Prenatal Bonding (Bindungsanalyse by Raffai): An Introduction

Gerhard Schroth's material generated tremendous interest at last year's Congress, and inspired Michael Trout to sponsor the first U.S Prenatal Bonding training this spring at the Infant-Parent Institute in Illinois. Dr. Schroth will be at Asilomar again this year, and meanwhile, here is an excerpted version of an article currently in the review process for the APPPAH Journal. –Ed. ABSTRACT: Prenatal Bonding (Bindungsanalyse by Raffai) provides the possibility of creating an intense bonding between mother and fetus, of being witness to the development of the fetus in the womb, to realize early prenatal traumas as well to have the chance for immediate healing. In this respect the method is at the same time an instrument of pre- and perinatal research, an empowerment of bonding between mother and fetus and a great help for giving birth much more easily. After birth the baby has a remarkable degree of self-esteem and full access to its personal potential. THE INCEPTION OF PRENATAL BONDING (BA) – Prenatal Bonding (BA) had its origin in the early 1990s, when Jenö Raffai, Hungary did psychoanalytic basic research with young schizophrenic patients. During his treatments he observed a special psychody- namic constellation, namely a lack of inner boundaries between the patients and their mothers in early childhood, creating confusion about reality. Jenö Raffai subsequently assumed that schizophrenia has its roots in gestation, if inner boundaries between mother and fetus are not well established. This creates a distortion of reality, so perceptions and the sense of self become confused. Raffai subsequently developed a preventive method which helped mothers set and experience inner boundaries between themselves and their unborn babies. THE METHOD OF PRENATAL BONDING (BA) – Prenatal Bonding (BA) starts normally at about the 20th week of pregnancy. The following setting is required: The pregnant woman lies on a comfortable couch in a relaxed position with the intention to focus on her inner perceptions. Sessions start with a deep relaxation process, centering on awareness of breathing, body feelings and emotions while the eyes are closed. By focussing on her awareness the facilitator helps the woman to come into contact with more and more images, as we know from our dreams. Images are seen to be symbolizations of words, body feelings and emotions. The process begins by honouring the uterus as a conscious organ – the mother asks the uterus for permission to access the baby, so mother and baby can communicate. Raffai implies that the uterus has an organic wisdom and intelligence. Gradually the images become more frequent, creating a flow of information and communication between the mother and the unborn and this creates the "umbilical cord of both souls." Mothers find out how their babies are developing, what they are feeling and needing, even about things that might be threatening or dangerous. It is much easier and more impressive for mothers, as well as less expensive, less invasive and less dangerous for babies to gain information this way, as compared to ultrasound or medical tests. IMPROVEMENTS IN THE PREGNANCY – Raffai recommends that the pregnancy and the development of the baby have a better outcome if a differentiated inner separation between the pregnant woman and her own mother has taken place. The growth of the pregnant woman from the role of the "daughter of her mother" to the "mother of her baby" means a healthy separation that supports the competence of the expectant mother. Prior to birth a second process of separation between the pregnant woman and the unborn baby is important for a natural and easy birth. It is facilitated by a number of explicit steps. For example, the unborn is invited to say goodbye to the intrauterine world of his mother. Then the mother shows the baby the environment the parents will live in with the baby as well as the persons who will welcome the newborn baby after birth. Next, the mother and baby speak separately about their experiences during the pregnancy. The story the mother tells is partly or sometimes completely different to the story the baby tells. This makes it clear that the baby has its own mind, perceptions and experiences and makes its own decisions. As a last step giving birth itself is simulated in a "final rehearsal" as mental training, and post-birth procedures are explained. ... Depending on the starting point about 20 to 30 sessions are needed for the whole process. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FATHER – The important role the father has in the process of Prenatal Bonding (BA) should also be emphasized. The research of Prenatal Bonding (BA) has proven that the unborn is aware of the father and significant others as well. So the father also has the chance for an early bonding with the unborn. He is important to the unborn baby right from the beginning and his role is to provide a "social womb" for his pregnant wife. This means creating a safe space for the pregnancy, allowing the mother to encounter the extensive changes in her womb and body and widespread changes in her life. The father is encouraged to attend as many sessions as possible. In addition, he is invited to contact and communicate with the baby at home by singing lullabies, telling fairy tales, reading poetry and holding or touching the womb every day. 10 COMMON RESULTS OF PRENATAL BONDING (BA)
  1. The mother's inner perceptions are well attuned to her pregnancy and the unborn. She has access to her own as well as to her baby's wisdom.
  2. Her natural female capabilities are empowered by Prenatal Bonding (BA) and create greater assertiveness and security during childbirth.
  3. Mother and baby become a good team and experience less anxiety and pain.
  4. There is less effort in giving birth and fewer complications.
  5. The need for obstetrical interventions goes down significantly.
  6. Caesarean sections were reduced to about 6% in Hungary with Prenatal Bonding (BA), as compared to the norm of 30% and more. Thus birth is safer and less costly.
  7. Of 1200 pregnancies treated by Raffai premature birth rates were lower than 0.1 percent as compared to an average of more than 8%.
  8. Birth trauma is of low degree as indicated by natural, round shaped heads and little crying after birth (typically less than 20 minutes per day).
  9. The babies are curious about the world, emotionally stable, socially mature and have complete access to their personal potential.
  10. There is less sleeping during daytime, but longer and deeper sleep at night, with few awakenings, so parents suffer less from sleep disorders.