Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Can you hear me now? ’Belly talk’ popular in US

03.05.2004


Some parents-to-be talk to their unborn child, read stories out loud and play classical music to bond and give the baby a head start on life. This uniquely American pregnancy practice, "belly talk," is the subject of study by a University of Michigan anthropologist.



"It’s one of the ways expectant parents here start to think of their unborn children as persons who are part of their family," said Sallie Han, a researcher with the Alfred P. Sloan Center for the Ethnography of Everyday Life at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR). Communicating with the unborn is common among Americans but rare in other cultures, she said.

Unlike baby talk, forms of which are found in most cultures---often as a simple, high-pitched tone reserved for young children---belly talk usually sounds like regular speech. Sometimes it is spontaneous, but often it is initiated in response to fetal kicks or other movements ("You are busy today.")


Belly talk includes more than just speech, according to Han. It also includes reading and playing music to the unborn child, rubbing, poking or prodding the pregnant belly, and interpreting fetal kicks and other movements as communications from the expected baby. Many parents-to-be give their unborn children names, or at least refer to the baby as "he" or "she" instead of "it."

Expectant dads also seem to regard belly talk as a way to feel an emotional bond with the developing child, according to Han. Belly talk allows men to participate more actively in the pregnancy experience and helps bridge the distance that expectant fathers often feel from the unborn child, she said.

As part of her doctoral dissertation examining the beliefs, expectations and experiences of first-time mothers, Han has been conducting in-depth ethnographic fieldwork with 15 middle-class Midwestern pregnant women and many of their partners, interviewing them repeatedly to document their monthly progress.

In addition, she has conducted participant-observation and informal interviews with pregnant women and couples attending four different childbirth preparation courses, prenatal yoga and pregnancy massage classes, a hospital-sponsored birth fair, and other community events and settings.

She has talked with pregnant women while they are shopping and observed at more than 100 appointments with women receiving prenatal care, more than 50 ultrasound appointments, and at genetic counseling sessions. Her goal: to learn how pregnant women in the United States actively create an emerging sense of kinship with their unborn child, through everyday activities like eating, exercise, prenatal care, shopping and belly talk.

"These are practices that we take for granted as natural and ordinary. I hope my research can open our eyes to the fact that these practices, as well as the beliefs and values that they reflect, actually are remarkably complicated products, or constructions of our culture and society," Han said.

Besides bonding with the expected baby, Han found that belly talk sometimes has another function. In some ways, it serves as an extension of the peculiarly American emphasis on giving children the best possible start in life, beginning even before they are born.

"By reading to their unborn children and playing music for them, some parents feel they may be contributing to their child’s eventual success in life," she said. "There’s a lot of interest in what some child development researchers call ’prenatal education.’ But most of the parents I interviewed were also very concerned about pushing their children too hard."

Han, who recently gave birth to her only child, engaged in belly talk herself while studying it in others. "As you’re sitting there with a big belly, it’s hard to believe that a baby is really inside. You know this is the case, you feel movement, and you see the baby’s image on ultrasounds, but still, it seems implausible. Talking to the baby helps to make it real."


Established in 1948, the Institute for Social Research (ISR) is among the world’s oldest survey research organizations, and a world leader in the development and application of social science methodology. ISR conducts some of the most widely-cited studies in the nation, including the Survey of Consumer Attitudes, the National Election Studies, the Monitoring the Future Study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Health and Retirement Study, the Columbia County Longitudinal Study and the National Survey of Black Americans. ISR researchers also collaborate with social scientists in more than 60 nations on the World Values Surveys and other projects, and the Institute has established formal ties with universities in Poland, China, and South Africa. Visit the ISR Web site at www.isr.umich.edu for more information. ISR is also home to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the world’s largest computerized social science data archive.

Diane Swanbrow | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.isr.umich.edu
http://ceel.psc.isr.umich.edu/
http://pregnancyproject.tripod.com/

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>