How much are we constructed during the nine months we spend in our mother’s womb? Do we carry the trauma of our ancestors into our daily lives? Are we who we think we are?
IN UTERO, directed by Kathleen Man Gyllenhaal, is a cinematic rumination on what will emerge as the most provocative subject of the 21st century – the environmental impact on pregnancy and its lasting imprint on human development, human behavior, and the state of the world.
Fetal origins experts, research scientists, psychologists, doctors, and midwives – as well as examples from popular culture and mythology – collectively demonstrate how our experiences in utero shape our future.
By tapping into cultural myths, popular movies, and technological trends, IN UTERO demonstrates how our experiences in utero come with us throughout our lives. The film manages to beautifully paint the complex tapestry of the human experience from the first moment of conception to birth through enlightening interviews with experts and pioneers. And there is certainly a lot to ponder.
According to epigenetic experts, we are not only our genes but a product of our environment as well. This proven fact will change our perception of stress and the environmental conditions that women are exposed to during pregnancy. In particular, the film looks at how these environmental effects are passed down through the generations via our genes. This adds further weight to the argument that it’s scientifically plausible that a traumatic event that affected your ancestors could actually leave a mark on your genes.
What is becoming apparent is that the hard sciences are only just beginning to catch up with what others have been saying for decades. The film goes on to further reveal through extensive interviews with notable experts in the fields of psychology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis that similar theories of prenatal life have been in play as early as the 1900’s and they have gone on to garner traction ever since.
Increasingly, experts in all fields have begun to see the link between prenatal life in the womb and the state of the world at large. In the last five years or so, huge strides have been made in our understanding of the psychological, biological, and sociological impact of our time in the womb.
Researchers in Michigan have developed MRI technology so powerful it’s able to capture the most incredible images of a developing fetus’ brain. This has allowed them to be able to study how certain areas of the brain begin to link up and coordinate activity.
What is most amazing from all of this is that scientists and psychologists have been able to uncover that:
- Prolonged stress induced through poverty, and traumatic events impact a developing fetus on a genetic level
- Depressed or stressed mothers have 5 times the levels of the hormone cortisol, which negatively affects the fetus
“What we’re not recognizing is that people are parenting and conceiving and carrying and birthing children under increasingly stressed conditions. Increasingly, it takes two people now to provide a living in this culture to families. And they’re doing so in the context of less support because one of the ravages of industrialization and globalization is the destruction of the extended family, the tribe, the clan, the village, the neighborhood.
Parents who are stressed have been shown not to be able to be as attuned with their infants and children as parents who are not stressed. Not their fault. Not because they do not love the child. Not because they’re not dedicated, devoted, committed. Simply because the stress effect impedes their ability to attune with their child…And that has an impact on brain development.” – Gabor Maté, M.D.
Given the current state of world affairs, IN UTERO is an extremely timely and important film and brings into focus a new field devoted to prenatal life.
What the research urges us to consider is how the foundations of who we’ve become started a long time before we were even born, and ultimately, how we can set our children up for better lives in the future.
NEW – Pregnancy Meditation