pregnant-woman1So it turns out that all that book reading, rapping and grown woman conversation I had with my pregnant belly while Mari and Lila were percolating made it easier for my daughters to understand the words coming out of my mouth when they were wee-bits. New research in Helsinki’s Proceedings Of the National Academy of Scientists reveals that pregnant women who talk, read and coo to their bellies give birth to babies who actually recognize sounds and words.

Working with 33 moms-to-be, scientists in Finland had 17 women listen to a loud recording of two, four-minute sequences of made-up words—“tatata” or “tatota,” said several different ways and with different pitches, from their 29th week of pregnancy to birth. The moms-to-be and their babies heard those made-up words between about 50 to 70 times. Here’s what noted about the study:

Following birth, the researchers tested the all 33 babies for normal hearing and then performed an EEG (electroencephalograph) brain scan to see if the newborns responded differently to the made-up words and different pitches.

Babies who listened to the CD in utero recognized the made-up words and noticed the pitch changes, which the infants who did not hear the CD did not, the researchers found.

The study concludes that in-utero babies can learn and remember just as well as a newborn.

Of course, it’s the stuff of legend that babies who get talked to in-utero can recognize the sounds of their mom’s voice after they’re born. But it’s something wholly different to know that my serial readings of Ezra Jack Keats’ “A Snowy Day,” Vera B. Williams’ “More, More, More, Said the Baby” and the lyrics to the album jacket of Stevie Wonder’s “Songs In the Key Of Life,” were actually understood by the girlpies. So, too, were all those coos about how beautiful and smart they are and how proud I am to be their Mommy. I love knowing that they knew that for sure, even before I kissed their sweet faces.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

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