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What Should a Preemie Listen to in Neonatal Intensive Care?

05 Mar

Dear Belleruth,

My daughter and son-in-law gave birth to a beautiful baby boy who was conceived in vitro.  He was born at 25 weeks gestation, weighing 1 lb 9oz, measuring 13" long.

He will be in Neonatal Intensive Care for some months.  I would love a CD to play for him.  Although things look good, his little lungs are not yet developed so breathing is difficult. His heart is not fully developed and has a hole.  

He can't be held or removed from the incubator.  He can't be touched except for brief periods.  

Do you have a CD that could be played for him, his mother and father and grandparents?

Thank you.  A friend who died of cancer introduced me to your wonderful CD's when I was having trouble sleeping, I never heard the whole CD as I fell asleep every time I played it : )

Ludmila

Dear Ludmila,

I don’t know enough about the nervous system of this baby, at such a delicate age, to make a solid recommendation for you but I would think that any recording of relaxing, soothing, pleasing music – nothing too stimulating, strident or jarring, of course -  but something that provides a calming, reassuring experience for the baby and the parents or grandparents as well, would be a lovely idea.  

I’d probably start with Steve Kohn’s Meditative Reflections – it’s soothing, calming and uplifting, but in a very gentle, melodic way.  And I’d have some other recordings to alternate with this one (…because, who knows? Maybe even a teeny weeny preemie gets sick of the same music, over and over again!).  I’m thinking that good alternates might be Steve’s Music for Meditation or the Dreamwaves track from Inward Journey.

Another thought that could be beneficial to this baby: we know that he was used to hearing his mother’s voice (in a muffled, waterlogged kind of a way) from inside the womb, as well as the swooshing heartbeat sounds that resonate in utero – we’ve all heard them at the doc’s office and there are surely recordings that can be easily accessed.  These sounds could harken back to happier, safer, warmer times.

What if your daughter were to record sweet, loving messages for him, in her own voice, and you had a studio engineer loop and mix them with the internal swooshing sounds of the heartbeat?  Seems to me, that could have serious potential for making that baby happy. 

And it would be a nice way for your daughter to be able to do something proactively caring and beneficial for her baby, at a time when she’s no doubt feeling quite helpless and like she’s just sitting on her hands.  Hmmm.  I like this.  

Again, I’m totally winging it here.  This is not based on any superior understanding of what auditory input a preemie’s underdeveloped nervous system could use. And if anyone has some better ideas, I totally welcome them.  But I have to say, I’m warming to this mother’s voice/heartbeat idea.

And I don’t know where you stand with regard to energy healing, distant healing or just old fashioned prayer, but if this were my grandson, I’d probably want to marshal the troops and get all manner of friends and family to send good wishes, positive energy, prayers or distant healing sent his way.  

I’d want to have big, fat email chains of well-wishers, energy zappers and random baby-lovers attending to him and sending love to him in whatever way they like to do that – using his name.  I’d tell the Reiki and Qigong practitioners, the Healing Touch people and the Therapeutic Touch masters to turn whatever good stuff they’ve got loose on this boy.  Why not?  Good wishes sent with the right focus and intention surely can’t hurt and could help.  And at the very least, such an assignment could make the sender feel less helpless and more useful.  

So those are my thoughts, Ludmila.  I wish you and your whole family the very best with all of this.

Belleruth

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award and was released in paperback January of 2006.