How critical emotions can be for the fetus

Published on 28-09-2015

Doctors used to think (and some still do) that all pregnant women can do to support their babies’ health is eat well, take vitamins and minerals, and exercise; according to conventional thought, gene programs will manage the rest. But more recent research has laid to rest the myth that the unborn child is not sophisticated enough to react to anything other than its nutritional environment. It turns out that the more researchers learn, the more they realize how sophisticated the fetal and infant nervous system, which has vast sensory and learning capabilities, is. “The truth is, much of what we have traditionally believed about babies is false. We have misunderstood and underestimated their abilities. They are not simple beings but complex and ageless—small creatures with unexpectedly large thoughts,” writes David Chamberlain in his book The Mind of Your Newborn Baby.

In a world based on genetic control, where genes determine an organism’s fate, science only needed to focus on the influence of the maternal blood’s nutritional contribution in supporting fetal development. However, in the wake of the epigenetic revolution and new science revealing that environmental signals control gene expression, we now know that the developing fetus is influenced by more than just the nutrients in the mother’s blood. Maternal blood also contains a vast array of “information” molecules, such as the chemicals, hormones, and growth factors that influence and control the mother’s emotional and physical health.

Now we know that the very same chemicals that shape a mother’s experiences and behaviors cross the placenta and target the same cells and genes in the fetus that they do in the mother. The consequence is that the developing fetus, bathed in the same blood chemistry as the mother, experiences the same emotions and physiology as the mother.

The fetus, for example, absorbs cortisol and other stress hormones if the mother is chronically anxious. If the child is unwanted for any reason, the fetus is bathed in the chemicals of rejection. If the mother is wildly in love with her baby and her partner, the fetus is bathed in the love potions of dopamine, serotonin, vasopressin, and oxytocin. If the mother is furious with the father, who has abandoned her during the pregnancy, the fetus is bathed in the chemicals of anger.

 In my lectures I show a video from the Associazione Nazionale Educazione Prenatale because it graphically portrays the interdependent relationship between parents and their unborn child. In the video, a mother and father engage in a loud argument while the woman is undergoing a sonogram. You can see the fetus jump when the argument starts. When the argument escalates with the sound of shattering glass and even higher-pitched screaming, the fetus is fearful—it arches its body in a shock response and jumps higher, as if it were on a trampoline.

This sonogram and other research make it clear that fetuses react strongly to the environment provided by the mother and influenced by the father. Says Dr. Thomas R. Verny, whose pioneering 1981 book, The Secret Lifeof the Unborn Child, first laid out the case for the influence parents have even in the womb, “In fact, the great weight of the scientific evidence that has emerged over the last decade demands that we reevaluate the mental and emotional abilities of unborn children. Awake or asleep, the studies show, [unborn children] are constantly tuned in to their mother’s every action, thought, and feeling. From the moment of conception, the experience in the womb shapes the brain and lays the groundwork for personality, emotional temperament, and the power of higher thought.”


* Excerpt from Bruce H. Lipton's THE HONEYMOON EFFECT published in Greek language by Link Media.