Warning message

This content is filtered. APPPAH membership is required for full access to journal articles.
-A +A
Publication Date: 
March, 2018
Page Count: 
Starting Page: 
Brief Summary: 

This article was originally published in the Pre- and Peri-natal Psychology Journal 8(3) (Spring 1994),187-199. This paper draws on the latest scientific findings to show how specific changes in 1) parenthood, 2) birthing practices, and 3) how we view ourselves (psychology) could transform the world. 


In the 20th century, it is likely that more people had the experience of birth than in all previous centuries combined: Most of the people who have ever lived are alive today. The current rate [in 1994] is almost 10,000 births per hour. In any given nine-month period, there are about 180 million expectant parents going through a unique life-changing experience. Research and therapy focused on the prenatal and perinatal period confirms that pregnancy and birth are formative experiences for both babies and parents. Yet, in the century of maximum birthing, psychological principles and interactions have been radically altered. Indeed, large-scale experiments—unplanned and unmeasured—have upset human feelings and relationships, and may be playing a destructive role in modern society. Meanwhile, studies of babies have brought us to a new understanding of human consciousness, learning, and memory. This paper draws on the latest scientific findings to show how specific changes in 1) parenthood, 2) birthing practices, and 3) how we view ourselves (psychology) could transform the world. The population of the world is growing by almost three babies per second. This translates into about 180 million expectant parents for every nine-month time span. These parents may be feeling jubilant, ambivalent, angry, or hopeless during this period: Meanwhile, their babies may be feeling welcomed or rejected. The actual arrival ceremony may be peaceful and comfortable or violent and terrifying, depending on cultural norms, the birth place, and birth attendants. We believe that both prenatal and perinatal experiences are formative for parents and babies. The "games" played in the first house—the womb—will automatically become the "games people play" in the larger house—the world. This view explains the theme of the 6th International Congress on Pre- and Perinatal Psychology: Womb Ecology/World Ecology.


Blum, T. (1991). Early prenatal perception and adequate auditory stimulation. International Journal of Prenatal &Perinatal Studies 3(3/4), 283-296.

Brackbill, Y. (1987). Obstetrical medication and infant behavior. In J.D. Osofsky (Ed.), Handbook of infant development (2nd. ed.). NY: Wiley. 

Busnell, M-C, Granier-Deferre, C., & Lecanuet, J.P. (1992). Fetal audition. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 662, 118-134.

Chamberlain, D.B. (1988/1990). Babies remember birth: And other extraordinary scientific discoveries about the mind and personality of your newborn. New York: Ballantine Books.

Chamberlain, D.B. (1992a). Is there intelligence before birth? Pre- & Perinatal Psychology Journal 6(3), 217-237.

Chamberlain, D.B. (1992b). Babies are not what we thought: Call for a new paradigm. International Journal of Prenatal &Perinatal Studies 4(3/4): 161-177.

Chamberlain, D.B. (1993a). Intelligence of babies before birth. Paper presented to First World Congress on Prenatal Education, Granada, Spain. (June)

Chamberlain, D.B. (1993b). Prenatal intelligence. In T. Blum (Ed.) Prenatal perception, learning, and bonding, p. 9-31. Berlin & Hong Kong: Leonardo Publishers.

Cheek, D.B. (1992). Are telepathy, clairvoyance and "hearing" possible in utero? Suggestive evidence as revealed during hypnotic age-regression studies of prenatal memory. Pre- & Perinatal Psychology Journal 7(2), 125-137.

DeCasper, A. & Spence, M. (1986). Prenatal maternal speech influences human newborn's auditory preferences. Infant Behavior & Development, 9, 133-150.

deChateau, P. (1988). The interaction between the infant and the environment: The importance of mother-child contact after delivery. Acta Paediatrica Scandinavica, Supplement 344(77), 21-30.

Dörner, G. (1991). Hormone-dependent brain development and behavior. International Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Studies 3(3/4), 183-189

Elias, M. (1993). Adopted teens more likely to be very troubled. USA Today, July 30.

Feijoo, J. (1991). Le foetus, Pierre et le loup (The fetus: Peter and the wolf). In E. Herbinet &M-C Busnel (Eds.), L'Aube des Sens (The dawn of the senses), 199-213. Paris: Editions Stock.

Gabriel, M. (1992). Voices from the womb. Lower Lake, CA: Asian.

Gottfried, A.W. & Gaiter, J.L. (Eds.) (1985). Infant stress under intensive care. Baltimore: University Park Press.

Guillemin, J.H. & Holmstrom, L. (1986). Mixed blessing: Intensive care for newborns. New York: Oxford University Press.

Harrison, M. (1982). A woman in residence. New York: Random-House

Hendershot, G.E. (1984). Trends in breastfeeding. (Report of the Task Force on the assessment of the scientific evidence relating to infant-feeding practice and infant health). Pediatrics Supplement, 74, 591-602.

Hepper, P.G. (1991). An examination of fetal learning before and after birth. Irish Journal of Psychology 12, 95-107.

Hollenbeck, A.R., Gewirtz, J.L., Sebris, S.L., &Scanlon, J.W. (1984). Labor and delivery medication influences parent-infant interaction in the first postpartum month. Infant Behavior & Development, 7, 201-209.

Jacobson, B. (1987). Perinatal origins of eventual self-destructive behavior. Pre- &Perinatal Psychology Journal 2(4): 227-241.

Jacobson, B., Nyberg, K., Eklund, G., Bygdeman, M., & Rydberg, U. (1988). Obstetric pain medication and eventual adult amphetamine addiction in offspring. Acta Obs. GynecoL Scand, 67, 677-682.

Jacobson, B., Nyberg, K., Gronbladh, L., Eklund, G., Bygdeman, M., & Rydberg (1990). Opiate addiction in adult offspring through possible imprinting after obstetric treatment. British Medical Journal. 301, 1067-1070.

Keller, W.D., Hildebrandt, K.A. &Richards, M.E. (1985). Effects of extended fatherinfant contact during the newborn period. Infant Behavior & Development 8(3): 337-350.

Kihlstrom, J.F. (1987). The cognitive unconscious. Science, 237, 1445-1452.

Kisilevsky, B.S. & Muir, D.W. (1991). Human fetal and subsequent newborn responses to sound and vibration. Infant Behavior &Development, 14(1), 1-26.

Klaus, M.H. & Kennell, J.H. (1970). Mother's separated from their newborn infants. Pédiatrie Clinics of North America, 17, 1015-1037.

Kramer, P. (1993). Listening to Prozac. New York: Viking

Laughlin, C.D. (1989). The roots of enculturation: The challenge of pre- and perinatal psychology for ethnological theory and research. Anthropologica, XXXI, 135-178.

Leboyer, F. (1975). Birth without violence. New York: Alfred Knopf.

Manrique, B., Contasti, M., Alvaredo, M.A. et al. (1993). Nurturing parents to stimulate their children from prenatal stage to three years of age. In T. Blum (Ed.), Prenatal perception, learning and bonding, 153-186. Berlin & Hong Kong: Leonardo Publishers.

Marnie, E. (1983/1988). LoveStart prebirth bonding. Santa Monica, CA: Hay House.

Mehl, L.E. (1992). Women's birth experience and subsequent infant motor development. Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal 6(4): 295-316.

Mehler, J.P., Jusczyk, G., Lamberz, N., Halsteed, N., Bertoncini, J., & Amiel-Tison, C. (1988). A precursor of language acquisition in young infants. Cognition, 29, 143-178.

Minchin, M. (1987). Infant formula: A mass, uncontrolled trial in perinatal care. Birth, 14(1), 25-35.

Moon, C., Panneton-Cooper, R. & Fifer, W.P. (1993). Two-day-olds prefer the maternal language. Infant Behavior and Development, 16(4), 495-500.

Odent, M. (1992). The nature of birth and breastfeeding. Westport, CT: Bergin &Garvey.

Panthuraamphorn, C. (1993). Prenatal infant stimulation program. In T. Bloom (Ed.), Prenatal perception, learning, and bonding, 187-220. Berlin &Hong Kong: Leonardo Publishers.

Piontelli, A. (1992). From fetus to child. London, Routledge.

Querleu, D., Renard, X., Versyp, F., Paris-Delrue, L., & Crepin, G. (1988). Fetal hearing. European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Biology, 29, 191-212.

Righard, L. & Alede, M. (1992). Delivery self-attachment (Video). 10 minutes. Available from Geddes Productions, 10546 McVine, Sunland, CA 91040. 

Roediger, H.L. III (1990). Implicit memory: Retention without remembering. American Psychologist (Sept.), 1043-1056.

Savan, L. (1987). Nestle's crunch. Village Voice (Newspaper), Aug. 25, 1987.

Schacter, D.L. (1987). Implicit memory: History and current status. Journal of Experimental of Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition 13, 501-518

Schwartz, L. (1980/1991). Bonding before birth: A guide to becoming a family. Boston: Sigo Press.

Scott, D.T. (1987). Premature infants in later childhood: Some recent follow-up results. Seminars in Perinatology 11(2), 191-199

Sexon, W.R., Schneider, P., Chamberlin, T. et al. (1986). Auditory conditioning in the critically ill neonate to enhance interpersonal relationships. J of Perinatology 6: 20-23. 20. 

Shahidullah, S. & Hepper, P.O. (1992). Hearing in the fetus: Prenatal detection of deafness. International Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Studies 4(3/4), 235-240. 

Spelke, E.S., Breinlinger, K., Macomber, J. & Jacobson, K. (1992). Origins of knowledge. Psychological Review 99(4), 605-632. 

Terr, L. (1988). What happens to early memories of trauma? A study of 20 children under age five at the time of documented traumatic events. J. Amer. Acad, Child &Adolescent Psychiatry 27, 96-104.

Van de Carr, R. & Lehrer, M. (1992). The prenatal classroom: A parent's guide for teaching your baby in the womb. Atlanta: Humanics Learning.

Van der Kolk, B. (1987). Psychological trauma. Washington B.C.: American Psychiatric Press.

Veldman, F. (1993). Confirming affectivity: The dawning of human life. Paper presented to the First World Congress on Prenatal Education, Granada, Spain (June).

Verny, T., & Weintraub, P. (1991). Nurturing the unborn child: A nine-month pro-gram for soothing, stimulating and communicating with your baby. New York: Delacorte Press.

Verny, T.R. (1988). The psycho-technology of pregnancy and labor. In P. FedorFreyberg & M.C.V. Vogel (Eds.), Prenatal and perinatal psychology and medicine: A comprehensive survey of research and practice, 563-579. Carnforth, England: Parthenon.