In this extract from our Spring 2019 issue, Hand in Hand Parenting expert and educator Anna Cole describes how old, seemingly insignificant memories – even ones stemming from their birth – can unconsciously affect our children, and how we as parents can help. To read the full article, just pick up a copy of the magazine in your local stockist or subscribe here.
New Life, Old Memories
Release and Renew this Springtime
by Anna Cole
The sun is slowly climbing higher in the sky and Spring is on its way amidst the cold days, bringing hopes of renewal and re-birth. The crocuses and daffodils lying dormant in the earth throughout the winter, remind me of one of the most profound things that I have learnt from my practice as a Hand in Hand Parenting Instructor; the stored and long-term nature of implicit memories held in the ‘limbic brain’.
The limbic brain is the large social and emotional centre of the brain, the seat of our ‘gut reactions’ which holds memories from when we are in-utero. This part of the brain is ‘on-line’ from when we are newborn, in contrast to the pre-frontal cortex which is still developing until we are around 24 years old. As parents, we can’t always know what implicit memories are living in us, or our children, but we can find ways to release old memories and create room for new stories by remaining connected and listening.
When my daughter was born I struggled with a long, four day labour. Eventually she was born, not in the idyllic home-birth setting of my dreams, but in a birthing room in our local hospital. To aspirate her lungs, in case of muconium after possible in-utero distress, soon after her birth the doctor on duty gently inserted a small tube down her throat. It was over in seconds, and she did not seem distressed at the time.