It’s now acknowledged within mainstream psychology that attachment begins at birth. The cutting edge field of Somatic Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology (SPPP) finds that attachment begins way before birth, a wisdom that is not yet in the mainstream thinking and consciousness about babies and relationships.
We are conscious, sentient beings long before birth, and we benefit a great deal from loving, welcoming contact and secure attachment from the very beginning of life. Some people have a connection with their baby before conception, seeing visions of them, or having dreams of their physical characteristics, and receiving communications. Siblings can be especially tuned in to their incoming siblings, and may show a sense of knowing about their unborn sibling that is accurate.
There are four attachment styles commonly spoken of within mainstream psychology: Secure, Insecure-Anxious-Avoidant, Insecure-Anxious-Ambivalent, and Disorganized. These attachment styles have not been applied to the prenatal developmental period by mainstream psychology. The cutting edge information shared here takes us back before birth to the true beginnings of attachment imprinting. We are forming our prenatal attachment imprinting whilst we are in a constant dynamic process throughout our journey into life; here I will share just four areas that are formative during the prenatal period:
1. Ancestral – trans-generational
2. Beginning of Embodiment – Pre-Conception/Conception – coming into our physical body
3. Implantation/nesting – attaching to the womb/mother, discovery, and womb dynamics in general
4. Nervous system – regulation and dysregulation
Trans-generational attachment dynamics are part of our attachment ‘style’. As energy/Soul we come towards our conception and enter the field of our parents, their relationship, and our ancestral lines. The Encyclopedia Britannica (source Wikipedia) says:
“Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature (generally a human) who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial (as in not yet embodied).”
At conception your discarnate Soul/energy body joins with your mothers egg and your fathers sperm, thus joining energy and matter; this is the beginning of your embodiment journey. Ancestral imprints from each of your parent’s lines are entered into as you come towards your conception, and sometimes they are felt earlier. Much is passed down unconsciously from parent to child, and attachment dynamics are a big part of your inheritance, unless your parents were able to heal their ancestral attachment imprints. If your parents healed their attachment issues so that they could have more true choice in their parenting, you were lucky! True choice is having the internal freedom not to relate to others and life out of your trauma, imprinting, or wounding. Many of us, in reaction against what we did or did not receive from our parents, will swing the pendulum to the opposite end of the attachment style spectrum. E.g. parents who are insecurely/avoidant attached can become overly hands-on in an effort to create something different than they received from their parents. Because this impulse comes out their own lack and imprinting it presents as suffocating parenting with unhealthy boundaries. It may look very different than what they received, but it is a response arising out of their original attachment deficit, so it still an expression of their trauma/deficit. Even so, I want to appreciate parents who are motivated to change their ancestral imprinting, and who want to have more choice about what they are passing on in their parenting. We can heal our attachment dynamics and wounding with support, and create new internal resources such as the ability to be present, regulated, centered, and grounded. Trained practitioners can help, and sometimes our life partner can help us to heal and change our attachment style.
After conception, we continue to learn about ancestral dynamics at womb school. We absorb this from the way that our parents interact with each other, and on cellular, energetic, and somatic levels. Healthy attachment is made possible by parents who, if they didn’t have a secure attachment themselves, are willing to look inside at their own imprinting, build new resources, and make changes from the inside out.
If you want to practice conscious early parenting before or during your pregnancy, exploring ancestral imprints is a must. Observe a generation or two back to see the patterns. You may need support from another to do this, as it is often hard to see your own family’s imprints, they seem so familiar! – even ‘normal’ to us.
Many have experienced an existence elsewhere before they came here to this life from Source, Light, Heaven, God, Divine Home, etc. I call that place Source. Some people feel reluctant, or coerced, when they leave Source to come here. This can affect their attachment dynamics because they feel that they did not fully choose to come, and that can create ambivalence about being here in a body. This dynamic can contribute to an ambivalent attachment style in which the person’s energy is turning back towards Source, instead of fully moving forward into the new life here.
My felt sense of Source, which is very hard to put into words, is one of being surrounded by love, permeated inside and out by love, and that I was love. Even people who really want to come here can feel homesick for Source. How we leave Source, and whether we wanted to come here or not, has a deep bearing on how we attach. Your ability to be fully present is affected by your pre-conception to conception dynamics/transition, so this is a powerful and foundational phase in our embodiment dynamics. How present you can be determines your quality of connection and relationship to yourself, and therefore to others.
If you experienced trauma when leaving Source, or coming into the field of your parents, or your conception, this can affect your ability to fully attach. Trauma and overwhelm often interfere with quality of connection, how much you can receive from your parents and other loved ones, and your ability to be present.
At conception you meet your ancestral lines, your parent’s energy, relationship and sexuality, enter into the physical realm, and begin to grow your own body. It is an epic and very significant juncture in your journey!
3. Implantation/nesting & Discovery:
A significant attachment event, and task, as you arrive in the womb is to implant. Conception happens in the fallopian tube, about 7 days after conception. Your cells are busy dividing as you travel down the fallopian tube, and tumble into the great cavern of your mother’s womb. Your next big job is to navigate to a site where you can burrow into your mother’s womb lining. You have to attach, or you won’t make it. This nest site will be where your placenta will grow. We root into our mother at a time when we are growing our own body. This nestling within our mother touches our cells, organs, body, and psyche.
Your perception of the womb environment forms part of your attachment imprinting. E.g. my mother’s womb was a toxic environment, a great deal of it covered in a black tar-like substance, it was challenging to find a place that was free of this black toxicity. I was not welcome, and I felt unsafe. Your mother’s state of being, whether you were wanted or not, welcomed or not, and whether it was healthy or toxic, all affect how you perceive the world, people and relationships. Is it safe; are you fearful, do you feel secure and welcome? What are you picking up, and absorbing, about your parents attachment style?
Once implanted your attachment dynamics will continue to be influenced by your parents, particularly by your mother’s relationship with her partner, and her feelings towards you.
Discovery: This is the point when one or both of your parents discover that you are here! How they respond to this news will affect how you feel about them, about being here, and about relationships and going out into the world. Am I wanted, unwanted, safe, is this a good place, do I have to work at it to stay alive/survive? How wanted we feel in our deepest core self does affect our attachment dynamics, e.g. we may feel insecure if we were unwanted, or feel anxious if our partner doesn’t continually reassure us.
In the womb my mother attempted to abort me, and I responded by going into a prenatal survival response, I played dead. My energy body withdrew from the implantation site for a time whilst I made a decision about whether to stay here, or not. At birth I wanted to get away from my mother because I perceived her as dangerous and terrifying. I had to stay with her, I had no choice as a baby if I wanted to survive, and this created a double bind, e.g. “I am in danger for my life if I stay, and in danger for my life if I go”. My defense strategy after my birth was to be very good and quiet, I felt that if they noticed me too much I would be killed. I attached more strongly to my father because he felt safer than my mother. My attachment double bind originated in the womb, and naturally continued outside of the womb. My attachment dynamics were deeply in place long before I was born.
4. Nervous System – Regulation/Dysregulation:
Having the ability to feel settled in your nervous system, to be regulated, makes a big difference to attachment. It is hard to be present, feel settled, relaxed or restful when you have a dysregulated nervous system. Dysregulation makes it much harder to have a secure attachment, because you can’t receive or open up to another when you are in this state. You learn about regulation from your mother whilst you are in the womb. If your mother’s nervous system was regulated, you will have the foundations laid in your nervous system as you are developing to be regulated too. If your mother is dysregulated, you will be dysregulated. The dysregulation of an anxious or fearful mother makes it very hard to feel secure.
There is often an ancestral element to regulation and dysregulation as nervous system states can be passed down from one generation to another. Dysregulation can also be caused by unresolved trauma and shock. When you are triggered into a trauma imprint you are usually dysregulated as you re-experience the imprint. You can get stuck in trauma imprints without the right help, and might even feel that this is just who you are, it becomes ‘normal’ to you to feel this way.
Your nervous system is social, it responds to other people’s nervous systems. If your family is dysregulated it is possible to learn to be regulated from another person outside of your family. A good neighbor, a relative, a regulated schoolteacher, etc can all help to moderate this imprinting. Therapy, bodywork (massage, cranialsacral, etc), or somatic work with a person who is regulated and understands about this kind of imprinting can really help too. By consciously choosing to be around regulated people, you are giving your nervous system a different experience that it can resonate to; our nervous systems are always responding to each other. Regulated people are the ones who make you feel settled and calm, allowing you to drop in to a deeper place in yourself, slow down, let down, and relax. You can also learn to regulate your own nervous system, which is ideal, and this is a skill that I teach as part of my work.
Children with unresolved early trauma often have revved (sped up) nervous systems and need help to down-regulate by processing their experiences and emotions. Pitocin, a commonly used drug in hospital birthing, often causes revved nervous systems, as it is a drug that speeds everything up and that rev stays in the imprint in the nervous system until it is processed. I recommend that Pitocin not be used, and that induction be avoided unless truly medically indicated. Any drugs taken during birthing have a huge effect on our children, so be very cautious about using them at all.
We don’t become a person when we are born; we have already had a world of experience, and life, before our birth. Our experiences in the womb have a huge impact on both how our birth goes, and on how we perceive our birth – two different things. There is growing acknowledgement of birth trauma, but think about this – birth only lasts a couple days at the most – we are in the womb for 9 months! We are absorbing everything around us! We are learning how to survive, and growing our body; learning more about life than at any other time. Everything that happens to us in the womb is imprinted into our body-system at a pre-verbal level and has a profound influence on our lives, and on our ability to connect and have fulfilling relationships.
© 2016 Karen Melton
Cutting edge insights into:
Early Consciousness, Embodiment, Health, Resilience and Thrive-ability, Early Parenting, and Attachment.
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