For many years, psychologists understood that prior to the age of three, experience had limited influence over intelligence, emotions, and the structure of the brain. The latest discoveries in neuroscience, however, prove such notions false. The brain is sensitive to experiences throughout life, but experience during the critical periods of prenatal life and early postnatal life organizes the brain. Our brains and, consequently, our personalities emerge from complex interplay between the genes we are born with and the experiences we have. (Tomorrow's Baby, T. Verny, 2002). Although Dr. Verny's and Dr. David Chamberlain's theories were not accepted in mainstream psychology in the early 1980s, their work is now validated thanks to neuroscience and ultrasound technology. They founded their own organization APPPAH, The Association of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health. The organization is thriving and spreading the word of this critical period of life with educational programs for physicians and every person working with birthing families. Their conferences offer a tremendous wealth of knowledge through networking and education. We must learn about the new science and strengthen our resolve of building emotionally healthy families in our society. Paying attention to this critical period has the possibility of changing lives to become a more compassionate, empathetic, less violent and more loving society in the future.
Barbara C. Decker, HBCE, Prenatal Bonding (BA and GPE) Facilitator