The Other Side of the Glass

Part One was officially released June 2013 in digital distribution format. To purchase to to If you were a donor and want to download your copy send an email to

The trailer

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The laboring and birthing brain matters

“You are your brain.” -- Dick Swaab, Dir. of the Netherlands Institute for Brain Research

And, as I like to say, "You are your PRENATAL brain." (Or, you are your BABY Brain). I believe that we are each addicted to our own signature neuro programming developed during our conception through infancy and that the early brain is a magnet to bring to us that which will create the hormonal cocktail that our brain "knows".

.... brain function and behavior are critically influenced, even permanently modified in major ways, by the environmental condition that exist during development. How we think, reason and see are not just inherited characteristics. Brain function, behavior, mood, IQ, and emotional stability are not solely a product of our genes. —Peter Nathanielsz, MD (OB), PhD (Vet) in “Life in the Womb: The Origin of Health and Disease.

Molecular biologist and lecturer Dr. Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D. provides some interesting and relevant insights.

Recent advances in cellular science are heralding an important evolutionary turning point. For almost fifty years we have held the illusion that our health and fate were preprogrammed in our genes. [However,] Cellular biologists now recognize that the environment (external universe and internal physiology), and more importantly, our perception of the environment, directly controls the activity of our genes. The quantum physics behind these mechanisms provides insight to the communications channels that link the body-mind duality. -- Dr, Bruce H. Lipton, from “The Biology of Consciousness: Perception Shapes Genetics," Stanford University Lecture Series, 1999.

See for more of his work and his book, "The Biology of Belief" about the bolded statement above.

It is scientific and logical that physiologically the structures begun at conception and completed by the end of the second month of gestation DO establish the biological, hormonal, emotional, and mental foundation for who we are to be our entire life. Every experience thereafter, whether in the womb, laboring and birthing, or life long is part of one long continuum of brain development, based on genetics in relationship to the environment. You are your BABY brain.

Below are just a few research links to work in the early brain and affects of stress and violence in children. When one embraces this research about the child's brain it is logical then to begin to look at the entire period of conception through infancy to understand the importance of the prenatal, LABOR AND BIRTH, and infancy experiences.

While the focus is on infancy and children, it doesn't take a neuroscience degree or any degree to logically see that if the prenatal brain and the postnatal brain are affected by stress and violence, love and caring, then so is the laboring and birthing brain. Labor and birth are a short time period relatively speaking, but it is the monumental task of leaving a symbiotic state with the mother and becoming, within seconds, a physiologically independent being. How this is done does matter (for the brain-- pun intended) -- "under the influence", afraid, stressed, defensive, etc, or peaceful, lovingly, gently, safely does matter.

What Nathanielsz and Lipton and others tell us is that what the mother feels the baby also experiences -- scared or confident, abandoned or nurtured, overwhelmed or protected, disregarded or supported --- and it is ALL imprinted in the early, prenatal, PREVERBAL brain.

It is known that the LIMBIC system of the brain -- that stores emotion --is online in the last trimester through first year of life. That is the early part of brain that begins to perceive the world and that will be the lens through which the brain WIRES up the connections to the neocortex over the childhood years. Our adult neocortex was built upon the prenatal development and the labor, birth, and early infancy experiences. NO other time is as critical in establishing very important neural programming for the lifetime. and

For a great site about early violence, cultural violence, sexuality, and maternal-child attachment, check out the website of James Prescott, PhD. at


Through the work of James W. Prescott, Ph.D. and various others until the mid 1970s it was established that these previously neglected senses are of overwhelming importance for the development of social abilities for adult life. Their deprivation in childhood is a major cause for adult violence.James W. Prescott, Ph.D., was a health scientist administrator at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), one of the Institutes of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1966 to 1980. He created and directed the Developmental Behavioral Biology Program at the NICHD where he initiated NICHD supported research programs that documented how the failure of "Mother Love" in infant monkeys adversely affected the biological development of their brains. These astonishing abnormal brain changes underlie the behaviors of depression, impulse dyscontrol and violence that result from mother-infant separations.

Research by leaders in the field of neurobiology and the effects of abuse on children's brains -- Perry, Shore, van der Kolk, Teicher, and Siegel can be found at and at

Perry (1997a), Incubated in Terror, Neurodevelopmental Factors in the Cycle of Violence Citation: Perry, BD (1997). Incubated in Terror: Neurodevelopmental Factors in the 'Cycle of Violence' In: Children, Youth and Violence: The Search for Solutions (J Osofsky, Ed.). Guilford Press, New York, pp 124-148.

Schore (2001 a) The Effects of a Secure Attachment Relationship on Right Brain Development, Affect Regulation, and Infant Mental Health Published in Infant Journal of Mental Health, 2001, 22, 7-66.
In the first part of a two-part review, Allan Schore reviews psychoneurobiologicalpsychophysiology, and developmental psychopathology perspectives on psychopathogenesis. This provides an overview of healthy development: connecting attachment theory, stress regulation, and infant mental health. Schore also describes the neurobiology of a secure attachment, and development of the right brain, early limbic system, and orbital frontolimbic regions, suggesting that normal orbitofrontal and right brain development is connected to adaptive mental health. 379 references.

Schore (2002) Dysregulation of the Right Brain: A Fundamental Mechanism of Traumatic Attachment and the Psychopathogenesis of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Published in Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 36, 9-30. In a review article written specifically for clinical and research traumatologists, Allan Schore sketches developmental precursors of complex PTSD and dissociative symptoms in the effects of early relational trauma on the developing central and autonomic nervous system. Early traumatic attachments negatively impact right brain development, producing structural changes that lead to inefficent stress coping mechanisms -- the core of posttraumatic stress disorders in infants, children, and adults. Schore makes a strong case that early intervention prevention programs can reduce intergenerational transmission of trauma-related disorders across the lifespan. 246 references

My friend, Mary Zumwalt developed an early intervention assessment tool for birth to zero. In her review of the literature she says, Early Brain Development. Over the last ten years, researchers have proven that our experiences, particularly our earliest experiences, become biologically rooted in our brain structure and chemistry from the moment of conception through the first three years of life (Shore, 1999; Perry, 2000). Assaults on the developing brain from cocaine and alcohol use, malnutrition and smoking have been well documented. Just as these substances influence brain development, a growing body of evidence supports the notion that every sensory experience we encounter, positive or negative, will also impact the basic physiology of our brain (Kotulak, 1997).

Neurobiologist, Gerald Vind, PhD, explains how it is that the mother's life experiences, substances, and toxins will become part of the prenatal brain development, creating our perceptions of the world through our neural wiring. and

Brain development/learning happens because of the interaction of the baby with the environment. Whether the baby is in the womb, in the hospital, or at home what is happening in the environment is being processed and programmed by the baby's brain. Is is loving or fearful? Hostile or safe? Is the baby nurtured or ignored?

Many others are discussing this -- neonataologist, Frederick Wirth, MD, in "Prenatal Parenting" and Peter Nathanielsz, MD, PhD in "Life in the Womb: Origins of Health and Disease."

Why would this same science that applies to the pre and post natal brain (ie., don't use drugs) NOT APPLY to the laboring and birthing brain and while the baby (brain) is in the hospital environment? Why do we not apply the same expectations of gentle care and no-drugs in the care of the baby in the hospital from labor through first days of life? Prenatal exposure to drugs is dangerous and even criminal when the mother uses, but not in labor and birth? C'mmoooonnn... where's the logic and science in that? Drugs used in birth are safe for the baby's brain and body functions??

The following is Zumwalt's list of references:
Ayres, J. (1979). Sensory integration and the child. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.

Bremner, D. & Vermetten, E. (2001). Stress and development: Behavioral and biological consequences, Development and Psychopathology, 13, 473 – 489.

Bruer, J., (1999). The myth of the first three years, a new understanding of early brain development and lifelong learning. New York: The Free Press.

Cermak, S.; and Daunhauer, L. (1996). Sensory processing in the postinstitutionalized child. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy 51, 500-507.

Child Welfare League of America, (2002). Building partnerships that protect our children: Recommendations from the 2001 child protection summit. International Association of Chiefs of Police Grant Number 2001-JN-FX-K004.

Children’s Mental Health Act of 2003, H.R. 2900. (2003).

Cicchetti, D. (2002). The impact of social experience on neurobiological systems: illustration from a constructivist view of child maltreatment. Cognitive Development, 17, 1407 – 1428.

Committee on Early Childhood, Adoption and Dependent Care, (2000). Developmental issues for young children in foster care. American Academy of Pediatrics, 106, 1145 – 1150.

Fahlberg, V, (1991). A child’s journey through placement. Indianapolis, IN: Perspectives Press.

Gilles, E. (1999). Integrating a neurobiological systems approach into child neglect and abuse theory and practice. Children’s Health Care, 28, 167 – 187.

Gorman, J. (2002). Posttraumatic stress disorder, NARSAD Research Newsletter, 14, 44- 46.

Guralnick, M., (1997). The effectiveness of early learning. Baltimore: Paul Brookes Publishing Company.

Hawley, T. (2000). Starting smart: How early experiences affect brain development, Ounce of Prevention Fund.

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, (2002). Illinois department of children and family services annual report. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on March 11, 2003:

Karr-Morse, R.; and Wiley, M., (1997). Ghosts from the nursery: Tracing the roots of violence. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.

Kaufman, J. & Charney, D. (2001). Effects of early stress on brain structure and function: Implications for understanding the relationship between child maltreatment and depression. Development and Psychopathology, 13, 451 – 471.

Kotulak, R. (1997). Inside the brain: Revolutionary discoveries of how the mind works. Kansas City, KS: Andrews McMeel Publishing.

MacMillan, H. & Munn, C. (2001). The sequelae of child maltreatment. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 14, 325 – 331.

National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, (2002) National child abuse and neglect data system: Summary of key findings from calendar year 2002. Retrieved February 5, 2003 from the World Wide Web:

National Research Council, Institute of Medicine, (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press.

O’Donnell, N.; & Nelson, C.; & Schaefer, B.; & Thompson, R. (2002). Young children, neuroscience, and policy: What do we know?, A Satellite Program Sponsored by Project Learn, University of Nebraska.

Perry, B. (2000). The cost of child maltreatment: Who pays? We all do. Child Trauma Academy, Retrieved February 5, 2003 from the World Wide Web: CTAMATERIALS/Sexual_abuse.asp.

Perry, B. (2001). Violence and childhood: How persisting fear can alter the developing child’s brain, Child Trauma Academy, Retrieved February 5, 2003 from the World Wide Web:

Shonkoff, J.; & Meisels, S. (2000). Handbook of early childhood intervention. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Shore, R. (1997). Rethinking the brain: New insights into early development. New York: Families and Work Institute.

Teicher, M. (2002). Scars that won’t heal, the neurobiology of child abuse. Scientific America, 68 – 75.

Teicher, M. (2000). Wounds that time won’t heal: The neurobiology of child abuse. The Dana Forum on Brain Science, 2, 50 – 67.

Teicher, M. & Anderson, S. & Polcari, A. & Anderson, C. & Navalta, C. (2002). Developmental neurobiology of childhood stress and trauma. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 25, 397- 426.

Winton, M. & Mara, B. (2001). Child abuse and neglect: Multidisciplinary approaches. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, A Pearson Educational C

No comments:

"Soft is the heart of a child. Do not harden it."

A public awareness reminder that things that happen behind the scenes, out of our sight, aren't always as rosy as we might think them to be. Perhaps its a restaurant cook who accidentally drops your burger on the floor before placing it on the bun and serving it to you. Here it's an overworked apathetic (pathetic) nurse giving my newborn daughter her first bath. Please comment and rate this video, so as to insure that it is viewed as widely as possible, perhaps to prevent other such abuse. -- The mother who posted this YouTube. How NOT to wash a baby on YouTube Are you going to try to tell me that "babies don't remember?" There is no difference to this baby's experience and the imprinting of her nervous system/brain and one that is held and cleaned by the mother or father either at the hospital or at home? By the way, this is probably NOT the baby's first bath. The nurse is ungloved. Medical staff protocol is that they can't handle a baby ungloved until is has been bathed (scrubbed if you've seen it) because the baby is a BIO-HAZARD -- for them. Never mind that the bio-hazard IS the baby's first line of defense against hospital germs.

Missouri Senator Louden Speaks

Finally, A Birth Film for Fathers

Part One of the "The Other Side of the Glass: Finally, A Birth Film for and about Men" was released June, 2013.

Through presentation of the current research and stories of fathers, the routine use of interventions are questioned. How we protect and support the physiological need of the human newborn attachment sequence is the foundation for creating safe birth wherever birth happens.

Based on knowing that babies are sentient beings and the experience of birth is remembered in the body, mind, and soul, fathers are asked to research for themselves what is best for their partner and baby and to prepare to protect their baby.

The film is designed for midwives, doulas, and couples, particularly fathers to work with their caregivers. Doctors and nurses in the medical environment are asked to "be kind" to the laboring, birthing baby, and newborn. They are called to be accountable for doing what science has been so clear about for decades. The mother-baby relationship is core for life. Doctors and nurses and hospital caregivers and administrators are asked to create protocols that protect the mother-baby relationship.

Men are asked to join together to address the vagaries of the medical system that harm their partner, baby and self in the process of the most defining moments of their lives. Men are asked to begin to challenge the system BEFORE they even conceive babies as there is no way to be assured of being able to protect his loved ones once they are in the medical machine, the war zone, on the conveyor belt -- some of the ways that men describe their journey into fatherhood in the medicine culture.

Donors can email to get a digital copy.
Buy the film at

The film focuses on the male baby, his journey from the womb to the world and reveals healing and integrating the mother, father, and baby's wounded birth experience. The film is about the restoring of our families, society, and world through birthing loved, protected, and nurtured males (and females, of course). It's about empowering males to support the females to birth humanity safely, lovingly, and consciously.

Finally, a birth film for fathers.

What People Are Saying About the FIlm

Well, I finally had a chance to check out the trailer and .. wow! It's nice that they're acknowledging the father has more than just cursory rights (of course mom's rights are rarely acknowledged either) and it's great that they're bringing out the impact of the experience on the newborn, but I'm really impressed that they're not shying away from the political side.

They are rightly calling what happens in every American maternity unit, every day, by its rightful name - abuse. Abuse of the newborn, abuse of the parents and their rights, abuse of the supposedly sacrosanct ethical principal of patient autonomy and the medico-legal doctrine of informed consent, which has been long ago discarded in all but name. I love it!

In the immortal words of the "shrub", "bring it on!" This film needs to be shown and if I can help facilitate or promote it, let me know.

Father in Asheville, NC

OMG'ess, I just saw the trailer and am in tears. This is so needed. I watch over and over and over as fathers get swallowed in the fear of hospitals birth practice. I need a tool like this to help fathers see how very vital it is for them to protect their partner and baby. I am torn apart every time I see a father stand back and chew his knuckle while his wife is essentially assaulted or his baby is left to lie there screaming.
Please send me more info!!!!
Carrie Hankins
CD(DONA), CCCE, Aspiring Midwife

Thanks for sharing this. It was very touching to me. I thought of my brother-in-law standing on the other side of the glass when my sister had to have a C-section with her first child because the doctor was missing his golf date. I'll never forget his pacing back and forth and my realizing that he was already a father, even though he hadn't been allowed to be with his son yet.

Margaret, Columbia, MO

In case you don't find me here

Soon, I'll be back to heavy-duty editing and it will be quiet here again. I keep thinking this blog is winding down, and then it revives. It is so important to me.

I wish I'd kept a blog of my journey with this film this past 10 months. It's been amazing.

I have a new blog address for the film, and will keep a journal of simple reporting of the journey for the rest of the film.

I'll be heading east this week to meet with a group of men. I plan to post pictures and clips on the film blog.

I'll keep up here when I can -- when I learn something juicy, outrageous, or inspiring related to making birth safer for the birthing baby.

Review of the film

Most of us were born surrounded by people who had no clue about how aware and feeling we were. This trailer triggers a lot of emotions for people if they have not considered the baby's needs and were not considered as a baby. Most of us born in the US were not. The final film will include detailed and profound information about the science-based, cutting-edge therapies for healing birth trauma.

The full film will have the interviews of a wider spectrum of professionals and fathers, and will include a third birth, at home, where the caregivers do a necessary intervention, suctioning, while being conscious of the baby.

The final version will feature OBs, RNs, CNMs, LM, CPM, Doulas, childbirth educators, pre and perinatal psychologists and trauma healing therapists, physiologists, neurologists, speech therapists and lots and lots of fathers -- will hopefully be done in early 2009.

The final version will include the science needed to advocated for delayed cord clamping, and the science that shows when a baby needs to be suctioned and addresses other interventions. Experts in conscious parenting will teach how to be present with a sentient newborn in a conscious, gentle way -- especially when administering life-saving techniques.

The goal is to keep the baby in the mother's arms so that the baby gets all of his or her placental blood and to avoid unnecessary, violating, and abusive touch and interactions. When we do that, whether at home or hospital, with doctor or midwife, the birth is safe for the father. The "trick" for birthing men and women is how to make it happen in the hospital.

Birth Trauma Healing

Ani DeFranco Speaks About Her Homebirth

"Self-Evident" by Ani DeFranco

Patrick Houser at

Colin speaks out about interventions at birth