How it improves health indicators such as intelligence, language, physical development, mental and emotional development and motor skills.
by Christina Warmenbol
Bonding is the deep early connection between mother and baby or between a consistent caregiver and the baby. In the case of the mother or the father bonding with their baby, this heart-connection can start long before birth: during pregnancy, even during or before conception. It is the regular conscious attention and interaction that makes the baby feel loved and welcome and is of uttermost importance for his development.
The bonding occurs through intense eye contact, vocal communication and singing, touch and skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding and play, all through which the baby feels the interest in his being. Endorphins are released through this contact and the autonomic nervous system is activated. According to Allan N. Schore, the maturation of the brain is controlled by interaction with the caregiver.
The results of bonding on the level of health show that babies are less prone to infections. Tactile stimulation enhances the immune system. Bonding lowers the mortality - and morbidity rate. Infants with an insufficient bonding show more asthma problems than infants that are securely attached.
Development and learning are very dependent on the loving interactions of the bonding between caregiver and infant and stimulate a superior cognitive development with earlier speech and language development. Also the visual and auditory perception and coordination are enhanced. A disrupted mother-infant relationship through isolation or separation can result in a retarded mental development.
Testing of babies who were given an enriched stimulation program in Thailand, Venezuela and Spain showed superior fine-and gross motor skills.
But the most results are to be found on emotional level. Parents that have bonded with their infants see their babies smiling earlier and show greater contentment after birth. These infants feel safe, secure and develop trust through these interactions. Through their healthy self-esteem, they develop quicker an independence to explore the world outside of their known territory.
They are able to develop relationships with new people in their environment. Attachment relationships develop the capability of self-regulation.
Whereas children that have experienced early separation can develop a character disorder marked by lack of affection; they are depressed, withdrawn, restless and lack spontaneity. They are unable to relate to others. They have to deal with a feeling of rejection, of disappointment, anxiety, failure and inferiority. Chilton Pearce notes ‘the feeling of betrayal that the baby feels towards his mom is the single most damaging thing that can happen in life’. Later in life these people feel frustrated in their need for love, they feel alienated, cut off, not belonging and their anger can easily develop defensive, aggressive behavior what can result in hostile and criminal action.
Ashley Montague states that the caring contact between a mother and her baby that nurtures bonding is an important preliminary structure that must be established before higher structures can open up.
by Christina Warmenbol
Why this early period, if done with support and consciousness, can lay the groundwork for peace and love OR if done without consciousness, can be the foundation for a violent culture?
Unmistakenly, we are living in a violent culture, especially with the escalation of terrorist attacks everywhere in the world. We could ask the question how we came to such a situation and how it can be reversed.
Michel Odent states that if the world wants to become a thriving society the need imposes itself for the human being to evolve from ‘homo superpredator’ to ‘homo ecologicus’. He names a global awareness, respect for Mother Earth and a capacity to love, including a compassionate interest for the unborn generations. (1)
Marcy Axness originates the creation of a peaceful, loving society in the resiliency of its individuals which is based on self-worth and feeling safe, with a brain wired with the capacity for self-regulation, self-reflection, trust and empathy. (2)
However, there are many building blocks to come to this ideal situation and thus many ways to erode the path. Although a loving society is more than the absence of violence, destructive behavior is the least desired aspect of this society. Many sciences indicate aspects in the generation of violent behavior, but undeniable it is Primal Health Research that has found an abundance of pre-and perinatal factors that are at the origin of the expression of aggressive or violent behavior.
If conception is violent, fe. by rape, this first imprint of the new created life will generate tendencies to violence. If the pregnant mother is approached in a verbal, physical or emotional violent way, the fetus will feel the pain of the mother and identify himself with it, which will create anger and rage, that are predispositions to later expression of aggressive behavior. Hitler’s mother would have thrown herself against the wall while pregnant, in order to get rid of this ‘demon’ inside of her. We know the result. Other circumstances such as the father who dies during pregnancy fe. during a war, pregnant mothers who are depressed, smoking and maternal nutritional deficiency during the first and second trimester are risk factors for later violent behavior in the offspring.
Do birth interventions and complications play a decisive role in the unset of violence, one can ask. Research says that only in the situation where birth complications combine with early maternal rejection, an infant is at especially great risk for violent crime by age 18. Birth complications, including trauma result in brain damage that predisposes a child to impulsive and aggressive acts. But a loving, caring mother –infant relationship can reverse this outcome.(3)
After birth, it is the maternal-infant bonding that makes the strong building block. Jim Prescott states: ‘ Extensive scientific research in animals and humans have documented without question, that mother-infant/child separations (loss of bonding/mother love) induces a variety of developmental brain disorders that mediate depression, impulse dyscontrol, chronic stimulus-seeking behaviors that include self-mutilation, and the violence of homicide and suicide. Children are now killing children, children are raping children; and the massive psychiatric medication of our children and youth that was unheard of a generation ago, all indicate the disintegration of America from within.’(4) What about disrespect for baby’s needs and emotions, for his deep violent imprint of circumcision?
When the child grows up and it expresses anger, instead of punishing it or shaming it, we can educate it towards non-violent communication by asking which needs are not being met.
What are the conditions for the baby to be on the road of full development so he can participate in a loving world? First mom and dad need to choose their child to come into world, it needs to be wanted. Proper nutrition and prenatal care are well known factors. The birth should be low tech and the baby boys can skip circumcision. Breastfeeding on demand till 2,5 years and the baby that is carried as much as possible. Such babies have a good chance to develop a peaceful, non-violent nature.
It is unmistakable that a growing foetus and child needs a safe loving, caring environment, first of all in a strong loving relationship with his mother and caregivers. Consciousness can only grow from a warm and loving contact with the mother, which will be a sure way to bring the child on the path of love instead of destruction. It is the challenge of society to create the necessary conditions for that to happen and to avoid all negative impacts that erode this strong start.
2. Marcy Axness, Parenting for Peace p. 11
3. Thomas Verny, Pre-Parenting – Nurturing your child from conception p. 81
4. Jim Prescott in Marcy Axness’ ‘Parenting for Peace’ p. 183-184.