Stimulating the Senses

It’s time to find out how we can stimulate the baby’s awakening senses – in appropriate ways and at appropriate times.

The Experts section covers fetal stimulation programs designed by leading authorities in the field of prenatal education. But you can also create your own program very easily.

Here’s what you need to know:
Taste/smell stimulation

Your baby can taste the amniotic fluid that surrounds her. So Mom, why not take this opportunity to give your little one as many taste and smell sensations as possible? Not only are these a form of stimulation, but experts believe that babies who experience a variety of taste-smells in the womb are likely to be more accepting of a variety of foods after birth.

Touch stimulation

As soon as you can feel the baby through Mom’s pregnant belly, you will find it only natural to engage in touch stimulation. If your baby pushes out his foot, hand or bottom, then by all means push gently back. You can also try lightly massaging your baby. It’s fun to see how your baby reacts to these activities, and especially how her reactions change over the course of the pregnancy.
Light stimulation

Opinion is divided over whether it’s a good idea to shine a flashlight on a pregnant belly. While some believe it’s harmless fun, medical professionals caution that bright lights can damage a young baby’s eyes. Besides that, it’s possible that using a flashlight will disturb your baby’s sleep. To be on the safe side, only use a flashlight during the last month of pregnancy, and when your baby is awake and active.

Many parents enjoy this activity because it provokes such a strong reaction in their baby! One mom used the light to keep her baby awake for a longer period in the evening. This in turn helped both baby and mom sleep better at night!

Sound stimulation

This is the number one source of fetal stimulation, and it is your most important form of communication with your little one. Your baby does not hear particularly well through his ears, which are filled with amniotic fluid.

What he hears most clearly comes through the vibrations of his skull. For this reason, Mom’s voice has a unique resonance. As for sounds from outside the womb, low-pitched frequencies travel best through liquids. Listening to classical music is great if Mom enjoys it, but your baby probably won’t be able to hear the string section.

Because Mom’s voice stands out, it is uniquely soothing to the baby – both before and after birth. Studies have shown that unborn babies slow their swallowing while listening to their mother’s voice. Soon after birth, babies show a distinct preference for their mother’s voice and the language she speaks.

But there’s good news for Dad too – because low frequencies travel well through water, your deeper voice should be audible and recognizable to the baby, as long as you are close enough to Mom’s pregnant belly.

Read and sing!

Just by taking time out of every day to talk, read and sing to your baby, you will enable him to get to know the two of you long before he is born. This in turn will help him to feel more secure during his first days in the strange new environment of the outside world. If certain stories or songs become a part of your pregnancy routine, then this is something you can use to your advantage after the birth.

Your unborn baby can recognize patterns of speech and intonation (if not individual words), with vowel sounds coming through particularly clearly. Studies have shown that newborns are soothed by hearing the same stories and songs they were used to listening to in the womb. You will almost certainly want to play music to your baby during pregnancy. Because low frequencies travel better through liquids, bass and percussion instruments, and the low notes on the piano, will be most audible. It doesn’t matter what kind of music you choose though, provided it’s pleasant to listen to – for the two of you as well as the baby. The way the music makes Mom feel is actually the most important factor.

So enjoy this special time, as the three of you get to know one other before your baby’s long-awaited arrival. As your baby grows larger and more visible, you will increasingly enjoy the time you spend interacting as a family. When she is awake and active, she may respond to your voices with a kick or sudden “swimming” movement. You will begin to realize that your baby is listening, really listening, to her parents’ voices. And isn’t it great to know that when it does come time for your baby to leave the sanctuary of the womb, she will already recognize and be comforted by the voices of the two of you – the two people who love her more than anyone else in the world.