Published Articles

Sounds That Nurture the Unborn Child
by Karyne and B. William Meads

A famous music conductor reported that, as a young man, he was perplexed that when he would conduct a piece of music for the first time, the cello line would jump out at him. He would know the flow of the piece even before he turned the page. When he mentioned this “ability" to his mother, who was a professional cellist, she quickly solved the riddle. All the scores of music he knew sight unseen were ones she had played while she was pregnant with him.

In humans, the ear is the first sensory organ to develop. It is fully functional four-and-a-half months before we are born. In the womb, the sounds we hear -- our mother's breathing, her heartbeat and especially her voice -- stimulate our brain and fire electrical charges into our cortex. It is the nourishment provided by these electrical charges that enhances our mental function and spurs the proper development of the brain and the central nervous system. Deepak Chopra, MD, said, “Sound in our brain creates the neurology in our bodies." Because the ear is an active channel to the brain and nervous system, it acts as a battery, constantly charging and stimulating them both. This stimulus is critical not only to our body's ability to grow properly and develop muscle tone and coordination, but to our ability to both hear and listen -- and ultimately learn and understand.

The voice of the mother is the thread that provides the positive intrauterine and post-birth experience critical in the ability to bond with others. The unborn child puts his body against his mother's spinal column, a column of sound. That way, he is directly “plugged in" to the voice. Towards the end of pregnancy, he puts his head down against his mother's hipbone, which becomes his own private auditorium of sound at the bottom of her spine. This body-to-body connection to his mother's voice is the unborn child's first attempt to listen, the first step toward communicating. As the mother's voice comes and goes, the very first desire is born -- the desire to hear the voice -- and the pleasure of receiving it again. Repeated over and over again, this desire-pleasure cycle creates a need for communication. So, the need to reach out and communicate seems to begin even before the need to be fed, which comes only after birth.

Listening is an active process that must be accompanied by a desire to communicate. If listening is learned incorrectly or desire is dampened because of birth trauma (the ear is the organ that witnesses the sound of our birth), severe allergies, multiple ear infections, or the mother's voice is absent after birth, information taken in by the child is distorted and cannot be understood. A relearning must occur. A rekindling of desire must take place. This relearning and retraining process is at the heart of the healing work done at the S.E.T.I. Institute. Personal anxiety and emotional distress are deeply healed in the central nervous system through Sound Entrainment Therapy that takes the individual back to the safe sounds they felt and heard before birth.

Mothers will ask what they might do to enhance the listening experience of their unborn child. Many mothers, sensing their child's silent search for dialogue, will rhythmically rock their bodies and sing or recite familiar nursery rhymes. They might tell stories or engage their unborn in lively conversation. What about the quality of the mother's voice?

A voice full of warmth, friendliness and love opens hearts and minds. While the voice of a phone solicitor often prompts a “no thanks" with the phone conversation coming to an abrupt conclusion. The unborn child does not understand the meaning of the well-intentioned mother's speech. The child “understands" the emotions behind the words. A voice that is calm, warm and full of joy and hope will invite listening to occur and a desire to communicate with that voice. A voice that carries anxiety, anger or sadness will often engender the same feelings in the child and might cause the unborn to “disconnect."

Expectant fathers wonder if their voice can have a nurturing effect on the unborn child. While there is some evidence that the child hears the father's voice and that his voice has a calming affect on the newborn, the link between the child's ear and the father's voice is not even remotely as direct as the mother's voice. So, the greatest contribution that the expectant father can make is to love his child's mother. Everything positive that the father does for the mother, he does directly for his unborn child as well. The father plays a pivotal role in the mother's experience during the pregnancy. A wonderful pregnancy for the mother means a wonderful experience for the child. The positive energy the mother feels, resulting from the father's care and consideration, will result in a richer mother's voice.