I was barely an adult when an older woman I knew said to me, “I’m such a neurotic worrier. I got it from my mother. It must be genetic.” Even at my young age, I couldn’t help but question, is that true? Some gut part of me knew that she may have gotten it from her mother, but it wasn’t genetic. It was a kind of imprinting during pregnancy. Years later, I found scientific research that confirmed that stress during the first two years of mothering, beginning in the womb, imprints on a girl’s nervous system through what is called epigenetic imprinting (“epi-“ meaning above the genes). It literally overlays the genes.
Another of the most fascinating experiments I have ever heard about used primitive worms called planaria. The worms were kept in a dark box, and flashed with a light and then delivered an electric shock. Soon, whenever the light flashed, the worms curled their bodies in preparation for the electric shock. Scientists then took these worms, ground them up, and fed them to another fresh group of worms. When they flashed a light at the new group, the worms curled into balls. Amazing!
The implications of this study--that there is a physical existence of memory in the body-- creates interesting possibilities. For one thing, our own experiences, and the consciousness of the food we put into our body may profoundly affect our offspring. The physical existence of memory also means that mental processes can alter the body, and physical processes can alter the mind. Most people know the power of the mind-body connection to some extent, but never have I seen it as dramatically as in childbirth.
Since the beginning matters so much, and because they are cute, I have spent much of the last 5 years working with babies and their moms. As a hypnotherapist and mediation instructor, I help women prepare their mind and body for comfortable birthing, free from fear and pain. Sound wonderful? It is. Not surprisingly, there is something different about a hypno-baby. Not only are they all natural (no drugs or anesthesia) but they have also been taught from the womb how to be calm and relaxed. Many parents who learn these tools during pregnancy go on to use them for the rest of their lives, which has impact for generations. So if you are concerned about the future, start with the babies and the baby makers. Feed them well, love them, and help them chill out.
I'm a hypnotherapist, Kundalini Yoga and Meditation teacher, spiritual childbirth educator, writer, and human American. I'm also a mom.