In our lead article, family practice physician and psychologist, Lewis Mehl-Madrona adds to his list of decisive research studies illuminating the psychological foundations of birth. In this study, 485 pregnant women were prospectively assessed for psychosocial factors related to birth complications. Two factors-fear of birth and partner supportstrongly discriminated between complicated and uncomplicated birth. These clear findings favor the developing family practice model of obstetrics in which attention is directed at the psychosocial aspects of prenatal care as well as the biological. Variables identified in this study can be easily recognized and rated by clinicians who do not have extensive psychological training including midwives, nurses, nurse practitioners and obstetricians. According to this authority, avoiding the psychosocial realm in conventional obstetrical care can no longer be justified.
Inspired by a framework of empirical findings of prenatal consciousness, technical writer George Grider has provided us with a rare chronicle of his son's life before birth. We print this engaging work with the fervent hope that other parents will take up the pen and write their own children about the traditionally overlooked environmental forces that were in play during their personal odyssey from conception to birth.
We are indebted to a team of three working together in the country of Belarus for extending our knowledge of the often hidden psychological after-effects of abortion on women. Empirical analysis of the experiences of 150 women revealed that about half met the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder. Key psychological factors in predicting PTSD were their beliefs about the prenatal life of the fetus, their degree of emotional attachment to the fetus, and the length of the pregnancy before abortion. Importantly, findings in this part of the world where abortion was a standard and accepted method of birth control, seem to be psychologically consistent with findings from the United States and other parts of the world.
Another team of three from Japan contributes an ambitious longitudinal study of maternal attachment from the prenatal period to age three. Led by researcher Junko Tsujino, their findings further define the importance of high emotional attachment of a mother to both present and future relationships with a child. Moreover, attachment difficulties can clearly be seen in the prenatal era, reflecting personal anxiety, and often, unresolved relationship problems they had with their own mothers. When attachment is high prenatally, it tends to continue naturally through later periods of development. Support persons and caregivers to pregnant mothers should scrutinize the inventory items that were found to correlate highly with high and low attachment, since they provide easy markers for helpful intervention.
I must also introduce you to yet another team of three who shared responsibility for this issue-the new members of the Journal Editorial team. It has been my privilege as board member and guest editor to recruit and train three new editors, Editor-in-Chief, Bobbi Jo Lyman, Ph.D., Associate Editor, Jeane M Rhodes, Ph.D., and Review Editor, Donna Worden, B.A. They join Maureen Wolfe, C.N.M., who has been serving with distinction as Managing Editor since the Winter issue of 2000. For the new members of the team, the Fall issue has been a "Dress Rehearsal" in preparing to take full responsibility beginning with the Winter issue, volume 17(2), which you will be receiving in January 2003. Please join me in both saluting and supporting the new Journal team!
David B. Chamberlain, Ph.D.
Santa Barbara Graduate Institute