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Postpartum Depression = Colic -- and RAD?

Turkish researchers found a correlation between postpartum depression in new mothers and colicky babies.

According to Reuters Health, 78 mothers were evaluated for depression, anxiety and attachment distorder, while the infants were checked for colic. Tweny nine mothers showed an insecure attachment style.

Seventeen infants had colic, while 10 women had a high risk of postpartum depression.

An insecure attachment style was significantly more common among women with infants with colic compared with those with infants without colic, according to the study results, published in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood.

Meanwhile, women with colicky babies were more likely to be at high risk for postpartum depression.

This study illustrates one way mechanism by which unhealthy attachment styles are passed from generation to generation. A woman who hasn't developed the ability to form secure, loving bonds with others is anxious about her new baby. She probably isn't as good at the soulful gazing that's the basis for connection with the baby, and therefore they don't enjoy the pulses of oxytocin that regulate the parasympathetic nervous system, calming them, lowering blood pressure and healing inflammation.

This makes the baby colicky, which makes it harder for it to nurse. This leads to more anxiety in the mother and a further disruption of the oxytocin transfer.

Mother and baby are likely recreating the pattern between the mother and her own mother. It would be interesting if the Marmara University Medical School researchers asked whether the high-risk mothers had themselves had colic. I'd bet they did.

Healing the oxytocin response

How we're treated as babies can influence how our body produces and responds to oxytocin throughout our adult lives. Not having the right kind of nurturing as a baby can mess up our ability to love, mate and bond -- forever!

But there's a more important -- and more amazing -- pRt of the story  Our brains can relearn this response at any age. We can heal at the most basic physiological level.  And, I think,  if we don't heal at this level, it's hard to really heal at all.

I think that because of changes in my life and things I did, my body and brain began to learn a healthier way to respond to intimacy. Sex and love feel good and right for the first time. I feel like scientists have uncovered a great secret of being human -- and this understanding can help us all.

What is RAD?

This article in the  Albuquerque Tribune lays out the causes, symptoms and treatments for reactive attachment disorder in a nice, clear way.  According to  Scott Blackwell, a psychologist and consultant at Villa Santa Maria, a residential treatment center specializing in treating attachment-resistant children:

The mother's neurological function is effectively being downloaded into the child's brain. If this doesn't occur, these kids can struggle with concentration, emotional regulation and other developmental issues. They can become very upset and have difficulty coping or soothing themselves.

Without a safe, secure bond to a consistent caretaker, these kids can't establish the proper neurological pathways to the brain's reasoning center, so it's hard for them to cope when they get upset. Attachment disorder can present with symptoms of attention deficit hyperactive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and others.

Blackwell says dyadic developmental psychotherapy can be helpful. This new treatment involves experiences that form a bond with the therapist; by contrast,nmany other therapies work through the relationship between therapist and child. But RAD kids can't form that relationship.

Chapter 2 on Oxytocin and Me

Three years later, it happened for me. I fell in love -- really in love.

I ran into someone with whom I'd worked with very briefly, years ago. He seemed very shy, kind of geeky, even a bit strange. I was so over dating, so, for once, I didn’t immediately start evaluating him for boyfriend potential. He was just a guy to chat with at a party.

But he offered to give me advice on a video project I was working on, so I took him up on it. The next thing I knew, we were dating.

Three weeks later, he used the L-word. I thought that was really nice. I didn't use it back. But neither did I have that eeeouw feeling that had been my usual response when someone liked me, seemed to easy. The truth was, I liked him a lot, and I liked being with him. It wasn't much longer before I knew I was indeed loving him back.

Our love grew slowly and just got better and better. Ten years later, I'm happier than I've ever been -- hell, it's the first time I've ever been really happy. I've found my life partner. My heart seems to be healed.

I'm different in my other relationships, too. I'm the person who initiates hugs. I reach out to comfort people. I'm kind to strangers, more caring to my friends. I can shrug off the things my parents do that used to wound me, and take pride in helping them. Damn, I like myself!

What happened? No psychology book seemed to adequately explain this profound change in my life. Loving Mike -- and being happy with him -- didn’t feel like the result of learning to express my feelings better or think differently. The change had taken place deep down, where new ways of feeling and being had come into being way below the conscious level.

Then, while writing a magazine article on brain research, I stumbled on the beginnings of an answer. My research led me to in a chemical in the body called oxytocin. This amazing hormone is responsible, quite simply, for making us feel loved and secure.

I realized that my relationship problems hadn't been in my mind -- they'd been in my brain.

Why I'm fascinated by oxytocin

I recently had a couple of personal contacts through this blog with people who were considering taking oxytocin. It made me want to take off my reporter's hat, open up and explain how and why I began learning about oxytocin and its influence on bonding.

After spending my life in a series of one-year-stands, I finally had found a mate and the first relationship that felt like it was "supposed to." For the first time, I hadn't been a victim of the outrageous high/devastating crash syndrome.

I still remember the rush the last time that happened, at the housewarming party for my first home. 

It had been a miserable couple of years. My latest relationship had crashed and burned. I'd come home from work one evening to find all his things gone -- except for the jacket I'd bought him for Christmas. My dream job had become hell. Then, just after I found myself unemployed, the landlord informed me he was selling the cute little house I'd rented less than a year ago.

But things were on an upturn. Losing my house was the jolt I'd needed to take the plunge and buy my own house. I'd cashed in my pension from the job from hell, and, with some help from my parents, persuaded a bank to take a chance on me. I had a few months' financial cushion, thanks to severance pay, and I was already making a little money writing.

I'd cleaned the house, put my stuff away, cleared the crabgrass from the yard and planted a fig tree -- all on my own, without anyone beside me. It was time to celebrate.

At the party, I kept circling back to a man I hadn’t met before, the friend of a friend. By the end of the evening, I was swept away in the old pattern: an intense longing and desire for a perfect stranger. I’m not talking about mere lust, but rather that all-consuming, almost obsessive "I've found my true love at last" feeling sometimes known by the polite term "romantic love."

Was I surprised that after one passionate night, things quickly fell apart in a couple of "why am I here?" type dates? Not really. I'd never married and only had one relationship that lasted longer than a year. This scenario had played out in my life over and over and over. How could I know whether a man I’d flirted with for a few hours at a party was someone I could really talk to and be at home with?

Yet I’d felt a deep soul-bond with this man, what seemed to be a shared understanding that went so much deeper than the mundane details of careers and goals and interests.

What was wrong with me? I knew it was deeper than just another rejection. Something deep inside me was broken, had been all my life. I had gone through talk therapy, group therapy and a twelve-step program had given me plenty of insights into my lack of self-esteem and inability to trust. I'd consumed shelves of psychology books in my quest to learn how to connect. I felt I was really ready to make a life with someone. But every time I got excited about someone, he'd fade away.

Why couldn't I fall in love with someone who would love me back?



The Power of Birth

Cinnabar was inspired by a lecture by childbirth educator Debra Pascali-Bonaro, who has written about orgasmic birth. That is, a childbirth experience that's about as far away from the medicalized, antiseptic experience most U.S. women have.

Link: Modest Goddess.

We’re too willing to hand over control of our births, and it hasn’t helped us. A third of women in the United States have C-sections, until a few years ago performed in only the most extreme of medical situations, and yet our infant mortality rate is among the highest of industrialized nations, as a recent report shows.

According to Bonnaro (via Cinnabar), the increased blood flow to the vaginal region and the release of oxytocin before and during birth are similar to that of sex -- times a couple hundred percent, I'm sure.

It seems women's bodies are in a natural state of flow, without those clear demarcations between different types of experience that culture has foisted on us. I have this vision -- which probably is idealistic -- of our bodies in a constant pre-orgasmic, oceanic state.

I wish!