The Importance of Reflexes in the Developing Baby
Imagine that you suddenly heard a loud bang behind you. What would your physical reaction and movement be? Would you think, “Hm, what was that,” and calmly turn around to find out? Or would you jump up out of your chair and whirl around without a single thought? I’m going to bet that it’s the latter! It’s an automatic reflex and, without them, we would never have been able to survive to become adults.
In the third module of the Embodied Early Developmental Movement and Attachment Therapy, we are going to be talking about the complex topic of primitive reflexes and prenatal psychology.
Prenatal psychology is the study of consciousness in little ones and in the family that surrounds that little one as they grow in the mother. As we learned in the second module, Embodied Early Developmental Movement & Attachment Theory, everything that the mother experiences throughout the pregnancy can have a significant impact on the child. This is definitely true when it comes to their family, as support and love will help the baby get properly started in life.
Another topic we are going to be exploring is the involuntary reflexes of the developing baby. Reflexes do not involve consciousness; they are instead a survival mechanism. We all have them. When you are at the doctor and they tap your knee, your leg will jump up involuntarily. Even if you consciously try to resist, your leg will still kick up. This is a reflex. When our body kicks into reflective action, the signals from the nervous system don’t go to our thinking brain. Instead, they go deeper to a more instinctive level, to the level beneath conscious thought. If a child is playing baseball and they unexpectedly see a ball flying directly towards them, they throw up their hands fast to protect their face and bat it away. It’s the same as when we put our hands in front of us when we fall so we don’t smash into the floor.
But reflexes play a much more important role than just protecting us. They are also the mechanism that we use to develop the abilities to walk, talk, and eat. In a newly-born child, for example, they don’t have to think about latching on during nursing. They just do it. It’s a reflex and one that is necessary for their survival. When we work with a client or child, we can elicit and use reflexes and integrate them through movement.
One of my favorite topics to talk about is in-utero reflexes. As the baby develops, it only makes sense that they have involuntary physical reactions the same way that we do as adults. Some of these are total body reflexes. For example, one of them is called the fear paralysis reflex. When there is a fearful response from the mother, the baby’s whole body will freeze up and go into paralysis to save it from being jostled. This is a total body reflex is a survival mechanism. Reflexes also play a huge role in the birthing process.
So, I invite you to come in and learn how to view movement and reflexes from the baby’s point of view! The Embodied Early Developmental Movement & Attachment Therapy training course is specifically designed for psychologists and therapists, movement professionals, educators, and body workers. It is also a profound training program for parents (and in this case, brand-new parents!) This is how I started my journey in this work.
Over the next two years, this course will be introducing concepts that might completely change the way that you view yourself and the way that you work with your clients. This kind of personal growth can be remarkable, leading to changes in your life that you can’t even imagine right now. I invite you to join us on this journey in the third module of the The Whole Person: Embodied Early Developmental Movement & Attachment Therapy Intensive training course!