permanent course for preparation for birth and parenthood
In the course of many years a team of scholars, psychotherapists, psychologists and medical doctors, working within the Operative Unit of Psychosomatics in Gynaecology and Obstetricia, at the Ist Clinic of Gynaecology and Obstetricia o of the University hospital Umberto Ist, University of Roma “La Sapienza”, whose clinical and psychotherapeutic activity, considering the environment, was centred above all around a specific project for women, chose to work primarily preventively. Aware of the central importance of the intrauterine relationship between a mother and the child in her womb, as member of this team, my interest focalized on pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood.
Everything stems from birth and from the nature of the parental desires. The roots of birth are nestled in those nine months spent in the mother’s womb, months that are foundational for the psycho-biological imprinting of the nervous system, of personality traits and of the style of attachment, but also of the formation of potential pathogenic nuclei. It is in this phase of life that we are born for the first time, our true and vertical birth as individuals occurs here, while childbirth, which will take place only at the end of nine months of pregnancy, represents our horizontal familial birth, when we become part of a family and, years later, in puberty, we shall have our social birth, when we become recognized as socially present and active.
If we are interested in any real prevention, we cannot but conclude that a concrete protective intervention can only be effectively implemented, using specific tools that act on the pregnant woman and, in particular, on the intrauterine relationship, or, more ideally, on the couple even before conception. Any other program for prevention or cure, no matter how useful, will always suffer a time difference between the onset of an issue and the time of intervention and will therefore have only a reparatory function because it will be acting on a body whose pathological mechanisms have already been structured.
Preparation for childbirth and parenthood includes:
The Analysis of the Pre and Perinatal Matrix is a diagnostic tool developed in l970 by Jon RG and Troya Turner. 22 specific questions help us investigate the mental and emotional structure of the foetus. We discover that not only we are the synthesis of our parental DNA, but also a synthesis of the strong emotional impact of maternal experiences on the foetus in her womb and of her conscious and non-conscious beliefs related to her experiences during the pregnancy. Through the mother’s consciousness and the psychophysiological mechanism of her body, the psychophysical development of the foetus and of its consciousness is influenced by all the mother’s emotional and mental responses to her life experiences. It is obvious that greater the emotional involvement of the mother in any given situation, greater its impact on the foetus. It is in this relationship that we find the source of psychophysical patterns of the new human being, which can be enhancing and advantageous, but also potentially pathogenic.
As a specific psychotherapeutic tool for the intrauterine relationship, I propose the use of individual self-hypnosis and group self-hypnosis, thanks to which it is possible to have a deep experiential discovery of all the dimensions of the Self of the mother and of the father (somatic Self, emotional Self, mental Self and intuitive or spiritual Self), by regressing and re-experiencing their own intrauterine phase of life and their own birth and, thus, to verbalize, decode and process emotional experiences which, if they should remain non conscious and unknown, could be projected onto to the foetus and, in the future, during infancy, adolescence or even adulthood, transform into psychosomatic manifestations. Cognitive, emotional and physical in-depth knowledge of one’s body teaches us to have true control over our body and, consequently, also on the process of childbirth – also in relation to pain.
Hypnotherapy gives us the emotional-experiential connection with our psycho-biological matrix, while group-hypnoanalysis or individual hypnoanalysis works on our individual-familial-social membership.
This approach can be used with pregnant women, with women diagnosed as gynaecologically sterile, women with difficulty in conceiving, women with psychosomatic risks during pregnancy, women and men who, simply, wish to prepare consciously and in an appropriate way for their role as parents.
The sessions are weekly and last about two hours. The setting is divided into three phases: in the first phase the participants discuss their experiences of the week preceding the encounter, the second phase is the phase of hypnoanalysis or hypno-groupanalysis in which four specifically designed mental-somatic exercises that favour a vigil hypnotic trance and regression are applied, while the third phase is the phase of awakening from trance and the processing and verbalization of the trance experience. The aim of the regression is to explore events and experiences of one’s own prenatal period of life so as to avoid projecting consciously or non-consciously eventual personal traumatic experiences on the present pregnancy or, so that such experiences may be discovered and eliminated, since they could be probable sources of problematic gynaecological, psychological and somatic issues. The mother, by re-experiencing her own prenatal life, has also the opportunity to recuperate the “foetal language” or communication mechanisms used by the foetus and, so, facilitate the communication with her child in her womb, as well as to re-interpret eventual misunderstood signals which could have been converted into some form of disease, such as nausea for example. The phase of individual or group processing reconnects with the need to verbalize the individual experiences of the regression, so that they me understood, interpreted and re-elaborated.
The interactions between birth and the group matrix are very complex. Long term studies affirm that the foetus is not simply a being that is growing vegetatively and that is born only through childbirth, but that it is, rather, a being with its own sensitivity, own motivational and behavioural capacities and attitudes towards the external word. These contacts are in nature physical, psychological and emotional, as well as ethnological and anthropological and confirm that the foetus is aware of what it needs to do in accord with its encephalic maturation. These considerations introduce a far more important concept: the child has a personality of its own that allows it to perceive and discriminate the mother’s relationship towards it, the mother’s emotional life, the “dialogue” between the mother and her child, (introduction of b functions and maternal functions). We may, hence, conclude that the child is sensitive towards the mother’s feeling for herself and, by logical extension, towards her partner and her environment (human and non-human).
The word “matrix” refers also to culture and when we ask someone to tell us what their matrix is, we want to know what their ideas are, their feelings, their attitudes, what are the basic values of the environment where they grew up. Another aspect regarding the foetus is that its relational behaviour belongs concurrently to its biology, its psychology and to its sociology. These dimensions are psychosomatically confused as residues of this primitive biological-psychological-sociological fusion. Today many clinical psychologists think that the child tends to preserve its homeostasis already before birth and to guarantee itself personal wellbeing by using lively projective processes, which consent it to “throw out” everything that is perceived as unpleasant and to “incorporate” pleasant experiences. However, even if, on one hand, projection avoids unpleasant experiences, on the other, it is important not to over activate this mechanism, both in the intrauterine phase as well as after birth, because otherwise it activates mechanisms of massive projection.
The more profound and unknown part of an individual needs comprehension more for what he/she tends communicating then for the isolated somatic manifestation of the intention. The role of the therapist is to consider the symptoms beyond the representations accepted by the patient, to decode them and to translate them, even through the use of subliminal communication, in order to solve the issues.
The group experience offers an opportunity to confront oneself with different people and different roles: “genetic matrix/social matrix – individual matrix / familial matrix”: the individual is part of a social network, in which, however, besides horizontal ramifications with others in the community, he/she also have a vertical connection, which represents his/her biological heritage that is developed during a lifetime. Somatic or psychological disorders are, therefore, not only functions of the personality of an individual, but also functions of an entire plexus of a network of relations between many individuals, which can be defined as transgenerational. One of the functions of a group is to favour greater awareness of oneself so as to better understand one’s needs.
When acquired long before conception, greater knowledge of oneself would offer us the possibility of a truly effective primary prevention and could be the starting point for a new and advantageous social policy for better health and wellbeing.