Project World Peace logo Birth & Evolutionary Psychology

Home Natural Family Living Big Life Issues Animal-
Culture of Love Solar Culture Spirituality Emotion

Contact Bruce

About PWP


Photo Credits:-

Red Woman
(TheHilaryClark, Pixabay)

Tiger Woman
(LOOPita, Pixabay)

Animals Woman
(Maria1968, Pixabay)

Stone Women
(alainjacq235, Pixabay)

Himba motherbaby
(nike159, Pixabay)
Birth & Evolutionary Psychology

"When you consider birth as an involuntary process involving old, mammalian structures of the brain, you set aside the assumption that a woman must learn to give birth. It is implicit in the mammalian interpretation that one cannot actively help a woman to give birth. The goal is to avoid disturbing her unnecessarily." (Michel Odent)

Red-cloaked woman and wolf

Obviously, the medical model of birth is not harmonising with this truth.
The movie and TV industry portrayal of birth neither.
There is so much disturbance of the woman, so much intervention.
Birth needs to be demedicalised.
Woman needs to reclaim birth.
We need to re-harmonise with her birth instincts.
See Midwifery for one way forward. Also see Women & Failure.

Tiger Woman

Other suggestions

'The aim of any futuristic birth strategy should be that as many women as possible give birth vaginally, thanks to an undisturbed flow of love hormones. The future of our civilizations is at stake. The essential first step is to improve our understanding of birth physiology and to rediscover the basic needs of women in labour. These basic needs are shared by all mammals. All mammals need to feel secure when giving birth: They postpone the delivery if there is a predator around. All mammals need privacy: They have strategies for avoiding observation during the period surrounding birth. After thousands of years of culturally controlled childbirth, decades of industrialized childbirth and a proliferation of methods of natural childbirth (as if the words method and natural were compatible), these basic needs have been forgotten.' (Michel Odent)

'Skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping, uninterrupted breastfeeding and immediate bonding are all ways we can use science to support instinct. The simple actions of lowering one’s voice, moving slowly when approaching, respecting natural lighting, using breath instead of language during contractions, providing warmth, emptying the mind and heart of distraction or fear, nurturing joy, offering plenty to drink and having patience. By observation one can learn to use skills that replace cervical checks, fetal monitoring machines, clocks, tubes that tangle and other things that come from our formal training that do little to improve outcomes, but do lots to disturb birth. The old brain has intelligence that the new brain can learn to trust.' (Sister MorningStar)

'I have found that while some moms are in their hind-brains (as Michel Odent would say), for them, anything that intrudes on their labour... is detrimental. But for others, birth is a social affair—they like interaction. There have been times when I notice the mom starting a contraction and so I stop what I was saying mid-sentence so as not to disturb her, only to be told, “Keep talking. It takes my mind off the pain.” Some women want many hands on, but others need all hands off. I serve my clients, not my agenda. I will be as hands-on or -off as they wish.' (Marlene Waechter)

Animals Woman

When I think of traditional midwifery, I see it as it was before big medicine intervened, taking over birth in hospitals and in homes with fear tactics and pressures. Historically, birth was considered normal in most cultures. Families understood that life was normal, as was death, and no one felt they needed to be the savior of either. Women were strong and they knew what their bodies could do because they had grown up watching other women do it. Women were encouraged to listen to their bodies, to follow the leads of their babies and to give in to the strong power that overtakes them through the pregnancy and birthing process.
Women who helped with pregnancy and birth were trained by women before them who had helped in the same ways — a simple passing down from generation to generation... (Kristi Zittle, article first in Midwifery Today, #100, Winter 2011/2012; accessed online 8 May 2019)

Stone Women wall carving

Women today do not believe that their bodies know what to do, much less that their babies also know what to do. Because they are afraid and feel like they lack knowledge, they are often reassured rather than anxious when they enter the hospital. At the conscious level, they believe that all will be well within those walls. They believe this because they trust that someone else will know what to do if something goes wrong. The authority has been transferred to someone outside. But the body doesn't lie, and that is why, despite a feeling of comfort in the hospital, many women still find that their
labor slows or stops on admission to the maternity unit. It is also why so many women harbor nagging doubts about the necessity of many of the procedures done—to them and to their babies—in the name of helping. It is why so many women—and most health workers today—do not know the difference between intervention and support.
(Suzanne Arms, Immaculate Deception II: Myth, Magic and Birth)
[Hospital birth is so not the Way of the Body, of evolution.]

'The changing culture of medicine is becoming increasingly hyper-specialized, responsive to the imperative of business and technology, and less sensitive to the subjective reality of mother and baby. Lack of compassion may have medical consequences on pregnancy and birth outcomes, simply because mothers have evolved to receive empathic support (Hrdy 2009).' (Antonella Sansone)

'When I told Badri, a Himba mother, that many children in our civilized world are born far before 9 months, even at 6, and many women decide to have a caesarean section (while mimicking the performance on my belly), she showed a quick visceral reaction and facial expression of puzzlement followed by the question, “Why would a woman decide to have her belly cut when there is a straightforward way?” as if I were talking about a different species.' (Antonella Sansone)

  • Antonella Sansone, first published in Midwifery Today Issue 120, Winter 2016, accessed online 23 January 2019.
  • Midwifery Today E-News, posted 26 February 2014, accessed 27 February 2014.
  • Sarah Hrdy, 2009, Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding.
Himba motherbaby

Also see:-

Evolutionary Psychology

Birth articles

Top of Page Contact Bruce
© Bruce Mitchell 2014-Now. All rights reserved.
Page last updated: 8 July 2019.