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photo The Secret Life of Babies
By Bernard George

Thirty years ago the conventional wisdom was that the fetus in the womb could not hear. Today scientists have shown that by the seventh month of pregnancy, all five of the fetus's senses are working and that the baby may actually remember and learn from prenatal experiences.

The Secret Life of Babies, a two-part documentary, explores the extent of the baby's vast world of perceptions, from intrauterine life (Part 1) to the first months following birth (Part 2). How does the baby perceive its world and ours? What are its capacities for learning and memorizing? Do babies respond to the voices of their mothers and other external stimuli? What happens when the baby leaves the intrauterine environment of amniotic fluid, where all its needs were satisfied almost instantly, and enters the world of air and gravity?

Filmed in France, Canada and the U.S., the documentary features remarkable intrauterine footage showing the fetus's response to external stimuli, evoking a sense of awe at the wondrous experience of childbirth. Through interviews with some of the world's leading cognitive and developmental psychologists, doctors, and scientists—including Dr. Anthony DeCasper (University of North Carolina, Greensboro), a specialist in the early development of human perception, Dr. Robert Lickliter (Florida International University), co-Director of the Infant Development Research Center, Dr. Linka Polka (McGill University), Director of McGill's inter-disciplinary doctoral program in language acquisition, and others—this film reveals what we know today about the baby's experiences before and after birth, in particular how it organizes its perceptions and how this relates to fundamental and lifelong questions of memory, language and learning.

The Secret Life of Babies shows that, although all the brain's neurons are present when the baby is born, the process of connecting them, and of acquiring and organizing information, continues well into the teenage years. Indeed, the brain's processing of experience is a lifelong activity, and, in that sense, being alive is being perpetually born.

86 minutes
© 2005
Purchase $398.00 DVD
Order No. QA-527

Reviews
"Enlightening...A thought-provoking, frequently illuminating analysis of a cutting-edge topic of both academic and general interest, this is highly recommended."—Video Librarian

"With a great deal of sensitivity and concrete examples, the film reveals the state of contemporary research. It attempts to understand how, and with what knowledge and capacities, humans are born. This documentary has the grand merit of posing questions that any parent, or anyone observing a newborn, would eventually ask."—L'Humanité

"Beautiful and well done, the material is intrinsically interesting, and there are some wonderful ultrasound views of the fetus and videos taken through a fetoscope."—Science Books & Films

"Fascinating... parents, medical professionals, and students involved in neo-natal care will benefit greatly from seeing this documentary."—Leonardo On-Line Reviews

Awards & Conference Screenings
2007 American Psychological Association Convention

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A Doula Story: Community-based doulas (birth attendants) provide prenatal, childbirth and parenting support, and are a reassuring presence before, during and after birth. This program documents one woman's fierce commitment to empower pregnant teenagers with the skills and knowledge they need to become confident, nurturing mothers.

Bundle of Blues: The stories in this thoughtful documentary represent a range of experiences from minor postpartum depression through postpartum psychosis. It stresses that PPD can happen to any new mother, but that it can be managed.

New Relations: The filmmaker explores the costs and rewards of becoming a full-time father; with his own father, he reflects on changes in fathering styles between the two generations.


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