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 Although ‘outdated’, it contains valuable material that we are not so familiar with.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