Memories for children in the womb are encoded in their cells

The foetus is unprotected from external negative stimuli, such as any traumatic event or experience to which the mother is exposed. When we realise that constant rowing between parents is as traumatic for a child as a serious road accident or a natural disaster for an adult, how much more traumatic and fearful is such conflict for the foetus, helpless and trapped in the womb! Frequent angry shouting is extremely disturbing for the unborn child.
It is also true that the child in the womb remembers experiences, thus reinforcing fear and probably keeping it in the subconscious for its entire life. This is known as cellular memory, where the memories are encoded in cells. Prenatal memories are very important, because they are the first memories of the child’s environment. We know, for example, that a mother with emotional distress from stressful experiences (e.g. depression) two years before birth can find it difficult to bond with the child. The foetus can experience similar problems, since a traumatic prenatal life makes bonding more difficult following the birth. It seems that it can numb, just as the child suffering parental neglect, and can develop feelings of deep mistrust. It is not difficult to imagine the impact on the child’s future emotional life, if the fear in the womb is aggravated by an unloving childhood following birth! There is every reason to believe that the foetus reacts emotionally to the mother’s use of alcohol or medication, and this reaction may be fear because it is helpless. Experiments also show that foetuses react to loud noises by emptying their bladders, a clear sign of fear. As a young child I saw children urinating in fear, as we stood by the blackboard in the small school I attended.
Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
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