• Zoe

Neuroscience of Carrying

This is from a social media post that I wrote without giving it much thought just from what I know and from the heart.

It has so far reached over 34K people on Facebook and Instagram.

I share lots that links to the neuroscience of carrying but I do not have one post about this in general. And that is because it is hugely complicated and far more than I could write in a post. In fact I have written on this and it is a 7000+ word paper so far.

The more I learn the less I know and the more I want to learn.

The more I read and absorb, it all seems so connected and so intertwinned and yet science constantly wants to simplify it to show the impact. Science so far hasn't provided the direct links, it is too messy, too complex for science.

Touch - contact - connection - thrive

The Victorian Era and the industrial revolution in the UK has much to answer for with the decline in responsive parenting; the need for more people working longer hours to be more productive meant children had to become independent far sooner.

Villages and communities were broken up as people moved to the bigger towns and cities to earn more money, to do more work, children worked in the factories, or looked after their siblings. It became seen as lower class to breastfeed, or to carry as it meant you could not afford a perambulator or powdered milk or a wet nurse, it meant women could not take part in “society” if looking after a child so came the introduction of handfeeding, of nannies and nurseries that would train a child’s character, the rise of male Drs being involved in the world of birthing which previously was an exclusively female practise of midwives, led to less skin to skin contact and more interventions, away from natural methods.

Capitalism at it's best.

This has continued across all aspects of life. Traditional cultures that carry their children, typically have contact with their child for at least 50% of the day. A British study in 2000 showed that mothers spent an average of just 61 minutes in 24hrs holding their sleeping or crying child at 6 weeks of age, not including feeding contact, when adding this it rose to 3.5 hrs which is still only 15% of the day.

What is the impact of this rapid change to our evolution??

We are just starting to find out, in the ripples through our brains and in mental and physical health.

Carrying matters, it is what our body's and brain's expect it is what our infant's body and brain expect.

When we fight these instincts and needs parenting can feel immensly hard. When we surrender and lean into it our whole world can change for the better. It won't be like this forever despite what it feels like right now......

These are images from a presentation I gave to educators about the importance of meeting infants needs, we know the dire consequences when these are neglected. The neuroscience of carrying. They speak for themselves.



Child maltreatment: A neurodevelopmental perspective on the role of trauma and neglect in psychopathology. Child and Adolescent Psychopathology. 93-128. Bruce D. Perry and Theodore P Beauchaine and Stephen P Hinshaw (2008).