In the Indian tradition, an expectant mother is kept away from anxiety and not exposed to any kind of violent scenes because it is believed that what the mother sees and hears can impact the baby. In fact, we have the concept of ‘Garv Sanskar' in which some mantras are chanted so that the baby in the womb may imbibe these values. That brings us to the question at hand; do babies have memories from the womb?
There is evidence that babies do have memories from the womb. Or else how does a baby recognise its mother? And how is it that they are soothed by the sound of the mother's voice. The first evidence of the fact that a baby can retain memories from the womb came when it was found that babies can recognise the opening sequence of their mother's favourite soap opera.
A recent study in Finland suggested that baby can retain the memory of specific words from the womb. A group of expectant mothers were exposed to the syllables ‘tatata' at least 25,000 times during the day. This was done starting from the 29th week of pregnancy when the brain starts developing to the time of delivery. After birth, the babies recorded brain activity when they were exposed to the nonsense sequence of syllables ‘tatata'.
Sometimes, babies also recognise the sound of their mother's voice. Babies in the womb hear everything and there is no telling which part of this they will retain as prenatal memory. However, it has been proven that the baby in the womb is most perceptive of music and the sound of their mother's voice.
That is why; expectant mothers are encouraged to talk to the baby in their womb. And when you talk to your baby, the baby starts forming a relationship with the mother from the womb itself. In fact, even the father-to-be should talk to the baby so that the newborn starts to build a bond with the father as well.
It is only a miracle of nature that a foetus's brain, which is still in the developmental stage, can retain memories. This nascent field of science is still open to a lot more research.