The ‘In Arms’ Relationship

What a baby biologically ‘expects’, and what today’s environments provide, can often be far apart. Human infants need constant attention and contact with other human beings because they are unable to look after themselves. Unlike other mammals, they cannot keep themselves warm, move about, or feed themselves until relatively late in life. It is their extreme neurological immaturity at birth and slow maturation that make the mother-infant relationship so important.
In his film ‘Kangaroo Care’ Dr Neils Bergman clearly demonstrates the effects of early stress responses at mother and baby separation. The stress hormones having a negative impact upon the child’s fundamental physiological and psychological needs. Which would suggest that limbic regulation through mother and child body contact can, at times, be vital to the health and survival of her baby. That human babies have underdeveloped physiological systems which are easily destabilised by stress hormones being released in response to being to the baby being separated from their mother.
In their book, ‘A General Theory of Love’ (2000) Dr’s Lewis, Amini and Lannon, make central the premise that our brain chemistry and nervous systems are measurably affected by those closest to us,( limbic resonance); that our systems synchronize with one another in a way that has profound implications for personality and lifelong emotional health, ( limbic regulation). That limbic regulation can have a profound effect upon the physiological and emotional well-being of our children.
In “A handbook of Psychology” (2003) a clear path is traced from Winnicott 1965 identifying the concept of mother and child as a relational organism or dyad and goes on to examine the interrelation of social and emotional responding with neurological development and the role of the limbic system in regulating response to stress.
Limbic resonance is also referred to as “empathic resonance”, as in the book Empathy in Mental Illness (2007), which establishes the centrality of empathy or lack of it thereof in a range of individual and social pathologies.
The authors Farrow and Woodruff, cite the work of Maclean, 1985, as establishing that “Empathy is perhaps the heart of mammalian development, limbic regulation and social organization”, as well as research by Carr et al., 2003, who used MRI to map brain activity during the observation and imitation of emotional facial expressions, with the conclusion
“we understand the feelings of others via a mechanism of action representation that shapes emotional content and that our empathic resonance is grounded in the experience of our bodies in action and the emotions associated with specific bodily movements”
Human babies have good sensory development of touch, smell, taste, sight and sound, but being unable to cling to a care-giver and so rely on being carried in arms to remain close Human babies have a long period of development after birth, which takes place at a very fast rate, and requires a lot of energy. They need to feed often and on-demand on high-calorie, low-fat milk which is quickly digested.
All of which show how tightly bound together the physiological and social aspects of the mother-infant relationship really is. The ‘in arms’ relationship also allows mothers (and fathers) to respond quickly to the infant if he cries, chokes, or needs his nasal passages cleared, body cooled, warmed, caressed or rocked.


PETER specialises in supporting parent and child relationships and the well-being and fitness of mothers and babies, and especially those babies and children with developmental delay. His certificated Teacher Training Courses in Developmental Baby Massage for professionals working with mothers and babies are given throughout the UK and abroad. These courses attract midwives, health visitors, neonatal nurses and all other therapists working with families and mothers and babies. A pioneer of Developmental Baby Massage and YogaGym from the 1980s onwards. Peter is credited as the original NHS baby massage teacher trainer who’s teacher training resulted in baby massage being offered free to parents in health centres and clinics throughout the United Kingdom. The leading international trainer for Developmental Baby Massage with over 40 years of group teaching experience Peter currently has over 18,000 teachers or more the world over, teaching Developmental Baby Massage. Background Peter has studied yoga and experiential anatomy from the early ‘80’s with his friend and teacher Arthur Balaskas. He worked with a group practicing ‘Psycho- Gymnastics’ and ‘Re- Birthing’ for some ten years under the supervision of R.D. Laing psychiatrist, musician, poet and author and a founder of the Philadelphia Association in London. Peter introduced yoga and massage into a number of Dr. Laing’s therapeutic communities and from the mid-eighties onwards has taught Developmental Baby Massage and Soft Post-Natal Yoga to mothers and babies. Peter teaches a variety of techniques to parents with babies with additional needs - stiffness - floppyness and developmental delay. Peter has made numerous television appearances and has featured in documentaries and breakfast shows on all the UK’s major channels. He's given talks on BBC Radio One, Woman’s Radio, Radio Wales and various other radio stations, and has had articles featured in Woman, Cosmopolitan, Harpers & Queen, The Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Observer, The Times, Japan Times and Australia’s Natural Parenting magazine and many other national publications including most UK ‘mother and baby’ periodicals. His books, sell worldwide and include: Baby Gymnastics with Arthur Balaskas (Unwin) Baby Relax (Unwin) Going for Gold [with DaleyThompson] (Unwin) Natural Parenting (Gaia) The Book of Massage (Gaia) Baby Massage (Piatkus) Hop, Skip and Jump [Gymnastics for Children] (Carroll and Brown) Developmental Baby Massage (Carroll and Brown, Octopus 2014 Sharing Pregnancy E Book 2012 Peter has also made the following films: Baby Massage Step 1 2 and 3 (Little Venice Films) Massage and Movement: Birth to Three Years Sharing Pregnancy [A Unique Film for Fathers] DVD Developmental Baby Massage, DVD Soft Baby Yoga, DVD YogaGym, DVD Stretching Together, DVD Peter works worldwide throughout the United Kingdom and abroad. For more detailed information about his teacher training courses See For advice / treatments Email

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