If you have a chronic illness (or a chronic condition, a mental health condition or other symptoms), you may have wondered if experiences in your babyhood affected your risk, such as being born cesarean or not breastfeeding. Or if your mother being sick during her pregnancy with you, losing a parent when you were still young, or having postpartum depression could have influenced your health.
You may have wondered about possibilities for healing ABEs and their effects, or how to learn if other kinds of adverse babyhood experiences (ABEs) might have affected your health.
This is a compilation of 10 resources for understanding, preventing and healing ABEs.
Any of the options below will help you get started to better understand risk, why it’s not your fault and what you can do about it.
Table of Contents
- 1. The 10 Categories of ABEs
- 2. Blog Posts: ABEs and Chronic Illness
- 3. ABE Fact Sheet
- 4. My ABEs Online eCourses
- 5. Spirit Into Form: New Book With Exercises for Healing ABEs
- 6. The Comprehensive Guide to ABEs
- 7. Book 4: A Compilation of ABEs Posts
- 8. My ABEs Journal Article (2020)
- 9. Other Free Journal Articles on ABEs
- 10. More Resources for ABEs and Healing ABEs
Adverse Babyhood Experiences (ABEs) are a new construct I have developed to help you and your health professionals understand the types of events that shape health in our earliest days. This includes events that occurred before your conception, during pregnancy as well as your labor and birth, and in the first 2 years of your life.
1. The 10 Categories of ABEs
- Maternal loss or trauma
- Low support or loss of support for the mother
- Maternal physical stress, symptoms or illness
- Maternal serious emotional stress or illness
- Complications for mothers
- Complications for babies
- Separation (emotional or physical)
- Birth weight
- Baby did not or could not breastfeed
- Symptoms in parents and babies indicate exposure to ABEs and opportunities for repair
- Other ABEs, including similar stressors for fathers and more
See the detailed list of ABEs in my comprehensive guide, in the downloadable free fact sheet and in the ebook below for examples of the many different kinds of adverse events in babyhood. The first 5 ABEs are events that primarily affect mothers and also affect fathers, while ABEs 6 – 10 primarily affect babies. ABE #10 affects mothers, fathers and babies. There is an 11th question for anything that does not fit into the first 10 categories because ABEs are designed to be inclusive of all kinds of adversities in babyhood.
2. Blog Posts: ABEs and Chronic Illness
Stories to better understand ABEs, inspiration for healing ABEs, the role of antibodies in helping to identify how important ABEs can be in affecting risk, and more.
- Comprehensive Guide to ABEs blog post (see below)
- ABEs in my history
- How healing ABEs can cure asthma (a true story and set of studies)
- Intro to ABEs and autoimmune disease (type 1 diabetes)
- ABEs and type 2 diabetes
- ABEs and ME/CFS
- ABEs and rheumatoid arthritis
- ABEs affects epigenetics and beyond
- My free eBook 4 includes a number of ABEs blog posts (see below)
- People’s stories of ABEs, shared in their “Chrillogs”
3. ABE Fact Sheet
The 5-page fact sheet summarizes ABEs. Print the ABEs overview on one side and the list of references on the other to provide a one pager to give to doctors, CEOs and others. Additional pages provide examples of events for each category of ABE.
- Fact sheet includes:
- 1 page introduction
- 1 page summary of ABEs, the research
- 1 page of references
- Examples of ABEs for each category
- Example of an optimal birth
- Resources for support and healing
The form will appear momentarily.
4. My ABEs Online eCourses
Lecture Pack with Continuing Ed Credit and CME (Gold Online)
My 1 hour ecourse is part of a 5 hour lecture bundle available online through the Gold Online Series: Perinatal Care Through a Trauma Informed Lens. The 5 part bundle gives you an overview of the 10 ABEs and shares a few stories to highlight what ABEs can look like AND how they can be repaired and prevented.
My talk is primarily for health professionals although I designed it to offer tips and insights for everyone.
1 Class in a 7 Week Course (Available on Demand)
The Impacts of Adverse Prenatal and Birth Events: A Transdisciplinary Approach: Presentations for Professionals and Parents.
I teach a 1.5 hour class week 4 of the 7 week course hosted by friend and colleague Kate White on her website. It’s part of a series of 6 classes relevant for professionals in particular but also for parents and for adults with chronic illness who are working on healing ABEs or understanding them better. This is a paid course.
In my talk I focus on 6 opportunities for prevention, repair and treatment. Rather than specific tools, I offer insight and validation for why it’s possible to begin to heal chronic illness even as an adult, using an ABEs and nervous system lens.
- May 11: Gianluca Ursini, MD, PhD, The Seeds of Mental Health May Be Planted in Early Life, but Good Gardeners Will Make the Difference
- May 18: Darcia Narvaez, PhD, The Evolved Nest and Baby ACEs
- May 25: Marti Glenn, PhD, Finding Resilience: The Impacts of Adverse Early Experiences and How We Can Foster Resilience in Ourselves, Our Families and Our Clients
- June 1: Veronique Mead, MD, MA, SEP, 5 Opportunities to Prevent, Reduce Risk and Heal Chronic Illness: Insights from Adverse Babyhood Experiences (ABEs)
- June 8: Sabrina Blau, MBSR, MBA, Mother, A Journey Towards Healing: Transforming an Adverse Birth Experience and Hospital Policies
- June 15: Kate White, Towards Maternity Care that Includes the Baby’s Experience: 5 First Steps
- June 22: Ending Panel with Question and Answer
Two professionals/parents are respondents to help reflect during the ending
5. Spirit Into Form: New Book With Exercises for Healing ABEs
If you’re an adult with chronic illness, an exciting, gentle, friendly new book has just arrived that offers examples of prenatal, labor and birth events that can impact your symptoms and flares with chronic illness. It offers the blueprint for how we are designed to heal, and exercises for exploring your own prenatal and birth history. Spirit Into Form is the kind of book you can use as a reference and a resource, reading it for a while, exploring an exercise, and then allowing the process some time and space to evolve and process.
I learned new things for my own healing journey, including working with “umbilical affect,” which refers to how a baby’s need to take in nourishment directly through the umbilical cord in the womb can conflict with their need to keep out what is harmful or unhelpful, such as maternal emotions of fear or overwhelm.
Author Cherionna Menzam-Sills is a friend and colleague and describes having been gestating this “baby and birth” for 17 years. And it is finally here! Cherionna is a craniosacral therapist who has also trained extensively in pre and perinatal work including teaching and applying it in her own health and healing, some of which she shares in her book. Cherionna is a fellow graduate of somatic psychology at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. She facilitates small group birth process / womb surround workshops. Her book is an important new resource and I have added it to the updated ABEs Fact Sheet. You can find her on facebook and her website.
Consider asking your library to get it or obtain your own copy:
6. The Comprehensive Guide to ABEs
This Comprehensive Guide to ABEs is my most detailed blog post on ABEs. It provides an overview with the science about risk for chronic illness and other effects of adversity we experience before our 3rd birthdays. It includes 100 scientific reference articles and examples of treatment, prevention and repair.
The form will appear momentarily.
7. Book 4: A Compilation of ABEs Posts
My free ebook includes 5 blog posts introducing ABEs and how it affects risk for asthma, autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, and more. Available in pdf and kindle formats. It’s an “all-in-one” type of resource and offers inspiration for healing ABEs.
8. My ABEs Journal Article (2020)
My journal article introduces the new construct of ABEs (Adverse Babyhood Experiences). This is a good resource to give to your family doctor, OB/GYN, midwife, pediatrician, hospital department and others.
Thank you to the Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (JOPPPAH) for permission to make my article available here for a free download.
The citation is:
Mead, V. P. (2020). “Adverse babyhood experiences (ABEs) increase risk for infant and maternal morbidity and mortality, and chronic illness.” Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health 34(4):1-33.
9. Other Free Journal Articles on ABEs
If you’d like the detailed science that supports ABEs, see my page with free downloadable articles for some of the most influential and substantiating evidence. The articles are free online and I’ve made them accessible for download there.
10. More Resources for ABEs and Healing ABEs
See links to find therapies and therapists for working with effects of pre and perinatal trauma (adults and children). These are primarily somatically based trauma therapies.
APPPAH: the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH)
- See their practitioner database (on their website under “Resources“)
- See APPPAH’s free Monday Live series – Note their free online talk on May 3rd is about umbilical affect with Franklyn Sills, a pioneer, leader and master teacher in the field of biodynamic craniosacral therapy and who is also married to Cherionna Menzam-Sills, who I mentioned above as the author of a new book.) I can’t wait to watch and listen in.
- My blog post on 2019 conference highlights and speakers
- November 19-21, 2021 Online International APPPAH Conference – They are accepting proposals until May 15th approximately. I’ve proposed 2 talks and will provide links here when more information is available)
- Trainings & education at APPPAH
Follow news in trauma and maternal care at the ACEs Connection News Site: ACEs in Maternal Health (ACEs are Adverse Childhood Experiences)