Thesis Title

Meeting the Unborn: A Phenomenological Inquiry into Prenatal and Birth Experience

Graduation Date

Fall 1996

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


A phenomenological study exploring the experiences of uterine life and birth was undertaken. By means of extensive personal interviews and self-created visual images, four subjects reported their conscious recall of uterine life and birth The results indicated the following common experiences: consciousness during uterine life and birth; awareness of the mother's feelings about being pregnant and her feelings generally; feelings about being bom; feelings of being crashed and afraid during birth; experience of birth as a life- or-death struggle; and experiences in the womb and at birth as beginning lifelong patterns of behavior and of viewing other people and the world. The findings support prior literature regarding the validity of birth memories; cognition, memory and emotional states in the womb; correlation between prenatal and birth experiences and later life experiences; and effect of disruption in maternal-infant bonding.