I am a Preconception, Prenatal and Early Parenting Specialist with a Doctorate in Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology from the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. Decades of experience with women and families as a childbirth educator and doula, as well as an early childhood and special education teacher ignited my interest in how prenatal development and experience shapes our health, growth and behavior over the life span. In my consultation practice I provide education and coaching to mental health and health professionals, educators, individuals and families on the lifelong physical, cognitive, emotional and social impacts of the preconception, prenatal and early postnatal periods. My work with practitioners, educators and parents focuses on the cultivation of nurturing environments that support safety and compassionate connections during this crucial period in the development of an individual.
I offer educational seminars on the impacts of maternal psychophysiological states during the preconception, prenatal and early postnatal periods and how these states may influence conception, pregnancy, birth and early maternal-infant interactions. I have a particular interest in the effects of maternal prenatal stress and traumatic stress on mothers and their babies before and after birth. My interest in prenatal and perinatal psychology began when I became pregnant with my first child and read Suzanne Arms’ book, “Immaculate Deception”. The book motivated me to switch prenatal caregivers from an obstetrical practice to a midwifery practice. I received sensitive care in a compassionate environment and began to think about what shapes the experiences of mothers, babies and those who support them during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.
After becoming a certified childbirth educator and a doula, I looked for opportunities to deepen my knowledge and expand my work with families in the prenatal and early postnatal period. My participation in two workshops, one with Phyllis Klaus, LCSW and another with Penny Simkin, PT drew me further into the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology. The workshop with Phyllis Klaus provided training to practitioners who were offering services to women who were pregnant, had given birth, were present at, or had suffered the loss of partners and family members during the 9/11 attack in New York in 2001. The workshop with Penny Simkin provided specific training to medical providers, doulas and childbirth educators on “Specific Strategies to Assist Pregnant Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse in Preparing for Birth”. These workshops demonstrated the need for all who provide care and support to women and girls at this crucial time to consider of how each mother’s life experiences prior to pregnancy, birth, and parenting might influence her psychophysiology, her prenate and newborn, and their emerging attachment relationship.
My exploration into the effects of stress and trauma on women and girls and their prenates resulted in my awareness that sources of stress and trauma may originate in an individual’s experiences from the time of their conception to the present, and may include transgenerational trauma transmitted from previous generations. Trauma is imprinted in implicit memory, but may or may not be held in an individual’s explicit or narrative memory. When trauma is not held in explicit memory, the individual does not have conscious memory of the event(s). This is often the case when these experiences occur in childhood. This understanding led to my awareness of the need for compassionate care that meets the unique needs of each woman or girl during the preconception, prenatal and early postnatal periods, whether or not they and/or the practitioners who care for them are aware of their history.
A wealth of recent research on prenatal development and experience informs my work and sheds light on the important healing and educational opportunities that exist for women, girls, their prenates, and those who support them during this crucial period, in practitioner-client, as well as educator-student interactions.
My new book, Prenatal Development and Parents’ Lived Experiences: How Early Events Shape Our Psychophysiology and Relationships is part of W. W. Norton’s Interpersonal Neurobiology Series and will be released on August 30, 2016. Knowledge drawn from numerous fields highlights the opportunity for parents-to-be and the practitioners who care for them to intentionally support the cultivation of nurturing internal and external environments during the preconception, prenatal and early parenting periods. Theory and research from the fields of psychology, medicine, psychophysiology, epigenetics, and traumatology, among others, suggest that doing so will support lifelong multidimensional aspects of healthy development in children and adults and may also benefit future generations.
My new book can be pre-ordered through my website: www.anndiamondweinstein.com where more information is available about my work and my publications.