By Elena Tonetti-Vladimirova

Limbic imprinting is the inborn capacity of the nervous system to absorb and memorize, on a cellular level, all of the information from its surrounding environment during the early formative period– the moment of conception through 9 months of gestation, birth, and the first few years of life. Every fluctuation of the mother’s hormonal, physical, emotional experiences are registered by the fetus and non-cognitively recorded in its developing nervous system. These early impressions and sensations remain with this person throughout their entire lifespan. Good news: If the original limbic imprint, or ‘basic settings’, were undesirable and painful, it is possible to consciously create an alternative later on in life.  

To better understand the term “limbic imprint,” let’s look at the basic structure of our brain. At the tip of the spinal cord there is a segment called the reptilian brain, responsible purely for the physiological functions of the body. That’s the part of the brain that still remains functional when a person is in a coma, for example, in a “vegetable” state, – the basic physiology of the body is still going on, women even keep menstruating and can continue with gestation if they are pregnant.

Then there is the cortex, usually referred to as the “gray matter,” responsible for our mental activity. That’s what we routinely call “the brain”, – the part of the brain responsible for our cognitive functions: logic, calculating, planning…

And then we have the limbic system of the brain, responsible for our emotions, sensations and feelings.

Limbic imprinting happens in that part of the brain, which is not directly connected with the cortex, responsible for cognitive memory. During gestation, birth and early childhood, the limbic system registers all of our sensations and feelings, without translating it into the language of cortex, simply because it’s not developed yet. That memory lives in the body through out the rest of our life whether we know of it or not.

We come into this world wide-open to receive love. When we do receive it, as our first primal experience, our nervous system is limbically imprinted – “programmed” with the undeniable rightness of being. Being held in the mother’s loving arms, feeding from her breast and seeing the great joy in father’s eyes, provides us with the natural sense of bliss and security; it sets the world as the right place for us to be in.

If our first impressions of being in the body are anything less than loving (painful, frightening, lonely…), then that “anything” imprints as a valid experience of love. It is immediately coded into our nervous system as a “comfort zone,” acting as a surrogate for the love and nurturing, regardless of how painful, frustrating and undesirable it actually was.

And in the future, as adults, we will unconsciously, automatically re-create the conditions that were imprinted at birth and through our early childhood.

Research done by the pioneers of prenatal psychology, such as: dr.Thomas Verny, dr. David Chamberlain, dr. William Emerson shows that an overwhelming amount of physical conditions and behavioral disorders in are the direct result of traumatic gestation time and complications during delivery, including unnecessary mechanical interventions and an overdose of anesthesia.

Also, it turns out, on top of the devastating effect of trauma during the actual birth, what happens after it,- like routine impersonal postpartum care,- is also a source of trouble: lack of immediate warm, soft and nurturing contact with the mother, premature cutting of the cord, rude handling, circumcision, needles, bright lights, startling noises… all this sensory overload becomes instantly wired into the newborn’s nervous systems as the new “comfort zone”, against all logic. As logic resides in a different part of the brain, which is not quite developed yet. So that person will continue unconsciously recreate/attract the same repeated situation of abuse and/or become abusive. Even if later on in life his or hers rational mind/cortex will recognize this as pattern of “abuse,” the imprinting had already happened in a different part of the brain, which doesn’t have the skill to stop the pattern.

We can make an effort to heal our own birth trauma and embrace the opportunity of creating a masterpiece of our lives. We can recognize that however rude our beginning was, we do have a choice as adults to change our basic settings, to reprogram our limbic imprint and transmute our suffering and helplessness during birth into the love and joy of being born on this planet. We can regain our authentic power, clear the pain of our ancestors from our system, and set the stage for our children to step into their lives as peaceful, empowered guardians of Earth. I invite you to envision the possibilities that would open up for humankind if women fully claimed their original capacity that all mammals have – to give birth and raise our young without trauma.

Call me naïve, but I truly believe that we can improve the quality of our species in just one generation by allowing our kind to enter into this world without being ‘programmed’ on suffering and pain. I envision the new generation coming into the world of safety, compassion and common sense. Please, join me in this vision.”