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 Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>