2017 Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative Symposium- Life in the Womb & Its Lasting Impact

2017 Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative Symposium


An Exploration of Perinatal Psychology

Film screening and panel discussion about perinatal epigenetics

A seminar for parents, maternal-child health advocates and mental health professionals featuring the documentary film IN UTERO.

Producer Stephen Gyllenhall with volunteers at event. L to R: Marcela Rodriguez, Stephen Gyllenhall (Producer), Cordelia Hanna, Debbie Benton and Melissa O’Keefe

“In Utero completely changes what we’ve been taught about who we are, by shedding light on a 9 month period of our lives that most of us have never thought about before. The environment in which a mother carries her child can have a profound impact on her baby – particularly if it is filled with stress and trauma and other negative emotions. This may seem like it puts a tremendous burden and blame on mothers – but actually, it shows that we are ALL responsible for the children of the next generation. It is up to us to create a society in which women (and their partners) are better supported – so that they can carry their children in a healthy, peaceful environment and, ultimately, raise them into good, kind adults. From here, we can change the world.” – Marisa Keane, Amazon Reviews (★★★★★)


Saturday, February 18, 2017


5:00 pm to 8:30 pm


Pasadena Armory Center  for the Arts

Community Room

145 N Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103


Reception: 5:00-5:30 pm

Film: 5:30 pm-7:15 pm

Panel Discussion and Q and A Session: 7:15 pm -8:15 pm

Fundraising Presentation: 8:15 pm -8:30 pm




Perinatal Nurses, LCSWs, MFTs, Psychologists, Midwives, Physicians, Doulas, Childbirth Educators, Perinatal Home Visitors, Perinatal Case Managers, Promatores de Salud Perinatal, Students of Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Nursing, Public Health,  Maternal-Child Health,  and Mothers and Fathers.

 CEUs Pending for:  MFT/LCSW, RN, CPM, CNM, CCE, CD


Recent research has indicated that intrauterine exposures to stress have an impact on physical and mental health of children. Issues such as autism, schizophrenia, prematurity, diabetes, etc. have been found to have their origins in maternal exposure to stress. More awareness of this issue is needed for perinatal health professionals so that solutions may be found to ameliorate these influences.


  • Define epigenetics.
  • Describe the potential epigenetic health impacts of cumulative or acute maternal exposures to stress on developing fetuses and children.
  • Discuss how historical traumas experienced by populations have an inter-generational impact upon physical and mental health of mothers and children.
  • Describe how stressful experiences in pregnancy and trauma during childbirth effects maternal and infant mental health.


Kathleen Gyllenhaal

Kathleen Gyllenhaal,  Filmmaker

Directed by Kathleen Gyllenhaal, IN UTERO is a cinematic rumination on what will emerge as the most provocative subject of the 21st  Century. Through enlightening and oftentimes poignant interviews with experts and pioneers, IN UTERO paints a complex tapestry of the human experience from conception to birth. Tapping into cultural myths, popular movies, and technological trends, the film demonstrates how our experiences in utero preoccupy us throughout our lives.
Experts in the fast-growing field of epigenetics explain that we are not only our genes but a product of our environment as well, a proven fact that changes our perception of stress and exposures to the environment during pregnancy. The film looks at how these environmental effects are passed down through the generations through our genes, making it scientifically plausible that a traumatic event that affected your grandma could leave a mark on your genes. This is the new emerging field of perinatal epigenetics.
As if this weren’t eye-opening enough, the film reveals through extensive interviews with psychologists, psychiatrists and psychoanalysts that similar theories of prenatal life have been in play as early as the 1900’s, and have gained traction ever since. In that sense, the hard sciences are only just beginning to catch up with what others have been saying for decades.
Now, experts in all fields have begun to see the link between the state of the world and prenatal life.


Following the film, there was a panel discussion and audience question and answer session  with  Filmmaker Kathleen Gyllenhaal  and Producer Stephen Gyllenhaal, Perinatal Psychologist Dr. Sayida Peprah, Psy. D., CD, and Cordelia Hanna, MPH, CHES, ICCE, CLE, CBA, Maternal-Child Health Advocate and Perinatal Educator , Executive Director of The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health  and  Dr. Caron Post, Psy.D., Executive Director of Maternal Mental Health Now and Dr. Marcy Axness, Ph.D. an Early Development Specialist and Parent Coach, who  discussed how to integrate these cutting edge concepts into our work as birth support professionals in order to support the goal of “happy mamas and healthy babies”.



“What we’re not recognizing is that people are parenting and conceiving and carrying and birthing children under increasingly stressed conditions. Increasingly, it takes two people now to provide a living in this culture to families. And they’re doing so in the context of less support because one of the ravages of industrialization and globalization is the destruction of the extended family, the tribe, the clan, the village, the neighborhood. Parents who are stressed have been shown not to be able to be as attuned with their infants and children as parents who are not stressed. Not their fault. Not because they do not love the child. Not because they’re not dedicated, devoted, committed. Simply because the stress effect impedes their ability to attune with their child…And that has an impact on brain development.” – Gabor Maté, M.D., Author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction

Watch clip from film  on Facebook  with Dr. Gabor Maté, M.D.,  discussing maternal depression.


The Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH)

Maternal Mental Health Now


To galvanize the perinatal  community to harmoniously work together to create multidiscliplinary maternity care teams committed to forwarding the action towards  a mother-and baby-centered, collaborative model of maternity care in Los Angeles County.

 About the Conference Organizer: The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health (AWMNH)

A community-based  501 (c) (3) non-profit public charity 509 (a) (2) located in Los Angeles, California We are perinatal professionals joined together with a common vision to promote maternal and infant health, improve maternity care services, and reduce perinatal health disparities in Los Angeles County.

We also provide support and education for expectant parents  including birth doula support, childbirth education, postpartum doula care and breastfeeding counseling.

Our board and advisory committee, volunteers and consultants have  expertise in family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, maternal mental health,  maternity and newborn nursing, midwifery, lactation support, public health, health promotion,  Doula support and childbirth education. We also sponsor networking and training opportunities for maternity care professionals.

Our Mission

To increase access, awareness and availability of MotherBaby-Friendly Maternity Care. We are also committed to social justice in birth.

Our Work

The Association of Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health  focuses on the intersection of public health and midwifery  to address  healthcare disparities and to engender a more equitable maternity care system for all women and infants.

Our focus areas are:

  1. Education for Birth Preparation and Cultural Change
  2. Advocacy  for Maternal-Infant Healthcare  Policy Reform
  3.  Expanding  Access to MotherBaby-Friendly Maternity Care

Mission of the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services

CIMS is an international coalition of individuals and  organizations with concern for the care and well-being of mothers, babies, and families. CIMS mission is to: “promote a wellness model of maternity care that will improve birth outcomes and substantially reduce costs. This evidence-based mother-, baby-, and family-friendly model focuses on prevention and wellness as the alternatives to high-cost screening, diagnosis, and treatment programs”.

“The evidence-based Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI) evolved from the collaborative effort of many individuals and more than 26 organizations focused on pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding during meetings spanning nearly three years in the 1990′. The MFCI – the cornerstone of our mission – is the first and only consensus document on U.S. maternity care.”  The scientific evidence supporting the MFCI was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Perinatal Education in 2007.

Evidence Basis for the Ten Steps of Mother-Friendly Care in the Journal of Perinatal Education, 2007, Issue 16, a Special Supplement Download now

31 individuals and 26 organizations representing over 90,000 members ratified the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI) on July 1, 1996 These original signers (or “Ratifiers”) of the MFCI are listed here.

Benefits of The Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative for Hospitals, Clinics, Doctors, Nurses and Families

1) Increased patient satisfaction resulting in better compliance to medical recommendations and improved outcomes

2) Increased job satisfaction among nurses; helps to retain qualified staff and reduce turnover

3) Improvement in quality of care (evidence-based practices resulting in better outcomes for mothers and infants)

4) Cost-savings to hospitals because of shorter labors and less medical interventions

5) For doctors, clinics and hospitals, increased patient satisfaction results in repeat business and word-of-mouth recommendations