By guest blogger Barbara Rivera -NJBN
When you hear the words prenatal education, what comes to mind? A room full of expecting mothers and partners preparing for birth. But to Julie Ryan Gerland Chief United Nations Representative of the Non Governmental Organization OMAEP (also called the World Organization of Prenatal Education Associations -the initials for the organization are in French), prenatal education is a vital instrument for supporting a shift in the world regarding health, peace and sustainability. During a recent event, held at Montclair State University, titled, “Fear & Stress to Wellbeing: How the nine months in the womb influence the rest of a person's life,” Dr. Gerland shared how prenatal education can impart scientific and psychological knowledge to empower parents and society to move from a survival mindset, to one of thriving.
Most people know that environmental toxins and a bad diet can contribute to disease of the developing fetus during pregnancy but many don’t know that chronic stress, fear and violence will cause a fetus to develop in different ways. Dr. Gerland says that, according to the overwhelming scientific evidence, all efforts to fix the problems in the world won’t work unless we change the way mothers live and the way babies are treated at the beginning of life.
Over 30 year of science shows that everything the pregnant mother lives will contribute to the formation of her baby’s physical and psychological well being, including how “connected,” a child feels to others and the world. “How can we expect someone who has always known violence from the moment of conception through the most vulnerable time of development, the nine-months in utero, followed by a violent birth and early infancy to act peacefully?” Dr. Gerland asks, “It’s like not watering a plant and expecting it to grow!”
Likewise a child who is wanted and loved unconditionally, as well as formed inside of a mother who feels supported and nurtured will develop to meet a world that is _GoBacksafe, with a brain geared towards peace and creativity. Babies in utero are conscious and are constantly downloading information about themselves and their environment. Their mothers and fathers attention and interactions with them, even from conception, is more important to development than we once realized.
Some other key ideas Dr. Gerland shared were:
-The mother’s experiences and perceptions informs the fetus of the environment s/he must prepare for. The baby develops in expectation of that environment. Is the world a safe place or will life be a fight for survival?
-This womb time, birth and the baby’s first days, called the Primal Period, is of vital importance to the formation of human beings.
-Real or perceived stress plays a huge role in brain development and health. Stressed and/or fearful mothers will form human beings whose brains are geared towards stress, aggression and survival.
-A mother’s diet and environmental toxins will play a critical role in the health of her baby as well.
- Because of this, how we treat and care for mothers during the primal period should become a nation’s imperative, especially if we want a world where the humans are geared towards creativity, wellness and peace.
Dr. Gerland says that by integrating prenatal education into early schooling, health systems, and other governmental organizations, humanity would have the answers that it seeks; humans who are more able to feel connected, peaceful and creative.
POWER OF CHOICE
How can we best help parents use this knowledge once they have it? Dr. Gerland says that we can start by giving mothers and fathers permission to want the every best for their baby. We can’t start to improve anything unless we can imagine a better outcome. The next step is letting people know that their creative power as a parent goes beyond our circumstances in life. They can make deliberate choices away from stress and towards peace in our life. Here is more of what Dr. Gerland shared about stress:
-Many people live in a constant state of adrenaline release, or stress. Adrenalin is a hormone of excitement, fear and danger. Many people are so habituated to the sensations adrenalin that they don’t even realize that they are staying in the “survival mode,” of living.
-When you stay in this state, your body’s energy is routed to survival. Healing and cell regeneration is halted or slowed by the hormones that create this state.
-The opposite of a stressful state is feeling at ease, feeling connected, or feeling love. This state is ruled by adrenalin’s antagonists, endorphins and oxytocin.
-The good news is that we cannot occupy both states at once. By consciously choosing to releasing endorphins a person can learn to keep themselves in a state which is beneficial for optimal health, healing, and well being.
-Since oxytocin increases feelings of connection and love, this is the state of being that will nurture peace on this planet.
RELEASING ENDORPHINS- POWER IN YOUR FINGERTIPS
Dr. Gerland shared a technique in which endorphins, which are estimated to be 200 times more powerful than morphine, can be released by using physical touch. After learning this technique, one has the power to consciously choose and create a peaceful, healing, connected state of being at will. This technique could also be used on their loved ones to create a healing state, pain relief, or feelings of well being as needed.
(An aside: During the writing of this article, my 9 year old daughter came to me with a headache. Usually her headache will last up to 40 minutes, with me massaging her head, until finally I resort to using a pain reliever.
This time, I played a soft song on the computer and used the technique that Dr. Gerland showed us during the workshop. My daughter’s headache was gone in under 5 minutes, resulting in a very happy little girl, and an even happier mother!)
IMPORTANT WORK AT THE UNITED NATIONS
So how does prenatal education relate to the United Nations, peace and sustainability? Dr. Gerland says all efforts to fix the problems in the world won’t work unless we change the way mothers and babies are treated at the beginning of life. Prenatal education will inform parents about their creative potential during conception, pregnancy and birth and how they can become to be deliberate creators in the formation of their babies and consciously create possibilities for their children.
OMAEP is engaged and active within the United Nations because the members believe that understanding of the importance of prenatal life and the formation of human beings must be a part of every health, education, family and government initiative if we want a sustainable peaceful future. Below is a statement OMAEP recently released which was given to each of the 193 member states there stating why:
“Recent scientific research in the fields of medicine, biology, genetics and psychology has confirmed that the prenatal period is of crucial importance for the health, stability and well-being of all children, the citizens of tomorrow. It is during the prenatal period that each human being lays the groundwork for his or her physical and emotional health, interpersonal skills and capacity for love, as well as his or her character and even creativity…
…Unless we learn how to limit and ultimately eliminate what is toxic to unborn children, our attempts to fight against disease, crime, drugs, murder, pollution and self-destruction will all be doomed to failure.” - OMAEP
Dr. Gerland reports huge and hopeful changes taking place in the main halls of the United Nations because of a desire to, “create outside of the box,” and make shifts in sustainability of the planet. More and more nations are waking up to the realization that what happens to one happens to us all, and that we must think differently and use new ideas to create lasting change.
You can be a part of helping to raise awareness of the importance and impact of the primal period by participating in OMAEP’s, “Global Prenatal Initiative,” which will take place in 2014 in partnership with the UN 20Th Anniversary of the International Year of Families. You can find out more by joining the Facebook group, “Global Prenatal Initiative (GPI)” or sign up to the newsletter on http://naturalprenataleducation.com.