Hey Mom, stay happy!

Communicating with the growing life in the womb is essential, maybe even more than physical nourishment

Pregnant motherFor a short span of time, mother and baby share one body, but do they share one mind? Recent research suggests this is more than just a possibility.

Some things in life remain an enigma despite the efforts of modern medical science to unravel the mysteries. One such inexplicable phenomenon is the relationship between the mother and the unborn baby. When you receive the joyful news that a life is taking shape within you, you are sure to take care of yourself physically. You eat the right foods, down your vitamins and get lots of sleep. But today, experts are wondering whether you tend to ignore a more primitive need. The need to communicate with the child in the womb, to reassure the growing life by taking care of the emotional health and physical development even before the baby comes into the world, cannot be overemphasised.

The mother's feel

Medical science has proven that the tiny life growing inside the mother is already accustomed to her heartbeat, which it finds soothing and comforting. The baby recognises the tone and tenor of her voice. He/she has been rocked gently back and forth as the mother walks and has heard the gurgling sounds of digestive organs as she eats.

From a scientific point-of-view, baby and mother are certainly connected, since they share the same blood supply and exchange nutritional substances and hormones through the placenta. A mother's state of mind and her feelings are transferred to the baby by chemical changes in the bloodstream. This means that whatever a mother feels physically, the baby feels too.

From a spiritual point-of-view, however, it is now believed that mother and baby share an intuitive connection as well.

"When I was pregnant with triplets, I was terrified of a premature birth and was afraid they wouldn't survive," says Matty [name changed to protect privacy], who lives in a quiet suburb of England. "When I got my labour pains at 26 weeks, I clutched my stomach and visualised myself holding my babies and talked to them in my mind. 'You've got to listen to mommy and stay in there a few more weeks. Please!" I reasoned with each baby in turn. "Mommy loves you. For her sake, stay put." After that, a feeling of peace swept over me. It was as though the infants understood my thoughts and respected them. The pains instantly stopped and I had three healthy cherubic little ones at thirty-three weeks!"

Some may call it a miracle, but Matty was convinced she had actually communicated with her unborn babies.

What studies say

Cassandra Eason, an expert on psychic ties and mother-child bonding has studied this unique relationship between mother and child extensively and is the author of a book, "The Mother Link". According to Cassandra, these women's claims are not fantastic, neither are they unreal or impossible. In her book, there are many true life instances of mothers who seem to intuitively perceive the thoughts and feelings of their unborn children and instinctively respond when they are in danger or distress. In one of these instances mentioned in the book, she talks of Felicity, a 50-year old woman living in the Home Counties of England with a 14-year-old daughter. When Felicity was pregnant, she picked up information about her unborn baby that even the most sophisticated scans could never hope to detect.

While communicating with her child when she was six months pregnant, she had apparently asked the infant if everything was alright and whether there were any blemishes in her development. The baby seemed to be speaking, the conversations running through Felicity's mind. "Everything is alright", the infant seemed to assure her, except that she had an apple-shaped birthmark on her ankle. After birth, Felicity's baby indeed had an apple-shaped birthmark on her ankle!

The various case studies, Eason establishes, have proved beyond reasonable doubt that a very definite bond exists between mother and baby, and in most cases, as the mother's body expands, so does her love for her child. The strong tie between the developing baby and the mother gradually results in a sort of two-way communication. Medical science may not be able to provide concrete proof for this, although there have been many new and exciting discoveries in the past twenty years or so.

The voice connection

We know that there are many barriers that buffer the foetus from the outside world - amniotic fluid, embryonic membranes, uterus and the maternal abdomen. All these create a protective shell, allowing the foetus to live in an atmosphere where sound, vibration and motion are said to be muffled. However, many studies now prove that the intonation patterns of pitch, stress, rhythm as well as music, all reach the foetus without distortion. Dr David B Chamberlin, a specialist in Foetal Listening and Hearing, discovered that sounds have a surprising impact on the foetal heart rate. His studies have shown that a five-second stimulus can cause changes in heart-rate and movement, which can last up to an hour. Some musical sounds can cause changes in metabolism. Brahms Lullaby, for example, played six times a day for five minutes in a premature baby nursery produced faster weight gain than voice sounds played on the same schedule.

It is also established that the baby in the womb is quick to sense the mother's emotions. If pregnancy is cluttered with emotional stress, [especially in the last three months], there is a greater risk of having a child who is anxious and experiences difficulties falling asleep. Because mother and child share emotions, thoughts and feelings, in this way, many doctors around the world are setting up prenatal learning clinics. Here, learning begins even before birth!

Professor Peter Hepper of the School of Psychology at the Queen's University of Belfast is a part of the Welcome Trust Foetal Behaviour Research Center. He has studied prenatal learning extensively. "We have demonstrated that the baby in the womb is capable of learning as early as 24 weeks," he says. "There are indications that the actions of the mother influence her baby, but I do not think there is a "psychic link". As regards an intuitive bond, I think there is something that predisposes the mother to respond to her baby and vice versa - indeed the function of prenatal learning may be to promote such a bond via recognition."

One of his projects has shown that even one-month-old babies already show a preference for their mother's voice to that of another woman's. Another project showed that new-borns, whose mothers had eaten garlic during their last weeks of pregnancies, recognised the same smell on cotton wool. However, a baby's intelligence can far exceed one's wildest dreams if prenatal learning is conducted accurately. The creators of First-Start Prenatal Learning Program, Rosa Plaza, a violinist and her husband Manuel Alonso, a pianist, proved this beyond reasonable doubt. Their son, Diego, now 20 years old, is a musical prodigy. During her pregnancy with Diego, Rosa was practising the violin four to five hours a day and Manuel was playing the piano. Sometimes they played together and went to concerts. It was at a concert that Rosa felt the first movement of her baby. At the time, she was intent on establishing the most loving communication with the child. After his birth, when he spontaneously began to sing musical scales at six months, his extraordinary musical capabilities became apparent. He gave his first recital at the age of three for the National Radio of Spain and began a series of stunning youthful performances that earned him the nickname "Mozart of Spain."

In Caracas, Venezuela, psychologist Beatriz Manrique has organised the largest programme to date with 680 families divided into experimental and control groups. The programme aimed to instruct the baby in the womb, teaching it various skills by reading and singing. These prenatal learning sessions stretched through a span of 13-week courses. When these children later grew up, they were subjected to a battery of tests continuously - from birth to age six. It was found that the prenatally-stimulated babies proved consistently superior in visual, auditory, language, memory and mortar skills when compared to other children their age! Also, mothers had greater confidence approaching birth, were more active in labour and had greater success in breast feeding. Fathers were strongly attached to the children and remained committed to the family after birth. The government of Venezuela is working to make this programme available in all parts of the country.

Mothers are now advised to talk to their babies about how much they love and cherish them and the happiness their birth will bring to their lives. Focusing on the positive effects of birth will, if nothing else, guarantee bonding and cement a meaningful relationship with their growing child. One must remember that love can work in invisible ways, shaping mind, body and spirit right from conception, where the journey of life begins.

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Kamala Thiagarajan
Kamala Thiagarajan is a Madurai-based journalist. Her writing interests encompass a host of genres including travel, health, entertainment and lifestyle. She is a full-time freelance journalist who works from her home in Madurai, South India. With ten years of experience in journalism, she has over four hundred articles in print in leading magazines across the globe. Her writing spans a variety of travel, health, entertainment and lifestyle features read by a diverse audience in over seven count

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