As we face 2012, there are brighter prospects for prenatal and perinatal psychology than ever before, and APPPAH's efforts to spread the word the past twenty-five years is beginning to pay huge dividends. Some signs that prenatal and perinatal psychology are penetrating deeper levels of cultural awareness include the scientific study by Moscow pediatrician Bystrova, published in the June 2009 issue of Birth, verifying the findings of Marshall Klaus' 1976 classic study on infant bonding. Bystrova substantiated that there is a sensitive period immediately following birth, when bonding is greatly enhanced by breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, and which has long term positive effects on maternal and infant development.
This combined with research on children at-risk for crime and violence reveals that bonding is essential for reducing violence. Magid & McKelvey's classic book, High Risk: Children Without A Conscience, explored reasons why children without a conscience are growing in number, and are at risk of becoming 'trust bandits,' con-men, liars, dance-away lovers, backstabbers, and even psychopathic killers. The main reason? Failure to bond and attach.
Further evidence of prenatal and perinatal psychology's cultural emergence is 2011 Congress keynoter Annie Murphy Paul and her book Origins, documenting that prenatal events have long term impacts on physical symptoms such as heart disease, cancer, obesity, and other major health problems. More recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a policy statement asserting what APPPAH researchers like Dr. David Cheek have asserted and documented for decades—that early stress in the time before birth and afterward, has profound negative effects on physical health and well-being over the long term. They write,
Protecting young children from adversity is a promising, science-based strategy to address many of the most persistent and costly problems facing contemporary society, including limited educational achievement, diminished economic productivity, criminality, and disparities in health.
Pregnancy is not just an uncomfortable interruption, or as Marcy Axness cautions, "a nine-month grace period before parenting begins." Parenting begins before conception and attachment needs to be an ongoing process during pregnancy and birth, as Dr. Jeno Raffei's research and Dr. Gerhard Schroth's workshops demonstrate. We must promote stress-free pregnancies and attachment-positive births.
As the premier organization for prenatal and perinatal psychology in North America, APPPAH has an obligation to oversee and endorse programs in our field, and that is what we are in the process of doing: APPPAH's 'Skin to Skin' evidence-based advocacy training program is designed to support optimal bonding in the two hour period just after birth. You are invited to train to implement this protocol in hospitals and to donate to the cause. Donations earmarked 'Skin to Skin' will be directed to that project, and a tax deductible receipt provided . Together, we can reduce crime, violence, and ill health. (To make a donation for this project: www.birthpsychology.com/donation.)
In closing, I want to thank all of you who came to the November 2011 Congress in San Francisco, and to the volunteer staff and speakers who made it such a profound and wonderful experience. The 2012 Congress, Nov 15-18, promises to extend that success as we continue to build a structure that involves all participants. In addition to keynote panels and speakers, there will be interactive session involving participants, and training sessions by leading experts, so join us and learn psychological and spiritual approaches to optimizing development and health in our children, families, and professional groups.
In your service,
William R. Emerson, PhD, APPPAH President