Can “The Secret” Benefit Mamas on Bedrest?

April 20th, 2010

“You have the power to have whatever you want!”

This is the message of the movie, The Secret. According to the laws of attraction, everything that we are currently experiencing we have brought into our lives or “attracted” with our thoughts. As someone who works with and for high risk pregnant women on bed rest, I have a bit of a problem with this statement. However if this theory is true, then there is no reason that The Secret and laws of attraction can’t be used by mamas on bed rest to help their situations.

First I want to say that I in no way believe that any woman on bed rest “attracted” her high risk situation. Most high risk pregnant women that I know take excellent care of themselves and their unborn babies. Still complications arose and they were put on bed rest for their health and the health of  their babies, to prolong their pregnancies and to avoid preterm labor. Despite the fact that I don’t believe women “attracted” their high risk pregnancies, I do think that high risk mamas on bed rest can employ this law of attraction to help themselves and their babies.

All Stressed out…but somewhere to go!

I want to go back to my last post, All stressed out and nowhere to go. In that post I presented ground breaking research by Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett and her colleagues in the field of pychoneuroimmunology. Dr. Kendall-Tackett and others have been able to show that stress puts women at risk for going into preterm labor. The physical reactions to stress create not only the “fight or flight” response from the adrenals but also an inflammatory response in the immune system. Chemicals released by the immune system produce inflammation in many tissues of the body including the cervix. It’s this inflammation that results in cervical ripening (too soon) and preterm labor.

So how can the law of attraction be applied to high risk pregnancy and preterm labor? According to the “experts” in the film, the law of attraction can be used to promote healing. Using the law of attraction and focusing on having a healthy full term baby a mother would bring that to fruition. This is not a new concept. Hypnosis, meditation, prayer, cognitive behavioral therapy and other autosuggestion types of relaxation and behavior modification are supposed to work in much the same way and many studies show that they are effective. But how do they work?

The Law of Attraction and Psychoneuroimmunology

If we go back to psychoneuroimmunology, we see that when a pregnant women (like anyone else) is stressed her brain sends messages to her adrenal glands to produce adrenal hormones for the “flight or fight” response and cortisol to protect against injury. The brain also sends messages to the immune system to put out chemicals to help reduce inflammation or infection in the event of an injury. This “red alert” system is great at protecting the woman in immediate stress, but if she remains in constant stress, these protective measures go askew and start to have negative effects on her body. One way in particular is by ripening her cervix too soon for delivery.

When the pregnant woman in our example begins to apply the laws of attraction, she begins to hold images of herself growing ever larger with her growing baby inside of her. If her cervix is incompetent, she may begin to envision her cervix being tightly closed and at a length that sustains pregnancy and not one the promotes delivery. She’llpromote calm in her surroundings with comfortable clothes and bedding, a comfortable and supportive set up around her bed and a supportive network of family and friends. She’ll envision herself going into labor ONLY on her due date, and the labor and delivery going well without complications. Finally she should envision herself holding her newborn in her arms, healthy and full term.

Again, I cannot say with absolute certainty that The Secret or the laws of attraction that it advocates is effective or that if high risk pregnant women employ the laws of attraction that they will have  full term pregnancies and uncomplicated labors and deliveries. However, hypnosis, cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, prayer and visualization have been scientifically shown to work with other people in other situations.  It stands to reason then that it is certainly better for a mama on bed rest to be calm and to think positive thoughts than to dwell on whatever put her on bed rest and the prospect that she may lose her baby.

So if thinking positive thoughts, envisioning a tight cervix, breathing down high blood pressure or positively planning for the future with a happy and healthy full term baby are all methods of employing The Secret, then Mamas on Bedrest-the secret is out!

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