We now know that even while all of this physical development is taking place, the unborn child is becoming an aware, reacting human being. At as early as 8 weeks, he can express his likes and dislikes with well-placed kicks and jerks. At 28 to 32 weeks, his emerging sense of awareness transforms his physical responses into feelings. The woman’s emotional state can and does have an effect on the way he perceives his world–as warm and friendly, or cold and hostile. This is not to say that feeling anxiety or doubt about your health will negatively affect your unborn child. However, it does mean that chronic anxiety or stress, especially of a personal nature, or deep ambivalence about motherhood may affect your baby’s personality.
Studies have shown that the unborn child hears well from the twenty-fourth week on. A recent discovery is that the noise level inside the uterus is much higher than was previously thought. The woman’s constant heartbeat and intestinal rumblings are magnified by the amniotic fluid, providing a continuous, loud, and rhythmical background for the baby.
The kinds of sounds a baby hears definitely affect him emotionally. Soft, soothing sounds and music calm him; loud sounds and music such as hard rock can make him kick violently. Some women have found that if they play soft music when resting during the last months of pregnancy, the baby, after his born, associates this music with rest time. For a further discussion of fetal emotions, see The Secret Life Of The Unborn Child by Thomas Verny with John Kelly.
The exciting aspect of this knowledge about fetal emotions is that you can begin shaping a positive relationship with your child before he is born. Talk soothingly to your baby and send him loving thoughts. This is also a good way to get your partner involved in the pregnancy. Encourage your partner to gently massage your abdomen and to talk to his baby as well. Try to spend a portion of each day in a relaxed, anxiety-free state of mind. Both you and your unborn child will benefit.