Pregnancy can be a tense time for a mother and her partner, but Dr. Thomas Verny and Pamela Weintraub have outlined ways for parents to communicate with their child in order to relieve stress and create a lasting bond. NURTURING THE UNBORN CHILD diagrams a nine-month program involving such exercises as massage, music and dance to stimulate the relationship between parents and child. Through these techniques parents can learn how to analyze their fears during pregnancy and create ways to alleviate them permanently. NURTURNING THE UNBORN CHILD is an essential guide to learning how to communicate with and stimulate your baby before it commences its journey to the outside world.
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About the Author
Pamela Weintraub has written eight other books including YOU CAN SAVE THE ANIMALS: FIFTY THINGS TO DO RIGHT NOW.
Thomas Verny, M.D. also worked with John Kelly on the widely popular pregnancy guide, THE SECRET LIFE OF THE UNBORN CHILD. He has a private psychiatry practice and founded of the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Association of America.
Read an Excerpt
Nurturing the Unborn Child
A Nine-Month Program for Soothing, Stimulating, and Communicating with Your Baby
By Thomas Verny, Pamela Weintraub
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1991 Dr. Thomas Verny and Pamela Weintraub
All rights reserved.
Month One: In the Beginning
You're going to have a baby! The news fills you with a rush of emotion—a sense of wonder, perhaps, or sheer exhilaration and joy. Mixed with these feelings, however, may be sentiments of doubt, insecurity, and fear. Pregnancy imbues most women with a range of emotion. The sooner you get in touch with all your feelings, the smoother your pregnancy will be.
In our experience, nothing gives a child a more solid foundation in life than the experience of being loved and wanted in the womb. Ideally, all children should be conceived in tenderness and carried to term with adoration. Life does not always work this way. But even if your pregnancy has come as a surprise, even if it threatens to disrupt your life, your unborn child needs your love as much as you need air to breathe and food to eat. Because the unborn child requires affection and attention from both parents, you and your partner should emphasize positive feelings whenever you can.
To help you remain calm and tune in to your deepest feelings, you can listen to audio tapes featuring classical music. Researchers have pointed out that baroque music—including compositions by Bach, Corelli, Handel, Mozart, and Vivaldi—moves to the tempo of sixty to seventy beats per minute, a rate very close to that of the resting human heart. Impressed by this fact, Bulgarian psychiatrist Georgi Lozanov played music by Mozart for his students, and it increased their powers of concentration. Other researchers have shown that Baroque music stimulates alpha waves, the brain waves associated with alert concentration and a sense of calm. Finally, British audiology expert Michele Clements has discovered that most unborn children shift to a state of alert relaxation when they are exposed to the Baroque compositions of Mozart and Vivaldi. On the other hand, when they hear long orchestral pieces by Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven, they demonstrate anxiety in the form of increased kicking and accelerated heart rate. (The same negative reaction is also triggered by hard rock music and the unpleasant sound of a pneumatic drill.)
Given these findings, the first Womb Harmonics exercise, "Viva Vivaldi," provides a musical program geared to strengthen your capacity to visualize and relax. At the same time, the music we recommend (recorded on audio tapes by you and your spouse or a friend) will calm your developing child, possibly stimulating brain cells required for concentration and learning later in life.
To help you unwind and tune in to your innermost thoughts, "Time Out for Mom" (Exercise 2), teaches you the technique of alert progressive relaxation, in which your body enters a sleeplike state while your mind remains alert. As you learn to enter and sustain this potent state of consciousness, you will rid yourself of bottled-up anxiety and become progressively more receptive to positive images and thoughts.
Exercise 3, "Daily Diary," shows you how to give vent to your feelings by writing in a journal. You can use your journal to express your private thoughts and honestly confront your anxieties and fears.
You can also use your journal to help you practice the "Affirmations" of Exercise 4. Affirmations help you replace negative thought-patterns with a positive, empowering, hopeful outlook. As you practice the affirmation technique, you may discover self-defeating, negative thought-patterns that prevent you from achieving your full potential. After you recognize these negative thoughts and discover what may be causing them, you can use our affirmation exercise to help you embrace a healthier, happier point of view.
Finally, the fifth exercise, "Dream Work," will help you explore your dreams, revealing your hidden thoughts and feelings. Though you may not remember your dreams, research indicates that you have them about four or five times a night. Virtually all psychologists believe that they provide a road map to your unconscious mind. Sigmund Freud viewed dreams as an outlet for repressed sexual and aggressive drives, but modern evidence suggests they serve a positive, healing function as well. By remembering, understanding—and to some degree modulating—your dreams during pregnancy, you can work to resolve many of your internal and interpersonal conflicts.
Whether you are recalling your dreams or writing in your journal, think of Month One of the Womb Harmonics System as a journey into yourself. If practiced faithfully, the five exercises that follow can help you marshal your resources and personal power. They can also bring to light hidden concerns and worries; by resolving these outstanding issues, you will help yourself become the best parent you can be.
The psychological techniques you will be mastering during your first month of pregnancy are much like a pianist's scales. Just as a pianist must practice her scales over and over if she wants to maintain her virtuoso skills, so too, you must learn to relax and get in touch with your feelings and those of your partner if you are to move through pregnancy with aplomb and ease. Once you master these basic techniques, we recommend that you practice them for a few minutes every day of your pregnancy.
We also suggest you introduce Month One techniques in a systematic and orderly way. Make sure you feel comfortable with the music and alert progressive relaxation exercises before you initiate the daily journal-writing activity. When you feel confident about the journal-writing portion of your day, expand that activity to include affirmations and dream work.
Ideally, you should wait three to four days after working with one technique before you progress to the next. Remember that the techniques introduced in Month One will become integral parts of your daily life. If you try to bite off too much at once, you may feel overwhelmed. In fact, if you do not have a chance to integrate all five Month One exercises into your life during your first month of pregnancy, don't worry—just work them into your schedule during the month that follows. If you take the program slowly, you will be rewarded with a sense of ease and confidence that should carry you, your partner, and your baby through the next nine months.
TIPS FOR BUSY MOTHERS
If you already have children or a job outside your home, you may not have the time for every single exercise in this book. For already busy and overextended mothers, we suggest utilizing periods of "lost time" that are essentially wasted. Examples of these under-utilized moments include driving your car, riding a bus, waiting for an appointment at the doctor or dentist, taking a bath, walking, gardening, or cooking. You can probably think of many others. The trick is to fill these periods of lost time with appropriate exercises. For instance, you can write in your journal on the subway or listen to a guided imagery tape while taking a bath. You can also be selective about the Womb Harmonics techniques that you ultimately tap. After reading all the exercises appropriate to your baby's age, select the ones you feel will benefit you, your baby, and your mate most. We consider the five exercises presented in Month One to be essential. Please do not skip these. Apart from these bedrock techniques, feel free to pick and choose from subsequent exercises without feelings of guilt. Do what you can and you will be giving your baby a head start.
Exercise 1: Viva Vivaldi
Theme: Stress reduction through music
Instruments: Music tape
Participants: Mother and unborn child
Tempo: Sixty minutes, at least twice a week, for the duration of the pregnancy
Before you begin this exercise, choose sixty minutes of music that you find particularly relaxing and enjoyable. Because the slow movements of Baroque and Baroque-like composers most resemble the rhythm of the resting maternal heartbeat that the fetus hears in the womb, we suggest you use this type of music. We particularly recommend composers such as Haydn, Boccherini, J. S. Bach, Mozart, Handel, Fasch, and Vivaldi. Some of the more appropriate compositions include Schubert's "Trout" Quintet in A Major for Piano and Strings, Vivaldi's Guitar Concerto in D, Largo, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21, Handel's Harp Concerto in B-Flat, and Vivaldi's Flute Concerto in D. If you would like a tape made specifically for pregnant mothers, we suggest Love Chords by Thomas R. Verny and Sandra Collier (see Resource Guide).
If you don't like classical music, any music that puts you in a relaxed mood—with the exception of hard rock or acid rock—will do. Women who have attended rock concerts during pregnancy say that they felt their unborn child moving wildly in response to the music. One pregnant woman worked as a technician in a recording studio where a rock band was cutting a record. During the rehearsals, her baby became upset and finally kicked her so hard that he broke one of her ribs. On the other hand, you should not choose music that is too soothing or flat. Lullabyes, elevator music, and some of the New Age compositions may put you—and possibly your baby—right to sleep! This is not the desired effect at all. You want to use the time during which the music is playing to commune and communicate with your baby, and you can do so only if both of you are awake. Appropriate nonclassical selections might include Paul McCartney, James Taylor, and Judy Collins.
If you choose to make a tape that features a variety of artists, try to make the transitions from one selection to the next smooth and natural. Since the aim of this exercise is relaxation, you won't want to disrupt the mood you've established.
Once you have chosen your sixty minutes of music, record your selection or selections on a cassette tape. Listen to this tape whenever you please; we suggest that you listen to it in its entirety at least twice a week. If at all possible, find two quiet periods a week when you can simply sit in a comfortable position and, as your mind wanders, listen to the tape straight through. Don't lie down while playing this special tape—that may cause you to fall asleep, defeating the goal of conscious relaxation. And don't use this tape as background music while you are working or driving. The idea of this exercise is to totally and actively focus your attention on the music to the exclusion of all other things.
Special Note: At the end of your ninth month, while your baby is being born, take this tape into the delivery room and play it during labor. It will help you and your baby to relax—and it will probably help your partner and your birth attendants as well. After birth, you may find that when your child is sick or fretful, playing this special tape will help him to relax and feel better.
Exercise 2: Time Out for Mom
Theme: Deep relaxation
Instruments: Alert progressive relaxation tape
Tempo: Twenty minutes, once a day, for the duration of the pregnancy
You can reduce stress during pregnancy by regularly achieving states of deep relaxation. By truly relaxing, you will not only make your pregnancy more enjoyable, you will actually reduce the amount of adrenaline and other stress hormones that are produced by your body, ultimately reaching the child inside. Researchers have shown that anxious mothers who generate excessive amounts of adrenaline have babies who seem jumpier and cry more often than others. Some of these babies were even born with duodenal ulcers. On the other hand, women who are relatively calm during pregnancy often have calmer babies, not to mention easier births.
Alert progressive relaxation is perhaps the most effective relaxation technique ever devised. It is used extensively by sports psychologists who wish to help athletes concentrate and improve their performance, as well as by behavior therapists who understand that relaxation is a crucial part of achieving goals. The technique enables you to relax your body completely while your mind remains sharp and alert. As you take "time out for Mom," your muscles will loosen, your breathing rate and heart rate will slow, and after about twenty minutes, you will feel refreshed and reenergized, ready to resume your day.
Before you actually master the technique of alert progressive relaxation, there are a few things you will need: A comfortable chair and a footstool or ottoman on which you can prop your feet; a tape recorder and a cassette tape for recording exercise instructions, to which you will listen in the future; ten minutes of relaxing music; and a second tape player or other music source, from which you can record your chosen musical selections. We suggest that you take your favorite ten-minute segment from the music tape you made in "Viva Vivaldi" and use it for this exercise as well. You may, however, use any musical selection that conforms to the guidelines established in Exercise 1.
After you have gathered these tools, please prepare your tape machine so that you can record the instructions given below. Your partner or a close friend may read the words into your tape recorder for you; we have found that the voice of a trusted friend or lover is particularly effective. But if you prefer, you can read the instructions yourself. We suggest that the person who reads these instructions read them over silently before actually making the recording. When ready, the reader should strive to read the script below slowly and calmly, pausing where appropriate.
Close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. Continue to breathe deeply and evenly, allowing yourself to focus on the rhythm of your breathing, on your bodily sensations, and on any feelings and images you have about yourself. If thoughts about the outside world intrude, just let them pass, the way clouds pass over the horizon. Notice them, and then let go of them.
Now become aware of your feet. Notice the pressure on them and the angle at which they are placed. Become aware of the soles of your feet. Notice your heels, your toes, your ankles. Now begin to curl your toes toward the soles of your feet, as if trying to make contact. Push your toes down, down, down. Hold them, and then let go.
Breathe in and out. Relax and let go.
With each breath that you take, you are choosing to go deeper and deeper into a perfect state of relaxation. You are not falling asleep. You remain alert but relaxed.
Now become aware of your legs, from your knees down to your ankles. As you become aware of your legs, I want you to tighten all your leg muscles. Tighten, tighten, tighten. Hold. And relax.
Breathe in and out. Relax and let go.
With each breath that you take you are going deeper and deeper into yourself, and your body is becoming more and more relaxed.
Now focus your attention on the middle of your body—your thighs, your pelvis, and your buttocks. As you become aware, tighten all the muscles in these areas. Tighten, tighten, tighten. Hold. And relax.
Breathe in and out. Relax and let go.
Continue to breathe deeply and evenly. With each inhalation, you are breathing in fresh oxygen and fresh energy. With each exhalation, you are breathing out carbon dioxide and bodily wastes. Think of each inhalation as a way of taking in love and support from the universe. Think of each exhalation as a means of ejecting negative feelings and tension.
Now go on to the next section of your body. Become aware of your spine from your pelvis to the base of your head. Begin to press against the back of your chair or supporting cushions along the length of your spinal column. Push down, down. Now hold that position. And let go. Feel your back and your chest going limp.
Breathe in and out. Relax and let go.
Each breath that you take helps your body to relax. Whenever you inhale, every muscle, each individual cell, is nourished and energized. Whenever you exhale, every muscle, each individual cell, is cleansed of impurities and tensions. Your body and your baby are really enjoying this exercise.
Now become aware of your shoulders and your neck and all the tension that you store there. Begin to wash out this tension by pushing the tips of your shoulders up toward your ears; push until you feel as if you can almost touch your ears with your shoulders.
Push, push, push. Hold it. And let go.
Breathe in and out. Relax and let go.
Now lift your hands a few inches above your body and make a fist. Tighten your fist. Tighten, tighten, tighten. Hold. And let go.
Breathe in and out. Relax and let go. Continue to breathe deeply and evenly. With each breath that you take, you choose to become more relaxed. You feel comfortable and safe and secure.
Now become aware of your face. Notice the muscles around your eyes, your mouth, and your jaw. Begin to squint your eyes. Tighten the muscles around your mouth. And tighten your jaw. Tighten, tighten, tighten. Hold. And let go.
Breathe in and out. Relax and let go.
Excerpted from Nurturing the Unborn Child by Thomas Verny, Pamela Weintraub. Copyright © 1991 Dr. Thomas Verny and Pamela Weintraub. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsHow This Book Came About,
The Nine-Month Program,
Why the Program Works,
Techniques and Strategies,
How to Use This Book,
Part One: The First Trimester,
Month One: In the Beginning,
Month Two: Tilling the Garden,
Month Three: Growing Together,
Part Two: The Second Trimester,
Month Four: Inner Bonding,
Month Five: The Umbilical Telephone,
Month Six: The Loving Touch,
Part Three: The Third Trimester,
Month Seven: Consciousness Rising,
Month Eight: Awake in the Womb,
Month Nine: Toward Emergence,
Giving Birth: Into the Light,