How our grandmothers affect our lives

Our lives and our actions affect the future of the planet and human kind in profound ways. This is demonstrated by some interesting research. Come to the Birth and the Human Future one-day conference in Eugene, Oregon this next Friday, July 22 2016, for learning and discussion on the topic.

The field of epigenetics shows us that our chromosomes and their expression in our lives are affected by processes which are triggered by our experiences.  Methylation of the genes is one process that can occur during intense times in our lives.  Catastrophic times.  And also good times?  This isn’t addressed in any research that I’ve found but it seems to me that both the good times and hard times are carried on with us.  Conception, the time in-utero, and the early months of life are especially vulnerable to all influences.  They are also times when methylation of the genes from the ancestral past tends to be cleared. This is such new research that we really don’t yet have a in-depth understanding.

Epigenetic changes don’t change the genes.  But affect the expression of the genes, and they can be inherited.

The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas in Tel Aviv, Israel reports on a study in which the genome with its epigenetic markers of holocaust survivors and their descendants are compared to that of related individuals who were not in Europe during the holocaust. The genes of the holocaust survivors and their children are methylated in areas representing increased fear and anxiety.  These markers are not found  to a statistically significant level in genetically similar families without that experience.   (see:     for the original report; or for a more accessible discussion, )

Does this news leave you feeling hopeless and frustrated, that you may be predestined to carry insoluble problems through life? Think again. More often than not, methylations are cleared in the early stages or fertilization and conception, when the very first cell divisions to form the new individual line themselves up.  When this does not occur or occurs incompletely, human life is a chance to sift through other changes and clear the fear and depression that may come to us from the past.

A Native American writing on FaceBook commented that resilience is among the traits which her people carry down from their ancestors, in addition to the negative traits hypothesized to have been handed down from the conquest of indigenous America.

Black writers and activists have spoken of a post-traumatic slave syndrome.

Neither of the two  populations has yet chosen to test for epigenetic changes like the Tel Aviv researchers, but it seems to be common sense that similar patterns might be found.

At our one day conference next Friday, July 22, in Eugene, we will look at epigenetics and also at some of the characteristics of humans and babies that might help us grow towards a vibrant and more resilient life and society.

A recent study suggests that babies see MORE THAN us adults.  We will reflect on the nature of the newborn and we consider the needs of moms and babies during pregnancy, birth and thereafter.  What should be our approach to birth?

Why is the maternal mortality rate for American Black women four times higher than the general population?  What can be done about that? Prevention of maternal mortality will be a main feature of the conference.  The whole group will contribute our ideas in a brainstorm event which starts at 11:15 AM. I hope you will be there to contribute!

What is the role of the micro biome, that population of bacteria and other microbes which live in and on the human body, in the creation of healthy, resilient humans? Local hospitals have made changes in their birthing practices after learning about the vital importance of an intact micro biome to long-term health and resistance to disease.

How do humans communicate in non-verbal ways which profoundly affect the birth process and our lives?  Jill Cohen will incorporate the concept of limbic resonance, a powerful way in which we communicate with others, with stories from her busy hospital practice and her many years as a home birth midwife.

Birth and the Human Future Conference is appropriate for birth workers, parents and activists.  The cost is $50. including lunch; 6 OMC CEU’s are $10. extra.  Is this cost too much for you?  Follow the prompts at registration for low-income options.  No one will be turned away for lack of ability to pay. We’d rather have you there than make a profit!

Registration starts at 8 AM Friday July 22 at Centro de Fe, 540 Adams, Eugene, Oregon!IMG_4780

Why Birth and The Human Experience

Many of us worry about the human future.  We worry about climate change, natural disasters, war.  What does the future hold for ourselves, our families, our cultures and our planet?

Our ways of birthing have a profound effect on our health and happiness and the nature of our communities and nations.  Studies have shown that the level of militarism in a society is directly related to the extent to which mother and baby are separated after birth.  Anthropologists have found that nearly all of the traditional cultures on the planet have the belief that the colostrum, a nourishing substance that comes before the breast milk when a baby is newly born, is bad for the baby, thus requiring separation of mom from baby for a couple days until her milk comes in.  In another example of societal customs that separate mother and baby, for most of the 20th century in industrialized nations, babies were taken to nurseries immediately after birth to be cared for by nurses, and returned to their mothers a few times a day if that.

Recent scientific research shows that the newly born baby is conscious, alert, and able to interact. The hours after birth are part of a “primal period” in which mom and baby are exquisitely sensitive to learning feelings and interactions that are  imprinted for life.

Another big event at the start of life is the seeding of the microbiome.  The microbiome is the bacteria and other microorganisms that live in and on the human body.  These bacteria are mostly protective to the human host and play a role in developing a strong immune system.  The most beneficial bacteria for a newly born person are thought to be those associated with the mother.  This new field of knowledge is influencing childbirth practices.

One more new field of study is epigenetics.  This refers to external modifications to DNA that turn genes “on” or “off.” These modifications do not change the DNA sequence.  Many factors in childbirth, such as medications given or method of delivery might cause epigenetic changes which would cause a gene to be expressed or not, for better or for worse.

Do you want your children and descendants to be alert, healthy and smart in our changing times, to have the best possible chance of surviving and thriving down to the seventh generation?

Then come to the Birth and the Human Future Conference and learn more. The conference will take place at the Centro de Fe at 540 Adams, Eugene, Oregon on Friday, July 31, 2015.  Registration and the showing of the movie Micro Birth will start at 8 AM.  The main conference is from 9-5.  Lunch will be served.

May 23, 2016:  This year’s Birth and the Future conference will be on Friday, July 22 from 9-5, registration starting at 8 AM.  Once again we will be at Cento de Fe, 540 Adams in eugene.

We will go into more depth on ways in which our birth influences our lives, and then focus on ways to solve the problem of black and brown mothers dying in childbearing at higher rates than the general population in the USA today.  I hope you can join us to learn and to reason together.  Marion