Thursday, March 31, 2005

Babies in the womb can hear you shout and getting upset

Babies are really fascinating.

I often look at my now 15-year old son and remember the time when he was a baby. It comes back to my mind so vividly, like it was just the other day and not the decade and a half that it is.

And one particular, extremely fascinating aspect sticks out. This one has to do with the ability of a baby to hear and react to sounds while it is still in the mother's womb. Amazingly babies still in the womb can even react to people's emotions (like to enthusiastic and excited dads trying to talk to them by patting and talking at the mother's protruded tummy.)

But let us not go too deep now. My intention is to keep it simple for this article and dwell only on the more obvious and common examples that clearly show that babies do hear quite clearly and very well, long before they are born.

Mothers will quite often talk about how a baby reacts to a slamming door. They will often be startled and the mother will easily feel this in her womb as the baby reacts. Nobody can argue against that. It is something many dads have experienced. (Please note that this article is mostly directed at dads who tend to be extremely ignorant most of the times. Mothers basically know everything, or at least most of this stuff.)

About my son, at the time his mother was pregnant; my marriage to his mother was going through some trying moments, a stage I believe every marriage has to pass through. So, shouting matches between us were a little too frequent. The idiot I was at the time, I would never have believed that I was upsetting the person in her bulging stomach.

Do not ask me what we used to argue about or the reason for our regular high pitched shouting matches - that is probably the topic of another very different article. But the sad fact of the matter is that these sessions of shouting increased in frequency as the babies arrival drew closer. There are some folks who say that most boys will repel towards their fathers when they are in the womb and cause the mother to do the same against her husband. This may have been a slight contributing factor to our frequent rows, but I take full blame for my very bad behavior.

Sometimes in bouts of extreme guilt over this matter I tend to think the whole episode may have been the cause of some of the difficulties my wife had during the birth of this child. Mainly caused by the fact that the child was reluctant to come out to such a violently noisy world where they could not only hear but witness my terrible behavior. I have no scientific proof or expert opinion to back this.

Anyway, what was even more interesting was how the boy started behaving after he was born. To this day he loathes confrontations that involve any shouting or screaming at each other. He also deeply disliked being shouted at. He is the type that usually steers clear of trouble, but on the few occasions when he does something wrong and his mother screams at him, it really gets to him. To him it has a devastatingly larger impact than a slap or being hit.

Not to mention that when he was barely out of his diapers he would stand between my wife and I and scream for peace if there was sign of misunderstanding between us.

The scientists, experts and shrinks, I am sure will have plenty to say about all this. But personally I find it amazing and fascinating stuff.

Sadly I am mostly filled with emotions of sadness and regret that I should have behaved better.

Fathers do be very wary and careful about the guy walking around your house with your pregnant spouse that you think does not yet exist.

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