the inner order of images. You can easily guide them to see that some lines in Image c meet at certain parts and separate at other parts.

You then draw the next image (see Image d), this time, you straighten the curvy lines so that they form angles. Then they need to draw the image in such a way that the inner and outer lines are well matched. This task is a difficult one for 8-year-olds, hence it is considered a great accomplishment if they are able to make all the images look complete. It does not matter if they are shown the complete images beforehand. You should allow the children to draw the inner lines on their own, this Image d is actually quite similar to Image c, except for the straight lines and angles.

This is how you should teach children so that they have a real good sense of shapes, symmetry and balance. From this, you can further discuss the symmetry of things. If this line is the surface of water (see Image e), and the image above this line is an object, you must guide the children to imagine how this object reflected in the water. Through this method, you can further guide them to appreciate the symmetry of things found in this world.

Such way of thinking taught through imagination of images, will enable your child to become more skilful and capable. You can say, ‘Touch your right eye with your left hand! Touch your right eye with your right hand! Touch your left eye with your right hand! Touch your left shoulder from the back with your right hand! Touch your right shoulder with your left hand! Touch your left ear with your right hand! Touch the big toe on your right foot with your right hand!’ etc. You can let the children do all kinds of strange exercises, such as telling them, ‘Use your right hand to draw a circle in the anticlockwise direction! Use your left hand to draw a circle in the clockwise direction! Use both hands to draw two circles that overlap! Use both hands to draw 2 circles with the hands moving in different directions. You have to draw faster and faster. Now move the middle finger of your right hand quickly, now move your thumb, and then move your small finger!’

The alert children will be able to think quickly and do all kinds of exercise. What benefits does this activity have? For an 8-year-old child, this form of exercise will make him ‘think’ about this future for the rest of his life. If the child only learns how to use his head to think, he will not be able to perform this type of thinking throughout his lifetime and he will eventually get tired of thinking one day. On the contrary, when a person is trained to perform actions that require him to be very alert and think before he acts, he will become an intelligent and thoughtful person in the future. There is a strong correlation between activities that 6- or 7-year-olds carry out and their levels of intelligence when they are 35, 36 years old.

When you understand such correlations better, you will have to try harder to teach what you ought to teach. Similarly, you can guide the children to be sensitive to the use of different colours. Suppose you let the children do this activity, instruct them to colour a red patch (see Picture f), then make them realize that by adding green border round the red patch, the final picture will look very good. You should be able to achieve better results if you use colouring materials other than the type that I am using now. Now you have to explain to the children that you are going to do the activity again the opposite way. You say, ‘I am going to colour a green patch first (see Picture g) which colour would you add to this green patch?’ Then the children will add red to the green patch.

Through this method, you will be able to slowly guide children to be sensitive to the effects of different colour matches. The children first observed that I have a red patch at the inner portion and a green border surrounding it. If the red patch is being changed to green, then the green border has to be changed to red. It is very important to let children who are around the age of 8 to appreciate the interplay of different colours and shapes.

Hence to deliver our curriculum effectively, you must use a teaching approach that has clear inner formation. To succeed in doing this, we need to abandon the normal way of planning timetable. In Wardolf schools, we do not plan timetable the way other schools plan, we allocate instructional time according to modules. One theme can take up to 4 to 6 weeks to teach, i.e., within this period of time we teach topics related to only one theme. Unlike other schools, we do not teach Maths from 8am to 9am, then teach Reading from 9am to 10am and later teach Writing from 10am to 11am. Instead, we teach the children a single theme for 4 weeks in the morning classes and when the children have acquired sufficient knowledge and skills, we will then move on to another theme. We never teach a subject for an hour and another subject for the next hour and so on. Instead, we will focus on Maths for many weeks and change to a new theme depending on the situation. However, we do have some themes which have to be taught every week, I’ll elaborate on this later. The rule of focusing on a main subject for a certain period of time is one that we adhere to strictly. Even though we teach only one theme for a long period of time, we do include other topics related to the theme. Through this approach, the children are saved from the harmful effects of having to absorb what is delivered in the current lesson and at the same time digest what has been introduced in the previous lesson. Through this modular approach, they no longer need to go through this painful process.

Many people are doubtful whether children will be able to retain most of the knowledge acquired through the modular approach. This will only happen to particular themes like Maths, but this problem can easily be solved by teaching the particular topic again. Even if they do forget, this disadvantage is insubstantial as compared to the benefits gained from the modular approach.

Children Education (4th Lecture-Continued)

Dr Rudolf Steiner
15 Aug 1924

Your ability to manage your class depends on your mood or the state of your soul. The correlation between them will bring about a special experience for you, provided you have sufficient self-confidence as a teacher.

While delivering a lesson, the teacher needs to ensure that her heart and soul are at a state when they can reach out to the students’ heart. To achieve this, the teacher needs to know her students very well. Eventually, you will realise that it is possible to do so within a very short time, even if there are more than 50 students in your class. You will understand them, have the images of all of them imprinted in your heart; you will understand every student’s temperament, talents and physical appearance, etc.

The main focus of Wardolf schools is our teachers’ meetings. In these meetings, the teachers will discuss the characteristics of each student. This has always been the first item on the agenda of our meetings held once weekly. Through these discussions, teachers can learn to improve on their performance.

Many questions will come to the teacher’s mind in the process of trying to understand his or her students better. While you are searching for answers to these questions, you will have a special kind of sensation that grows in your heart. You have to bring this sensation to your classroom. When the teacher’s feelings do not correspond to that of the students’, (this does happen sometimes), the students will immediately start to play pranks or fight and you’ll find it difficult to continue with the lesson. (I know the situation is not that bad here, what I am referring to is the situation in Europe.) This situation easily crops up, and the school may eventually replace one teacher with another. Then the students are suddenly at their best behaviour once they get a different teacher.

In your teaching experiences, this example may not be unfamiliar to you. To overcome such problems, the teacher has to be in the meditative state at the beginning of the day when facing her students with different personalities. You may think that to attain this, you need to spend at least an hour’s time. Yes, it is rather difficult to attain this meditative state if it really takes an hour. However, in actual fact, it takes only 10 to 15 minutes. The teacher must slowly develop an ability to feel the mind and soul of every student. This is the only way to understand the happenings in the class.

To find an appropriate atmosphere to relate stories rich in images, you need to understand children’s temperaments. This is also why responding to children according to their dispositions is important in education. The best approach is to let children of similar dispositions to be seated close to each other. Then you will immediately find out which group consists of the colerrcs, which group consists of the melancholics, and which consists of sanguines. You will be in a good position to understand all students in your class.

When you group students of similar temperament together and observe them, you are actually trying to help yourself maintain your authoritative status in the classroom. You will be surprised that you can achieve such results by doing this, but that is how most things work. Hence, all educators and educationalists should do contemplative self-reflections.

When you group phlegmatic students together, they will start to correct each other’s behaviour, then they will get tired of doing this and begin to dislike themselves for being indifferent. They will then try to improve continuously. Those who are easily agitated will fight one another till they feel tired. Hence, grouping students of similar temperaments together is very effective in getting them to “torture” one another. When you are talking to students, for instance discussing the story which you have just shared, you must develop an instinctive ability to treat each student according to his or her temperament. If I am discussing a story with a phlegmatic child, I must behave like I am even more indifferent than he is. As for sanguine children, the images in their minds change very rapidly, hence, I need to try to get the images in my mind to change at an even faster speed.

For colerrcs, you have to use speedy and emphatic approach to teach them. That means, you have to turn into a person who is also easily agitated. The angry look on your face will make these students detest their own angry looks. You have to take tit-for-tat actions against them, as long as you do not become too ridiculous.

Gradually, you will be able to establish an atmosphere in the classroom, in which a story is not just a story related to them, but also a story that can be used for further discussion in the future.

You need to discuss a story first before you ask them to retell. The worst approach is to ask a student to retell immediately after you finish telling a story. This method is totally meaningless, regardless of whether you appear to be smart or silly (you may not necessarily be smart at all times in the classroom, sometimes you may seem to be very silly, especially in the beginning). It is meaningful to ask students to retell the story only after you have discussed it with them. The story will become one that truly belongs to the children if you do this. After discussing the story, it is not important whether you let the children retell it, that is to say, it is not important whether the children have remembered the story. In fact, for children who have started to grow permanent teeth and those who are 9 to 10 years old, they need not develop the ability to memorize the story yet. It does not matter if they forget the story, let them say whatever they can remember about the story. We can use other methods to develop their memorizing skills. I shall touch on this later.

Now, let us ponder this question, “Why do I want to tell such a story?” It is because the thought-pictures in this story will be imprinted in the minds of the children as they grow up. Such stories have very rich contents that you can tap in your future lessons. Little Violet was terrified when she saw the huge violet in the sky. You need not explain this in detail to the children, however, when you encounter more complicated teaching problems or when the children have difficulties overcoming their fears, you can remind them of this story. In this story, there are small things and big things. Throughout our lives, we will always be influenced by the interactions between big and small things, this is something that you can bring up in your future lessons. The focus of the first half of the story is on the evil dog’s threatening words to Little Violet. Whereas the second half focuses on the kind words that the little lamb told Little Violet. When the children learn to treasure such stories and when they grow up, you will realize how easy it is to guide them to the realms of good and evil perceptions, and to understand how this two extreme feelings are deeply rooted in the human souls. Even for older children, you can retell such simple stories to them again. Through the story, children are able to understand certain life experiences without having to go through these experiences themselves. The story illustrates such life experiences very well, you can relate the story again and again in your future lessons.

The same applies to religious lessons. Such lessons will only be introduced to children at a later stage. This story is also a good tool to evoke the religious feelings, the feelings for the great Lord, in our children. The great blue thing up there, the sky, is the great Goddess of Violet.

This story can be used in different levels of religious lessons. When you are elaborating on the point that God’s nature can be found in our hearts, this story offers you a beautiful metaphor. You can tell the children this, “This great violet in the sky, the Goddess of Violet, is all blue and stretches out extensively in all directions. Now, imaging you slice a small piece from the large stretch of blueness, and that gives us the small violet. Hence the sky is as mighty and great as the oceans on Earth. Your soul is like a drop of water in this great ocean. In this great ocean, although you are only a droplet, you are no different from other droplets in the ocean. Hence, your soul is as great as the Lord in the sky, the only difference is you are one of the many droplets’.

If you can find suitable thought-pictures in any story, you can use this approach to conduct early childhood education. You can remind them of these thought-pictures when they are more mature. However, you need to enjoy creating such thought-pictures in the first place. From there, you will begin to create many stories with your imagination and creativity, so much so that it is difficult to put a stop to it! The human soul is just like a spring that will spew water endlessly, once you hit on the source, it will produce endless valuables. Most people are very lazy, they will not spend effort to develop the great potentials in their souls.

Now, let us look at another type of teaching strategy related to thought-pictures. We must remember not to force our children to acquire adult’s intellectual knowledge and skills. To develop young children’s thinking skills, the only way is to use images, thought pictures and imagination.

The practice mentioned below is suitable for a child as young as 8 years old. Never mind if they are unable to do it well at the beginning, for example, if you draw this figure (see Picture a), you have to use all kinds of methods to make the children feel that this figure is incomplete. Which method to use will depend on the personality of the child whom you are teaching. For example, you can say, ‘This line ends here (left part of figure) …, but on this side, the line ends here (right part of figure, not completed) …, it does not look good this way, because the top part is like that, and the bottom part has only reached this far.’ Slowly, you guide the child to finish this drawing, the child will feel that this figure is incomplete and will be determined to complete it. He will end up drawing some lines to the incomplete figure. Here, I use a red pen to draw, it is the same when you ask a child to use a white chalk to draw. I merely use a red pen to highlight the portion that I have added to the figure. Through this activity, the children will be able to make thinking and imaginative observations. When the children are thinking, their minds will be full of thought-pictures and images.

The Secret Live of the Unborn Child

Rachel Chein

Age-old Chinese culture has always been serious about educating the foetus. The importance of this subject is gradually being proven by scientific research in recent years. Thomas Verny, M. D., together with John Kelly published “The Secret Life of the Unborn Child” as early as 1981. Although ‘outdated’, it contains valuable material that we are not so familiar with.

Is educating the foetus useful? Does the unborn child have a memory? A friend of Dr. Thomas Verny used to sit by the fire after dinner when she was pregnant. She would hum a certain tune over and over again because the beautiful melody left a deep impression in her. What surprises Dr. Verny is that she later told him that she was able to quieten her child by humming the same tune whenever the baby cries for whatever reasons. Boris Brott , a conductor also mentioned that once while conducting a totally new piece of music, he somehow knew how the following melody goes even before reading the scores. He later found out from his mother, who was a cellist by profession, that she frequently practised this particular piece of music when she was pregnant. That must be credited to his memory whilst in his mother’s womb.

Life starts in the womb. Contemporary medical studies are pushing the starting point of life even further back. The foetus is thought to have an independent mind. At only 8 weeks old, the foetus is not only able to turn her/his head, arms and body gently, but also able to express, through the use of body language, his/her likes by kicking and pulling; and dislikes by pushing, stabbing or striking on the mummy’s tummy. At 4 months old, the foetus can frown, stare and pull his/her face together. At 5 months, his/her sensitivity towards the sense of touch is comparable to that of a one-year-old baby; (especially the dislike of cold water) and some can even identify smell. If sugar is added to the amniotic fluid, the foetus swallows many times more. If, on the other hand, iodine-like fat is added, the swallowing action swiftly decreases, the foetus may even pull his/her face together in protest.

The development of sight is relatively slow but not unnoticeable. Starting from the 16th week, the foetus is sensitive towards light. When a light flash is incident on the mother’s abdomen, the foetus’ heartbeat quickens dramatically.

From the 24th week, the foetus focuses on hearing, showing a definite liking for music and the mother’s heartbeat has the greatest impact. On one occasion, an experiment was conducted by allowing newborns in a hospital to listen to the mother’s heartbeat. Those newborn babies who hear the mothers’ heartbeat gain weight faster and sleep better compared with those who were not subjected to listening to a tape of their mothers’ heartbeat. From the 25th week, the foetus can move in harmony with the rhythm of music. They love Vivaldi and Mozart best. When these music were played to them, foetus heartbeat calm down, and the kicking decrease. Incidentally, Brahms, Beethoven, and rock music can upset the foetus’ mood, making him/her kick profusely.

From the 28th to 32nd week, the brain network system is the same as that of the newborn baby.

A psychological test conducted to examine the mother’s emotional state indicated that those mothers who wanted the baby has the easiest and smoothest pregnancies and deliveries. The babies born are also most healthy both in body and mind. Mothers who were only superficially happy but not so truly with their pregnancies, would have off springs that would develop problems with their conduct and guts. If the mother has many reasons for not having the pregnancy (such as career, finance related issues, or just not being ready for motherhood), but actually wants it, the foetus would be affected by the conflicting thoughts. The baby born would tend to be reserved in nature. Those mothers who did not want to have a baby and openly showed it, have the most problematic pregnancies the highest rate of premature babies. The restless baby born would have low body weight.

Do not overlook the sensitive nature of the unborn child towards his/her mother’s emotional state. There was an incident in which one baby from amongst a batch of healthy newborns turned his face away consistently whenever his mother attempted to breastfeed him. Concerned doctors secretly persuaded another mother to help. Surprisingly the baby suckled away instinctively and enjoyed a good feed. Afterwards, doctors discovered that the mother actually did not want to have the baby, but did so because the father insisted. This shows that a newborn baby is capable of expressing his displeasure towards his mother. No doubt the mother can change her mind after the child’s birth to win the little heart over again; nevertheless, the starting point of the relationship was in the womb.

An adult can respond appropriately to external stimulants. An unborn child is not able to do so; it is helpless. The mother’s emotional state has a profound and long lasting impact on him/her.

When a person or an animal is being frightened, a substance called catecholamines appeared in the blood stream. This substance is extracted from frightened animals and injected into unaffected (calm and quiet) ones. In a few seconds, these animals exhibit fright characteristics. Similarly, the unborn child receives nutrients from the mother through the placenta. If the mother is upset, the child would be immediately affected.

Medical doctors have conducted another experiment. Expectant mothers were asked to lay flat under some ultrasonic equipment, but were not told that this position could calm the foetus. After a while, they were told that images on the screen indicated that the foetus was not moving. This piece of information never fails to frighten the mothers. In a mater of seconds the foetus kick violently. This experiment proved that during pregnancy, the mother’s emotional state has profound influence on that of her unborn child.

Babies who are underweight, suffering from stomach pains, temperamental, falling sick easily, readily annoyed, often crying; have been affected by their mothers’ damaging emotions during pregnancy. However, this does not include the mother’s drastic reaction in isolated incidents. It refers to her chronic emotionally-damaging state of mind. However, if the mother can put her emotions under control and rework for new hope, such a signal would be received by the child and revitalised him/her.

Generally a person does not feel that she is emotionally problematic; she feels that she is normal. However, all the suppressed emotions surface during pregnancy. In Sweden, West Germany and many European countries, psychological counselling is given to pregnant women. Special attention is devoted to unwed expectant mothers or couples who are unprepared for the pregnancy. The women are advised to re-examine their self-image, their feelings and fears about delivering a baby; their relationships with their mother, their husband and father, their emotional background, etc. The greatest contribution of such counselling is in identifying pent up emotions and rectifying them before any harm is done to the baby.

Expectant mothers who drink transfer the alcohol into the baby through the placenta. Excessive alcohol affects the newborn in many undesirable ways; including retarded development emotionally and intellectually, hyperactivity, and physical irregularities (like small head, ears positioned too low, etc). The amount of alcohol consumed is an important factor here. The other is the time of consumption. Drinking during the 12th to 18th week (most important period when the brain is developing) and 24th to 36th week would be detrimental.

If the expectant mother smokes, the baby born would be smaller in size, weaker physically, have high incidence rates of reading disabilities and emotional problems appearing after 7 years old. Smoking fathers also affect the baby. According to a West German research report, a high mortality rate happens in the family of a smoking father. Needless to say, caffeine and drugs also imposed definite damages to the unborn child.
(to be continued)

Extracted from Lapis Lazuli Light Magazine 2001Aug Issue
Translated by Lapis Lazuli Light Singapore