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Perinatal Support & Neuroscience in our Mission

The second and third pillars that drive the mission behind Mind Body Baby involve the way that an infant's brain develops, a parent’s brain changes and the ways in which these two factors are interconnected.

Pillar two is that the perinatal brain is anticipating the support of the village. For 99% of our human existence parents have had access to a true and supportive village and our brains have evolved to expect this support.

In all but recent history, multi-generational families and supportive peers have surrounded all new parents. These supportive peers and relatives shared in the work of caring for a baby and raising a child, easing the burden on the parent and ensuring that the child’s needs were prioritized by all. This communal care also meant that babies were able to build many secure and positive attachments and receive much more consistent sensory input than is possible when just one or two people are primararly caring for a baby.

The lack of support that now exists due to the current medical model of birthing, capitalist expectations of work as survival, and the evolutionarily recent shift to nuclear family living robs new parents and their babies of this village. Our biology and ancestral memory calls out for this village but, today, there is no one to answer.

Our third pillar integrates this lack of village with the biological needs and expectations of the infant. The human infant is not born with the ability to manage stress, but rather learns what it is to be soothed and regulated through the outside support and comfort of the mother or caregiver. The warmth of their mother’s body, the smell of their milk, the gentle pressure of being held, the rocking and swaying and the heaviness in their eyelids that this induces is where that comfort and regulation are found.

Babies and their mothers/caretakers are not separate beings, but an interconnected, interdependent dyad that draws resources and strength from one another. A baby does not possess their own coping mechanisms or stress response system, they rely on the stress response of their mother or caregiver. Therefore, we know that Perinatal mental health IS infant mental health.

We know that repeated responsiveness is what teaches the infant’s nervous system to regulate and leads to a secure attachment with their caregiver. The hormone release that occurs when a baby is picked up, soothed, and held, counteracts the body's high-alert survival response to discomfort, fear, or upset.

Infants cannot build healthy neurological connections when they are in survival mode and, without a secure attachment that is driven by repeat warmth and responsiveness, they remain in survival mode for much of their early lives.

Birth to age three is an irreplaceable time for learning and growth and, when a child misses out on the brain-building that occurs during this period of life they will be negatively impacted at every turn of the life course. If we wish for infants to grow into healthy, stable people, we must prioritize the early years and the mental health of those who care for them in those early years.

We know that having a nurtured, knowledgeable, and valued parent is the best way to help a baby thrive physically, socially and emotionally.


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