Establishing a Rich Connection with the Prenate

Not long ago we thought it was impossible for prenates to have any truly personal or significant experiences. We didn’t see that they could have a working mind. In retrospect, our false beliefs about their brain power obscured the fact that babies in the uterine world were indeed having a range of experiences, establishing patterns of interaction, listening to music and conversation, and as tests ultimately proved, were committing them to memory. Numerous experiments have made it clear that prenates who have the opportunity to hear stories and music repeated to them in utero can demonstrate recognition for this material later in life. Prenates have become familiar with and show a preference for specific lullabies, musical themes like “Peter and the Wolf,” “Mary had a little Lamb,” and even theme music from television soap operas. Prenates memorize the voices of their mothers and fathers in utero while learning the basic features of their native language, the “mother tongue” as we say. Spectrographic analysis of voice and cry sounds as early as 26 weeks of gestation show how far babies of this age have already progressed in adopting the voice characteristics of the mother. In a recent experiment, mothers repeated a children’s rhyme daily for four weeks from week 33 to 37 in utero. Tested at 37 weeks while still inside, the babies reacted with a change of heartbeat to the familiar rhyme, but not to the unfamiliar rhyme. In other research, babies have demonstrated immediately after birth a preference for their mother’s voice and their native language. The womb turns out to be a stimulating place and functions as a school. And all babies attend. In the last fifteen years as these facts were gradually becoming known, many books, tapes, and exercises were created to help parents

understand and communicate with babies in the womb. All are potentially valuable in helping parents to make a creative and loving attachment (rather than an insensitive or aggressive one), a connection which respects the needs and limitations of the baby and doesn’t overwhelm them. Babies are naturally curious and interactive. Taking advantage of this since about the 1980s, organized programs for parents have been developed and tested, revealing the benefits of carefully planned stimulation.  These studies have proven what few believed decades ago: (1) that babies in the womb are alert, aware, and attentive to activities involving voice, touch, and music; (2) that babies benefit from these activities by forming stronger relationships with their parents and their parents with them, resulting in better attachments and better birthing experiences, and (3) that these babies tend to show precocious development of speech, fine and gross motor performance, better emotional self-regulation, and better cognitive processing. These are the gifts and rewards of active parenting.

 David B Chamberlain


Hi Susan, We would like to thank you for empowering and educating Glen and I with regards to our rights about being entitled to the birth of our choice at any hospital.  We can’t thank you enough for the information you gave us.  I am thoroughly enjoying reading your book and had a good giggle as we sounded just like many other couples described in the early chapters, of not having a choice. 

You could easily have brushed us off as you’ve heard it ALL so many times before, except you listened.

You gave us a voice to speak up, and for that we cannot thank you enough.