Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.
The medical field offers many perspectives related to the fetus and the development of a newborn child. These perspectives offer weights and answers to parents, teachers, doctors, and society. Some of these questions include: Why do children deprived of love grow up as adults with poorer health than those who were loved as children? A 35-year longitudinal study of Harvard graduates showed that 81% of those who indicated that they had not received maternal love as an undergraduate suffered from chronic ailments at middle-age; in contrast, only 25% of those who indicated that they received maternal love had these ailments at middle-age.
Why is it that those who do not receive love when they are young do not know how to receive love when they grow up? Why do children who are neglected when young grow up with poorer ability to handle pressure and suffer from more ailments?
When a pregnant mother feels safe and loved, the newborn child’s neocortex will be better developed, the hind brain (which is most primitive) will be smaller, and intelligence will be higher. On the other hand, when a mother feels threatened and unloved during her pregnancy, the child’s will have a smaller neocortex, larger hind brain, larger physique, but lower intelligence.
While giving labour, a mother will feel more relaxed if she receives mental and physical support accompanying female friends, relatives, and a mid-wife. Her delivery will be smoother and shorter, the pain she feels reduced by 30% to 40%, and the likelihood of Caesarean section reduced by half (based on U.S. research). If the accompanying person leaves her for 5 minutes, the mother requires an hour before she resumes her relaxed condition. Also, if the mother breastfeeds her child immediately after delivery, both mother and child will secrete bliss-inducing hormones that also reduce feelings of pain. The prenatal and early experiences have critical influences on the development of the child’s brain, body, and mind. Below is a comparison of some old beliefs and new findings.
- Old Belief: Genes have a definitive influence on the development of the brain.
New Finding: The development of the brain is interactively influenced by genes and the child’s experiences.
- Old Belief: A child’s experiences before the age of three have limited influence on the brain’s development.
New Finding: A child’s early experiences (including the period in the womb) from the blueprints for the brain’s development.
- Old Belief: The person caring for the child only provides an environment for the child’s growth.
New Finding: The person caring for the child directly influences the brain’s development.
- Old Belief: The brain’s development is linear over time.
New Finding: The brain’s development does not follow a linear function. There is an optimal time for the development of each of the brain’s function. It is difficult to compensate for this once the optimal time has lapsed. For example, the dextrocerebrum (right brain) largely develops before the age of two.
- Old Belief: A child’s brain activity is less than that of an undergraduate.
New Finding: A child’s brain activity is three times that of an adult, and decreases after adolescence.
For a newborn child, the mother’s emotional expressions are the biggest catalysts for the brain’s development. A child is attracted by the mother’s face, and mother and child communicate with each other through facial expressions. A child laughs when the mother laughs, and becomes serious when the mother becomes serious. During this “conversation”, many hormones are secreted. The feelings between mother and child are developed under these circumstances. During its development, the right brain stores many memories of the mother’s rich emotional expressions (note that facial expressions devoid of emotions do not have similar effect). The development of the brain directly influences the heart, the entire nervous system, and internal secretions. In the last decade, western medical research has found that the heart is not merely a pump that pumps blood.
New neurocardiology research considers the heart and brain to one. The Chinese culture has always associated thoughts and emotions with the “heart”. Likewise traditional Chinese medicine puts the heart and the brain on the same meridian channel. The latest Western medical research reveals similar findings: 60% to 65% of the cells in the heart are identical to those in the brains; the heart is an important organ for internal secretions; it is the centre for thoughts and emotions; and, resonating with the limbic brain (responsible for part of the emotional processes), the heart produces the body’s most important electromagnetic field.
The newborn’s heart is connected with his mother’s heart. When the child is next to the mother, his heartbeat follows the rhythm of his mother’s heartbeat. When the child is separated from his mother, his heartbeat becomes irregular and cortisol (stress hormones in the blood) increases. The mother’s heartbeat forms the blueprint for her child’s heartbeat. A child’s learning, from the beating of the heart to emotional expressions and internal secretion, are influenced by environmental factors after his birth. A child immersed in love as he grows up will know how to give love and receive love. A child who has been played with will know how to play. In contrast, a child who do has not been loved will not react to love when he grows up, as both his brain and the electromagnetic field in his heart do not respond. This probably explains why some people are unresponsive to human love.
According to the Chinese literature, “heart” includes the consciousness and emotional activities. This perspective is at odds with old western medical beliefs, but is closer to new medical research findings.
At the beginning of the last century, Dr. Rudolf Steiner predicted the western medical science will discover that the heart is not just a pump. This prediction has now come true. He also said that the heart is the meeting point of the nervous system, the digestive system, and the excretion system. The heart is a sensing organ, so that when the eyes see a colour, the body’s reaction depends on the heart to feels. This is akin to what we mean when we say “inner feeling”.
The psychology of the fetus and the child, along with neurocardiology research, are new scientific findings that support the role of a mother’s instinctive feelings. A mother has a definitive influence on the child’s entire life. Family members and society are making the best investment for the future if they can value and support a mother’s sacred role during pregnancy, delivery, and post delivery. May every new life grow up in love, and may every mother be loved and cared for.
Extract from Lapis Lazuli Light Magazine 2002 Feb Issue
Translated by Lapis lazuli Light Singapore