Darrow Miller and Friends

A Mother’s Womb: Where the Lamp of the Soul is Lit

The womb is the first classroom of the child.

“Those lullabies you’re singing to your growing tummy? Your child just may recognize the tune after birth,” so writes Cortney O’Brien in her September 2, 2013 published article Amazing: New Study Shows Babies Can Remember Words from the Womb.

The bond between a mother and a child begins in the womb and continues at the breast. Before the creation of the universe, there was intimate community in the persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At the creation, God formed intimate community at the human level and one of the places this can be seen is the mother –child relationship, even before her baby is born.

Babies in the womb learn language and hear music from the external environment.

New studies reveal that babies in the womb hear their mother’s voice, learn language, and hear music and other sounds from the external environment.

Baby in the womb can learnA baby’s ears begin to form around eight weeks. They begin to hear sounds at about the fifth month. By the time the baby is seven months old in the womb her ears are fully functioning. Writing for WebMD, Denise Mann states that: “Newborns can actually tell the difference between their mother’s native tongue and foreign languages just hours after they are born.”

April Sanders, writing for Modern Mom, states “Babies react to the sounds they hear in the womb. … They jerk when they are startled by a loud noise, and research shows they recognize their mother’s voice even in utero, according to “Psychology Today.” In fact, your baby’s heart rate actually slows down when she hears your voice, which means she is already soothed by your particular tone — even before she is born.”

Janet Hobson, writing on the theme of fetal psychology for Psychology Today,  says: As if overturning the common conception of infancy weren’t enough, scientists are creating a startling new picture of intelligent life in the womb. Among the revelations:

  • By nine weeks, a developing fetus can hiccup and react to loud noises. By the end of the second trimester it can hear.
  • Just as adults do, the fetus experiences the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep of dreams.
  • The fetus savors its mother’s meals, first picking up the food tastes of a culture in the womb.
  • Among other mental feats, the fetus can distinguish between the voice of Mom and that of a stranger, and respond to a familiar story read to it.
  • Even a premature baby is aware, feels, responds, and adapts to its environment.

“The mother has first dibs on influencing the child’s brain …”

Dr. Patricia K. Kuhl from the University of Washington writes: “The main message for new moms is that their babies are listening and learning and remembering during the last stages of pregnancy. Their brains do not wait for birth to start absorbing information.”  Dr Kuhl continues:  “The mother has first dibs on influencing the child’s brain…. The vowel sounds in her speech are the loudest units and the fetus locks onto them.”

Modern science is beginning to plumb the depth of the importance of a mother and her ability to shape her child even before it is born.

The science might be new, but Lydia Sigourney would not have been surprised.  Writing 175 years ago from a distinctly Judeo-Christian framework, she speaks of the mother’s glorious role of lighting the lamp of the soul. Sigourney writes:

Is it not important that the sex to whom Nature has intrusted the moulding of the whole mass of mind in its first formation, should be acquainted with the structure and development of the mind? – that they who are to nurture the future rulers of a prosperous people, should be able to demonstrate from the broad annals of history, the value of just laws, and the duty of subordination – the blessings which they inherit, and the danger of their abuse? Is it not requisite, that they on whose bosom the infant heart must be cherished should be vigilant to watch the earliest pulsations of good and evil? – that they who are commissioned to light the lamp of the soul, should know how to feed it with pure oil? – that they in whose hand is the welfare of beings never to die, should be fitted to perform the work, and earn the plaudits of heaven?

a mother's nurturing begins in the womb and carries on from thereSexists and feminists both deny the absolute unique place and intrinsic value of the mother. The woman, more than the man, has been entrusted with the forming of her child’s character and understanding. She is after all, not simply manipulating and molding physical things. She is not building monuments in space. The mother is shaping monuments in eternity.  The mother, consciously or subconsciously, for good or ill, is impacting the soul of her child. She is shaping the future leaders of the church, community, and nation.

May she have a conscious vision and the will to do it well.

And may the society in which she applies this fundamental leadership  recognize her with the praise she deserves.

–          Darrow Miller

This post is the fourth in a series on maternal feminism.


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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).