Preface by Candace B. Pert, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer RAPID Pharmaceuticals Rockville, Maryland

Author of “Molecules of Emotion” and featured in the movie “What the Bleep”

Finally, someone has taken the science of the mind-body connection and applied it to the experience of childbirth. The era of medical birth primacy and its treatment of women as bodies without mind, emotion or spirit, is over.

Thanks to Denise Spatafora, a new era of smart birth—women and their partners being fully empowered to design birthing experiences of their choice—is upon us. Denise is a woman with a mission, and with Better Birth she launches a movement to alter forever how we approach and conduct ourselves through conception, pregnancy, birthing and parenting. She is up to no less than a revolution in consciousness.

Knowledge is access, and the access Denise is offering through BornClear is grounded in the scientific discoveries I and my colleagues made in the 1970’s while I was first at Johns Hopkins and later at the National Institutes of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. As described in my book, Molecules of Emotion, I laid the foundation for the discovery of endorphin, the body’s natural morphine and the brain chemical responsible for the exhilarating emotion of bliss and pain-free childbirth, among other effects. That ground-breaking research led to the even more astounding finding in the 1980’s that each of us is a communication network of chemical information. The mind and body are constantly in communication, a process highly regulated by the molecules of emotion, the peptides, of which endorphin is one.

In the work I did with my team to establish the mind-body connection, I showed how conscious breathing, a technique employed by both the yogi during meditation and the woman in labor, can alter the experience of pain. There is a wealth of data showing that changes in the rate and depth of breathing produce changes in the quantity and kind of chemicals that are released from the brain—and vice versa. You can cause those chemicals, by consciously controlling your breath—a principle used in Lamaze and other birthing techniques — to diffuse rapidly throughout the cerebrospinal fluid and thus diminish your pain. The endorphin-respiratory link is well documented: Virtually any endorphin molecule found anywhere else can be found in the respiratory center, providing the scientific rationale for the powerful healing effects of consciously controlled breath patterns.

My science led me to trust my body as I went through becoming pregnant and giving birth to my own children. After one high-tech, heavily drugged hospital delivery, and a second natural childbirth, again in the environment of a hospital, I’d decided to have my third child at home. At that time, I was constantly being my own best laboratory rat, experimenting on myself to prove or disprove my theses. I wanted to be emotionally present for the birth and fully in control of the process.

I knew about the breathing connection to endorphin release, and so I used conscious controlled breathing, a surefire, proven strategy for releasing endorphins and quelling pain to experience a natural, pain-diminished delivery of my child. I trusted my instincts and the wisdom of my body, something I’d been prevented from doing in the hospital environment with its emphasis on high-tech machinery over mind-body wisdom. It was an experience that won me over to natural childbirth.
Another aspect I love about the Better Birth's approach is Denise’s understanding of how knowledge dispels fear. In this book, Denise arms women and their partners with an incredible amount of knowledge—not just about development of the fetus as so many books do, but about the relationship of our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs to the experiences of being pregnant, giving birth and parenting.

My work has shown that we all filter our perceptions of reality through a network of emotional chemicals, highly coloring what we see as “out there,” or objective reality. The quality and freedom of those emotions—whether they are stuck and suppressed or flowing and alive—can profoundly impact that experience. Preparing for childbirth and parenting has everything to do with our thoughts and feelings, and knowing this can give you» an advantage in having a beautiful, joyful experience rather than a frightening and painful one.

Denise has walked her talk—been a mother like myself, and used her own experience of birthing two children to empower others and further her own personal growth and evolution. She has supported countless women and their partners, children and families to choose freely, armed with the latest knowledge science has to offer. In Better Birth, she makes her vast experience available, and for that we can all be thankful.


Candace B. Pert, PhD


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