Stimulation - Prenatal and Psychology Stimulation

Prenatal stimulation can refer to the process of stimulating the development of an unborn child with good music choices and a healthy environment for the mother. This idea isn't new and even in today's modern world pregnant royalty in some cultures won't listen to bad music, speak unpleasant words or look at anything displeasing in case such negative things affect the growing fetus. The term also refers to the process of encouraging labor to start or progress through self stimulation (such as nipple massage) or sensory stimulation (as in visualizing the birth of the baby.)

Stimulation of the Unborn Child

The process of stimulation by definition is "to rouse, to excite, to invigorate." According to popular stimulation psychology, if you do this to your unborn child, he or she will develop to be more intelligent and an overall better adjusted individual. Dr. Thomas R. Verny and author of Nuturing Your Baby from Conception partially agrees with this psychology, but does offer a word of caution saying that some methods of stimulating an unborn child can be damaging.

He points out that a born infant can fuss and start to cry when he or she has been stimulated too much. The baby has the ability to do this very young right at the neonatal stage, which is the first four weeks of life. If a baby is overly stimulated with too much playing, teaching or just noise, the child will cry, go to sleep or withdraw. An unborn child has no way to show his or her discomfort, so it's up to the parents to be careful of how much stimulation they offer.

Stimulation should be limited, but not entirely removed. There are concrete studies that show classical musical, for example, has positive effects on stress levels by releasing endorphins in both the fetus and mother. Unborn babies exposed to Mozart and Vivaldi reduced a baby's agitation or kicking amount and increased fetal heart rate in a positive way. Slow beats, that is those with a slow and steady rhythm of 55 to 70 beats per minute, shift the brain into an alert and relaxed state from an overactive state.

There are no well-known studies about the benefits or disadvantages of other types of sensory stimulation in an unborn child.

Labor and Stimulation

Prenatal stimulation can also refer to the process of triggering labor. Those unfamiliar with the birthing process may think that vagal stimulation can initiate labor. This type of stimulation is used to treat epilepsy and treatment-resistant depression and has nothing to do with the birthing process or even the vagina as the name might imply. Vagal stimulation is electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve. This nerve is in the neck and is considered to be a major connection between the body and brain. It carries sensory information from the body to the brain and motor commands from the brain to the body. It's estimated that electrical stimulation of this nerve stops feedback loops of information that can cause mood swings or depression.

The only type of stimulation that might help initiate labor is self stimulation of the nipples. It is said to help speed labor as well. Nipple stimulation can release oxytocin which is a hormone that can cause contractions. This is one of the reasons why breastfeeding is encouraged after labor to help the uterus contract and return to its normal size. Oxytocin provides natural muscle stimulation for the uterus, which is a big muscle. When a woman is in labor, nipple stimulation can make contractions stronger, longer and more effective.

Nipple stimulation should only be done before contractions are one minute long or three minutes apart. Breast stimulation should be done one at a time and never during a contraction. Natural birthing expert suggest massaging a nipple for no longer than five minutes and then waiting 15 minutes before continuing. One massage technique is to place a palm over the nipple and areola with firm and gentle pressure. Move the palm in a circular maintaining this gentle yet firm pressure.


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