During the first few weeks of embryonic development the genes are primarily controlling the unfolding of the body plan of a human (e.g., creating two arms, two legs, ten fingers and ten toes, etc.). Once the embryo takes on the shape of a human, it is called a fetus. In the fetal stage of development, the genes take a back seat to control by environmental information. During this period the fetal body’s structure and function are adjusted in response to the mother’s perception of the environment. Maternal hormones, growth factors and emotional chemistry controlling the mother’s biological response to the environment pass through the placenta and influence the genetics and behavioral programming of the fetus.
I refer to this period where the mother’s perception and interpretation of the world are relayed to the fetus via the chemistry of the mother’s blood as “Nature’s Head-Start Program.” This maternally-relayed “information” about environmental conditions allows the developing fetus to adjust its biology so that when it is born, it’s structure and physiology will be more in tune with the world in which the child will live.
The “reading” of the environment’s signals (in the womb and after birth) enables the body’s cells and their genes to make appropriate biological adjustments to support and sustain life. Since the environmental signals are read and interpreted by the mind’s “perceptions,” the mind becomes the primary force that ultimately shapes an individual’s life and health.