Dr. Timothy Johnson presented a news segment for Good Morning America(ABC news) in which researchers discovered that a foetus at week between 30-34 is able to retain memory for up to four weeks. Researchers placed a buzzer on the abdomens of consenting mothers. The noise was repeated until the foetus no longer reacted, then repeated at intervals.
On subsequent days, the foetus, accustomed to the noise, reacted at first and then settled down. When researchers shortened the duration of the noise, the foetus reacted, even if the noise had not been heard for some days. The longest period that the foetus remembered and responded to the noise was four weeks after last hearing it.
The findings, besides adding another layer to the abortion debate, highlights the vast importance of prenatal care, something that I stress repeatedly to my clients, and the one area that many busy, harried women find difficult to comply with. Many women feel that as long as they take a prenatal and make most of their appointments, that they are golden. Some women simply feel that the heavy lifting of motherhood begins after the baby is born. Other mothers ignore or stretch recommendations to rest as needed, exercise daily, keep hydrated, wear comfortable, supportive clothes and shoes, and practice stress management techniques.
Of course, there are many wonderfully concientious mothers, and it is easy to sympathize with the high-powered career woman or single mom working daily for enough money for food and rent. It is not easy to find the time to take care of yourself, and just take care of yourself and your baby without yielding to the tempation to multi-task. However, your baby is just as important as everything else, if not more so.
In our rough-and-tumble, it- was -due- yesterday culture, where practically everyone has a Blackberry IV in their veins, , this news, this uncomplicated study, has wider ramifications. All mothers, whether bearing their first child, or their fifth, ought to carve out a cave of time in which to take care of themselves, bond with their infant through talking, singing, and reading, and preparing themselves to become mothers. That elusive element of time spent with the baby before birth is not a waste of time with no result, but active steps on the pathway to bonding with the your baby.
Whether high-powered career woman, or single mother living check to check, it is advisable for pregnant women to hire a doula. Antenatal or antepartum doulas provide emotional support, practical life advice and coaching, and hands-on support for mothers-to-be. With a doula, the decision to focus on bonding with the baby is easier, as an extra pair of hands are available to assist with housework, cooking, etc. Many antenatal doulas will provide the guidance necessary to help the mother begin to place quiet oases throughout the day. Some antepartum doulas will even provide massage, or guided meditation. An antenatal doula is an invaluable asset and ally in the strategy of bonding with the aware foetus.
This study leaves no doubt that the transformation from woman to mother begins at conception. If you factor in elements such as the need for pre-pregnant women to take 400-800mcg of folic acid daily to prepare both their bodies and any eventual foetus for a healthy start in life, then the circle of life is presented and the evidence is quite difficult to ignore that the embryo then foetus is much more than a lump of inert tissue. It is a vital life force, teeming with possibility, and the best thing that you can do is to make time to welcome your little one. Babies are listening to you, and aware.