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Parenting Guide Sheets
2. Starting from Scratch

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3. Experiences of the Foetus
Over recent decades, research into the life of a foetus tells us that there are links between child and mother as follows:
- Chemical or molecular links whereby the life of the mother's body flows to the child
o thus the child can, for example, if the mother is on an excitement rush, receive adrenaline, through the umbilical cord and placenta.
- Sensory links whereby the actions of the mother are picked up by the senses of the foetus
o thus a foetus will communicate by gently kicking at certain stages, when it hears soothing music say, or violent sounds.
- Emotional links whereby the feelings of the mother are conveyed to the child
o  thus a foetus can sense the stress or calmness of the mother.
Various psychologists have suggested, as a result of their research, that there are real and strong communication links between the foetus and the mother.
Thus, if these things are so, then the 'aware mother' realises that:
- her child will receive ‘non-prescribed' drugs, say, that she may use, even causing a dependency in the womb which are therefore to be avoided,  

- a pleasurable and peaceful environment can be created for the child by the things the mother does while carrying her infant - or otherwise,

- happiness and joy can be conveyed to the child or otherwise.
So, careful consideration of these things can determine the nature of the environment within the womb before the child is born, which may subsequently have consequences for the child once it is born.

For instance singing soothing songs or playing restful music, which the foetus picks up, has been shown to lull the child to sleep after it has been born, when the same song is sung or same music played. There are those who say these would have a soothing effect anyway, but the links do seem observable - pre-natal and post-natal.

Singing, it has been suggested, aids the expression of love and subsequent bonding between mother and child. Such activities seem to aid awareness in the baby, before and after birth, together with signs of enjoyment and happiness even. The mothers soothing voice before and after birth makes a link between womb and world.

Some have suggested that such sounds, and other forms of natural stimulation, reaching the foetus in the womb not only sooth it but stimulate the growth of brain cells (don't get too carried away with this!).

Whereas the newborn baby can react negatively to too much noise and stimulation, so it is likely that the unborn child may also react negatively to too much input.
Perhaps the easiest thing to say is that your unborn baby can be influenced by how well you feed, how you balance the activities of your life so as not to get over-tired, and your state of mind and emotions.

Seeking to maintain a wise balance in all these things means you are seeking the best in both the way you communicate with your unborn child, and the way you are creating a warm, safe and secure environment for them before they arrive in their new world.  
EXERCISE: If you are carrying a child, consider what things you can do NOW to help your child as suggested above. Make a list of those things and put it on the wall somewhere as a reminder.

 4. Working this Out

If you have taken in something of what we have hinted at on this page, it can appear slightly scary.  Yes, we’ve been hinting that your child starts off with a largely blank slate and in the years immediately ahead is going to go through a tremendous learning curve – and you will be the main contributor to that. So to consider how this is practically worked out, here are two different scenarios.

Scenario 1
a) The Scenario
Mother 1 didn’t want to get pregnant and went through the 9 months of confinement in a worried and anxious state. She smokes to calm her nerves. When the child is born she leaves it alone as much as possible. She’s glad when it reaches nursery or play-school age and she can offload it. When it reaches play-school, she is surprised when a teacher comments upon her child’s inability to communicate and several years later her child is a couple of years behind the other children of the same age in general learning abilities.
b) What has happened?
Initially in the womb the child ‘subconsciously’ picks up fear and worry and the sense that this is a difficult world.  When it is born inactivity means that little is ‘written on the slate’ and its learning experiences from birth onwards are very limited. It has learnt little about communication and has had little by way of pleasurable experiences of play and interaction with its parents. Thus when it is introduced to the socialising phase of Nursery, Play-school or Pre-school, it struggles. Its experience of learning thus far in life means that it is ill-equipped to accelerate that learning in school.
c) Is there Hope?
Yes, but for there to be real change, it requires real change in the attitude and behaviour of the mother (and father?). Children are remarkably resilient and studies indicate that some children can do catch-up, but it may be a tough path for the child.

Scenario 2
a) The Scenario
Mother 2 took on board the things in these pages and sought help and encouragement from partner / parents / friends and felt very positive about the arrival of her child. Throughout the confinement she talked gently to the foetus and sung to it.  When the child arrived it was lovingly held, talked to and sung to. It was stimulated by a colourful mobile hanging above its cot and colourful pictures on the walls of its bedroom/nursery. Mother and father played with it regularly and communicated with it constantly. As it grew, colourful books and toys were obtained (often from a local charity shop to save money). As it developed, both parents made time to sit with it and read repetitive stories in books with colourful pictures. It learned to talk at an early age and by the time it went to school it was already reading at a basic age and enjoying experiential play.  Learning at school was an enjoyable experience for the child which paved the way for life learning in the years to come.   
b) What has happened?
The parent(s) puts the child first and by giving it their time and energy, have enabled the ‘slate’ to have much written on it in the earliest years, which have not only given it an enjoyable experience of its earliest years, but also prepared it to handle the years of learning that are ahead of it to enable it to develop in life into rounded maturity.

5. And So….

You may have noticed that as we have developed the teaching for it to be seen outworked in practical ways, we have also introduced thoughts of what we, the parents, are aiming for. If we have no aim, then we will miss much of what could be for our children.

On the next page we will develop this further. For the moment, let’s summarise what we’ve seen on this page: You child isn’t born with a completely blank slate, but the next years are going to be taken up by your child learning what life is about.  It will learn to recognise things, it will learn to control itself (e.g. potty training) it will learn what is pleasurable and enjoyable, and it will learn what is harmful and painful and to be avoided and, gradually, it will learn to interact with others and all that is involved in that.

May we suggest that you go back to the beginning of this page and go through it again, taking in all that it here. Your learning will help your child’s learning.

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