So called modern societies have dramatically disturbed women during the child birth process and these days we seem to have not only a lack of an appropriate cultural model for childbirth but also a lack of time, patience and trust in a woman’s body, and the natural orchestration of mother and baby during birthing.
It seems standard to replace natural oxytocin with drips of synthetic oxytocin and natural endorphins by epidural anaesthesia. So most women give birth without relying on the release of their own natural hormones. The downside of the readily available synthetic hormones is, that they do not have the same behavioural effects as the natural ones. Synthetic oxytocin for example inhibits the release of natural oxytocin from the woman’s pituitary gland. The artifical drug will be effective at stimulating uterine contractions, but it will not reach the brain, meaning it will not have the ‘bonding effect’ as the natural hormone.
Mechanised, rushed birthing ‘appointments’ really have a vast array of side effects. To name a few: physical and emotional trauma (in mother and baby, as well as father), mothers’ and fathers’ sense of disempowerment, mums’ struggle with depression and feelings of disconnection towards their babies. And a baby’s anesthetised body which is forced to exit from the womb has manifold implications as therapy work with adults reveals again and again.
Last but not least, there is a the spiritual side to childbirth. This is rarely featured in mainstream media although even scientific research shows that hormones of love and transcendence are released in peak doses during labor, birth and breastfeeding.
Now, this raises several big questions:
What effect has birthing on a baby’s life and the individual relationship of mother and child?
How will humanity evolve over generations of women giving birth under unnatural conditions? And where does it leave the father?
And how will women ever get back their sense of ease, grace and ownership for childbirth, and her their own bodies?
It is more urgent than ever to become aware and understand women’s physiological processes and emotional needs, to ensure the fullfillment of (at least) the basic requirements of women giving birth and to give them more knowledge and freedom of choice.
“How a baby is born and how well a woman is treated when she gives birth sets the tone and is the matrix from which a child will grow into a future we have not yet imagined. (…) f each pregnant woman were well nourished and supported in her community, each birth was attended by a skilled and loving attendant and each child had an enriched loving environment, we could change our world into a world of peace, not war.” – Marianne Littlejohn (professional nurse and midwife, and ambassador for natural birth)
Similar to fast food, fast birth is neither nourishing, empowering nor sustainable in the long term.
“As a reaction to industrial agriculture and food marketing, the Slow Food and locavore movements have recently been born. If de-escalation of our food production practices is healthier or more humane, why is intensification of our child production practices better than sustainable childbirth? I’m waiting for the birth of the revolution, or at least, the revolution of birth. Will women who are interested in Slow Food or cage-free eggs find their way to a Slow Childbirth movement? Imagine: educated upper-middle-class women who buy songbird-certified organic coffee and worry about their carbon footprint, just saying no to the quick-fix cesarean culture. If they’re not part of the problem, maybe they can be part of the solution. But the impetus must come from women themselves. Do we really believe that industrial obstetrics is the best model for ourselves and our children? We must clearly understand that real autonomy does not mean cesarean on request, but instead a spectrum of birth options that honor women’s authentic choices. Real autonomy also means, to borrow a sentiment from Gandhi, that women should bring forth the change they wish to see in the world.” – Excerpt from “Mommy, What Did You Do in the Industrial Revolution? Meditations on the Rising Cesarean Rate” by Lauren A. Plante