- Shivakumar Belavadi, PPNE, Bangalore, India

TOPIC - Define Pre and Perinatal Psychology (PPN) and describe why it is important to human development.

Wikipedia states that “Pre and Perinatal (PPN) Psychology explores the psychological and psycho-physiological effects and implications of the earliest experiences of the individual, before birth (prenatal), as well as during and immediately after childbirth (perinatal)”. This is probably a simplistic and minimalistic definition, but a good point to begin exploring the scope.  
First, the emphasis on the period viz. - “Birth of a Child” is significant. If the reference is to the time before birth, it will include the period:
  • ·        in the womb of the mother after conception
  • ·        before conception i.e. Preconception – within the DNAs of the parents.
The period after the birth of a child is also seen as a critical period.
Hence PPN periods would include a period preceding conception, the course of  pregnancy and the early period after child birth.  

Second, psychology deals with unity of both the body and mind. The notion that ‘preceding birth, a prenate has no mind’ - has been dispelled. A prenate is sentient and a live being. Further, in addition to the mind and body, the dimension of spirit may need to be formally reckoned into our understanding. Religions and mythology across the world accept the spiritual realm. Anecdotally and through research, evidence has been gathered about the spirit/energy realm. Today, science is possibly moving to that conclusive dimension.

Thirdly, the vista of PPN is ever expanding. While psychology may have been at the root, today it has many collaborating fields including epigenetics, neurosciences, sociology, health, medicine and obstetrics. Thus PPN seems to be the melting pot functioning actively with many other branches of knowledge.

Why is it important to human development?
It is important for at least three reasons:

1What happens in the pre and perinatal stages, impacts subsequent development of a person. To build a better human being, knowledge of these stages becomes important. With this the Health of a person would be better addressed.

2. Collectively, human beings make society. Society faces many problems including violence, abuse and intolerance. Solutions to many of them could lie in understanding the problem at the root – which may well be the PPN period. Healing would be more purposeful with this awareness.

3. As a branch of pure knowledge, it helps in better understanding of human beings through the mind-body construct, the actions and emotions which are in play and explore dimensions of spirit or energy. Society at large would benefit from this and so would all of mankind. The world will hence be a better place for all!