the foetus is conscious of what is happening outside the womb

Fear is now seen as one of the prominent emotions experienced by the foetus. Modern research also suggests that an anxious child has a larger amygdala (fear centre) than others, and while this does appear to be true of prenates, increased cortisol (stress hormone) in the mother also affects the structure and organisation of the foetal amygdala. There is some evidence, too, that a foetus at sixteen weeks can experience aggression, which is closely related to fear. Perhaps this is because it can hear at sixteen weeks. It can also cry with distress in the second half of its womb life and at an early stage the foetus experiences pain through its sensory systems, because it does not yet have the nerve pathways to soothe pain.
Perhaps the best works on prenatal life have been done by the late Dr David Chamberlain. His recent book Windows to the Womb: Revealing the Conscious Baby from Conception to Birth is fascinating. Chamberlain, who was President of the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, offers credible evidence of foetal emotions and behaviour in the womb. The case studies he offers in one section of book from hypnosis should perhaps be treated with caution, because false memories can be created by hypnosis. This is not to say, however, that this is the case with the examples given by him.
The relationship between child and adult as the crucial factor in fear of abandonment begins, therefore, long before the child is born. Without realising it, the mother, as primary nurturer (in the great majority of cases), continues the process of nurturing (or the opposite) when the baby is born. Her maternal task is to make the child feel secure immediately after birth. Some books on parenting, perhaps, go too far in stressing the degree of nurturing a child needs. An over loved child may have as many problems in later life as an under loved one. It is important not to over-compensate for deficiencies in our own childhood by smothering our children (or by spoiling them).
Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
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