Prenatal Psychology? Perinatal Psychology? “Yeah, okay?!?!”

Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology? “You’ve got to be kidding me, Bill!” Right? Well, hang in there long enough to read what I have to say. Even if you don’t concur I believe you’ll find the information thought-provoking.


Prenatal psychology considers the psychological and psychophysiological impact of our before-birth experience.

Perinatal psychology deals with the same impact considerations from the perspective of the birth, and immediately after, experience.

I’m telling you – the presentation of assorted later-life psychopathology due to both prenatal and perinatal experience has been documented in the literatuer, as well as in clinical practice. Impacting factors may include…


  • Immediate-family emotional trauma
  • An unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
  • Severe maternal emotional trauma
  • High levels of maternal stress
  • Maternal substance abuse
  • A violent outside environment


  • Life threatening, or unusually fast or long labor
  • Cord wrapped around baby’s neck
  • Baby getting stuck upon delivery
  • Maternal tension during labor and delivery
  • Administration of an anesthetic or labor-inducing medication – e.g.: oxytocin (Pitocin)
  • C-section delivery
  • Forceps or vacuum extraction
  • Bonding issues with mother and family

And while we’re at it, let’s take a look at what a baby may well be experiencing pre and perinatally. By the way, any of these sound like some of the misery you’re experiencing – or have?

  • Breathing difficulty/feelings of suffocation
  • Feeling trapped with the inability to escape
  • Chest tightness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Physical pain
  • Hot/Burning skin sensations
  • Cold/Chills
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Fright
  • Feelings of loss of control

Don’t know about you, but I find these considerations intriguing and plausible. Why couldn’t prenatal and perinatal trauma be retained in memory throughout the lifespan? I mean, surely our components of memory are operational that early on. And why couldn’t a seemingly harmless event trigger thoughts and body sensations whose roots are in the distant past? Makes perfect sense to me, actually. Heck – we already know about the potential down-the-road effects of early life trauma.

Funny – after doing my research for the subject matter several years ago, I went so far as to phone my mother and ask if anything goofy happened before, during, or after my birth adventure. It was really need to know information at the time, though I’m sure she believed I was off my rocker.

So – prenatal and perinatal psychology – what did you learn, and what do you think? I really, really, really want to read your comments on this one!