Trends and Influences Part 2

Slide 12: Out of these early efforts, more formal channels began to emerge with the development of organizations and groups that claimed the baby’s experience as valid. Studies developed that looked at the baby’s experience, and graduate programs started, such at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute run by Marti Glenn and Wendy Anne McCarty. Other researchers studied how connecting with babies in utero could improve health outcomes on every level. Called Prenatal Stimulation or Fetal Programming, the programs that emerged include communication with the baby through words, touch and music. Eventually these programs grew into prenatal bonding programs still practiced today. 

Slide 13: APPPAH was born during this time in 1983, along with our sister organization in Europe, the International Society for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine.

Slide 14: One area of significant research that developed was Fetal Origins of Adult Disease. Through the study of the impact of nutrition, famine, stress and other environmental effects on the mother while she is pregnant, researchers determined that the baby’s experience could have impacts on adult health and disease. Health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes all proved to have their roots in the prenatal experiences of the baby. Ideas of epigenetics were born at this time, or how the environment could alter our genes and thus our capacity for health or tendency toward disease, though they were not really supported until the next decade.

Slide 15: Bonding and attachment as a profession and study began to flourish, with research and formal educational programs showing how the relationship of mother and baby had a reciprocal, physical and psychological impact. Early research emerged through examining animal behavior, and this grew into compassionate and important parenting and educational practices.

Slide 16: The field of “somatics,” or the study of how the body’s felt sense influences our experience began to grow in importance and popularity. New explorations in bodywork and movement showed that early memories could be tapped through therapies that acknowledged the senses. These memories were called “implicit,” and theories of memory began to be debated among scientists. These debates continue today. Prenatal and perinatal psychology therapies combined the body’s experiences with psychotherapeutic theory, and gentler, subtler healing approaches started to appear.

Slide 17: Infant research laboratories appeared in many universities around the world. These scientific laboratories showed how intelligent babies are. Babies have the capacity to make moral judgments, feel jealous, make decisions based on what they see and feel, and could recognize language and more. This research continues today. In fact we are the midst of an Infant Revolution as the sciences have discovered babies. They are not born blank slates or without capacity of discernment. Called the “best scientists” by infant specialist Alison Gopnik, babies are being seen in a new light.

Slide 18: Prenatal and perinatal psychology was noticed more and more, as the scientific advances began to support our paradigm. The legitimizing trend included the decade of the brain, and the Human Genome Project. These two trends brought neuroscience and genetics into alignment with APPPAH’s mission to support the baby’s experience. Trends in neuroscience featured how the brain develops starting in utero. Epigenetics became a dominant field of study, proving that conditions in utero and in the previous generations can alter human genes. The study of attachment combined with neuroscience to support the field of affective (or emotional) neuroscience and interpersonal neurobiology, or how human relationships inform our biology. No where are these fields more apparent than when we are babies.