Forsker David Chamberlain – foredrag i Oslo 1994
Utdrag fra forskningsrapporter/litteratur mottatt på foredraget
Prenatal Enrichment: New Resource and Research Findings
Little children remember birth
The usual time for children to have spontaneous memories of birth and womb experience is between age two and three. By a year or two later, they have usually “forgotten.” For a collection of these
memories, see chapter 7 of Chamberlain (1990), Babies Remember Birth.
One example – in exceptional depth – is the spontaneous
recall of birth and womb by Marnon K., an extremely bright child at age two and a half. He was in the bath tub at the time, in the company of his mother and father. His mother says she had never discussed birth details with him and was totally surprised at
his ability to have these memories.
- Why were the lights so bright when I was new, he asked? Mother: what do you mean new?
- He explained
it was when “being born”
- Why was the light circular and so intense where he was but so dim elsewhere?
- Why were the bottom half of faces
“missing” and a green patch there instead?
- He wanted to understand why someone had felt his anus with their finger.
- What was it that was
inserted into his nose and produced a loud sound? (He made a loud sucking noise to show what it was like.)
- He was troubled about being taken away from his mother and put in a box.
- He was upset when liquid was put in his eyes which made it impossible to see any longer.
- He described the walls of the uterus squeezing him “painfully”.
- He thought the sudden opening in the wall of the uterus was funny (Cesarean birth). He laughed and made a joke in Yiddish: “There was a fenster in the finster” (a window in the dark)
- He complained that the low notes sung by his mother in utero were painful to him. (She had mistaken his extra activity in reaction to her low notes as pleasure.)
- He said he
had dreams in the womb.
- Parents who conceive by choice, happily embrace pregnancy, and surround their unborn babies with loving attention are part of a tradition that stretches back thousands of years to many
different countries and cultures. Posters in villages in modern China remind pregnant women that when an empress was pregnant centuries ago, she would not look at unpleasant things, nor listen to bad music, nor speak abusive words, lest she influence the quality
of the royal child within.
Today, parents who want to begin nurturing and communicating with their babies in the womb have many helpful materials to guide them. These self-help books and group programs - which
have become available only in the last 13 years; mark an exciting new frontier in prenatal psychology. Although the pioneers in this field were often told by experts that they were wasting their time and there was no evidence that prenatal education had any
effect, current studies document the benefits.
The first program to reach the general public was that of Leni Schwarts in 1980 (2nd ed. 1991) entitled The World
of the Unborn: Nurturing Your Child Before Birth. Beginning with two small groups of couples, a novel 16-week program included the unborn child in emotional preparations for birth. Next came Eve Marnie’s LoveStart:
Prebirth Bonding in 1983 (rev. 1988), and, more recently, Nurturing the Unborn Child by Thomas Verny and Pamela Weintraub (1991). None of these creative programs, for use by small groups or individual
couples, were organized to measure the effect upon babies or parents.
Serious measurement of the outcome of prenatal stimulation on babies and parents began in the private obstetrical practice of Rene Van de Carr
of Hayward, California. The Prenatal Classroom: A Parent’s Guide for Teaching Your Baby in the Womb (1992) written with psychologist Marc Lehrer, presents the program which was perfected with waves of
pregnant parents since 1979.
Outcome results of this curriculum were published in 1986 comparing 50 full participants, 50 partial participants, and 50 non-participants (Van de Carr & Lehrer, 1986). Significant
differences were found in early speech, physical growth, parent-infant bonding, and success in breastfeeding. In 1988, five obstetricians working in the same hospital provided 20 experimental and 20 control subjects for a comparative study (Van de Carr, Van
de Carr & Lehrer, 1988). Again, similar trends were confirmed by superior Apgar scores, high maternal ratings of the babies, and births that were “easier than expected.”
The curriculum of The prenatal Classroom inspired ambitious programs in Thailand and Venezueala, designed with experimental and control groups and including thorough tests and measurements. The program at the Hua Chiew Hospital in Bangkok, created by obstetrician
Chairat Panthuraamphorn, begins at 12 weeks of gestation, seeks to maximize fetal potential, and create positive feelings toward the unknown baby.
Test results show definite physical, mental, and emotional advantages
to those in the stimulated groups (Panthuraamphorn, 1993). These babies showed significantly greater height and head circumference, fine and gross motor performance, and speech and language acquisition. They also smiled and laughed at birth; something rarely
seen in the West.
In Caracas, Venezuela, prenatal enrichment has been tested on a grand scale by an ambitious longitudinal study of 600 families randomised into experimental and control groups (Manrique et
al, 1993). Extensive measurements were made at two days, one month, 18 months, and three years of age. Led by psychologist Beatriz Manrique, the program aimed at complete and integrated bio-psycho-social development of children through adequate stimulation,
training, and nutrition. Prenatal enrichment was taught in a 13 week course of two hours pr week, using the guidebook Answer Your Baby which taught parents how to communicate with their unborn babies.
When measured, the stimulated babies showed consistently superior visual, auditory, language, memory, and motor skills. In addition, their mothers had greater confidence, were more active in labor, had greater success in breastfeeding,
and showed more intense bonding and family cohesion. When measured at later ages, the experimental infants continued to outperform the control infants on every test.
In Spain and Europe, the program “Firststart” organized by the musical couple Manuel Alonso and Rosa Plaza, features sounds broadcast to the fetus through a miniature tape player-speaker worn in a belt around the mother’s waist. The tapes
make special use of music, appeal to the fetal senses , and encourage conversation and bonding between parents and baby. A four-year research program to test the effects of this program is in progress at a hospital in Spain.
In conclusion. The period from conception to birth is a critical period for the physical, emotional, and mental development of every baby. It is the period when the intimate relationship between parent and child is given form and
quality, with long-lasting consequences. With greater knowledge and respect for the sentience and intelligence of babies in the womb, I believe couples can reach new heights of fulfilment in parenthood. And their well-nurtured babies will be a blessing to
Born unwanted: Developmental effects of denied abortion
by H.P. David, Z. Dytrych,
Z. Matejcek, and V. Schuller.
Czechoslovak Medical Press: Prague (1988)
is the most extensive scientific study on the effects of being born unwanted. Experts studied cohorts in Gõteborg (for 35 years), Prague (Birth to early adulthood), Northern Finland (16 years). From this collaboration, one can see the pervasive consequences
of flawed relationships before birth.
In Gõteborg, 120 children unwanted were matched with 120 controls of the same sex. Individuals unwanted at conception, unwanted during gestation, and delivered after refusal
of applications for abortion were at greater risk than control subjects for psychosocial problems. The unwanted children received more psychiatric attention, were more often delinquent, and did more poorly in school.
Prague, studies used a double-blind method, matched-pair controls, periodic psychological assessments, and public controls. By age nine, the children born to mothers twice refused for abortion ended up receiving
more medical care for acute and long-term illnesses. Mother’s rated them as more stubborn, naughty, and bad-tempered. Teachers rated them lower in academic achievement. Schoolmates rejected them more often as friends. Born to ambivalent mothers, these
children were more deviant, received less empathy and attention to their communication, had less warm interchanges, and suffered psychological deprivation.
At age 14, school performance was worse, many opting not
to continue to secondary school. Teachers rated them more hyperactive and less sociable. They felt more rejected by their mothers than did the matched-pairs; and relationships with parents deteriorated over time.
age 23 unwanted children showed a greater proneness to social problems, criminal activity, and had triple the amount of serious repeated offenses requiring custodial sentences. When questioned about their happiness and lifestyle they reported far more dissatisfaction,
unhappiness, problems and worries than the controls. They mentioned poor relationships with their parents and knew that their parents were dissatisfied with them. Unwanted children reported repeated disappointments with love relationships and agreed with the
statement: “love brings more trouble than pleasure.”
The unwanted children, themselves breast-fed for a significantly shorter time, gave the opinion that a child should be breast-fed for no longer than
a month at most. Unwanted children drank more black coffee, smoked more heavily, and drank larger quantities of beer than their matched pairs. More of them were in psychiatric treatment. They coped less well than their counterparts with even mild stress.
Those who had married reported their marriages less satisfying, their pregnancies less often welcome, and required more time to develop a close relationships with the developing fetus they were carrying in their wombs. When
asked how long they planned to stay at home with their child, most of these mothers said, until the end of paid maternity leave (2 yrs) while their matched-pair mothers said they expected to stay home until the child went to school.
Manrique, B., Contasti, M., Alvarado, M.A., Zypmn, M., Palma, N., Ierrobino, M. T.Ramirez, I, & Carini, D. (1993). Nurturing parents to stimulate their children from prenatal stage
to three years of age. In T. Blum (Ed.), Prenatal perception, learning & bonding (pp. 153-186). Berlin & Hong Kong: Leonardo.
Marnie, E. (1988). LoveStart: Prebirth bonding. Santa Monica, CA.: Hay House.
Panthuraamphorn, C. (1993). Prenatal infant stimulation program. In T. Blum (Ed.), Prenatal
perception, learning & bonding, (pp. 187-220).Berlin & Hong Kong: Leonardo.
Plaza, Manual and Rosa (1992). FIRSTART: La Escuela en el vientre materno. Ave. Aragon 36 esc, 2a, 34a, 46021 Valencia, Espana.
Schwartz, L. (1980/1991). Bonding before birth: A guide to becoming a family. Boston: Sigo Press.
Van de Carr, F.R.&Lehrer, M.
(1986). Enhancing early speech, parental bonding and infant physical development using prenatal intervention in a standard obstetrical practice. Pre- & Perinatal Psychology Journal 1 (1), 20-30.
Van de Carr, K., Van de Carr, F.R.&Lehrer, M. (1988). Effects of a prenatal intervention program. In p. Fedor-Freybergh & M.L.V. Vogel (Eds.), Prenatal & perinatal psychology
& medicine: A comprehensive survey of research and practice. Lancaster, England: Parthenon Publishing Group.
Van de Carr, F.R.&Lehrer, M. (1992) The prenatal
classrooom: A parent’s guide for teaching your baby in the womb. Atlanta, GA: Humanics Learning.
Verny, T. & Weintraub, P. (1991). Nurturing the unborn child: A nine-month program for soothing, stimulating,
and communicating with your baby. New Your: Delacorte Press.