The Womb: baby’s first and most important school.

– Getting the “inside” information

Planning to have a baby or expecting a baby?  A lot of planning and thinking today goes into important logistics such as choosing your gynaecologist and paediatrician, attending ante-natal classes, booking the hospital of your choice, writing a birth plan, extending your home to accommodate the new baby, buying the best pram, cot, etc. However, just as important as all these detailsi, if not more so, is to meet the challenge of preparing intelligently for what is going on right inside you, the development of a beautiful, new human being. This baby is not just an extension of yourself, but  a unique little being with his or her own set of fingerprints, own personality, own features, own dreams.  And you can start bonding with and respecting your new baby right from the very beginning, even from before conception.

The phenomenon of prenatal learning (learning in the womb), though not widely known about in South Africa, has been researched from as early as 1920 by medical doctors and specialists, psychologists and educationalists. Schools for prenatal learning are common in parts of the USA, Canada, Japan and a few other overseas countries.  Parents are being taught to bond with their unborn child through feelings, through music and through learning.  Research has shown that  babies who have experienced this bonding in utero are easier to care for, cry less, and are generally loved and appreciated by others. Mothers who have thus bonded with their unborn child experience easier deliveries, and feel strong attachment to their baby after birth. Such babies grow and develop rapidly into friendly children who are not afraid of strangers, children who are sociable and highly competent.

Dr Yoshiharu Morito, M.D., creator of a Japannese prenatal education programme running since 1989, states the following:  “A failure at the beginning might be a prelude to future unhappiness and violence to self and others.  Therefore, prenatal education, in nurturing our social nature, could save the financial resources that are being consumed by social ills today.”

If the above sounds far-fetched to you, consider the following: your little fetus can express his/her needs, interests,  feelings, likes and dislikes by self-initiated and reactive movement.  By as little as 4 months gestational age, the fetus has facial expressions.  It can frown, squint and grimace.  By 5 to 6 months the fetus is sensitive to touch.  It can discriminate between tastes (and prefers sweet stuff!).  At 24 weeks it shows distinct musical likes and dislikes and will prefer the single notes of a flute to rock music.  These are only a few of  the wonderful abilities your unborn baby already has.

But how can you as a parent-to-be enhance your baby’s development in utero?  The answer, in a nutshell, is simple: talk. Talk, talk, and keep on talking to your unborn child.  Include daddy and the siblings, if there are any.  Listen to different types of music. Touch your unborn child lovingly.  Say a rhyme as you rub the anti-stretchmark cream onto your tummy, e.g. “Round and round the garden…..”  Try to relax. Make sure you eat properly and snack on healthy foods. Walk, swim or do light exercises.  Exercising is most important for you and your unborn baby.  Be sure to build positive relationships with others during your pregnancy.  It takes a town to raise a child, and you will need all the support you can get.  Establish a good future bedtime routine by going to baby’s room at the same time every evening.  Put your feet up and make yourself comfortable in a rocking chair. Switch on the music. Touch your baby, talk to your baby, bless your baby.  Stick to this routine after the baby is born.

If you are keen to lay the foundation for a sound and meaningful relationship with your child, starting in utero, you may contact Lynette van Wyk, who has been running workshops on this topic for many years now. You will learn when and how baby starts smelling, feeling, hearing and tasting while still in the womb and how baby even learns in utero – his first school. You will be advised on techniques for bonding with your child from day one onwards.

The next workshop will be on Tuesday 5 May, 19:00 for 19:30.  For more info contact Lynette at 0837933320.

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