In this edition of the journal we begin to explore some of the developmental paths that might be seen by professionals when early prenatal and perinatal events produce behaviors in infancy and beyond. To date this course has not been well documented, though sorely needed. Several of the articles (and two videos) in this edition of the journal begin to bridge that gap. More than this, these articles have quantitative research methods, which require thoughtfulness and creativity by the authors. I applaud their work.
In the first article Professor Paola Di Blasio and graduate student Chiara Ionio of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy offer a follow-up study to their previous work on posttraumatic stress and postpartum depression. This fascinating look at mothers' depression and stress during the prenatal and postnatal time frame is now viewed 18 months later. Especially interesting are those mothers who still have symptoms or report problems with their infants. This examination not only points to the importance of tracing mothers and infants relationships and during the first 18 months, but it appears to demonstrate that the earliest environment impact-and then is impacted by-the later environment.
Dr. Copeland and his colleagues from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada examined several associations between maternal anxiety and infant temperament. Their participants (60 women) completed measures of state and trait anxiety during the third trimester of pregnancy and again three months postpartum, along with an assessment of infant temperament. I will let the readers turn to those pages in this edition of the journal to read about the results in their fascinating study entitled, Maternal Anxiety During and After Pregnancy and Infant Temperament at Three Months of Age.
Karleen D. Gribble, PhD, of the University of Western Sydney, Australia presents a scholarly article on a rarely discussed topic, PostInstitutionalized Adopted Children Who seek Breastfeeding from their New Mothers. Gribble's article suggests that the motivation to breastfeed may be connected to the original relationship each child had with its birth mother where the motivation is to the return to an environment within which they are (were once) in close physical contact. Further, the act of suckling itself allows feelings (grief and anger) to come to the surface in these young children. More commonly we see these emotions in adults who act their needs out symbolically, but Gribble's article gives us a glimpse of what the developmental trajectory very early in life might be.
Angela Ramirez, PsyD, Irene M. Bravo, PhD, and Steven Katsikas, PhD of Carlos Albizu University, Miami Campus, Florida present the results of their study for journal readers entitled: Infant Feeding Decisions and Practices in the U.S. and Colombia. This study contributes to the literature on maternal and infant health, as a preliminary step in understanding cross-cultural attitudes and behaviors involved in infant feeding decisions and practices, from a theoretically based perspective. Among their results was an indication that SES mediates the selection of infant feeding method. These authors further suggest that "... it may be of interest to explore the mediating role of psychopathological symptoms in the process of infant feeding selection and behaviors" as well.
The last scholarly article in this edition of the journal is a very fine work by doctoral student, Jennifer Gray, MA, at Claremont Graduate University, Santa Barbara, California. As with other student/authors in the preceding editions of the journal, it is also delightful to see a broader range of schools being willing to explore this discipline as well. Ms. Gray's article is a quantitative research study around mothers' perceived control over their childbirth experiences, psychological and physiological symptoms postpartum with vaginal delivers and planned or unplanned cesarean section deliveries. Ms. Gray's inventive use of the Internet for her research is commendable in her article entitled, Implications of Perceived Control for Recovery from Childbirth for Unplanned Cesarean, Planned Cesarean, and Vaginal Deliveries.
Finally, it has been my great pleasure to view and attend the initial showings of two high quality videos on prenatal and perinatal psychology. The first, an extraordinary documentary in every way, entitled The Psychology of Birth: Invitation to Intimacy by Elmer Postle, co-originated and produced with Debby Takikawa. The second, which has some of the sequences from the first but clearly it's own unique focus, illustrates the effects that environment and early experience have on a baby's growth, physical and mental health. Debby Takikawa directs this film, What Babies Want, an Exploration of the Consciousness of Infants in cooperation with Elmer Postle. Both of these excellent videos were released near the end of 2004 and each run for approximately one hour.
And so, as alluded to in the beginning of this editorial, the articles and the video presentations within this edition take important steps toward "naming" or articulating what the effects of early conditions look like as they run concurrently with the human developmental process. The complex set of interrelations between prenate, perinate and infant are just beginning to be studied seriously. No small task, as actions are subtle in the early years up until childhood when problematic behaviors tend to emerge. I for one have long wondered about what is happening within the brain and body of human beings who have experienced early traumatizing experiences but yet the behaviors seem to be held in check until their "onset" (per the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual-Fourth Edition, 2001) later in childhood, adolescence or young adulthood. The authors here have conceptualized this dynamic and measured it quantitatively and/or describe it from case study information. I am grateful and humbled by reading each one of their contributions.
Bobbi Jo Lyman, PhD
JOURNAL OF PRENATAL AND PERINATAL PSYCHOLOGY AND HEALTH publishes research and clinical articles from the cutting edge of the science of prenatal and perinatal psychology and health. The journal, published quarterly since 1986, is dedicated to the in-depth exploration human reproduction and pregnancy and the mental and emotional development of the unborn and newborn child.