The Maternal Womb: 
The First Musical School for the Baby

Prof. Ruth Fridman was a pioneer in revealing the important effects of the first sounds that babies hear including the sound of mothers singing to them in the womb, at birth and as infants. In this paper she reminded us of her inspirational work with pregnant mothers she teaches to compose lullabies to sing to their babies. Her many presentations, travels, books, and song books are included in the impressive list of career milestones at the end of this article.

Importance of Prenatal Sound and Music

Following more than two decades as a music educator, Giselle E. Whitwell was certified as a Board Certified Music Therapist focusing her attention to the prenatal period of life. During the last twenty years, she has given lectures and workshops on prenatal music in the United States, South America, Europe, Russia, and Asia. She continues her work at the Centre for Prenatal and Perinatal Music, as well as being a Birth Doula and Birth Works Certified Childbirth Educator. She welcomes your stories or questions on the role of sound in prenatal development on
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Additional Readings for Study Birnholz, J. C. & Benacerraf, B. B. (1983). The development of the human fetal hearing. Science, 222, 516-18. DeCasper, A. J. & Sigafoos, A. D. (1983). The intrauterine heartbeat: A potent reinforcer for newborns. Infant Behavior and Development 6, 19-25. deMause, L. (1982). Foundations of psychohistory. New York: Creative Roots. Gelman, S. R., Wood, S., Spellacy, W.N. & Abrams, R. M. (1982), Fetal movements in response to sound stimulation. American J. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 143, 484-485. Hepper, P. G. (1991). An examination of fetal learning before and after birth. The Irish Journal of Psychology, 12(2), 95-107. Johansson, B., Wedenberg, E., & Westin, B. (1964). Measurement of tone response by the human fetus. A preliminary report. Acta Otolaryngologica, 57, 188-192. Luz, N. P., Lima, C. P., Luz, D. H., & Feldens, V. L. (1980). Auditory evoked responses of the human fetus. I. Behavior during progress of labor. Acta Obstetrica Gynecologica Scandinavica, 59, 395-404. Luz, N. P. (1985). Auditory evoked responses in the human fetus. II. Modifications observed during labor. Acta Obstetrica Gynecologica Scandinavica, 64, 213-22. Montagu, A. (1962). Prenatal influences. Springfield, IL: Charles Thomas. Murooka H., Koie Y., & Suda N. (1976). Analyse des sons intra-uterins et leurs effets tranquil-lisants sur le nouveau.. Journal of. Gynecology and Obstetrics: Biologie de la Reproduction, 5, 367-376. Polverini-Rey, R.A. (1992). Intrauterine musical learning: the soothing effect on newborns of a lullaby learned prenatally. Dissertation Abstracts # 9233740. Pujol, R., Lavigne-Rebillard, M., & Uziel, A. (1991. Development of the human cochlea. Acta Otolaryngologica, 482, 7-12. Querleu, D., Renard, S., & Versyp, F. (1981). Les perceptions auditives du foetus humain. Medecine et Hygiene, 39, 2101-10. Rosner, B.S., & Doherty, N. E. (1979). The response of neonates to intra-uterine sounds. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 21, 723-729. Salk, L. (1962). Mother's heartbeat as an imprinting stimulus. Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, Series 2 (4), 53-63. Salk, L. (1960). The effects of the normal heartbeat sound on the behavior of newborn infant: implications for mental health. World Mental Health, 12, 1-8. Sallenbach, W. B. (1998). Claira: A case study in prenatal learning. Journal of Pre-and perinatal Psychology and Health, 12(3-4), 175-196. Satt, B. J. (1984). An investigation into the acoustical induction of intra-uterine learning. Ph.D Dissertation, California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles. Shetler, Donald J. (1989). The Inquiry Into Prenatal Musical Experience: A Report of the Eastman Project 1980-1987. Pre-and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 3(3), 171-189. Szmeja, Z., Slomko, Z., Sikorski, K., & Sowinski, H. (1979) The risk of hearing impairment in children from mothers exposed to noise during pregnancy, Int. Journal of Pediatric Otorhino-laryngology, 1, 221-29. Van de Carr, Kristen., Van de Carr, F. Rene., & Lehrer, Marc (1988), Effects of a prenatal intervention program. In P. Fedor-Freybergh and Vogel, M.L.V., (Eds.), Prenatal and perinatal psychology and medicine: Encounter with the unborn (489-495). London: Parthenon Publishing. Van Dongen, L. G. R. & Goudie, E. G. (1980) Fetal movements in the first trimester of pregnancy. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 87, 191-193.