A class at Mount Zion United Methodist Church will give parents a head start on communicating with their child.
"Lovenotes: Music for the Unborn" teaches parents how to use music and their voices to make their unborn child feel love and reassurance.
Research shows that children in utero can hear sounds from the outside world starting during the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy.
"The idea is to bond with the baby prior to birth, especially the father, because the baby hears the mother all the time," said Marcy Mittelstadt, director of music ministries at the church.
The class will run for four weeks starting in early August.
Mittelstadt once worked with Lorna Zemke, a professor of music at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, Wisc., who created the course in the mid-1980s based on research about the lives of unborn children.
Mittelstadt introduced the course in the Lake Norman area in 2010. She doesn't know of anyone else in the area offering "Music for the Unborn."
The class involves parents singing and listening to classical music.
Parents gauge how the baby reacts to the sounds.
"It's all to stimulate the baby pre-birth," Mittelstadt said.
Parents - especially fathers - have to be "open" to the class, which can involve playing a xylophone that's perched on the mother's belly or singing to the in-utero child.
"The husband has to be very open and not be embarrassed about anything," she said.
Mittelstadt's classes have a spiritual element, and she also teaches the parents ways to relax and stay calm - techniques that can be helpful during labor and delivery and in handling a newborn. Some parents play the CD from the class to their babies after they are born.
Each class begins at 6:30 p.m. and lasts 45 minutes. Classes will be Aug. 10, 17, 24 and 31 at Mount Zion United Methodist, 19600 Zion Ave., Cornelius.
Register at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-892-8566.