Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

Body Language and Birth Memory *

Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

Body Language and Birth Memory *

Article excerpt

The initial study upon which this paper is based was undertaken in 1990, at the suggestion of Thomas Verny, the founder of APPPAH, as part of a graduate course in pre- and perinatal psychology. This led to the second study five years later, which was originally planned as a follow-up, broader, and more in-depth interview project. As this was my dissertation, my committee had to approve the design and felt that the verbal reports of young children would not be academically respected, so a re-design using body language was implemented. The second study took place in Denver, Colorado, from 1995-1997. Both studies are described in more detail below.

Preliminary Research: Study No. 1

This research report was previously published in the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal (Rhodes, 1991a), where you can find a more complete description of the research protocol.

Interviews were conducted with 29 children, 19 in preschool or day-care settings, 10 in the child's home. Although a list of questions were prepared, this varied somewhat with each child as following the child's lead seemed to be indicated in most cases. After briefly getting acquainted with the child, I told them that I wanted to ask some questions to which only they knew the answers. The first question was, "Where were you before you were born?" The following list is representative of the responses to this question.

The most frequent response, "In Mommy's tummy," could not really be considered "positive" according to the criteria established for the study. That criteria was that the child made a statement or statements that were clearly from their own point of view and did not seem to reflect something that they might have heard from someone else. The following reports do meet this criteria.

Interview #4: A 3-year-old boy

Q: What did you do when you were in Mommy's tummy?

A: I played.

Q: When you decided to come out, how did you get out?

A: There was a hole down there.

Q: What was it like?

A: It was long and there was light.

Q: Was it hard to get out?

A: Yes. (Holding his head with both hands at the temples and nodding)

*In later talking with this boy's mother, it was reported that he was delivered by forceps.

Interview #5: A 3 ½-year-old girl

Q: What happened when you came out of Mommy's tummy?

A: The man wiped that stuff off of me and wrapped me in a blanket.

*This child's mother reported a later conversation with the child in which the child replied to the same question with the response, "The man cut that thing off me," indicating her belly button.

Interview #10: A 3 ½-year-old boy

Q: What was it like in Mommy's tummy?

A: Things bumped me.

Q: Could you hear anything?

A: It's like fish, gluck, gluck.

Q: That's wonderful, can you tell me anything else about it?

A: They pushed me out.

Q: Who pushed you out?

A: Man (Man?) Yes, Mans.

Q: What happened when you were pushed out?

A: I hurted.

Interview #21: A 3-year-old-girl

Q: What did you do while you were in Mommy's tummy?

A: Nobody, I was all alone.

Q: When you decided to come out of Mommy's tummy, how did you get out?

A: Mommy told the doctor to get me out.

Q: When you came out, what was the first thing you saw?

A: A piece of balloon.

Q: Where was it?

A: It was backwards.*

*My guess - behind her - the amniotic sac

Interview #22 - A 3 ^-year-old-boy*

Q: What was it like in Mommy's tummy?

A: It was like the light was turned down.

Q: What else can you tell me about that?

A: It was like looking for fish. It was kind of hot in there.

Q: How did you get out?

A: Mans pulled me out.

Q: How did that feel?

A: It kind of hurted. I was kind of crying, but I was laughing.

*This child was delivered via cesarean section

Interview #1: A boy just under 3 years old

The results from this interview were felt to be important not so much from the actual narrative as from the child's reaction to the questions. …

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