Recap for Blog 38 – Go ahead, touch your tummy! : Zani and Jake discover that the innate ability to learn has a neural development basis and if that basis is faulty, learning does not take place. What is more, behind this basis lies a series of primitive reflexes …
The previous time we discussed the way the 5 to 7-week-old embryo has started developing by sensitising the skin to jumpstart the central nervous system and brain into action. This process was needed for survival and is a fundamental building block in the entire wiring process of the baby's brain. Remember, the withdrawal reflex is not a primitive reflex because it doesn’t run till the baby is born. The withdrawal reflex only has a short lifespan and should go to rest in utero so the next reflex can wire its pathways. This week we will look at the next neuro developmental milestone as triggered by the Moro reflex. Let us just briefly look at the embryo’s development at this stage: It has a head with a huge brain that reaches down the spinal cord, with nerves attached to the senses and muscles; it has a heart, a neck, arms and legs with fingers and toes; there is a face with ears, eyes, a nose and a mouth, and the inner ear is housing the balance apparatus and the control centre for muscle movement. It is the function of the Moro reflex to startle the baby. Remember, the baby knows how to move backwards for survival reasons, but during the wiring process of the withdrawal reflex, the baby didn’t yet have arms, legs, fingers and toes, a face, all the senses and a strong heart, balance apparatus and the rest, yet! Now that all of these things have grown, they need to learn to work together too. So when a pregnant woman moves, her baby gets a fright. It is a good ‘fright’ because it creates sparks between all the different parts of the brain and body to fuse them together. Once they have all fused together a baby can develop all sorts of even more complicated pathways and wiring, to later be able to smell and taste and hear and see and roll and sit and crawl and stand and walk and talk and even later, to stop.
Jake pauses the recording and goes to fetch pen and paper so he can draw what the specialist has just described.
9 - 12 Weeks after conception the Moro reflex sparks the survival brain into more action, just like good stress sparks you into action at work to deliver your best in a limited timeframe. What is very important is contact between the pregnant mom and her developing baby. When she touches her tummy, she calms the little one down and counteracts the effects of the stress, which is arms and legs flung open wide, open mouth, open eyes and ears scanning 360˚, hypersensitivity to smells and taste, a galloping heart and shallow breathing. Please note that at this stage of the baby’s development the stress and de-stress process is very important. It is the second most important building block in the baby’s ability to learn in school later. Please do not move less! Keep moving moms – your babies benefit from the movement in triggering the Moro reflex and from the increased oxygen levels in your bloodstream. Thought for the day: movement builds pathways and repetition makes them stronger. Note the way nature enables the baby to detect anything that is perceived to be a threat and respond to it by drawing attention through crying and agitated movements. That is why it is important to comfort your babies without fear of spoiling your baby. What would happen if a Moro reflex did not go to rest after about two to four months in life? A baby, and later a child, may battle with allergies, cry easily, be uncoordinated, be fearful, have poor concentration and an inability to sit still for long enough to develop their fine motor control skills and perform at school.
I am so glad we got these recordings. I know that I’ll definitely have to listen to them more than once to fully understand everything, but one thing is for sure – my baby will not grow up with a lack of movement, or touching!