-A +A

Who We Are

Association of Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) is a public-benefit educational and scientific organization offering information, inspiration, and support to medical professionals, expecting parents, and all persons interested in expanding horizons of birth psychology. Come explore, learn, and work with us! The "prenatal" in our title refers to the period of about nine months, including conception and the whole of gestation, while "perinatal" refers to the very short but crucial period of hours involving labor, birth, and establishment of breastfeeding. We believe that these experiences are formative for both babies and parents, and tend to establish patterns of intimacy and sociality for life. At stake here is quality of life--the quality of personal growth and the quality of society itself. Ultimately, we like to point out, "Womb ecology becomes world ecology."

In addition to the quarterly peer reviewed  Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (JOPPPAH), the official scientific publication of APPPAH, we publish the APPPAH Newsletter and hold regional and international conferences, promote research, serve the public with valuable directories and resources, and work to enhance the pregnancy experience and maximize the health of both mothers and babies. APPPAH members have been at the forefront in recognizing the multiple stresses of modern pregnancy and birth and developing practical therapeutic methods to deal with them.

These pages are made possible by the APPPAH Community, which has been generating news, research, conferences, books, and journals since 1983. You are invited to enrich your personal growth, parenting wisdom, or professional skills by joining the APPPAH Community, accessing our resources, and signing up for our conferences.

Our Roots

Our Association was born in the mind of Thomas R. Verny. Before this, Thomas had earned a doctorate in medicine, a specialty in psychology, and was distinguishing himself as a teacher and author. He later explains what we might call our "conception" in the foreword to The Secret Life of the Unborn Child (1981, p. 11).

The Secret Life of the Unborn Child (1981) opened doors and proved to be the forerunner of the activities to follow. The book became an extraordinary instrument educating the world about prenatal and perinatal psychology, an emerging field that was neglected in academic psychology. The book became an international best seller, ultimately translated into more than 25 languages, with a quarter million books sold in Japanese alone.

The first congress was scheduled for July 1983 in Toronto with Thomas as the Chair. Founding board members were Dr. Verny, David Chamberlain, Sandra Collier, Marcia Penner, and attorney Paul Dineen. The objectives of the Association were to further understand the psychology of pregnancy and birth and the ways in which pregnant mothers influence the unborn; to study the effects of medical intervention on mothers and babies; to explore remedial techniques to counteract prenatal and perinatal traumas; to enhance the mental and physical health of mothers and fathers and their babies; to publish and distribute information; and to organize educational meetings for the purpose of exploring the above issues. Professionals and non-professionals were invited to meet in an atmosphere of openness and freedom from dogma.


Our Focus

APPPAH educates professionals and the public worldwide, as shown through scientific discoveries and continually emerging evidence, that prenatal and perinatal experiences have a profound impact on the subsequent quality of health and human behavior and that life is a continuum which starts before conception, not after birth. The Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health focuses attention on the life-changing discoveries being made in the first period of human development from preparation for pregnancy through the postpartum period and establishment of breastfeeding.

We accomplish our education through the process of:

  • Creating conferences, workshops, classes, and other educational opportunities
  • Publishing a peer-reviewed Journal, Newsletter, and several Directories
  • Sharing a website containing APPPAH archives, a specialized bookstore, and papers addressing birth psychology theories
  • Promoting research
  • Partnering with local, regional, national, and international groups with similar interests
  • Advocating for a new era of pregnancy and birth honoring the consciousness of babies, and the prevention of prenatal and perinatal trauma.

International Congresses and Regional Conferences

Since the first International Congress on Pre- and Perinatal Psychology held in Toronto in 1983, biennial congresses have been a major activity of the Association. Congresses were held in San Diego (1985), San Francisco (1987), Amherst (1989), Atlanta (1991), Washington D.C. (1993), San Francisco (1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003), San Diego (2005), Los Angeles (2007), Pacific Grove, CA/Asilomar Conference Center (2009, 2010, 2013), San Francisco (2011, 2012), Pacific Grove, CA/Asilomar Conference Center (2013), Berkeley, CA (2015) San Diego, CA (2017).  Recordings of the  2017 Congress are available online at VW Tapes.



The original quarterly, Pre- & Perinatal Psychology Journal, was founded and edited by Thomas Verny, M.D. in the Fall, 1986. Beginning with volume 12(1), Fall, 1997 the title was changed to Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health reflecting the Association's change of name. The Association owns and publishes the Journal and seeks leading-edge articles in the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology and health. The Editor welcomes original papers on the psychological aspects of very early parenting, pregnancy, prenatal bonding and communication, childbirth, psychological factors in birth complications, birth losses and grief, adoption, the primal origins of health, birth and violence, the healing of birth trauma, and contrasting psychological experiences of birth in other cultures. The Journal is a benefit of membership and may be purchased by individuals, libraries, and other institutions by annual subscription directly from this website. To propose or to submit an article please contact journal.editor@birthpsychology.com.

On a monthly basis, the Association publishes The APPPAH Newsletter. This is an electronic only publication and goes out to our extended mailing list. Anyone interested can sign up to receive this newsletter. Look for it under Resources.

The APPPAH Website, Birthpsychology.com was founded in 1996 by David B. Chamberlain, Editor, and Edward Goldberg, Webmaster. The number of persons visiting the website has steadily increased so that in 2009 we are receiving visits from 1,300 computers daily from over 100 countries. The purpose of the website is to share with the world the life-changing discoveries being made in the growing field of prenatal and perinatal psychology. The site is a unique and compact treasury of information about all activities of the Association. The website is a gift from the members of the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health. Please lend your support!

A birth psychology bibliography is provided on the website for those wishing to expand their studies. The list is divided into "Classics" and books published since the year 2000. Look for them under Resources.


APPPAH is a California public-benefit educational corporation, under Section 501(c)(3) of the revenue code and is exempt from state and federal taxes. The directors of the Association are elected by vote of the membership. Directors then elect a President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Directors hold office for three years and may be re-elected to one additional three-year term. 


Apppah has specific policy statements. For more details on these policies please visit the following pages.


APPPAH's Legacy

In the last 30 years, the APPPAH Community has fundamentally:

  • Re-defined the nature of the human prenate as an aware, communicative, and vulnerable being
  • Re-set the starting time for parenthood from after birth to before conception
  • Revealed the hidden connections between the quality of conception, pregnancy, and birth, and the quality of individual wellness, public health, and compassionate society

The Association emanated from the vision of Canadian psychiatrist Thomas R. Verny, MD. DHL, DPsych, FRCPC and was founded in 1983. APPPAH is an international forum for individuals from diverse backgrounds and disciplines interested in psychological and physical dimensions of prenatal and perinatal experience. First registered as a charity in Canada, APPPAH subsequently became a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) educational foundation in the United States. The Association is comprised of a committed and active Board of Directors, members, and volunteers. Support comes from membership dues, grants and fundraising activities, and monetary and in-kind donations

Among those involved in living and spreading APPPAH's message are mothers and fathers, as well as children and adult survivors of prenatal and perinatal trauma. Active members spanning the globe include: obstetricians, pediatricians, family practice physicians, nurses, midwives, health care professionals, developmental therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, doulas, childbirth educators, home visitors, chiropractors, cranial-sacral, osteopathic, and naturopathic practitioners, and somatic therapists. Other members include community leaders, businesspersons, educators, researchers, and policy makers.

A significant portion of current APPPAH members are therapists playing a historic role in identifying and healing the psychological traumas of modern birth; they are also authorities on how to prevent these traumas. APPPAH spreads the message that positive prenatal and perinatal experiences have a lasting influence on health, human relationships, and society.