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Kovalenko N.P. (St-Petersburg, Russia)

Perinatal psychology is a new field of knowledge-based research in the conditions and laws of initial phases in human development - perinatal (antenatal), prenatal (intranatal) and neonatal, and their influence on individual's subsequent life in general. It belongs to the interface between several fields of science, primarily psychology and medicine. In fact perinatal psychology underlies the initial chapter of general psychology, dealing with the impact of genetic and innate factors on individual human psychologies.

It aims at discovering and science-based rationalizing of the subtle mechanisms governing human psychology in the perinatal phase, the course of obtaining information from the mother and general environment, and memorizing of such information by an unborn child. This offers scope for discovering and, where required, eliminating the psychological, social and biological impediments to the process, thus making it possible to prevent personality discords stemming from pre- or perinatal conditions.

Reducing special perinatal features to physiology eventually resulted in total monopolization of the period by medicine regarding the psycho-emotional aspect of pregnancy, confinement and adult/infant relationships as peripheral and therefore negligible. Yet modern science has proved that prenatal growth should be considered both in terms of anatomic and morphological change, and the origins of further human growth, including psychology, spirit, character and mental health. Of particular importance are the subtle, hidden, mediated influences like mother's emotional troubles often not immediately manifested but having consequences extremely difficult or even impossible to combat.

Among the essential points in this context are: the need to devise and refine the principal and conceptual bases, goals and methods of psychological maternity training to optimize mother/child mental and physical conditions, improve their adaptivity to the new environment; and the deplorable shortage of guidance and methodologies in preventive psychology and corrective therapy during pregnancy and confinement.

Therefore the topical interest of this monograph is governed by the demand for refined theoretical and practical rationales for psychological preventive and corrective therapies for emotional conditions of pregnant and confining women, as well us the demand of maternity hospitals and welfare centers for qualified staff of professional practicing psychologists.

Chapter One in the monograph on “Perinatal Psychology” deals with the conceptualization of perinatal psychology as a new line of research in the integral mental and emotional “mother/child” system in the perspectives of medicine (maternal and fetal physiology), psychology (individuals and personal abilities), psychotherapy and medical psychology (mind and psyche).

Chapter Two “Overview of literature. Goals and purposes of research” contains a critical analysis of accouchement traditions since ancient times until the present. These involve cultural and ritual traditions protecting the emotional sphere of a pregnant or confining woman, marital morals and ethics related to pregnancy and delivery, and ethnographic parallels or differences among various world nations with regard to psychological support during this important period in life.

Analysis of literature on personal growth psychologies emphasizes the concept of integrated approach to human psychology proposed by Prof. V.N.Panferov.

The author holds that emotions as a personality core, especially for women, influence the course of basic biological processes in a significant manner, enhancing the capabilities for survival. This suggests the need for "emotion literacy" for better social and emotional competence, improved adaptivity, resistance and endurance particularly important to bear and deliver a child.

The work seeks to substantiate the need to enhance the woman's creative potential to attain the emotional harmony and physical stability required in bearing and delivery, building up a positive delivery schedule. The author's research hypothesis starts from studies of emotional conditions of pregnant women and their changing perceptions of the environment. This emphasizes the following essential points: the woman’s active and voluntary participation in the act of delivery;

- implanting in the woman’s mind of a positive emotional dominant ensuring successful and painlessdelivery.

Chapter Three “Description of the subject and methods of research” concerns the experimental techniques involved. Examinations of the specific emotional condition of a pregnant woman involved the anxiety level test, and a specially designed questionnaire of psycho-traumatic events permitting to find the psychological causes of emotional injuries before and after delivery.

Basing on the classification of existing techniques of examination and psychological correction for pregnant and confined women, the monograph substantiates and presents the psychological preventive and corrective plan “Gloria” for emotional conditions of pregnant and confining women, designed to attain the following: improved family emotional conditions; favorable pregnancy process; successful delivery; enhanced family creative potential; healthy descendants.

Chapter Four “Investigation results” describes psychological conditions of women during the ante- and post-natal periods. Findings from relevant surveys indicate such primary emotional parameters as fear of miscarriage, fear of death, fear of confinement, fear of pain. With general positive motivations for delivery, subconscious female fears sometimes considerably influence the course of delivery, inhibiting the normal process.

The emotional world of a pregnant woman is discussed in terms of social and psychological environment and the nature of interpersonal relations. Attention is drawn to the husband’s role during the period in promoting the positive motivation for delivery and confidence of success. The chapter discusses findings from anxiety tests in Spilberger-Hanine situational and personal and Nemchinov-Norakidze mental anxiety scales.

The MK-test proposed in the monograph indicates the following areas of greatest emotional strain for pregnant women: fear of delivery, lack of confidence in personal maternal abilities, family emotional troubles.

The questionnaire of psycho-traumatic events designed by the author demonstrates that in 95% of the cases family-related emotional injuries among confining women have provoked inhibited delivery, particularly so where the emotional injury was associated with the woman’s mother,

Analysis of the effects of creative training under the “Gloria” plan indicates the average anxiety level shifting from initially high to moderate or low on completing the •course. Moreover, physical conditions were estimated 1.5 to 2 times and chances of successful delivery 56% higher than for untrained cases.

The monograph of N.P.Kovalenko seeks to meet the current demand among psychologists, obstetricians, pediatrists, undergraduate and graduate students of medical and psychological departments. Hopefully, the broader public interested in modern perspectives of assisted delivery and preventive and corrective psychological therapies will likewise find the book both very informative and instructive.

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