Prenatal and Perinatal Experiences Have Lifelong Impact: Epigenetics and Attachment Theories Support Rebirthing Principles
Aug 03, 2016 12:30AM
● By Eilis Philpott
Prenatal and perinatal psychology is defined as an interdisciplinary study of the foundations of health in body, mind, emotions, and in enduring response patterns to life. It explores the effects and implications of the earliest experiences of the individual before birth as well as during and immediately after childbirth on the health and abilities of the individual and on their relationships.
Twenty years ago, the training to become a rebirthing practitioner was a nine-month program that covered aspects of birth, birth trauma, decisions we made about life and relationships, and how these issues are playing out and continue to impact our lives today. The modality of rebirthing is a breathing technique where these issues can be accessed and healed on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels.
In 2016, students of human development and other disciplines that support the resolution of trauma, such as cellular biology and neuroscience, are also confirming that a child’s experiences during conception, prenatal life, birth and the perinatal period can affect development. In addition, the epigenetics and attachment theory areas of research have impacted our knowledge in the area of rebirthing.
During the 1990s, funding increased for research in embryology, neurology and other related epigenetic fields. In particular, the Human Genome Project was initiated. The expectation was that through the mapping of genes it would be possible to track disease and support the healing of those diseases. It was believed that humans had more than 100,000 genes. In fact, only 25,000 genes were discovered. The result of this discovery caused research to move in the direction of how environment plays a role in our development and how the environment influences gene expression. This field—known as epigenetics—looks at how the environment and genetics interact. How we are raised does have major implications on our development into adulthood.
The other area is attachment theory. It is now recognized that the bond between the parent/caregiver and the child is vitally important in human development. Attachment patterns start as early as preconception and continue through childhood into adulthood.
Preparing for conception by both the mother and father has been shown to influence the DNA selection for a baby. Both parents can cleanse and heal physically as well as emotionally in preparation of conception. A strong healthy relationship between the parents also sets up the foundation of support for this new life.
Prenatal Communication and Bonding
Life in utero is experiential and these experiences can be affected by the physical as well as emotional environment. When a deep, loving, nurturing bond is formed between the baby and both parents in utero, the child develops a feeling of safety, lovability and is set up to form healthy relationships in life.
Birthing Practices and Recovery
Ideally births with little to no intervention are optimal for both babies and mothers. The body produces hormones which support both through the birth process and in recovery afterwards; however, unresolved issues can hinder those plans and interventions may occur. Birth itself can be very traumatic even with an “uneventful” birth and babies make many unconscious decisions about life and relationships during this process. Allowing the baby to breathe spontaneously before cutting the umbilical cord means that this first breath and the baby’s first experience of life as separate being from its mother is soothing and healing and fosters feelings of safety in this new environment.
Skin-to-Skin and Self-Attachments
Placing the baby on the mother just after birth is very beneficial for the baby on so many levels. Anecdotally and in case reports, there are many examples of times when a baby who died during birth was placed on the mother and seemingly made a miraculous recovery and started breathing.
Breastfeeding, particularly when done exclusively and on demand until six months of age, is optimal for the developing baby. Many health risk factors are reduced and bonding is supported during this process.
Mother as Support, and Healer
It is vitally important that mothers receive as much support as possible in order to be the anchor for the family. Depression, anxiety, illness and any other stressors will cause difficulty and can translate into issues for the baby later on. Mothers often sacrifice for the sake of the family; however, if caring for herself is a priority, it will be reflected in how the baby develops and thereby allowing the whole family to benefit.
With this knowledge, we now know that how we conceive and support our children at all stages—including how we care for ourselves—influences their development and that of future generations. It may not be possible to control every step in the process but, by having the knowledge and doing the best that we can do, we set our children up for the best possible outcome.
Eilis Philpott owns and operates a healing practice in Fairfield. She has been a Rebirthing practitioner for 20 years and offers individual sessions, group sessions and classes. Connect at EilisPhilpott.com.