Presentation Information

Marianne Vanderveen-Kolkena

Inner Peace: How Early Experiences Influence Later Life


It is abundantly clear by now that breastfeeding is the biological norm for mammals and therefore also for human babies. What is not so well known yet, is the fact that everything that happens in the first few years of life, has a big impact on psychological, social and emotional well-being once that baby is an adult. Research in the field of neurology, brain development and epigenetics, combined with all the insights from early and more recent attachment theory shows that despite brain plasticity, the way primary needs are (not) fulfilled, has a long-lasting impact. Experiences are stored in the primal, non-verbal brain areas as emotions and can easily be triggered in the future. Appropriate coping strategies that babies apply to survive can turn into malfunctional defense mechanisms that seriously hinder personal development and social proficiency. To understand what drives adults in their role as parents and in their choices around birth, breastfeeding and raising children, we need to grasp what they needed as babies. To comprehend what babies need to lay a strong foundation for the rest of their lives, we need to get a thorough notion of how the brain works and how hormones influence physiology.