The astonishing sensory capabilities of the foetus

French pluri-disciplinary teams who publish their work in the ‘Cahiers du Nouveau-Né‘ demonstrate in n° 5 entitled ‘l’Aube des Sens’ that the foetus develops an active sensorialityAs a reminder, the sensory organs and corresponding brain centres are already developed by the 3rd month. During the six months of the foetal period, they develop and specialize increasingly, in different ways depending on the functions.

FoetusSight, therefore, which cannot operate without light, is left in abeyance: the infant barely perceives a faint orange coloured light when its mother’s abdomen is exposed to light.

The sense of smell, which needs air to function, also remains inactive until birth.

Taste, however, is already developed and manifests its preferences.

The foetus absorbs a certain quantity of amniotic liquid each day. If a sugary substance is injected into this liquid, it greedily swallows a double ration. But if a bitter substance is added, the foetus takes only a little amount, and has been seen on the scanner to grimace.

Through this intra-uterine liquid, which is affected by what the mother eats and drinks, the child is sensitized to the taste of the food it will eat later in the region where it is born.

There is the example of a little Indian baby adopted by a Parisian couple at the age of three months … When she started taking solids, she obstinately refused all rice prepared in various Western ways, but accepted with pleasure a curried rice such as eaten by the mother during her pregnancy.

But the most widely studied senses are feeling and hearing.

Feeling concerns the entire skin, and the child’s skin is continually massaged by the uterine muscle and abdominal wall.

A Dutch doctor, Frans VELDMAN, developed Haptonomy, a method of emotional communication which enables the mother and father in particular to establish a deep relationship with the child through the abdominal wall. Great benefit will be derived from this at the time of birth in welcoming the child and confirming the link between parents and child.

As for the sense of hearing, which our elders thought was allied to wisdom, since it is the only sense which is totally receptive, it reserves many sources of amazement for us. The ear alone is not responsible for the function of sound vibration … The inner ear, which selects sounds and transmits them to the brain, is mature at around 6 months, but as early as 5 months, Jean FEIJOO obtained significant motor reactions in response to stimuli sent to the infant. Dr TOMATIS also mentions the case of Odile, a young autistic child, whom he released from her isolation by speaking English to her, this being the language her mother spoke continually in the import-export firm where she worked at the start of her pregnancy.

HearingIt seems that the infant receives sound vibrations through all of its cells, from the very moment of conception, and that it stores them in memory.

Marie-Louise AUCHER, a singer turned vocal trainer, made some interesting observations in the families of professional singers practising regularly at home. Soprano mothers brought into the world children whose upper body was exceptionally finely developed. The pinching gesture (of thumb against other fingers) demonstrated very early an excellent sensory/motor coordination. On the other hand, children of fathers who had deep bass voices were born with particularly well developed lower halves of the body. These children were early walkers. But what is much more interesting than this somewhat ephemeral precocity, they remained indefatigable walkers.

To understand these phenomena, Marie-Louise AUCHER pursued her work in several Paris universities and hospitals with professors from various disciplines. Together, they were surprised to see the impact of sounds from the musical scale delineated upon the human body the ‘governing vessel‘, the energetic meridien well known to acupuncture specialists.

It is also known that all sounds are in vibratory resonance with a corresponding vertebra and a couple of sympathetic and parasympathetic ganglions. When one of these energy points, one of these nervous centres, is stimulated, it in turn stimulates the regions it innervates, thus dynamizing the entire nervous system, including the brain. M. L. AUCHER drew conclusions from her observations and, in so-called ‘singing’ maternity clinics such as Michel ODENT’s in Pithiviers, she hasher fathers, mothers and siblings singing in chorus.

Singing in a choir”, she says, ‘improves the general health and nervous state of mothers, who bring into the world calm and joyful children who easily adapt to a variety of situations’.

This is the sign of good psychic equilibrium. A quality extremely useful in the world in which they will be living.

When fathers speak regularly to their child during pregnancy they are delighted to find that the babies recognize the father’s voice almost instantly after birth.

Parents also discover that children recognize songs and music heard during the prenatal period, and that these calm the little ones in times of great emotion. As for the emotional effect of the mother’s voice, it is such that Dr. TOMATIS is able to bring renewed equilibrium to disturbed children and adults by letting them hear their mother’s voice filtered through an aqueous medium, i.e. just as they heard it through the amniotic liquid. This regression to prenatal security, enables patients, young and old alike, to establish a new contact with their primordial energies and return to normal development.

musicThe foetus also perceives music the mother listens to during a concert.

It even reacts selectively to the programme. Thus, Beethoven and Brahms agitate it; Mozart and Vivaldi appease it. As for rock concerts, let us say no more: they make them go haywire. Mothers-to- be have been seen to have to leave a rock concert hall because of the unbearable kicking they suffer from their baby. It is therefore necessary to choose structured music.

This proves to us that there is durable recording, and memorization. Rubinstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Oliver Messaien have confided the same. If only we could ask Mozart! No one would go so far as to say that an expectant mother who listened to and practised a great deal of music during her pregnancy would give birth to a composer, a virtuoso, a singer, but she can be certain of having sensitized her child to the sonorous art. Beyond likely abilities in this field, she will have developed the taste for it in the child, and this richness will accompany it throughout its life. But the developing being does not only store up sensorial acquirements, it also stocks in its cellular memory the Emotional Imprints it receives from its mother.

Source: author Marie-Andrée Bertin, former president O.M.A.E.P. (World Organization of Prenatal Education Associations)

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