Rose Coloured or Poo Brown?

Picture a heavily pregnant woman in her last trimester. Her husband works away FIFO and when he is home he’s distant and drinks heavily to medicate his pain. Asking for help doesn’t come naturally to her and her to-do list is ever growing. With the growing stress of getting ready for baby to arrive, the emotional disconnection to her husband and a small social support network, she’s tired, stressed, overwhelmed and starting to feel hopeless and helpless with her current circumstances.

When stressed, the body releases an orchestra of chemistry into the body consisting of stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and testosterone, lower levels of the bonding hormone oxytocin, neurochemistry such as serotonin and dopamine are altered, and to top it all off, inflammatory mediators called inflammatory cytokines flood the system to prepare it for a clearly defined present moment threat… a tiger… or in this woman’s case, the multiple tigers that surround her – her very challenging circumstances.

This “chemistry of stress” floods her body, preparing her body for action, for survival, and unfortunately this chemistry passes directly to her baby inside her womb giving that baby’s developing nervous system an adult dose of stress. What is the impact of the “in-utero” exposure to toxic levels of stress chemistry?

Before we get to that, this article is all about how you became you. Why you do what you do and see the world the way you do? To understand these questions, we have to go back to the start of life, conception, and our time in the womb as this is the earliest influence the world and our family constellation have on us, and how this early experience shapes our neurological, behavioral and emotional infrastructure, which we then build upon as we go through our decades of life. 

In-utero stress, also known as prenatal stress, can have significant impacts on a developing baby’s nervous system and brain. Research has shown that a mother’s stress during pregnancy can affect the baby’s development in several ways:

  1. Altered Brain Development: Prenatal stress can lead to changes in the structure and function of the baby’s brain. Studies in animals and humans have indicated that exposure to stress hormones, such as cortisol, in utero can affect the development of brain regions involved in emotional regulation, memory, and stress response.
  2. Increased Risk of Behavioral and Emotional Problems: Babies exposed to high levels of prenatal stress may be at an increased risk of developing behavioral and emotional problems later in life. These problems can include anxiety disorders, attention deficits, and mood disorders.
  3. Changes in Stress Response: Prenatal stress can influence the baby’s stress response system, known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This can result in an altered stress response in the child, potentially leading to heightened reactivity to stressors.
  4. Cognitive and Learning Difficulties: Some research suggests that prenatal stress may be associated with cognitive and learning difficulties in children, including lower IQ scores and impaired executive function skills.
  5. Epigenetic Changes: Prenatal stress can cause epigenetic changes, which are modifications to the baby’s DNA that can influence gene expression. These epigenetic changes may persist throughout the child’s life and can impact various aspects of their health and development.
  6. Risk of Neurodevelopmental Disorders: While not all children exposed to prenatal stress will experience these outcomes, there is evidence to suggest that prenatal stress may increase the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Now if you are anything like me, as I read the above I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I cringe at how much impact I may have had on my two beautiful boys’ neurological development and how this may shape their life. Parental guilt… it’s a doozy!

But this article is not about making us feel bad. We did the best we could with the skills, the level of awareness, and the support we had. This article is about understanding how we became us and more importantly that there is absolutely something we can do with this important new knowledge and awareness. We can bring love and compassion to yourself and others and start the process of neuroplastically unlearning old ways of being which may not be working for us anymore. 

Reflect on what you know about your time in your mothers womb. Maybe ask Mum, if she is still with us or in our life, what was her pregnancy like? What was her relationship to your father, if he was in the picture, like during her pregnancy. Tread gently here, this is not about pointing the finger of blame, but about understanding what milieu you developed in and how this related to yourself. Maybe this helps you to understand why you are sensitive to stress, or struggle with self regulation, anxiety or depression? 

So the point of all of the above is to appreciate that you come into this world with initial infrastructure influenced by your prenatal experience. Some may be genetic, which we haven’t even touched upon, and some from the in utero experience. From there, you go about your life and things happen – you have experiences. Some of these experiences are nice, and some, not so nice. Each of these experiences, you cope with, adapt to, or at least try to, and you make meaning from them about yourself in relation to the world and your place in it. All of this goes into your “cooking pot of you” I like to call “The You Stew”, and this forms your persona, or personality – how you present yourself and interact with the world. YOU are the lump sum of all these experiences, coping strategies and adaptations. YOU are a learnt behaviour that was received through your nervous system infrastructure (your lens of life). 

How does that land for you?

Of the more negative experiences you were exposed to, you may call these the more traumatic experiences, the real trauma wasn’t actually what happened to you, but was what happened INSIDE of you, in response to what happened to you. Trauma changes your relationship to yourself. Trauma results in a core belief forming inside of you. It’s the “I am” or “I’m not” statements. Think, “I’m not valued”, “I’m not lovable”. “Nothing I do will ever be good enough”  or “I’m not worthy” or “the world is not a safe place for me”. 

These core beliefs add to the lens you view your life through, you pop them into your back pocket, and carry them around through every decade of your life and they show up in every area of your life, until you become aware of them. Once you are aware of them you now have choice:

  1. Continue to believe them and let them pollute your experience of life, knowing you are avoid them, or;
  2. Challenge them. You attempt to spot them when they arise as early as possible (a skill you can learn), attempt to circuit break them and then inject a new healthier response – you begin to unlearn the habit of being you!

So, the colour in the lens of your “glasses of life” begins forming when you are in your mothers womb. This can create sensitivities within your nervous system infrastructure. As you go on living your life and having your experiences, you perceive them through these sensitivities and the way in which you perceive them determines what you believe about yourself, further colouring your lenses adding to your persona or personality. This is why as you age your personality shifts, changes or evolves. But what stays constant through this evolution of you? It’s your core beliefs yeah? Those ones in your back pocket? The ones you may not have even known were there! 

How would your life begin to change if you could upgrade the colour in YOUR “lens of life”? How would it enhance your relationships, your parenting or your career? 

To “know thy Self” is one of the most powerful things you can do for your life. Bringing awareness and compassion to the environment that helped shape your nervous system can help you to re-model it into something that works for you not against you. Start asking compassionate questions of yourself and your family history. What influence has your ancestors and their circumstances had on you? This is not about pointing fingers about where all this started. It is about identifying the pain and suffering in your bloodlines. When it started, who knows – you don’t need to know, but you do want to be the one that starts the dilution process, to stop this pain and suffering traversing any more generations. That is such an important job. And with the right support, YOU can do it!!

Until you bring the unconscious into the conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it fate – Carl Jung

If you would like me to guide you through this journey, then I encourage you to sign up for my 3 month “Know Thy Self” Compassionate Coaching Program. The program consists of 6 sessions over a 3 month period where we will explore how you became you, why you do what you do, and start the process of remodelling your nervous system and relationship to your Self with cutting edge neuro-remodelling skills and techniques.



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Hi my name is Eddie. I am committed to educating and empowering individuals and families with the skills and knowledge to break the multi-generational nature of trauma and stress so they can live life to their full potential.


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