Our Roots

Our Association was born in the mind of Thomas R. Verny. Before this, Thomas had won a doctorate in medicine and 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, 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.

More About APPPAH

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 find that prenatal and perinatal experiences have a profound impact on the subsequent quality of health and human behavior; we see that life is a continuum which starts before conception, not after birth. During this formative period, parents and babies are not isolated from each other but fundamentally interconnected. A loving prenatal and perinatal experience inspires such things as bonding and sensitivity to others which have long-term consequences for both individual relationships and for society. Ultimately, womb ecology reveals itself in world ecology as the seeds of peace or violence are sown by parents, their models, teachers, and caregivers during pregnancy and birth.

APPPAH task forces publish The APPPAH Newsletter and the Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, hold regional and international conferences, promote research, serve the public with valuable directories and resources, work to enhance the pregnancy experience and prevent birth trauma. APPPAH members have been at the forefront in recognizing the multiple traumas of modern pregnancy and birth and developing practical therapeutic methods to deal with them.


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), and Pacific Grove, CA/Asilomar Conference Center 2009). Recordings of all congresses from 1983 to the present are indexed, searchable by keywords, and available from Gold Key Recordings.


The original quarterly, Pre- & Perinatal Psychology Journal, was founded and edited by Thomas Verny, M.D. in the Spring of 1985. 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 from the APPPAH office. Beginning with the Fall issue in 2009 the Journal will also be available in an electronic edition. To propose or to submit an article please contact the Editor-in-Chief, Jeane M. Rhodes, Ph.D

On a quarterly schedule, the Association publishes The APPPAH Newsletter edited by Marcy Axness, Ph.D. Special features include cover stories, "Media Watch", reviews of books, videos, and movies, advance notices of our regional and international conferences, announcements of activities of our Partners, and "Vision Into Action: Passion Into Policy." Printed copies are mailed to members but any interested person can access the electronic edition of the Newsletter on the Association website by going to www.birthpsychology.com/newsletters. Please send news tips and suggestions to Marcy Axeness, Editor.

Books & Videos in Birth Psychology is periodically updated and published on the website. This selected list is limited to books published in the last twenty five years and kept in print. An attempt is made to identify the dozen most influential books judged by their large circulation, multiple editions, and foreign translations.

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!


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 ten directors of the Association are elected by vote of the membership at each Conference. Directors then elect a President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Directors hold office for one year and may be nominated for reelection.

Contact Us

P.O. Box 412
San Marcos, CA 92070
Telephone: 760-492-9048