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Brain diagram
(srossign, Pixabay)

Mum and newborn 1
(GaborfromHungary, Morguefile)

Mum and newborn 2
(Engin_Akyurt, Pixabay)

Mother Nature
(Ka_Nia, Pixabay)
Brain diagram Birth Easily

The key to birthing easily is reducing the control of the most recently evolved part of the brain (the neocortex) and moving awareness into the primal, ancient, instinctual brain. Body will do this naturally if allowed.

The neocortex is considered the seat of higher-order brain functions. Unfortunately this higher-order is not helpful to easy birth. Obstetrician Dr Michel Odent (Midwifery Today #125, Spring 2018, accessed online 23 May 2018) explains:

Until recently, the gigantic and powerful neocortex was usually considered a tool at the service of vital physiological functions, providing information on space and time and facilitating communication. With the fast development of neurophysiology, it is suddenly easier to understand that, in specific situations, neocortical activity can, on the contrary, inhibit vital functions. This is the case, for example, of the sense of smell: When we moderate our neocortical control by drinking a glass of wine, we reinforce our sense of smell (Endevelt-Shapira et al. 2014). This is also the case with the birth process. It is as if, in certain circumstances, the tool becomes the master.

In the current scientific context, it is urgent to challenge the dominant interpretations of the difficulties of human births. It is commonplace to focus on mechanical factors. This perspective does not explain why, occasionally, women who are not morphologically special give birth easily within minutes, while others need a cesarean after long hours of hard labour. Such an enormous discrepancy is explained through the concept of neocortical inhibition.

This concept is a key to understanding the solution nature found to make human birth possible and even potentially easy. It is a simple solution: The neocortex must reduce its activity. Even during the twenty-first century, after thousands of years of socialisation of childbirth, there are still some women and health professionals who can easily interpret this solution. They know that when a woman can give birth easily by herself, without any pharmacological assistance, there is a time when she is cutting herself off from our world, forgetting what she had been taught, forgetting her plans, and behaving in a way that usually would be considered unacceptable for a civilised woman—for example, screaming or swearing. Some women can find themselves in the most unexpected, bizarre, often mammalian, primitive, quadrupedal postures. Interestingly there are anecdotes of women in hard labour complaining of odours that nobody else could perceive: This is an eloquent symptom of the kind of reduced neocortical control that appears as the prerequisite for easy birth among humans.

When this solution that nature found is understood, it becomes easy to analyse and summarise the basic needs of a labouring woman: A labouring woman needs to feel protected against all possible stimulations of her neocortex. The keyword is protection.

Mum and newborn 1

He then outlines these basic needs, that protect against neocortex stimulation:-
  • Silence. [Any birth companion(s) needs to be in the background. A repetitive task like knitting keeps adrenaline low. Read more herehere.]
  • Darkness. Melatonin, the “darkness hormone,” is an essential birth hormone. Unfortunately delivery rooms have "blue" artificial lights (like computers) that are the most melatonin-suppressive.
  • Avoid anything that requires her Attention. This includes her feeling observed and perceiving a possible danger.
He then explains that 'the spectacular brain cataclysm associated with the birth process' is actually prepared in the preceding weeks. This is a summary of his insight:
  • It has been noticed for ages that, at the end of their pregnancies, many women are not as mentally sharp as usual. They mention anecdotes of memory loss. Their topics of interest become different. Their needs for socialisation may be reduced and reoriented. They tend to restrict or to avoid all kinds of socialisation that are not related to their “primary maternal preoccupation.”
  • Another aspect of this “physiological preparation” is a reinforced sense of smell occasionally noticed by pregnant women.
  • The end of pregnancy is associated with reductions in grey matter volumes, particularly in brain regions involved in social processes.
This all implies that before giving birth women need to live in peace and to feel protected against useless stimulations in the field of rationality.
In Odent's hospital in France, while singing together around the piano, pregnant women were not reading informative books or following classes!

Mum and newborn 2

There is also a tendency to ignore that after giving birth women can remain for hours, and even days, in a specific state of consciousness. There is:
  • “Motherese,”—a simplified and repetitive type of language, with exaggerated intonation and rhythm, used by mothers when speaking to their newborn babies.
  • The universality of lullabies.
So, after giving birth, women need to remain “on another planet” for a while and, therefore, to feel protected against distractions.

Mother Nature in the Universe
Also see:-

Birth Easily - Animals as Teachers

Birth Easily Quotes

Natural Birth

Birth Obstacles

Birth & Evolutionary Psychology

The Conflict between Evolutionary Skills & Modern Life

Evolutionary Psychology

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Page last updated: 5 December 2019.