It is with great pleasure that we welcome Michel Odent back to these pages in the lead article for this Fall, 2008, edition of the Journal. Always on the forefront of changes in our approach to birth, Dr. Odent asks us to look carefully at the vocabulary used when discussing birth. To use his words, “This is not just a challenge to the medical model, but to “natural childbirth” methods as well.” Those of you interested in the roots of language and the impact of language on our attitudes and even our formulations of meaning in life, will find this article doubly fascinating. We are challenged by Dr. Odent to consider a fundamental change in the way we view birth by understanding the linguistic underpinnings of our concepts. Again quoting from the article, “Today, where childbirth is concerned, we are like a traveler finding out that s/he is on a wrong path. In this case, usually the best action is to go back to the point of departure before it is too late and take another direction.”
We are proud to present in this issue three articles reporting on research topics of vital interest to the field of Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine.
Research on the role of maternal reflective ability for substance abusing mothers comes to us from an International team of researchers: Marjukka Pajula of Turku University Hospital in Finland, Nancy Suchman of Yale University School of Medicine, Mirjam Kalland of the University of Helsinki in Finland, Jari
Sinkkonen, head of the Save the Children foundation in Finland, Hans Helenius of the University of Turku in Finland, and Linda Mayes of Yale University. This research addresses substance abusing mothers, a population of mothers that are often underrepresented when designing better outcomes for children. Interventions that provide for better outcomes for children of substance abusing mothers is vital for the overall development of healthier human beings. An
indicated conclusion from this study is that “enhancement of maternal reflective ability seems to be an important factor in developing the content and effectiveness of interventions for substance abusing mothers.” We welcome this team of researchers to our pages and are grateful for this important contribution to pre and perinatal research.
A study that extends research on prenatal to postnatal continuity comes to us from Canada. Petra Spletzer and Maeve O’Beirne, who are associated with the University of Calgary, Alberta, and Allen Bishop, who is associated with Pacifica Graduate Institute, have completed a study looking at prenatal attachment and the subsequent relationship with postnatal infant sleep. They share the results of this well crafted study with us. An interesting finding of this study is that of an inverted correlation between prenatal attachment and infant sleep at 1-week postnatal; as mother’s prenatal attachment increased, the baby’s total sleep decreased. They speculate that a mother with higher self-reported prenatal attachment becomes more aware of her bond with her baby and, thus, they interact more, increasing the baby’s general arousal.
Marilyn Lewis, Assistant Professor in the College of Social Work at Ohio State University, brings to our pages research designed to identify factors involved in maternal/fetal attachment. The data presented suggests that the mother’s interaction with her baby in utero is a more important factor than her internal working model or her environment. This provides strong support for many of our
members who work with parents prior to the birth of their child. Although we might question the interactional model of maternal-fetal attachment presented early in the article, wherein the author states that the fetus can only respond and does not act intentionally, this research does contribute significantly to our understanding of maternal/fetal attachment and deserves careful reading and
In the Sharing Space this issue, you will find the perfect bookend for Dr. Odent’s challenge in our lead article. Robert Newman returns to these pages with a refined look at childbirth preparation, drawing inspiration from the ancient cultures of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism and the Toltec lineages of Mexico. His discussion leads us through the profound changes in the medical paradigm in the last years of the 20th century to a new vision for childbirth education that draws wisdom from these ancient cultures.
As we have for the past year, we invite your comments on these articles. Please address your correspondence to Marcy Axness, Ph.D. at firstname.lastname@example.org, including “Letter to Editor” in the subject line. A forum for publication of these letters has been established in the APPPAH Newsletter, now being edited by Dr. Marcy Axness.
I will close this editorial on a personal note. It has been my distinct pleasure and honor to serve as Associate Editor for JOPPPAH for the past six years. This will be my last editorial and last issue edited for JOPPPAH. To my surprise, this isn’t because I am retiring, but because I suddenly found myself with a new career as of mid-January this year. I became Executive Director of a Child Placement Agency and feel that I need to devote full time to this work. I want to thank B.J. for understanding the new demands on my time and stepping in to do the Summer edition, which I have done since 2002. My work will continue to include pre and perinatal insights, as I reflect on the underpinnings of the Child Welfare System. I will continue my close relationship with APPPAH and the Journal staff and hope to see all of you at the 2009 Congress.
Jeane Rhodes, PhD.
P.S. After writing the closing paragraph above sometime in early summer, my life took another dramatic turn. Actually the months between January and July were a roller-coaster produced by the State Department of Human Services and licensing issues that I was not fully aware of when I took on the job of Executive Director. The result is that my new career, along with the placement agency, disappeared in July. Finding myself unemployed created space for new inspiration
and I am now working on a novel about teen pregnancy in foster care. The novel provides a format for introducing the principles of pre and perinatal psychology and health into this specific and troubled area. It is an inspiring process and, whatever the outcome, feels as if it's exactly the right thing to be doing now. I will miss being actively involved with the Journal, but know that the editorial team will continue the wonderful work of publishing timely and relevant articles for your enjoyment, critical review, and expanded learning