Pregnancy during self-isolation

During pregnancy, the majority of mothers and fathers take best care they can to protect the health and well-being of their unborn baby through keeping active, eating well, relaxing and preparing for the birth of their child by buying clothes, medicines and other necessities for the arrival of her or him into the world.

Some of these parents have other children, in which event they probably already know the most common nursery rhymes and songs. Of course there is always room for improvement and developing their musicality attached to the songs.

However there is an aspect of musicality that deserves looking into...using musicality to explore the personality of their unborn baby.I propose this exploration to take place through hearing, touch, taste, rhythm and movement:

1) Hearing is one of the senses that develops the soonest in a baby. Parents can explore the personality of their unborn baby by exposing them to many different genre's of music, from rock to tango,  mambo to adele, twist to cha cha,  romantic to classics, not forgetting sounds from different instruments and voices...and then by observing how the foetus reacts and moves. Does baby react or not? More or less? Nicely or not?

Guitar playing can be enchanting, soothing or annoying, depending on whether it is electric, soft,  strident or classic guitar and also the kind of music is being played holds relevance...flamenco, whining, or the concert of Aranjuez. Wally Whyton, for example, sang folk music, nursery songs and lullabies that entranced parents and children for decades. My daughter and I would  relax and go to sleep with his lullabies. My granddaughter liked him too, but preferred “Hakuna Matata” from the Lion King and her mother found that hearing it, even before birth, would immediately resolve any distress. And, as my granddaughter’s father was a musician there were various themes that he played that would make her happy or sad! Some babies prefer a solo instrument while others prefer symphonies, quartets, and a multitude of sounds and rhythms.

The mother will soon come to realise that she is getting to know her unborn child and what he or she does and doesn't like.

The ears of a foetus start to develop relatively early in pregnancy. However, hearing cannot develop until the auditory system, the brain, and certain pathways start to form, which usually occurs between weeks 22 and 24. The auditory system requires stimulation through speech, music, and other sounds to grow properly. As it does, the foetus will be able to hear – and respond – more and more. A baby’s hearing continues to develop after birth, until around 5 or 6 months of age.

It is important to keep in mind that increased noise levels can cause stress. Noise can cause changes in a pregnant woman's body that can affect her developing baby. Sound can travel through your body and reach your baby. Although this sound will be muffled in the womb, very loud noises may still be able to damage your baby's hearing.

2) The sense of touch begins to develop as early as the seventh or eighth week of pregnancy. By 11 weeks, an unborn baby will begin to make tiny movements in her mother’s womb (uterus) – the mother won't be able to feel them at this stage, but they may be identifiable on the 12-week ultrasound. At the weeks develop however, when their babies move, mothers become able to identify different parts of their baby’s body in the womb. Scientists and foetal psychologists have been able to identify this as the first form of communication between mother and baby...the way the foetus touches their own hands or face or the way they touch the wall of the womb will have an entirely different expressive quality. And later in pregnancy sometimes parents and foetus can establish patterns of stimulation and reaction to their external touch.

3) The sense of taste can develop in relation to what the mother eats. Mothers are able to tell if their baby responds better to certain meals or tastes over others...some babies don’t like garlic and others love it. The same can be true of spicy foods. The chemicals relative to the different tastes travel in the mother’s blood through the umbilical cord.

4) There is also a sense of rhythm for cycles of sleeping and waking which may coincide (or not) with the mother’s cycle. Often mothers talk about their babies as having a different rhythm of sleep, and quality of movements that are unique to their unborn baby over their siblings.

5) Unborn babies can respond to the movement of their mother...some babies have been known to become very calm (or move more) when mother swims or walks or does breathing exercises for example. And mothers will become to realise the different quality of their foetus movements – when and how they move and when they don’t move much.

Hearing, touch, taste, rhythm and movement are just a few ways of starting to get to know your unborn baby, their characteristics and quirks of their personality. The whole of pregnancy is a musicality, a relationship based on observed or experienced interaction together...a dance with them! Enjoy it!

Dr Stella Aquarone 25.03.20