“The Calming Womb Family Therapy Model”: Review

The Calming Womb Family Therapy Model: Bonding Mother and Baby from Pregnancy Forward
By Dr. Rosita Cortizo, clinical psychologist in Southern California
www.thecalmingwomb.com and www.rositacortizo.com
Source: Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH)

The purpose of these reviews is to shed light on the fascinating research and work being performed in a variety of industries to help you, a coach or movement pro, grow your understanding of working with women, babes, and families. When we expand our learning outside the movement industry box, we see and experience/feel more perspectives that influence the beliefs and methodologies we bring to training.

If you’re reading this as a procreator yourself, I hope it shows you new information to digest and potentially implement in your parenthood adventure!

Brief summary – lots of unique verbs and short and sweet! Give them a reason to keep reading or to go read the research themselves! Excitement and why I find it important to share with them.
Why is this important and going to enhance your service to others? Or your experience as a procreator?

Dr. Cortizo does a brilliant job of simplifying a very interwoven, complex system of support for women, wombs, and families in the overview of her work presented in the Spring 2019 JOPPPAH.

Biggest take-aways for me:

  1. Her approach on the importance of strengthening the bonds between mother and baby, and then the community with mother and babe.

2. Healing the mother’s (and partner’s) wounds, allowing space to explore parenting styles and what, if anything, the want to change from their childhood experiences.

3. Highlighting the potentially dominating/damaging experiences of multi-intergenerational dysfunctional patterns, transference, projections, and expectations. This demonstrates the very important reason why individuals or couples should seek support during this time! If left unexplored, old patterns can potentially disrupt/ruin a parents authentic relating to their child.

Key points and what we as movement professionals can take away and implement:

Encouraging women to interact with their fetus during pregnancy. There is a good amount of research the learning a baby experiences in utero when the mother is continuously involving, communicating, and engaging.

Cortizo states that a “Womb baby” needs to:
– experience “mindfulness”;
– be informed of the activities they are doing together;
– hear/feel words of “love”;
– feel wanted;
– experience fun and movement;
– share “peace” with mom;
– feel acknowledged and welcomed at birth

This concept may be foreign to you, and that’s okay. A fetus and infant are not a “blank slate” like many of might have been told. The physical movements of a woman’s body are constantly influencing baby’s development in addition to teaching it something about being and relating! Think about that for a moment!!

We also know that feelings have energy. It’s was causes our bodies to respond a certain way when our brain perceives it. If you SEE something that “makes” you angry, you feel what you call “anger” inside your body right? Well, that feeling appeared due to the energy and hormones inside us. Since a baby lives inside a woman, that baby gets exposed to whatever a woman is feeling.

Research exists to demonstrate the power of maternal stress, anxiety, and/or depression on fetal development. Here are a couple:
Maternal depression and anxiety on fetal neo-natal growth

Maternal stress during pregnancy: effects on fetal age and development

Neurotrophins and neuroinflammation in fetuses exposed to maternal depression and anxiety…
^neopterin is a pro-inflammatory immune response meaning babies exposed to depression and anxiety have potentially inflamed immune systems!

Coaches, we have a huge role to play in supporting a woman’s ability to reduce stress responses and increase experiences of safety and calm THROUGH EXERCISE! And through physical stress/challenge, we influence her brain’s capacity for daily stress load as well. POWERFUL!

Is the work your client is doing with you increasing or decreasing her stress responses? Is training with you allowing her to down-regulate and feel calmer, joyful, more at peace? Are you giving her body the movement it needs to actively relax where it’s holding tension? These are just a few things to consider each time you’re in the presence of a client. And each day is going to be different!

We can also be active participants in supporting some of the expectant mother’s practices, which Cortizo lists as:

-becoming focused, grounded, and living blissfully in the present;
-monitor self-talk and practice gratitude for daily lessons;
-practice self-compassion and dignity, as this will facilitate empathy, tolerance, and consideration towards others, especially the baby;
-humor, as a healing tool’;
-work with a prenatal nutritionist;
-EMDR Therapy, Attachment repair (if needed), parenting education, awareness of trauma & healing, bonding

How can coaches do this?

To me, as a professional, you must practice what you preach! Lifestyle practices like living blissfully in the moment or practice self-compassion will come through you in your interactions with clients. You’ll be able to speak with knowing when you’ve experienced them yourself.

Beyond that, remember that you create an ENVIRONMENT for your clients. They are coming to you, or you are going to them, because they trust you. They feel safe with you, or at least, I hope they do. This means that you have the responsibility for creating a workout, a program, a setting, that allows them to PRACTICE the things above. And it is your job to reinforce and support when they start to stray.

Being a coach is more than just your programming. I hope through these research and professional reviews, you start to understand the true depth and role we play in supporting women, babes, and partner’s expression of their body, heart, and soul’s truest potential.

Huge thank you to Dr. Rosita Cortizo for the work she has done and shares, and the support she continues to give to women, wombs, and families. This work is so vital to the healing of us all for healthier future generations!