"Early adverse experience can disrupt the body's metabolic systems," says Shonkoff. "One of the cornerstones of biology is that our body's systems when they are young are reading the environment and establishing patterns to be maximally adaptive."How Childhood Trauma Can Cause Adult Obesity - Yahoo! News
Researchers also posit that high levels of stress hormones caused by Adverse Childhood Experiences, known as ACEs can wear down the body over time. A temporary spike in blood pressure in response to a stressful event may be useful to power an adaptive fight-or-flight response, but over the long term constant could raise a person's risk for heart attack and stroke. Studies have also found that consistently elevated levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, can lead to permanent damage in certain brain regions linked to depression.
Recently, scientists have discovered that these changes can themselves be passed down from one generation to the next - a burgeoning new area of study called epigenetics. Such research may have significant and long-term implications for the prevention of obesity, addiction and other illnesses related to early life stress. After all, reducing childhood exposure to trauma in one generation may further benefit that generation's children and grandchildren.
If, for instance, a modern child's early life experience - in the womb and during the first five years, particularly - is constantly stressful, it would be incredibly energy-consuming, says Dr. Bruce Perry, senior fellow at the ChildTrauma Academy. "If your genes get the message that you are entering a stressful world, it makes complete adaptive sense to take the existing metabolism and tune it up to deposit fat and store energy to prepare for what the body is expecting will be a challenging and stressful life," he says".
Epigenetics is one of the fields of science that is demonstrating the importance of one to one midwifery care throughout the childbearing period for women and their families. Unmitigated stress leads to genetic, inflammatory and physiological changes that can be permanent. Homeostasis is disrupted and a process called Allostasis is triggered. Allostasis is when body systems are upregulated to cope with unrelieved stress and stress hormones.
When women feel cared about and valued and have a midwife to talk to about the day to day, moment to moment anxieties, fears and challenges that life and pregnancy brings, their stress response is dampened and their connection response is triggered. Discussing feelings, nutrition, exercise, relationships and changes with a midwife who cares and is interested is capacity building.
The human brain may contain up to one trillion neurons. These nerve cells are interconnected, as shown in this microscopic image, so that they can transmit electrical impulses—and information—to other cells. Image by 3D4Medical.com/Getty Images: National Geographic
When women feel in control, their stress hormones are down, their wellbeing hormones are up and they feel better about themselves. When women are informed and feel in control, they are more likely to do the self care things that help grow healthy babies.