Monday, November 5, 2012

Sounds like learning... starting before birth?

We have all seen the mothers with headphones on there stomach and playing classical music. The theory behind this is that it will make the child smarter and promote healthy brain growth and learning? Is this true and should mothers that decide not to put headphones on their bellies, feel guilty?

Studies have shown that the fetus heart rate changes when listening to sounds either from music or just hearing its mother's voice. This suggest that the fetuses recognizes sounds from outside the womb. The sounds a fetus hears the most during its travels is its mother's voice. And in studies it shows that newborns will be calmer when hearing the mother's voice versus another voice never heard before. So we can assume that newborns can remember sounds that they heard in the womb.

It isn't too hard to make the conclusion that hearing music has a positive effect on a fetus, since most of the brain development happens during pregnancy  A study done by the Musical  Educators Journal found that babies who were exposed to music during pregnancy were more attentive after birth. These babies also had an increase in sound imitation and earlier vocalization.

But not everybody agrees with these findings. Gordon Shaw ( a researcher at the University of California) is once such person. Although he agrees that the change of heart rate of the fetus points to the fact that the unborn child can hear, that this isn't necessary a good thing. A change in heart rate could signal that the baby is uncomfortable with the sound. This could lead to more squirming and more discomfort on the mother.

Whatever you believe, the important part is to proceed with caution. The biggest mistakes mothers make is the volume of the music. The belief that the child is in the belly so the music needs to be loud is wrong. The amniotic fluid that surrounds that baby is very good at transmitting sound waves. So playing music too loud could damage the child's eardrum. Also if listening to music causes the baby to squirm more and increase discomfort on the mother, then exposure to music should be limited. Remember a happy baby means a happy Mother. That is all for today. Be sure to look for my next post in where I cover the effects of music after birth.


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