Children & Babies - Chiropractic Wellness

The Secret Life of the Unborn Child - Thomas Verny

The Secret Life of the Unborn Child - World Chiropractic Today

By creating a warm, emotionally enriching environment in utero, a woman can make a decisive difference in everything her child feels, hopes, dreams, thinks, and accomplishes throughout life.

Verny is a pioneer in the field of pre- and perinatal psychology, a father, and psychiatrist in private practice. Here he presents a wealth of research indicating that the unborn child is a deeply sensitive individual who forms a powerful relationship with his or her parents--and the outside world--while still in the womb.

While it is widely believed that the human fetus is a blank slate, lacking true sensation, emotional affect, or even the ability to feel pain, pregnant women through the ages have intuitively known what scientists have only recently discovered: that a mother's unborn child hears her voice and senses her love. The unborn child has significant sensory capabilities. He can see, hear, and feel.

For example, by the fourth month after conception, the unborn child has a well-developed sense of touch and taste. He can perceive a bright light shining on the mother's abdomen; if the light is particularly bright, he will lift his hands to shield his eyes. At five months, he will react to a loud sound by raising his hands and covering his ears. The unborn has the capacity to perceive and remember sounds of speech, to recognize a story heard repeatedly in utero, and to recognize his own mother's voice. He has formed the brain structures necessary for learning, and even awareness, sometime between the 28th and 32nd weeks of development.

Prenatal psychologists see the very core of human personality forming in the womb. Studies show that this personality formation takes place through intensive communication between parents--especially the mother--and the unborn. We know that most of what a mother eats, drinks or inhales is passed through her bloodstream into the body of her baby; maternal emotions are transmitted physiologically as well. Stress hormones travel through the mother's bloodstream to the fetus, inducing the same stressful state in the unborn child. Babies respond not only to a surge of adrenaline, but also to mother's behavior. When she pats her stomach, talks, sings, or dances, the unborn child knows that mother is actively there. Communication also occurs on the psychological plane, with baby responding to mother's deepest thoughts and feelings. This does not mean that every fleeting worry, doubt, or anxiety a woman has rebounds on her child. What matters are deep persistent patterns of feeling, such as chronic anxiety or a wrenching ambivalence about motherhood. On the other hand, thoughts infusing the baby with a sense of happiness or calm, set the stage for a balanced, happy, and serene disposition throughout life.

Because a child is the product of an unhappy marriage or the baby of a cool, ambivalent, or even catastrophic mother does not necessarily mean he will develop an adult case of schizophrenia, alcoholism, promiscuity, or compulsiveness. Nothing about the mind is that neat. But the womb is the child's first world. How he experiences it, as friendly or hostile, does create personality and character predispositions.

Verny also presents research indicating that the role of father is much more significant than generally accepted. His support is essential to the mother's--and thus, to their child's--wellbeing; what affects his sense of commitment to the marriage most deeply, is if and when he begins bonding with his child.

Profound parental and environmental influences also occur during and immediately after birth. The newborn responds best to gentleness, softness, and a caring touch--as distinct from bright lights, electrical beeps and the cold, impersonal atmosphere often associated with a medical birth. All this means that a mother's ability to remain calm during her pregnancy, to communicate a sense of love to her unborn baby, and to orchestrate a joyous, positive birth, contributes immensely to the emotional and physical health of her child for the rest of his life.

Synopsis ©1998 by Meryn G. Callander

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