03 December 2017: APPPAH Post Congress Workshop, San Diego, CA

03 December 2017:  APPPAH Post Congress Workshop, San Diego, CA

Learning Objectives to 4-hour workshop: 

1. Summarize the impact of surgical and chemical interventions at birth on thenewborn’s autonomic nervous system and attachment process.
2. Observe effective healing strategies, utilizing video clips with babies and families.
3. Describe and practice relational and biodynamic craniosacral approaches useful for working with babies and families in experiential exercises in the workshop.

March 2018: Resolving Early Developmental Trauma - New Zealand

March 6-9, 2018
Fairfield House - 48 Van Diemen St, Nelson

Conception and Birth: Creating a Primal Template for our Life


This course is highly experiential and will provide an opportunity to experience the impulses and sequences that are established during conception, implantation and birth that form a template of our lives, physiologically, emotionally and mentally.

An overview of possible attachment styles and the resulting brain, nervous system and behavioural patterns will be delineated. Cranial and relational processes with adults and families with mobile children will be discussed and demonstrated through exercises and video.

- Experiencing the impulses that are associated with conception, implantation, and birth to assist with understanding how future behaviour can be impacted. How to work cranially with these impulses when they have been thwarted, and facilitate resolution and assimilation into healthy patterns of behaviour.

- Birth sequencing and its impact on our behaviour through our lives; how birth sequences in behaviour can be identified and modulated in the cranial space.

- Overview of Attachment styles with particular reference to toddler behaviour that may be encountered in your clinical sessions, and practical skills to incorporate into your work with these children.

- The role of the Amygdala, Insula, Cingulate Gyrus, and Prefrontal Cortex in emotional developmental patterning.

- This seminar will incorporate learning that will enhance participants skills to work in the biodynamic space where a hands on approach may well be limited with, for example, mobile children. Equally these skills are applicable to the “child” in each of your adult clients working with unresolved early developmental trauma in their adult lives. We will work with participants approach to the languaging and titration of treatment with their clients to ensure both the safety and empowerment of clients in accessing and processing historic emotional patterning into a greater expression of health.

14-17 June 2018: Advanced Cranial and Relational Skills w Babies and Families

Advanced Cranial and Relational Skills with
Babies and Families

In this modern world, a very high percentage of births involve drug and surgical interventions: inductions, epidurals, vacuum extraction, ceasarean sections.

These interventions tend to lead to difficulties in breastfeeding, because of impacts on the occipital base and the cranial nerves. BCST is a very effective treatment for these difficulties, as well as relational issues in the attachment process, which is also interrupted with these interventions.

Myrna has worked extensively with babies and their families, co creating resolution.

This class delivers in depth approaches for babies and families, which can change for the better, lifelong health.

With Myrna Martin
Friday thru Monday, 9:30am - 5:30pm
Another Space Studios
Vancouver, British Columbia

Book Review: Birth and Attachment

by Susan Pulvermacher, RMT RCST

I have been giving a complimentary copy of Myrna Martin’s booklet ‘Birth And Attachment’ to my clients who have babies ever since I first discovered it.  

The caveat is that after they are done with it, to please pass it on to someone that they think may find it useful or return it to me so I can give it to another family.   This book is small and therefore readable by busy parents and in my estimation contains the essentials about attachment.

As Myrna says, it’s a guidebook for ‘Co-creating secure attachment’, and she does that by being concise but complete. I like knowing that attachment parenting is not just some fad or someone’s opinion-there’s research that supports attachment for healthy development of the child.  Knowing it supports their child’s ability to regulate their emotions, cope with stress and form healthy relationships is important, but to understand that it also affects their ability to learn and affects the health of their body through regulating the heart, neuroendocrine and immune systems – this gives parents even more concrete reasons to learn about and practice this thing we call attachment.

Myrna talks about when attachment begins, and how it develops, specific to each developmental stage of the child from preconception to 18 months of age.  Importantly, for parents/caregivers, she includes an extensive list of tips that support secure attachment, which begins with Slow the Pace and includes Baby’s Body Language, Eye Contact, Touch, Motion, Watching for and Respecting Activation and Settling Cycles, Recognizing when babies and children are relating to their History, and lastly Recognizing when Parents and Infants or Preschoolers Need More Support.

Although this book is directed towards the new family, it contains information that benefits families of all ages and speaks to healing and optimizing attachment patterns, enriching the lives of all family members.

Study Review: A Randomized Controlled Study of Neurofeedback for Chronic PTSD

A recent study led by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. is the first randomized clinical trial on neurofeedback with a specific focus on chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD. Bessel van der Kolk is a world-renowned trauma researcher who has devoted his career to a search for effective treatment for this population. He has researched Prozac, EMDR, and yoga and discusses all of these, as well as neurofeedback, in his New York Times Science Best Seller, The Body Keeps the Score.

In the randomized clinical trial of neurofeedback that he led in 2016, he demonstrates a 40% increase in executive function after 24 sessions of neurofeedback, which translates to increased capacity to modulate emotions, better cognitive function, and better judgment. All of these results have profound implications for the treatment-resistant trauma population and, given its size and the interwoven role that trauma plays in public policy, for society at large.

The team at van der Kolk’s Trauma Center in Brookline, MA focused on those who were suffering chronic PTSD, excluding those with histories of brain injury and substance abuse, to explore both the impact of the treatment and the cost of implementing it.

The study states that: “The equipment does cost less than $10,000 USD. If further research confirms the results from our study, neurofeedback has the potential of becoming widely available in community settings since it can be economically administered by well-trained technicians in small offices and clinics.”

In her book, Neurofeedback in the Treatment of Developmental Trauma, Sebern Fisher supports this claim, concluding that neurofeedback is an ideal therapeutic modality for therapists to use in their private practices as well as in schools, prisons, halfway houses, and shelters. Mental health practitioners can learn how to implement neurofeedback, typically in a four day intensive, which they follow-up with mentoring. The regulatory benefits to the brain allow the patient to begin the heavy lifting of other therapeutic modalities, or as is the case for many children, not to require them at all.

van der Kolk’s study fills a vital research niche. These are “the untreatable patients”, meaning those who receive only limited benefit from the treatments more widely available today.

They fill our shelters, our hospitals and our prisons. Neurofeedback practitioners and patients who have experienced its benefits have been clamoring for a randomized clinical trial (the holy grail for proof of effectiveness for a treatment modality) that would stand up to the detractors of neurofeedback and to the dominant paradigm of psychopharmacology.
In its section titled “Future Directions”, the van der Kolk study points out that:
“Clarifying to what degree NF induced psychological changes are correlated with specific changes in neural activity will be a complex scientific challenge akin to correlating the clinical effects of various psychiatric medications with specific neurochemical changes in the brain.”
The study again places its seminal findings within the larger narrative of mental health research:
“In an emerging new framework mental disorders are considered to be driven, at least in part, by abnormalities in underlying neural circuits [55]. A concerted effort is currently underway to map these networks, the so-called ‘human connectome project’ [56,57].”

There was a second groundbreaking neurofeedback study published in 2016. This one was led by Ruth Lanius, M.D., PhD, and in it she shows that the brains of people who have endured these histories profile differently than the brains of people who have not. Their amygdalas (the fear center of the brain) are hyper-connected to threat detection centers in the lower regions of the brain. These patients who present with dissociation are wired for threat and therefore they see threat where a healthy person would not. In the Lanius study, one session of neurofeedback showed changes in connectivity in 80% of subjects. Their amygdalas now showed beginning connectivity to the pre-frontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is "command central" in healthy people.

 Both the van der Kolk and Lanius studies are landmarks in the field of trauma.

Put simply: the van der Kolk study shows that neurofeedback works for trauma patients where other treatments have failed and the Lanius study shows how neurofeedback makes changes in the traumatized brain. These studies may well change the way we understand the impacts of early childhood trauma and how to treat them.
For a deeper understanding of how neurofeedback and psychotherapy are integrated to treat abuse and neglect, take a look at Sebern Fisher’s book, Neurofeedback in the Treatment of Developmental Trauma and visit: www.sebernfisher.com to see vetted books written by other leading experts in this specific subset of the trauma research field.

(STUDY DETAILS: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0166752#pone.0166752.ref056

Neurofeedback works: Van der Kolk

POSTED on  www.attachmentdisorderhealing.com

van der kolk


Psychiatrist and trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk, MD, posted a webinar on neurofeedback August 9 which knocked me out. It changes the whole map on trauma healing. It may come down soon; please check it asap: http://neurofeedback2015.kajabi.com/fe/79711-rewiring-the-brain-free-ce-seminar.

[Or try this link to a 5 min intro. His  72-min seminar is below at “Click Here to Begin Your Free One Hour CE Seminar”http://neurofeedback2015.kajabi.com/fe/80095-support-neurofeedback-research-2015]
Please forward this your lists of therapists, colleagues, anyone interested in healing. Dr. Van der Kolk has promoted EMDR, yoga, and body work for decades. Now folks with early trauma can check out neurofeedback.

I’ve so far done 10 months of neurofeedback and the healing is enormous. But it’s not known enough or funded. Getting word out could stop suffering.
At minute 20, Van der Kolk shows graphics on how Sebern Fisher introduced him to neurofeedback. “She showed me drawings that traumatized kids did of their families (stick figures), then how they developed after 20 weeks of neurofeedback (real people), after 40 weeks (an attached group), and I was blown away by their development,” he says.
“There’s nothing I know that can do that,” he says. “When you see something like that, you pay attention. Can my psychoanalysis do that?  Can my acceptance and commitment therapy do that?  Can my friends who do EMDR or Somatic Experiencing do that? No. Nothing I know of can do THAT. Time to learn new things.”

My earlier blog on neurofeedback with links to Sebern Fisher interviews and locator pages to find a practitioner are here: http://attachmentdisorderhealing.com/neurofeedback/
I got a shock as Van der Kolk described “ways of being” which I have in spades, but never knew are symptoms of brain disorganization. Here’s what Van der Kolk said that knocked me for a loop:
“Our brain is shaped by human interactions, by the way that people respond to us, to rhythms, voices, touch, sounds, how we make music together.  We are rhythmic machines; I talk to you and move my hands, my face, and I image you responding in kind."

“But if you talk to your partner and they freeze their face, your mind goes blank — because we need feedback… If the world does not respond to you, if people do not smile at you, if as a little kid  when you come home people say, “Oh, you again”?  You miss the experience of being in tune with people. It goes to the very core of our central nervous system.”

At this point (6 minutes in) I had to lay down on the floor and sob for 10 minutes. It totaled me.  I had no attunement experiences until I was 4  1/2 and my sister was born. No responses, no rhythm.
“If you have many attunement experiences,” he says, ” when you get scared, someone’s there so the feeling gets repaired; someone gets mad but soon they repair it, then you get a sense of flow with other people. You know we can do things together, we can work things out. You know I can have a voice because my voice has an impact on you. You can have a voice because your voice has an impact on me.”

Again I was sobbing. What is he talking about?  Have a voice, what’s that?  I never had an impact. Work things out?  Unheard of.  I’m terrified at mis-attunement. I have no experience that what I feel matters.

In abuse or neglect, he says, “these neural rhythms get broken. The most important parts of the brain to grow in first years of life get you in tune with people, tell you what to be scared of, when to feel safe, how to connect, how to be in synch.”  I was never in synch.
At minute 15:30  he shows astonishing brain scans. He says they show that when normal people hear a strange sound (“eeek”), they need to figure out what it means, “so all the different parts of the brain synchronize to focus on that. They’ve developed an N-200 filtering wave that says ‘ignore your phone, your hunger… just pay attention to this sound.’

“But traumatized people have enormous problems filtering out irrelevant information. They are hyper-stimulated by sounds, sights, images, body sensation, have a terrible time filtering them out. As you see here, traumatized people have very different wave forms. Different parts of the brain are not in synch… which explains why they have such a hard time learning from new experiences… taking new information into the brain, paying attention, taking in life as it comes, learning from it.”
That’s me. I’m hyper-stimulated by sounds, sights, images, body sensation. Half the time I can’t filter them out.  This last point really concerns me.  I had no idea that most people can filter out these things.

I just called my neurofeedback therapist and told him that I need a lot more help. “I’m afraid both of us under-estimate how disorganized my brain is,” I said. “You may want to try other areas of my brain for your sensors and/or other procedures” during neurofeedback.

Thank Heaven for neurofeedback and fighters like Dr. van der Kolk.

Pre and Perinatal Education: Level 1, Summer Residential Intensive

Set in idyllic British Columbia, spend two weeks immersing yourself in learning how to facilitate healing fro early developmental trauma while sojourning in nature's paradise. 

Each Summer Intensive runs Monday - Friday for Two Weeks

You are free to spend your weekend exploring the beauty and pleasures of Nelson or quietly integrate the study material.

This educational retreat, in the pristine mountains of the Nelson area, offers the lake and gardens to hike, bike, kayak and enjoy other various water sports. The community is alive with vibrant arts and music to enjoy as well.

Module Six: Couples, From an Attachment Perspective

This Module delineates the dynamics of couples interaction and suggests effective tools for working with these issues.I am very excited about this module, as couple relationship and parenting is where, as adults, our own early attachment and adverse experiences most REVEAL themselves.  It can also be a place where resiliency shines.

About Module Five: Ancestral Double Binds

About Module Five: Ancestral Double Binds

In this module, we will explore ancestral influences on individuation/connection, and merging dynamics (in pre and perinatal work we call this 'twin dynamics')...An extensive home project will be suggested for everyone. Treatment models will be explored.

As the twin and multiple birth rate is continuing to increase this module also looks at twin pregnancy, the impact of losing a twin during pregnancy, and growing up as a twin.  I will delineate the difference between identical and fraternal twins, and because more twins mean more breech positions for babies about to be born we will also look briefly at breech birth.

About Module Four: Chemical and Surgical Imprinting During Birth

About Module Four: Chemical and Surgical Imprinting During Birth

This module marks a big transition in this video series.   In Module One I included the Maternal Matrix, which outlines what we optimally would have received in an embodied way by the time we were three years old...Chemical and surgical interventions, or the presence of them in our early life strongly and effectively take us out of our bodies and beings.  We will delve into the signature patterns of these interventions (in module 4) in our autonomic nervous systems.

About Module Two: Preconception and Conception Journey

About Module Two: Preconception and Conception Journey

This module starts with an exploration of our inner and outer resources.  When we begin to reveal to ourselves all that babies and young children need and deserve to optimally grow and be themselves, it may bring up some of the experiences of what we didn’t get and wanted.  

Resources and regulation is important so we are not overwhelmed.  Just acknowledging what actually happened to us helps us to consciously repattern and make different choices….as we are soooooo much more than what happened to us.  


Three Hearts: The Neurobiology of Love in the Childbearing Year

  Article for Pathways

Three Hearts: The Neurobiology of Love in the Childbearing Year

Right from the beginning, from conception onward we are in training to develop and refine our capacity to love, through learning to co regulate our autonomic nervous system, and eventually to do a balance of  self regulation and co regulation.  Our preconception, prenatal and birth and very early history affect our level of anxiety and our basic response to connection.  Mothering (not gender specific) creates an ongoing oxytocin response that lets us know we are safe and lovable in human connection.  This oxytocin response helps us grow parts of our hearts and brains that produce and receive oxytocin, ‘the love hormone’, which makes love one of the best feelings possible. 

We may ask ourselves how does this happen anyway?  What does love have to do with it?   The basic premise is that there is no such being as a baby  -  there is only a mother/baby (Winnicott), in a particular social and emotional environment.  And we know from the science of epigenetics this begins long before conception even, especially the 110 days before conception.  The egg in the mother’s womb begins maturing and preparing to ovulate, and is selecting genes in the second meiosis.  At this time follicular cells surrounding the egg are a whole communication structure with the mother and her environment.   Already, this egg is recording what the mother is experiencing, and through the mother, what the family is experiencing.  Once the egg is fertilized this process continues and the embryo/fetus/baby builds her body, brain, heart and nervous system to suit this environment.  This social and emotional environment, through these epigenetic changes, affects the health of this being decades later.  We can think of the unborn baby as the inner body, the mother as the outer body, and the partner and extended family as the social body – a layered field that the baby is growing in.

Pregnant couples create this resonant field together that holds all three hearts.  The embryo’s cardiogenic cells are present from the first vertical structure created by the embryo.  If the mother is a single mother then the significant others in her life are creating this field with her.  Our focus is this system of connection, where individual assets are joined into mutual assets, where the sum is greater than the parts, This is the environment, the field, that the growing fetus is held in.  Each partner’s well being rests in the devotion to the well being of the other.  If they are able to provide safety, comfort and security, especially in times of distress, the couple will develop a system of mutual regulation as well as self regulation.  This is the optimal support for the developing baby’s brain and nervous system.  From preconception onward the experience in the womb shapes the expression of health, personality, emotional temperament, and the power for higher thought.  These unborn babies are listening to us about what this world is like, long before we are listening to them.

By 24 weeks gestation the fetus responses with precise movements to each sound in the mother’s speech, at the exact nanosecond, if she is awake.  We can hardly imagine the level of attunement.  Even in the first trimester the baby is hearing the mother’s voice through the vibration in her forming bones, and eventually develops hearing within her ears.  These unborn babies react to arguing and fighting, with extreme startle and stress responses.  And of course, if that happens very occasionally this is not going to negatively affect brain development, but if it is frequent the growing fetus is building anxiety and a highly reactive acute stress response into the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis.  Of course, if the couple is experiencing, mostly, a loving, supportive relationship this is creating a relaxed, calm baby. Unborn babies ask that their parents clear up tensions in their relationship and develop a style of “our job is to take care of each other and go towards the other if she/he is distressed”.  Parents growing empathy for each other is one of the main skills necessary to be wonderful parents.  We don't need to be perfect – if we get it right with our partner or our child from an emotional perspective about 2 out of 3 times, we are doing ‘good enough’ to grow love and safety.  The heart of the matter of being human IS seeking and maintaining contact with significant others, and fearing isolation and loss.  Even as adults we need those safe havens.  

Dr. Gerhard Schroth  (2009, 2015), at the University of Hamberg, Germany, researched working with mothers around their own pregnancy and birth, over a period of twenty weeks prenatally, and discovered that if the mother  came to  resolution with any trauma from her own birth and spent time in quiet stillness each day she would begin to develop a strong sense of what her unborn baby wants to communicate to her.  This is listening to the baby, who is able to directly communicate by the second half of pregnancy.  Mothers could even ask specific questions of the baby.  One personal experience I know is a mother who was listening to her baby and the baby was specifically telling her  “We need an ultrasound”.  This mother had not had, and was not planning to have any ultrasounds during the pregnancy and was expecting to have a natural home birth.  After several weeks of the baby communicating this to her she finally decided she needed to do it.  She discovered that the baby had a very short umbilical cord, only about 7 inches long, and both she and her baby would have been in grave danger if she had gone into labor. As she lived 45 minutes from hospital they would not have been safe, due to the cord tearing during the labor.  She was able to have a necessary Caesarean Section birth, with no separation of her and her son, skin to skin and nursing within twenty minutes.   Another set of  experiences I have personal knowledge of is three mothers who had a blood test that was positive for Down’s Syndrome.  This blood test has many false positives and the medical recommendation is to follow up with an Amniocentesis, which has a level of risk of triggering premature labor, and therefore pregnancy loss.  It is also an incredibly emotional and invasive procedure.  These mothers, through the baby communicating with them that they were healthy, and did not have Downs’  Syndrome, were able to relax, believe their babies,  not worry, and sure enough, all delivered healthy, normal babies with no genetic abnormalities.   Schroth also showed that mothers who have this delightful communication and connection with their babies in utero have easier births and breastfeeding and calmer, happier babies than when this is missing prenatally.

Mothers can learn to differentiate their own feelings from their baby, for example, “I am angry with your papa, I am not angry with you, sweet baby in my tummy, and both your papa and I love you.” This consciousness helps both the parent and the unborn baby,or  born baby and child, not fall into a relationship where the child takes on the responsibility for the parent’s feelings.  

Safety, security  and a sense of being lovable are established in our limbic system of our brain in the last trimester of pregnancy and the first three months of life outside the womb.  This implicit knowing is somatic, and lasts a lifetime. This is the source of our approach and avoidance impulses, and tolerances with our primary attachment people like our parents and later our partners  Our brain continues to grow and develop our emotional and regulating capacity from three to nine months,  when, with positive parenting, we develop our ability to hold attention and concentration,  know who and what we like and receive comfort and safety in the known, hence a positive development of separation anxiety.  As a baby learns to crawl away and explore, she learns that she can trust her parent to be there when she turns back to show excitement, or if she needs to be comforted.  By eighteen months the baby has grown the neural pathways up to the prefrontal cortex, the emotional CEO of the brain, and can begin to modulate her responses to the environment, read faces and social cues accurately.  By this time, the template for our relationship with ourselves, others, our capacity to concentrate and learn, our ability to and style of coping with stress  and our neural pathways to our organs are established.  This will influence our immune system, our cardiovascular, and metabolic health decades later.  It is important to note that our brains are plastic and can change, if we have expanded, corrective emotional experiences later on.  

Emotion is the prime change place and supporting couples to restructure the emotional dynamics will help optimize baby’s brain development.  It is not insight that brings change.  Having a new baby can motivate and help couples learn to focus on, validate and accept the other’s experience and be with it, with support.  The couple together then can structure key healing experiences, in this new parenthood period - IF they have enough support. Sex can continue to help forge and strengthen the bond, and in orgasm oxytocin is released, and the good feeling is linked with that particular person.  Skin to skin with baby and each other after the birth releases this same oxytocin.

As professionals, we can help the couple expand their awareness of their experience and make new meaning of it.  Often unmetabolized, unprocessed events of each parents own prenatal, birth and childhood experiences will arise to be worked with.  We can start by mapping out the cycles where they ‘miss’ each other, and name the patterns.  The couple can build positive appreciation by doing something daily that their partner would like.  And they can spend time daily talking to and interacting with their unborn or born baby together.  It is important that they begin naming their own emotions out loud, increasing awareness of each other, and themselves.  This is crucial for positive, self reflective parenting.  This also helps pregnant couples prepare for labor, as they are practicing hearing each other.  The partner is hearing the pregnant mom, and practicing what actually feels supportive to her, and she is doing the same.  In labor, this resonant field of their heart together helps the labor go more smoothly, even if the birth plan changes. 

How much stress and lack of love and safety is detrimental to the unborn and infant?  Small amounts of moderate stress is unavoidable in life, and is helpful to the developing baby.  Stress becomes toxic to the child if it is a truly acute overwhelming traumatic experience, like the death of the partner, an experience like 9/11, or a hurricane.  Also, if a high level of stress is chronic and the mother feels helpless to change her situation, hopeless in her life, this negatively affects the baby.  Toxic stress creates high levels of cortisol in the baby’s growing body and brain, which reduces the actual number of  cells, nerves and blood vessels that are created in the organs.  The baby will be more irritable, less consolable, and even at age six will show signs of inhibition of motor skills and ability to concentrate.

When Mom has a natural childbirth without medication or other interventions, during labor, oxytocin levels rise gradually, reaching a peak just around the time of the actual birth, and they stay incredibly high for at least four days.  The baby also produces increasing amounts of oxytocin during labor and peaks just after birth.  The skin to skin, eye contact, and first suckling reinforce and support nursing, secure attachment and help maintain high oxytocin levels – the deep falling in love period.

High levels of beta-endorphins in mom and baby at birth also enhance attachment and mutual pleasure, and the peak of prolactin, the hormone of tender mothering,  ensures feeling of love and pleasure.  Fathers also show an increase in oxytocin and prolactin if they care for their babies.  Just 15 minutes alone with their baby for dads, in the first week, means they will spend much more time with this little one over the first two years.  Prolactin and oxytocin are the main hormones in breast milk, and both are important for optimal brain and neuroendocrine development in the baby.   Epidurals, analgesics, induction drugs all alter the hormonal picture during labor and delivery, and the emotional connections present at a natural delivery.  Skin to skin and physical handling influence the concentrations of cortisol receptors, allowing the infant to produce less cortisol and return to baseline faster.  This helps with stress management in energy efficient ways, and that contributes to long term health.

Back to what the hearts have to do with it.  Somewhere between 35-50% of the heart cells are neurons, which function as a brain structure, and connect with the prefrontal cortex through the amygdala and thalamus.  The heart is a highly complex, information processing center which is in direct communicate with our limbic system.  The mother’s heart, when her baby is within the three feet zone of her heart, is regulating the baby’s physiology: temperature, breathing, glucose regulation, which is why skin to skin is so important.  A personal example of this is when a young couple I worked with had twin baby girls.  Although she was 38 weeks and a good size, one twin was having problems with glucose regulation and was taken to the NICU.  Her sister was far away, with her mother.  24 hours passed, and the sick twin was not recovering, so this young father, age 23, went to the NICU, picked up his daughter, saying ‘she belongs with her twin and her mother.  Then nurses were desperate to stop him from taking her out of the NICU to the ward, but he plowed through and put her skin to skin with sister and mother.  Within one hour her glucose regulation was normal and they all went home the next morning.   

If the mom has a coherent heart rate variability, reflecting a balanced autonomic nervous system, the baby will have more sustained visual attention, less temperament difficulties, learn to be more effective in self soothing, show more exploration, creativity, and learn socially appropriate behaviors earlier.  When a baby is growing in this resonate heart field, and the dad also is in a coherent heart rate variability the eye contact between mom and dad,  the parents and baby stimulate dopamine and opioids in the pleasure and reward centers of the brain, which also increases the availability of fuel to the brain.  It also increases the density and strength of the connections from the autonomic nervous system to the right prefrontal cortex – this helps the infant integrate and stay in a moderate state of attention and arousal.  Good news for mothers too.  Motherhood improves learning, memory, and increases the connections within mom’s brain, literally reshaping the limbic system, if mom has enough support and love.  This early time is the perfect opportunity for early intervention to support mothers.

Parents can realize emotions, and the heart field they hold with each other, is central to their baby’s ability to learn and to eventually self regulate.  The parent’s ability to detect, empathize with, name and help with feelings predicts future happiness in their children, and in partnerships.  Each person in the triad is really worth it, worth the effort involved to learn to name emotions, work with them, and create a healthy emotional dynamic between the couple.  Then their baby can be held within a safe, secure, loving container and develop optimally.  


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Pre and Perinatal Experiences for Health and Healing

by Kate White and Myrna Martin

This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #36 in three parts.

It has been nearly a century since pre- and perinatal psychology was introduced by Otto Rank, a student and colleague of Sigmund Freud. His slim book, The Trauma of Birth, was a gift to his mentor and friend in 1924. This birthday surprise detailed how Rank thought that difficulty during birth could affect infants’ psyches in such a way that it would affect them the rest of their lives. Although Freud warmly received the gift, he later rejected Rank’s hypothesis, souring the relationship between teacher and student. Since then, this idea has followed the same pattern in the world at large. A small cohort of practitioners accepted the belief that yes, babies’ early experiences do influence behavior for a lifetime, while the medical, scientific and popular communities ignored, disengaged or even repudiated this idea.

After Otto Rank, several influential practitioners took up the thread that these early life experiences were deeply meaningful, yet it was not until the 1960s, after the publication of research articles on how caregivers and babies interact, that the vital importance of this early bond received scientific support.

Prenatal - Birth - Attachment Therapy

Prenatal - Birth - Attachment Therapy

Returning to our Origins and Re-patterning our Responses to Life and Relationships

By Myrna Martin, MN, RCC, RCST®

This model of therapy has grown out of research that shows that prenates, newborns and children in their first two years of life are conscious, aware, perceptive, feeling and respond to these very early experiences throughout the rest of their life. These experiences imprint and become our subconscious programming. The name for this process is the attachment process.