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Zero separation of mother and newborn: the science behind the concept

by Dr. Nils Bergman, MB ChB, MPH, MD
  • Duration: 75 Mins
  • Credits: 1.25 CERP, 1.25 R-CERP
  • Learning Format: Webinar
  • Handout: No
  • Origin: Neonatal 2017
Abstract:

The central dogma of all biological processes is based on DNA and genes, how these make proteins and specifically neurons, and how such neurons result in a brain producing behaviours, with the overriding objective of ‘reproductive fitness’. This presentation translates this dogma to the context of human birth, with the emphasis on the role of the environment is epigenetically informing genes how to make protein, through environmental sensory inputs formatting the brain to that environment, in which reproductive fitness encompasses not just survive but also thrive. The perinatal period is crucial to a number of biological processes, with the mother’s body being the defining environment for human newborns. These can be listed as transition to extra-uterine life, early suckling and colostrum protection, microbiota protection, sensory regulation of physiology, and sensory bonding to parent, synchrony of state organisation with feed and sleep cycling, synchrony and sensitization to and of the mother (and father) with a narrow window of opportunity in the first day. All these processes are place dependent, i.e. only happen in immediate and continuous maternal-infant skin-to-skin contact. Separation has immediate adverse consequences, disrupting all described above. It is not merely a temporary hold up of positive development; it is an active adaptation of stress biology with life long consequences for social and physical health. Bowlby first described this concept as the “Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness”, Narvaez provides contemporary updating in the “Evolved Developmental Niche”.

Learning Objectives:

Objective 1: Apply basic biological sciences to human childbirth.
Objective 2: Motivate colleagues to avoid separation of maternal-neonate dyads.
Objective 3: Challenge old routines around labour, birth and breastfeeding support.

Categories: Neonates
Presentations: 10  |  Hours / CE Credits: 10.5  |  Viewing Time: 8 Weeks