Myth: Prenatal Stimulation Enhances Development
Fact: Well, yes and no. The importance of stimulation for the optimal development of the nerve cells has been demonstrated in many species. But of equal significance is the possible detrimental effect of too much stimulation. When is enough, enough or too much, too much? Infants exposed to too much stimulation--playing, noise, "teaching," etc.--respond by crying, sleeping more, developing colic, or withdrawing. Because the unborn child cannot so readily register her discomfort, it is even more vital we limit efforts to stimulate her.
While prenatal stimulation through all three communication channels--molecular, sensory and intuitive--is essential to the healthy growth and development of the prenate, electronic devices or loud music designed to stimulate the unborn child can be damaging. The same is true of programs promising to develop the unborn's abilities by putting them through "academic" paces, "teaching" them through a complex system of touch and words.
Womb-time is best given to lessons of love, pleasure, intimacy, and trust. It is these that lay the foundations for optimal intellectual development when the time is right.
--Thomas R. Verny, MD
Note: While cautioning excess stimulation, it can be invaluable to know that classical music stimulates the release of endorphins and reduces stress hormone levels in the blood--benefiting both mother and baby. Musical ability is especially likely to be nurtured in the womb. Exposure to the music of Vivaldi and Mozart increased the fetal heart rate and decreased the amount of kicking. Prenatal exposure to this music has been associated with improved temporal-spatial ability throughout life. Classical music, particularly the slow movements--rich with melody and a predictable rhythm of 55 to 70 beats per minute--shift the brain from an overactive beta state to an alert, relaxed alpha state.
Thomas R. Verny, Preparenting: Nurturing Your Baby from Conception