Self-Attachment in the First Hour of Life:
Biologically Programmed Process and
Foundation for a Happy Life
By Janel Lou
Martin Miranda, MA, LPC
and mom are unmedicated during labor and birth, and when left
in the arms of his mother to rest, to gaze into her eyes, and
to smell her and feel her loving touch, he will begin to crawl
to her breast when his biological impulse guides him. With
only his mother's touch and support, he will smell her nipple,
lick at it, and attach himself to her breast. This process
completes a significant sequence in the baby's nervous system.
Physiologically, this Self-Attachment process is the
completion of a biologically programmed process that begins
with the baby's initiation of labor (via his hormonal signal
to the mother.) Scientists know that the human baby has a biological impulse to
begin his or her labor and birth, and that this process
completes with the baby attaching to the mother's breast.
This process of labor, birth, and meeting and reconnecting
after separation from the womb will forever define the
mother-child relationship; negatively, unless we consciously repair it.
Above: Baby has self-attached at the breast after a
very calm, peaceful birth at home. Right: Later, mom
and baby are resting in bliss.
Self-Attachment is supported by the last decade of brain
development and the ground breaking research by Lennart
Righard, MD, a pediatrician and researcher in the field of
birth and breast-feeding (The Lancer, 1990. Volume 336; pages
1105-07), and by the work of pioneers in the Pre and Perinatal
published a study in 1990 “that looked at two groups of
newborns. In the first group the infant was placed on the
mother’s abdomen and within fifty minutes most infants and
self attached to the breast and were suckling correctly. In
the second group the newborn babies were removed from the
mother’s abdomen, bathed, measured, and replaced on the
abdomen. The infants in this group from an unmedicated birth
self-attached but half of them had a faulty suckling pattern.
Most of the infants from a medicated birth were too drowsy to
be able to suckle at all.” (From the cover description of the
video, “Delivery Self-Attachment”, produced by Lennert).
Purchase video at:
Newman, MD, Canadian breastfeeding guru and author of,
encourages the process of self-attachment within the first six
weeks to assist babies in latching and breastfeeding. The
six-week window for completing the
self-attachment reflex corresponds with the Baurer's and
Stepping reflexes of the newborn.
Infant Self-Attachment by Teresa
Pitman, colleague of Dr. Newman
co-author of, The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers.
Read the article at
years work of prenatal and birth trauma healing pioneers,
Emerson, McCarty, and Castellino now show us that this
critical need in the central nervous system for
self-attachment can happen at any age. And, with their
pioneering work with babies and adults, we know now that the
unresolved trauma from labor and birth must be addressed IN
ORDER to complete the self-attachment process.
twenty-five years of work with infants, children, and adults,
my teacher, Dr. Raymond Castellino (www.beba.org) has
discovered that the Self-Attachment process of reconnecting
outside the womb is a crucial event that must happen in order
for optimal ability of a human being to attach to his
or her parents and for the parents to bond with the
newborn. He has found this to be a basic biological need
of the human being. The critical break leads to a
multitude of human issues seen in our culture. In his
model of prenatal and birth healing, he has discovered that
the biological impulse and need for the self-attachment is a
universal and an biologically, physiological impulse. When one
does the birth trauma healing the impulse is for the human to
spontaneously pursue self-attachment. This is true at any age.
I personally have experienced this at age 46 and I also
facilitated a seventy-year old woman to do her own
She heard me
speak at a woman's group in Nevada City, CA and came up to me
afterwards to make an appointment. She wanted to heal the
life-long difficult relationship with her daughter. When
her daughter was born she yearned to breast feed her baby and
her body produced the milk to do so. Her husband was in
Europe in the war and she was staying with her mother, a
nurse. Her mother was against breast feeding and along
with the doctor, she forced the new mother to bind her breasts
to stop milk production. Ironically, this had also been done
to the grandmother when this older woman of seventy had been
had had a total mastectomy several years prior to my session
with her. Several days later her granddaughter phoned
her. Was this "out of the blue?" Or coincidental?? Or did the
change in the woman's own nervous system -- releasing her
guilt, shame, and anger about her own experience as a baby
being denied the breast AND being denied to breastfeed her own
daughter -- effect her energetic being? Dr. Lipton's book,
"The Biology of Belief" explains this phenomenon as well as
how prayer works.
Above: Left -
My daughter and grandson after Andrew completed
Self-Attachment -- even though it had been exactly an hour
before hospital staff completed their routines and "allowed"
her to nurse her baby. Her tears here are tears of joy
and healing as she tells her baby how much she loves him.
Meeting her first son after being separated for hours after
a cesarean birth. Both are still obviously affected by
drugs. Many babies separated for hours are given supplement
or glucose and are not hungry or able to effectively
breastfeed. Glucose is given for pain relief for shots and
interventions without regard for the imprint in the brain of
connecting taking sugar/glucose with pain relief.
Mainstream science is not looking at the connection between
this and sugar addiction in children, obesity, diabetes. The
first feeding in breast feeding has a special effect of
priming the intestine, necessary for lifelong health.
In the first
moments of life outside the womb, the baby's brain and body
undergo monumental changes in order to become an individual
being, dependent upon his body to survive. Prior to these moments in this new world, his or
her mother is the only person the baby has physically known. He or she knows the mother
through the umbilicus, through her voice, her heartbeat, and
through sensation. He only knows the world and others in her
environment through her experience and perceptions. Their bodies are symbiotic and he is surrounded and held by her uterus in warm safety.
For nine plus months the baby's umbilical cord is his or
her life line in many ways, and it is the connection to his
only womb companion and life source -- his or her
Labor, birth and first moments
collectively are one monumental process in which a baby goes from
being a water-breathing being to being an air-breathing being.
Labor and birth are relatively short in
time compared to gestation, but is nonetheless monumental, as
the process adjusting to life outside the womb. In
moments, the human baby goes from being symbiotic with her
mother to being and individual. Every organ
and system must perform. Birth
involves much force and maneuvering and happens with
extraordinary hormonal and physiological precision, in a
beautiful orchestration during mother and baby. Birth is
ancient. Truly, this biological process has not changed.
is ancient. Birth is so ancient. Midwifery is the oldest
profession in the world. Women's bodies know how to give birth. As far back as humanity goes --
women have known how to give birth. The mechanisms to
create the attachment that makes the mother fiercely love her
baby are biologically programmed, and are ancient.
Modern birth --with drugs, noise, people, and
interventions -- is dictated more by malpractice issues, than
by science, logic, or spiritual needs, and, interferes with the most defining moment of
the human being.
In those first moments of life outside
the womb, separated from the umbilicus and placenta, all the
systems must do their biologically planned and intended work.
There is no moment in the brain's development and life
that is not critical. Prenatally, women are told to be
nourished, hydrated, drug-free, and stress-free. During
labor and birth these "science-based" admonishments are
ignored. We logically and now scientifically know
that the baby's brain is also experiencing, responding to, and
recording this event -- just as it does every other moment of
life from conception. It's called fetal programming by the
biologists and imprinting by the pre and perinatal
A baby's long-term survival depends upon his
successful reconnecting with his mother and he'll forever view
and experience the
world through this early brain imprinting. Whether he is
safe and protected, supported and nourished will be his first
experience of the world. He or she is totally
dependent on a caregiver (who is drugged and violated) for every aspect of survival. The more connected this
caregiver, the greater the baby's survival; and importantly, the
greater the quality of his or her life will be.
Humans are known to be resilient, and so the violating way
babies are treated is somehow justified by society
(acknowledgement always requires inner change in relationship
to the acknowledged one).
surely do survive physically in amazingly deprived situations,
and most of us do ok in our life and relationships, most
people yearn for greater love and connection. We know
something big is missing. Many disrupt their lives in multiple
ways in attempts to have it. (Mine hand is raised!) How
we do this will be a reflection of our labor, birth, and
attachment experience with our mother. It's imprinted in
the brain. Am I loved? Am I wanted? Am I worthy? Am I safe?
connection in the first hour of life ensures a healthier,
happier life. Born in a situation experiencing safety,
being wanted, knowing one is loved, and seen as worthy by those who provided the biological
tissues that made us will create the foundation for healthy,
happy relationships. Modern birth in the 21st century should be about
using the best of the ancient wisdom of birthing and
technology to create the highest human potential possible. It
should not be about
control of pain at any cost, with no regard for the effects on the
baby, and not for other people's schedules and malpractice. It
should be about a societal effort to truly support parenting
-- both mothers and fathers.
Above: Baby Adam,
like many, are left alone, naked, and distraught to wait for
their mothers in an other room. Throughout childhood he
had great difficulty with his mother being out of his sight
and it was very challenging whenever he enters new settings.
He was kept in the nursery while his mother was kept on the
surgical floor because there was not a bed for her on the
labor and delivery floor (and why is that with a PLANNED
cesarean?) His father finally raised such objections as to get
the OB nurse to sneak the baby up to surgical floor "against
Notice the color difference between his head and body.
against medical birth disrupting birth that leads to
attachment and health issues is clear and thanks to the
proliferation of brain, cell, and physics research since the
late 90's, attachment theory is very based in science.
Applied to birthing,
it goes back
to basic Anatomy 101; "for every structure there is a
function." No where in medicine is this ignored more
than in obstetrics. Routine inducing of labor is clearly
detrimental when considers the baby is meant to start this
process hormonally. Another example, early
cord cutting before the cord stops pulsing is known to be
related to jaundice in newborns and to lead to life long
respiratory, circulatory, and other issues. The reasons for
doing these interventions is purely ritual, historical, and
self-serving for the needs of the medical establishment. Now, the
collective work of an inter-disciplinary group of scientists supports
the long denied belief that --- prenatal life and the
experience of birth create
the foundation for all emotional and physical health or
dysfunction, including cardiac, blood pressure, diabetes, and
mental illness. Medical birth is dangerous to our health
We are more
than physical; we are spiritual beings who come into a
physical presence in those first seconds. I believe separation
from the inner world of the womb (and mother), from our
umbilical cord, and from our placenta has profound spiritual
implications for the lifetime. Could the placenta be the
"other" that we humans seek at such great costs throughout the
lifetime? Research in Europe shows that when the placenta in
another room is touched, the baby responds. Psychology has yet
to explore this vast frontier.
of leaving the mother's womb, separating from the placenta,
and reconnecting with the mother in a whole new way is disrupted by drugs and
interventions, and the people (their needs and feelings,
noise, etc) who are present in labor and birth.
During the first moments of life only those who love this baby
should touch him or her. Only their soft, cooing voices should
be heard. A baby's first touch should be his mother -- no one
can touch a baby with as much love, concern, and tenderness as
the mother. Touch
by anyone else should be minimized for as long as possible.
Some women birthing at home are doing so in part in order to minimize
contact by others. Some are staying in for the first seven or so days of life because of the
vulnerability of the baby.
hour of life is for bonding and attachment WHILE transitioning
environments. It is NOT the time for weighing, bathing,
diapers, clothing, cheering, lights, noise, chatter, shots,
eye ointment, etc. Clothing and swaddling interfere with
interventions, touch, and resuscitation should be done with baby in the mother's arms,
or father's if she is unable.
Father holds baby skin-to-skin at a home birth while mother
is being cared for --- after baby did Self Attachment.
Right: Father connects with baby (VBAC) while separated
from mother because of "potential risk" from meconium. Staff
refused to do interventions on baby in mother's arms. Below
Left: Father connects with baby after a cesarean birth.
Mother and baby did not meet for 13 hours. Right:
Father holds baby nearby mother while waiting for her to be
able to sit up after a cesarean section.
All of the
settings above are different -- and there is no standard of
care for newborns. Protocols vary and are decided by
individual hospitals and caregivers on different shifts.
that are developed only based on staff needs are the priority,
not science-based. They are for time control and liability,
not to protect and support the need for mother and baby to reconnect in the first moments of the
baby's life. Mother and baby are routinely
separated (even if in the same room) while the baby endures
traumatic interventions. Sadly, this is considered "normal
birth" and scientifically sound in our society, even with
abundant research showing that even sick or seriously ill
babies respond to treatment better when they are in their
more in touch with their baby than anyone - her body has built
this baby. Her uterus has provided skin-to-skin contact for
over nine months. Her body knows every detail of this baby.
Her body is her unconscious (science is now explaining old,
nebulous psychological theories, such as the Unconscious).
Intuitively, a woman has the ability
to know the whole gamete of her baby's needs (in the
womb, during labor, and at birth and beyond) when she knows
how to trust her own instincts.
Theoretically, a woman who trusts her own instincts and judgments and makes
her decisions with people who love her and support should not
plagued by guilt.
Obstetrics is the least scientifically based medical
specialty and the treatment of women (denial and violation) in
medical birth is the source of great wounding and anger.
This is the root of mother's guilt.
are choosing homebirth instead of hospital birth and it's
disempowerment. It is one huge step towards taking back their
power and protecting their baby from traumatic interventions.
caregivers doing shift work -- never before seen by the mother
and her baby (who experiences and knows everyone she knows
during the nine months in the womb) are strangers. These
people are strangers to the baby. Their
medical expertise is very polluted by their own fear of birth
in which they
are trained. Birth is a potential medical crisis, protocols
must be followed to prevent litigation. Fear of birth, fear of
women's bodies, and even the sounds women make during labor
and birth dis-empower women. They bring their own
traumatic birth experiences, through which they have perceived
their professional training, to the birth of every baby whose
birth they attend.
should be treated with respect and told what is happening and
why. This true at any time -- one hour, two days, four
years, or forty years old. A baby wants and needs to be
treated just as we would wish to be treated. We would
not someone to give us shot in the leg without warning, or to
scrub our face with a rough cloth. Never is this more
the case than in those first moments in this new world.
his wishes, Father is forced to take baby to nursery for
measurements and cleaning -- just after he intervened with the
neonatal physician who was scrubbing the baby's chest so hard
that the skin was rubbed off.
He wanted his son to stay with his mother in recovery, but the
nursery nurse insisted that the baby be taken to the nursery. The nurse was angry that the
father refused to put his baby in a cart and had insisted on
carrying the baby in his arms. The nurse asked the doctors, "Can he do
that?" Another nurse said, "Its his son." In
the nursery the nurse kicked me out for "being germy" when I
backed the father's wishes during a "second tug 'o baby". Nurse was forcefully
trying to pull baby from his arms to put on scales and the father
was insisting that he did want not to weigh the baby yet. She
said, "It is hospital protocol." I said, "It's not what the
baby needs right now." I gained a little time for the
father -- time it took the nurse to kick me out of the nursery
that was right off the hallway with extensive foot traffic by
the public. Left: Then, between
interventions Father is supporting baby, gently holding his
head and telling him what is happening, and he is gently
holding his son's head telling him, "I am sorry, I am here." Baby's
head had significant molding and father wanted to hold his
son's head gently and not be roughly measured. The baby had
moved posterior and had the classic head shape of laboring of
posterior. The head has to be extremely sensitive to touch. Right: The
nurse is literally trying to pry the father's hands away from
his baby as he is asking her to please slow down. The
other birth companion and cousin of the mother taking
photographs was kicked out of the room at this point for
speaking up. Later the
parents were threatened with DCFS intervention for not
allowing eye ointment (a big interference in attachment as the
eye contact between parent and newborn is what triggers
certain hormones and brain activity) and observed closely when
they insisted that the baby room with the mother and would not
allow the baby to be in the nursery.
is the exception because he was prepared. He participated in
healing his own birth experience during the prenatal period and
he participated in every
aspect of the prenatal period.
Most men are also disempowered
in their baby's birth -- it is a learned experience from their
own births. Birth IS the baby's birth. Where
else in this society -- besides in labor and birth and hours
after -- does a man stand by powerlessly watching his wife and
child being drugged, coerced into things she said she
didn't want, manhandled and not become an aggressive protector?
Where does he have to process his shame and guilt about his
"failure" to do what he is biologically meant to do --
protect -- especially in a society that does not honor and
respect the bodies of women and babies? He acts it out in
addictions (including work) and it is believed in pre and
perinatal psychology that the experience of modern
birth is a major contributor to failure of marriage.
modern society is no longer considered a normal and sacred
event; rather, it is a medical event to be managed. Women
no longer believe that God made their body with an amazing
capability to bring forth life. Society
does not apply scientific logic and heartfelt compassion to the
first hour after birth. Not only is it a sacred time, it is a
"critical period" in the continuum of brain development that
began at conception and never ends until death. The first hour of life is when
physically, emotionally, and spiritually the human being's
biological impulse and primary need is to meet and reconnect
with his or her mother outside her womb.
empowered birth can be exhilarating, intense, and loud --
sounding and looking much like love making and orgasm. Natural labor and birth
are sexual and medicine, religion, and psychology fear birth.
(One of the reasons I suspect the medical machine works so
hard to drug and suppress women, and to control birth is to
control women. Women and their partners gain their power and their voice in
birthing their babies on their terms. Earthly, sensual,
natural women are powerful and scary to the status quo. Men
who support their partner and protect their baby in birth are
engaged fathers and partners.)
first twenty minutes after birth the mother's instinct is to
rest and allow her baby to rest; meanwhile, she will touch,
smell, lick, and caress her baby, look into his or her eyes,
and coo loving words. Like lovers do. Baby will look for his
or her mother's face and her eyes, and respond to her. This
eye and physical contact will set off the biological cascade
of hormones, known as “the love cocktail.” They are meant to
fall in love with each other -- the new human being's survival
depends upon it.
baby is ready and begins to crawl, his or her mother's
instinct is to never to force the baby to the breast. Her
biological impulse is to maintain visual contact, and quietly
and gently support him or her to find the breast.
Working together mother and newborn accomplish their
biological and emotional need to re-attachment, a process that
is crucial for attachment and bonding.
for self-attachment and completion of this sequence is
virtually unheard of in most modern births; yet it is a
biologically programmed impulse. This is crucial for the
foundation for the mother-child relation and every other
relationship. A newborn wants nothing but to be with his
In the first
hour of life a baby's flailing, wailing, and resisting
interventions are his way of communicating his objections, but
well-intended caregivers are not conscious of this.
First moments of life after a planned cesarean. Highly
trained, well-meaning professionals do not see the fighting,
crying, and flailing -- in noisy room with masked strangers,
rough handling, bright lights and
cold air -- as communication. "PUT ME BACK!!" perhaps, or
"LEAVE ME ALONE!", or maybe just, "WHEEEERE'S MY MAAMA!?!?" The latter, by the way
would describe his primary emotional concern in the first six
years of his life.
baby above and 90% of babies born in the US in the past 100
years, the clear message is "Welcome to the mean, cruel world, kid"
as he or she is accosted by loud masked strangers gloved in latex.
Ancient cultures reserved this treatment for those babies
destined to be warriors.
WHERE else in our current society would anyone, and especially
not parents, watch while their baby is treated so violently;
sometimes, after they explicit instructions not to.
How could we
believe he is not feeling and won't remember this? But, we
believe that baby does
remember the mother's loving touch and voice and we now KNOW that
babies in the womb feel and hear.
What is this little baby boy above
feeling? He looks scared and to be fighting. Does anyone
else notice how odd and incongruent it is for adults to be
smiling (at best) as they do this, or just loudly, roughly doing their routine
protocols on the baby while oblivious to the emotions and
needs of this new life in their hands? When we fail to protect
our babies in birth, how could we not be creating the foundation for
fear and distrust? Don't we teach them this by not
protecting them from strangers? How does a baby ever know appropriate
boundaries after violation in the first hours of life? HOW
does a baby know that this is a peaceful world? Or, is it?
Induced birth with epidural are known to lead to
malpositioning for baby which leads to cesarean with
devastating results for baby (below) and Mother.
Mother waited an hour while resident and attending argued over
whether to do cesarean. After hours of Pitocin labor, the
resident wanted "to pump up the Pitocin and get the baby out."
Mother refused, knowing something was wrong, and she wanted a
cesarean. Right: Baby and mother meet
for first time thirteen hours after her birth by cesarean
section. (Naval hospital originally with nurse midwives until emergency
cesarean was necessary.)
The baby was induced and this almost always leads to using
epidural anesthesia because of intense labor, which is known
to lead to abnormal positioning of the baby, and this leads to
Her face shows she was obviously seriously hurt in her labor
and birth and that her mother's instinct was right. Baby was
obviously repeatedly ramming her face against pelvic bone. Hospital caregivers did not
even acknowledge or speak of
her injuries. Her injuries were ignored, not acknowledged, and
not addressed medically by hospital staff. This is likely
because they don't want to admit their wrong-doing, and
frankly, as we all know, that injuries are often disregarded
by medical field because they don't know what to do, and so
we're told, "It won't effect you and it'll just go away." Sure
the bruising or pain eventually does because our bodies are
mean to survive, but the memory of the experience is still in
our body. Our medical and
psychological systems shrug their shoulders and say "It seems
to go away in a few days," "Take a pill, get a steroid
shot, but don't believe in complementary methods.") and in
doing so, promote their nonsensical science --
denying that the birth experience is recorded (remembered);
denying that brain of the birthing baby remembers birth. In psychological world of addiction recovery, this would be called
"Going down the river DENIAL" which
just simply allows one to continue to do what they are doing
and not be responsible for it.
Research shows that
epidural anesthesia is strongly associated with abnormal fetal
position (occiput posterior) at delivery and may help explain
the high rates of operative delivery observed after
administration of an epidural. (Obstetrics & Gynecology 2005;
105: 974-82). Scientific research is showing that babies do remember birth
and it gets acted out throughout life. Physician heal thyself.
Your brain is
receiving, processing, and acting upon environmental information
from conception beyond. During gestation everything is filtered through
how mom feels and views the world. It is imprinted in
your developing brain and body, and your body holds the
memory. The body is the unconscious according to new
scientific understandings of cell behavior according to Bruce
Lipton, PhD (www.brucelipton.com). Your labor, birth, and
become your template for being in the world. It is communicated
through our body language and mainstream psychology even says
that 75% of communication is NON-VERBAL. We know in Pre and
Perinatal Psychology that those times when we just can
understand why we do what we do, why we can't get past this
certain issues, etc, it is the PREVERBAL period of brain
development. As children and an adult, you have learned to put words to
experiences and feelings and created an understanding of the
world that becomes part of your neocortex -- the thinking part
of the brain. The preverbal, nonverbal is clearly known to the
body. For this reason, effectively changing our issues,
dysfunction, pain, relationships can not logically or
scientifically be resolved unless we use a Mind-Body type of
medicine, psychology, and religion will soon consider that the
human brain is a living, growing, during labor and birth as it
is known to be at EVERY OTHER STAGE OF LIFE before and after
birth. Sound, touch, taste,
smell, moments after -- for both mother and baby. We have to change what we do during labor and birth, and first
hour of life, to the most vulnerable. You, the adult,
were once that vulnerable baby.
research shows that the baby follows the smell of his and his
mother's combined body fluids on his hands; therefore,
immediate scrubbing of the baby interferes with his ability to
do so (and is mean). One of the current obstacles to not
roughly wiping the baby is the mother's abhorrence to her own
and her baby's fluids. This is a learned response and a
consequence of the modern, sterile, hospitalization of birth.
Self Attachment Ecstasy and Falling in Love
Left. Baby completed Self-Attachment after Cesarean birth. The
hormonal bliss is obvious on her face. The father and I
supported her and the baby to come together. Later, as always, the baby
initiated doing the process again in our conversations as the
parent's processed their feelings about the birth. The entire
pictorial will be here soon. Right. My daughter and grandson
gaze into each other's eyes after he did the self-attachment.
indoctrination by medicine that birth is to be feared, and our
bodies denied has also lead to a denial of the consciousness of
the human baby. Medicine, religion, and psychology all ignore
the real science (that could unite the three) that shows us that
the labor and birth and attachment experience form -- in the
BRAIN! Our relationship with our mother at birth IS the template for all future relationships. The
human birthing baby remembers everything that she or he
experienced -- prenatally and during birth.
No More Mother's Guilt
seem like "bad news" to most moms and your feelings of guilt
and hopelessness may be triggered for how your little one
experienced birth -- no matter how old that child may be. Let
me say, I am very sorry for whatever experience you had that
interfered with your attachment with your mother or with your
children. The "good news" is if you got the previous paragraphs
you will also feel the stirring of hope. You can, no matter
what age you and your child, whether present in your life or
not, you can heal what happened to you -- in your own nervous
You can heal
this break in your relationship with your child -- at any age.
Even when drugs are used, when birth is by cesarean, and when
baby is removed from the mother for interventions (as in the
majority of births), a baby can do this process later.
Opposition" -- a technique to address a multitude
of behaviors, such as frustration and anger -- with a mom and eleven year old. Laboring babies
work with the mother during natural labor using their feet.
Mother's uterus and baby's feet work together in a way that
becomes their pattern of relating. Drugs during labor
interfere with the process. This young boy's labor was forced
by hospital staff. It was Sunday morning and "it seemed like
the doctor had somewhere to be." Mom was not allowed to
make any noise. She was given Demerol without her consent.
Later, when the baby was unable to awaken to breast feed nurses
poked at his chin repeatedly trying to awaken him to get him to
attach. His mother recalled this suddenly as he was repeatedly
and forcefully poking at her chin. This is how therapy
works -- mother and baby both sharing and telling their
experience of birth, from their own perspective. In telling their story,
children and parents can experience working together physically,
gently, respectfully while hearing the child's perspective of the birth, usually
through behavior. Right: Mother and child come together. This
process of sharing and validating, making eye contact, working
through where baby was blocked creates new neural pathways for relating.
medical and psychological establishments denies that we are
energetic beings. It is
reported that it takes about seventeen years for new research
to make it in to medical education and practice. This is
the case in obstetric medicine. Scientific
facts of human biology and the brain development needs of our
birthing baby lead medical care providers to insist on inducing or refuse to keep our
baby in our arms to do malpractice dictated interventions. You
can, while we wait for them to catch up, no matter happens, still find a way to support the baby
to complete the Self-Attachment process. Even children who are
adopted can experience leaving the birth mother to attach with
the adopting mother.
To do so, a
woman will need to process her feelings about her experience
of birthing her baby, and just as important, hear and
acknowledge her baby's perspective and story of his or her
birth experience. Otherwise, one can spend their life time trying to tell her ("You
just don't understand me!!"), connect
with her, be acknowledged, supported, felt, and seen by her.
Biting, hitting, head banging, hyperactivity are all
communication. Coming to the mother for nurturing or when
hurt, and then pulling away from her is communication about
how it was at birth. Acknowledgement of that is really all any of us want and we look for it in the
ways we were wounded. Some of us
look for it in the most difficult of places and people.
This is how
we continue to draw the same difficult, pain-producing people
and situations into our lives. We look
for connection with others
until we go within to find it within. Drug
addiction, domestic violence - why one does it and the
other always comes back -- can be explained and healed at the
prenatal and birth level.
I am resolving my own cord trauma (2-1/2 times around my neck) with colleagues in my
training with Castellino (www.castellinotraining.com).
I learned that cord trauma was a cause of many of my lifelong
issues related to motivation, movement, and follow through.
Cord trauma effects one at a core level because of the
tendency for a lack of oxygen during the monumental task of
leaving the womb. EVERY baby born with the cord around his or neck
ought to have prenatal and birth therapy. Right: My partner
and dear friend, Gene, and I are doing "Creative Opposition" dealing with the
resistance and anger (blocked biological impulse) and
experienced in relationship after relationship because of a forced birth
(with low oxygen due to cord wrap) with forceps resulting in broken clavicle (unrecognized). He
is "meeting me" -- not forcing, pulling, or pushing me, just
letting me feel my deepest wounding in safety. Forceps and
vacuum extraction create a need to look for resistance in
one's life. Visit
for info on psychological and personality traits that result
from cord trauma, forceps, and cesarean birth.
Kitty and Gene, classmates, who were parents in reimprinting
my prenatal and birth imprints (being gestated in their
relationship dynamics) that lead to my umbilical cord
being around my neck (from my reactions to events in the
environment). All a newborn baby wants is to be in her mother
and father's arms and to be held and seen by them, to be the
joy of their union, not a conduit for their issues. I have what
we call "amgydala eyes" -- when the brain is lit up with love
experience such as I had, regardless of age,
creates the neural pathway for a new way of relating. With no
other effort or counseling, and without "trauma and drama", my
relationship with my mother and father dramatically improved.
It's quite amazing work.
I am working with my 75 year old mother who has also
participated with myself and two other siblings in birth
trauma healing sessions. At one point, she leaned over and whispered to me,
as if someone in authority (doctor or nurse) might over hear, "I believe we women have been robbed."
This made more sense to me when later she told me the story --
for the first time in 45 years -- that when I was born she had
been watching me through the nursery window and she witnessed
the nurse being abusive to other babies as she "cared" for
them. My mom said she wanted to tell the doctor, but didn't
tell anyone, because "I was afraid the nurse would just
get in trouble and then take it out on you." Say,
whaaat? How AWFUL is that!?!? for a mother and a baby?!?
For a mother to not be able to protect and her nurture her
newborn, an severely injured one at that, but to witness and be scared
to tell of mistreatment of a newborn, and then be fearful of
her baby's safety? Lord o' Mercy!! We are
brainwashed to believe we are safer in
hospitals than in our homes with a supportive, trained
professional -- and it's been done with generations of
of hospitals as safest for birth is our country's mis-belief and
LEGACY -- and we see the effects of violation and fear during
the labor, birth, and attachment sequence being acted out in
our society. The Burden of Society's Guilt is carried by
MOTHERS! We have the ability to turn it around -- if
we only choose to.
have so much guilt that originates in own own birth experience
and in the experience of birthing our own babies. Women have
hurt and victimized and unwilling, uninformed, and unknown
subjects in one long experiment -- medical birth. Ninety
percent of us were born and we also gave birth under the influence of
drugs. Historically, these drugs - ether, scopalamine,
Demerol, epidural narcotics -- have never shown to be safe for our babies.
forced to go without food and water and confined to our backs
to give birth in the worst physical position possible -- on
our backs. I was tied down with my first child's birth
because scopalamine makes a birthing woman nuts. Our entire
emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual lives as
women is defined by our birthing experience that is violent,
disempowering, and shameful. We women bear the guilt that results and our
hearts break when our children hurt and we can't find the
answers. Men also experience the guilt and shame from
not protecting their wife and baby and watching hours of
We women who
gave birth in conditions that disempowered us and harmed our
children can do our own healing at any age. We can face the
shame, guilt, and anger and support and hold one another to do
so. We can forgive our self, and those "who know not what they
do." We can see our children, whatever their age, as acting out
their story -- in relationship to us. We can heal our own
early birthing experience (brain development) and having
created new neural pathways, we change. We don't have to look
for change outside of ourselves -- drugs, surgery, or others
-- to be who we want. We can become advocates for birthing women and babies; and,
we can expect society to stop violating women's bodies and souls.
We can stop the insanity by choosing wisely. We can allow men
to be the protectors in their baby's birth. We can support our children to birth
our grandchildren differently.
I am supporting my daughter and grandson, Andrew, to do the
Self-Attachment. Right: Father and I are supporting
mother and baby to do the Self-Attachment after cesarean
section. Babies born under the influence of drugs and their
mothers need more support.
It is an
extraordinary journey for a woman to go within to heal the
wounds from birth and to face the disempowerment, guilt, and
shame from her birthing experience. We can do it only
with support and in relationship with others who are willing
to go within to witness their own earliest wounding. Sometimes, it is as
simple as holding witness for the baby and mother by the doula,
friend, husband, or grandmother who was present and then
supporting them to re-experience birth the way they wanted to.
In order to do so, one must also be able to see and hold the
baby who experienced the trauma and separation from his or her
mother. Doing so will create new neural pathways in the
baby and mother's brains. Most often those who love the woman
and her baby who were present are also traumatized, and most
often the mother has not resolved her own Self-Attachment
wounding in her own birth. Professional assistance is
and facilitating self-attachment is a primary objective of the
Prenatal and Birth focused CranioSacral Therapy -- at any age.
You can do
this if your mother or child is not living; or if you are
apart because of adoption or relationship issues. We can do
this in individual sessions or group sessions. You can do the Self-Attachment healing
even if you can not be in contact with the other who is alive,
but unavailable or not safe to be with.
You can do so because it is about working WITHIN THE SELF, in
one's own nervous system, rather than in the external world that looks for an outer source
(medicine, psychology) to either change us or look to others
to do the changing.
and the mother-child relationship are critical in brain
development and the interference during birth is a national
tragedy. It's no coincidence that we live in a world where
humans are desperately trying to survive by all the wrong,
means -- blaming others, blaming government, using drugs.
Malpractice crisis in the US is a consequence of this mindset
of the outer world is the answer.
To begin to
change the ills of our society, the first simple step is to change
what we do to babies in the first hour of life.
Policies, procedures, protocols meant to manage time and to
protect doctors, nurses, and hospitals, can be easily changed.
We could create human beings who are focused on love, not
fear because they were protected and nurtured in their first
moments of life. When we are conscious of the needs of the newborn and
self-attachment, we will treat babies differently and we will
change the world.
We can heal Earth
by healing Birth.
Janel Lou Martin
Miranda, MA, LPC
Special thanks to my dear children and friends with whom I have been
blessed to participate in either their birth or their
healing. The babies who shared their pictures and stories
above, is one of my amazing teachers and I was blessed to be at
his birth and a part of his healing with his mother,
father, and brother afterward. Right: My baby,
Mariah, a most amazing girl. Her birth induced and with
epidural and our healing has taught me how to sit with
women in the deepest of dark places of guilt about choices
that hurt our babies. Every time I work with a baby and
mother with induced and epidural, I honor her and
appreciate her father, an obstetric trained physician, for
our life experiences together that led me to my
work. (see my article "Beware
and Be Aware:
doctor says, 'If you were my daughter or wife, this is
what I'd recommend," it doesn't necessarily mean it's
My very special friend and teacher, Caleb, and I are doing
"Creative Opposition." Right: Baby Elijah, an amazing baby
with extraordinary courage a and beautiful heart. Both
babies' are on the homepage and their mother's have shared
their stories. Elijah and his sister were featured
in a newspaper story about my work.
Daniel, the homebirth baby who did Self-Attachment --
here at two weeks. Seriously, he's only two weeks old.
Isn't he amazing? Right: Jasmyn and her daddy
have a special relationship -- Jasmyn is the baby whose
face was so bruised and her daddy supported her during the
separation from her mother. Seems like she likes her
hand near her daddy's mouth. Hmmmmm. And "they" say babies
don't remember birth -- the good times and all.
to the people with whom I have done my own prenatal and
birth trauma healing:
"Womb Surround" in the Castellino Prenatal and Birth
Training. They are my teachers and my spiritual
family with whom I learned so much about who I really am
and how to be in relationship. Right: Gene, me, and Ray.
They are such nice men.
Some of my very special teachers, some little, some big.
good-bye to my friend, Janessa, above left. She is a very
special, beautiful little girl I met at The Farm in
Tennessee when her mother and I were studying with Ina May
Gaskin and midwives. On the right, above, Farm Midwife,
Pamela, me, and Ina May. I express my gratitude to Ina May
with a kiss.
By the way,
whether you are now pregnant, planning to be, and/or only
have time to read one book, read Ina May's book, "Ina
May's Guide to Childbirth."