I remember that I became an aunt for the third time exactly a year ago, and I found it just as exciting and special as it was first time around. I couldn’t help but marvel at the perfection of my little niece’s tiny body and limbs – and of the process that had created her. For nine months she was growing in the perfect environment at the perfect temperature with just the right amount of light and shade. Everything she needed to become a perfect human being. When you think about it, you can understand why babies scream as soon as they’re born. What a shock to leave such a comfortable and familiar environment, what an assault on the senses!

Of course, there are also times that the baby will be affected by some of the goings on outside that warm, safe place. A physical shock (such as the mother falling or experiencing significant pain) or high levels of anxiety will disturb that calm and comfortable interior. While it is impossible to avoid everyday stress and worry (as life, sadly, doesn’t always turn out as we might hope) research has shown that high levels of stress can adversely affect the developing foetus, causing behavioural and developmental problems. A study conducted a couple of years ago found that babies whose mothers had experienced significant stress in pregnancy (such as a bereavement or severe relationship problems) had on average a 10 point lower IQ than those without.