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This paper reviews The Prenatal University stimulation program, which is designed: 1) to create an interactive relationship between parents to be and the developing fetus, and 2) to reinforce a "preconscious awareness of the environment" by the developing fetus. The prenatal stimulation program is designed with working parents in mind. Only two five-minute sessions are required per day for effective implementation. Both mother and father are involved; siblings and other relatives are also encouraged to join in the game-like sessions.
Prenatal stimulation allows mother/infant and father/infant bonding, and strengthens familial bonding through interactive communication. Primary communication begins during the "kick game," in which either parent presses upon the stomach in the area of the fetus' foot and the fetus responds with a kick; the parents can then perceive their fetus as being human. Mother and father are equally involved in the stimulation process, setting up positive co-parenting patterns that usually continue after the birth. Siblings who are allowed to talk to the fetus and feel it through their mother's stomach can develop a positive relationship with the baby before it is brought home from the hospital. The program also emphasizes continued physical intimacy between father and mother to be, as father is instructed to pat, rub, and place his lips on mother's abdomen to communicate with the fetus.
Prenatal stimulation introduces an associative learning process that may impact the fetal development through the fetus' auditory, tactile, and spatial senses. Stimulation of these senses begins at 20 weeks of gestation; more complex musical tones and verbal stimulation are introduced at 32 weeks. The program recommends stimulation during heightened fetal activity when the fetus is more alert. The stimulus-response interaction during the five-minute program reinforces development of the infant's attention span and, if consistently implemented, can condition the infant to a pattern of activity and sleep that continues well after birth. Follow-up interactions with parents and infants support the program's assertions and cite the long-lasting affects of pre-natal stimulation upon subjects as they grow into childhood.
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F. Rene Van de Carr, M.D.
Marc Lehrer, Ph.D.
Address requests for reprints to Dr. Rene Van de Carr, Caraloga Medical Center, 27225 Caraloga, Hayward, CA 94545.