** Sexual Nature of Childbearing

Because the spontaneous biology of childbearing is a facet of reproductive sexuality, the need for privacy and a feeling of social and psychological comfort are essential. When psychological calm is absent for whatever reason, anxiety and fear often takes its place. Tension and fear trigger the "flight or flight" response (catecholimines) which hormonally dampens or extinguishes progressive labor, the maternal-fetal ejection reflex and the let-down reflex of lactation. This is a protective biological response from the era of early human experience, when threat of wild animal attacks or natural disasters such as a forest fire, made it safer to stop a labor than permit the baby to be born under dangerous circumstances. Whenever a mother does not feel safe, this survival mechanism is called into play. There are no drugs which can prevent this biological mechanism from being triggered in a fearful or anxious mother.

A socially appropriate environment in which the mother feels unobserved and yet secure, with emotional support as necessary, is the purposeful mechanism of midwifery care which addresses the mother’s pain and fear so that labor can unfold naturally. It is also necessary to take into account the positive influence of gravity on the stimulation of labor, dilatation of the cervix and decent of the baby through the bony pelvis. Maternal mobility not only helps this process along but also diminishes the mother’s perception of pain (perhaps by stimulating endorphins). To ignore the well-known relationship of gravity to spontaneous progress is to do so at the peril of mother and baby. {quote from Marshal Klaus research, 40& reduction in CS, oxitocin, epidural} The complex interplay of the physical and the psychological are such a biological verity of childbearing that women have an undeniable right to have the maternity care provided to them be structured to address the quasi-sexual nature of spontaneous labor and physiological birth. In the absence of this quality of support, which is the core of the traditional midwifery model of care, the mother will frequently need narcotic medication and secondarily the use of oxitocin to overcome the labor retarding effects of those narcotics.

Additional surgical interventions of episiotomy, forceps, vacuum extraction, cesarean section often represent the failure of the maternity care system or individuals within it to account for the influence of the mother’s psyche in regard to the events of labor and birth. This failure not only influences the quality of the mother’s experience but also superimposes on a significant number of unfortunate mothers the spectrum of iatragenic and nosocomial complications such as infection, drug reactions, anesthetic accidents, pulmonary embolism, need for emergency hysterectomy and administration of blood transfusion with subsequent contracting of blood-born diseases such as hepatitis and AIDS. In spite of all (or perhaps becoause of) our high-tech improvements in obstetrical care, the maternal mortality rate has held steady since 1982 and there are some indications that it is increasing. Perhaps this reflects the over-use of intervetions becuase we under-use the basic widsoms about the mind-body connection in regard to the sexual nature of childbearing.

In addition to the unnecessary damage done to the mother, this cascade of interventions may well result in a sick baby who needs to be treated for some time in the NICU and for whom breastfeeding is made especially difficult by the illness of mother and it its own fragileness. EDIT: It then becomes the gift that keeps on giving, as admission to and treatments in the intersive care nursery predictably interupt bonding. Domino-fashion this problematic beginning is often associated with problems breastfeeding so that domino-fashion,  frequently follow the baby long after being released fromthe NICU.  (Alan Glutenmacher, 1937 material)


** defininition of science-based practice includes class I, II and III research published in peer-review journals, statistical analysis, historical documentation, textbooks and authorities in the field consistent with above resources)