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'Fetal education' can induce labor

By Cai Wenjun   (Shanghai Daily)

09:57, December 11, 2012

(File Photo)

The popular practice of "fetal education'' by stimulating the fetus in the womb can be dangerous if done improperly or not done very gently, local doctors warned yesterday.

A local woman who was seven months pregnant was rushed to a hospital on Sunday with severe stomach pain after patting and pressing her belly in an attempt to teach and play with her baby.

The pregnant woman was sent to Shanghai No. 411 Hospital of the People's Liberation Army, where doctors said she was in danger of premature labor upon arrival.

Doctors treated her with medication and the pregnant woman was stabilized and discharged. She was warned to get enough rest and not to stimulate her belly anymore, hospital officials said yesterday.

It was not the first time the hospital has seen pregnant women in danger of premature labor or with fetal injury due to improper "fetal education," said Dr Dai Liangtu, director of the department of obstetrics.

"Fetal education" is based on the belief that early art exposure and exercise are beneficial for fetal growth.

"Gently patting the stomach is considered a good interaction between parents and the fetus, and most local pregnant women have used such methods for fetal education," Dai said. "But women in late pregnancy and those with a history of miscarriage must become better informed. Too frequent or too 'violent' pressing of the belly can simulate the womb, causing false labor and even premature labor."

He said pregnant women must carefully gauge the strength and duration of patting and stop it immediately if the fetus starts to move a lot.

Music is also considered useful for "fetal education," but doctors warned that improper methods could be harmful.

"The machine can't be put directly on the stomach and the volume can't be too loud, or the music could hurt the baby's hearing. Music must be light, gentle and soothing," Dai said.

"The mood and physical condition of mother-to-be is more important," he said.

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