We are living in a world that has decided that technology and machines can replace the natural physiology of the human body. One of the reasons is that there is a lot of money to be made out of all things man-made. In this series of posts I am going to examine the requirements of the ‘birth system’ so that it can function optimally, the natural physiological responses of the ‘birth system’ and the consequences of inhibiting and trying to control nature.
Obstetricians, as members of society, tend to blind faith in technology and the mantra: technology = progress = modern. The other side of the coin is the lack of faith in nature, best expressed by a Canadian obstetrician: 'Nature is a bad obstetrician.' So the idea is to conquer nature and results in the widespread application of attempts to improve on nature before scientific evaluation. This has led to a series of failed attempts in the twentieth century to improve on biological and social evolution. Doctors replaced midwives for low risk births, then science proved midwives safer. Hospital replaced home for low risk birth, then science proved home as safe with far less unnecessary intervention. Hospital staff replaced family as birth support, then science proved birth safer if family present. Lithotomy replaced vertical birth positions, then science proved vertical positions safer. Newborn examinations away from mothers in the first 20 minutes replaced leaving babies with mothers, then science proved the necessity for maternal attachment during this time. Man-made milk replaced woman-made milk, then science proved breast milk superior. The central nursery replaced the mother, then science proved rooming-in superior. The incubator replaced the mother's body for care of low-weight newborns, then science proved the kangaroo method better in many cases.
If more doctors experienced an earthquake or volcano, they would realize their ideas of controlling nature are nothing more than stories to rewrite insignificance.
Dr Marcus Wagner
The human body is an amazing piece of structural, chemical and electrical engineering. There are a myriad of systems that integrate and work together to establish and maintain internal equilibrium or balance. At university I studied Anatomy, physiology, exercise physiology and biomechanics and was constantly in awe as I learnt the intricacies and machinations of the human body. What makes humans so interesting is the role that consciousness plays in physical responses to internal and external environments. Whereas most other mammals respond to bodily requirements such as eating, drinking and birth with instinctual actions, we humans influence and control these actions with conscious thoughts and emotions.
A human body consists of its anatomy and physiological systems. Examples of these are the respiratory, digestive and circulatory systems, to name a few, which contribute to the optimal functioning of the body during its everyday activities. I now understand that Birth too, is another perfectly designed physiological system. It is activated when the innate consciousness of both the baby and mother release the trigger, suggested to be the hormone, oxytocin. As in all the other physiological systems, to function optimally, birth requires healthy nutrition, a relaxed emotional state and no interference from external stimulants. .
It is interesting to note that the obstetrical industry only began in the sixteenth century and it was not until the twentieth century that it really began to take over birth. In 1972 the caesarean rate in the US was only 3% and that has now risen to 33% in 2011. Humans have been birthing and evolving for 2 millioin years, mostly without obstetrical intervention. Therfore the notion that we NEED obstetrical assistance is a mere blip, not even worth registering on the continuum of human existence. Although we are several generations into this model of care, now is the time to re examine the facts and remember that nature knows best.