vrijdag 4 oktober 2013

ideal birth - ecstatic birth

IDEAL BIRTH by Sondra Ray

everything about the birth trauma , conscious birthing , underwater birthing ...

(excerpts from “Ideal Birth” written by Sondra Ray, Rebirther)


“Having rebirthed thousands of people over the last years and researched the effect of their Birth Trauma on their lives and bodies, I feel more grateful than ever to have this tool and to be able to share it with others.  I feel proud of my true life's work; and yet I think the greatest contribution would be to prevent the Birth Trauma in the first place, rather than trying to heal it later.
I am thrilled to think of babies being born who had little or no Birth Trauma.  Dr Leboyer's research has already proved that babies born with the quiet birth are brighter, healthier, happier-even ambidextrous-and more joyful.  Who would not want this?  What mother does not want to imagine that she could have a whole childbirth experience without pain?  We must start with the thoughts that this is possible.
When I first heard about the "Russian Method" of birth, where mothers delivered the baby right into water, it made total sense to me.  The baby has already lived in fluid for nine months, so being gently expelled into a larger area of liquid before having to cope with the shocking change of atmosphere was, it seemed to me, a better way of coming out.” 

The Miracle of Underwater Birth

“When I first heard about underwater birth in Russia, I thought it was a miracle.   As a Rebirther, it made total sense to me!   It seemed to be such a great breakthrough in reducing and preventing the Birth Trauma.   In nursing, I had realized that prevention of disease was the answer, rather than trying to do something when it was often too late.   In Rebirthing I soon saw that although we could do something about correcting the effects of the Birth Trauma, it made more sense to prevent it in the first place.   I had become very interested in Dr. Leboyer's work in France (i.e. The “quite  birth,” where the baby was put in water right after birth to soothe it, relax it – to”rebirth” it right away).  But when I heard of underwater birth, I was more than excited.   I could see unlimited possibilities, and intuitively I knew how this method would enhance the life of the new being.  
My spiritual teacher in Hawaii, who returned from Tibet, where she had gone to see her Masters, said: “There are high beings that need to incarnate now to save the planet and they want to be born underwater.” 
I was delighted to see my colleagues (Rebirthers) who were pregnant, go for it.  They understood it right away.  I was honored that Rebirthers in our community were the first in the U.S.> to try this method, and that I was chosen to be the godmother of one of these underwater babies.  I was also privileged to go to France and meet Dr. Michael Odent, who has now done 100 underwater births. (1985, at the time of this book going to print)”
Igor Charkovsky started the Russian Underwater birth technique.   The mother sits inside a glass tank during the last stages of labor.   The water level is at her shoulders.   When the infant emerges, he or she floats in the water and continues to breathe through the umbilical cord for about 10 minutes.   Then the child is removed from the water and the umbilical cord is cut.   The effect of the water is to reduce stress for both mother and child.   Charkovsky has a great belief in the therapeutic value of water.   Being in the water calms the mother and brings the baby into the world in a placid state.   The baby comes from a liquid environment into a liquid environment.   The light is less intense.  It is a gradual introduction into the world.

Results of underwater birth

Apart from reduced trauma, underwater babies do things conventional babies find impossible.   Often after two or three months they can stand and at six months they can walk.   Dr Charkovsky's experiments also show that the underwater babies, who do a swimming program, lack any fear of water, are more confident, lack aggression, and are more intelligent than conventional babies.  They rarely fall sick, easily withstand cold and weather changes, do not have temper tantrums, sleep soundly, and are physically  stronger, more active, brighter an more resourceful than average.

Michel odent

Synopsis: ‘Fetus ejection reflex’, ‘milk ejection reflex’, ‘sperm ejection reflex’, ‘orgasmogenic cocktail’ . . . These are examples of terms used by Michel Odent in his study of the ecstatic/orgasmic states associated with different episodes of human sexual life. This book about male and female orgasms is an opportunity to convince anyone that humanity is at a turning point. Due to the improved technique of medically assisted conceptions and cesareans, the advances in anesthesiology and pharmacology, and the development of the food industry, women can now conceive a baby, give birth and feed their infant without relying on the release of ‘cocktails of love hormones’. Human intelligence and ingenuity have made love hormones redundant. Let us think long-term and let us raise questions in terms of civilization. The future of humanity is at stake.
Michel Odent is a retired medical doctor. He was born in France in 1930 and studied medicine at Paris University. He is known for his role in the natural childbirth movement and for promoting water birth.  

Perhaps the best-known birth hormone is oxytocin, the hormone of love, which is secreted during sexual activity, male and female orgasm, birth, and breastfeeding. Oxytocin engenders feelings of love and altruism; as Michel Odent says, “Whatever the facet of Love we consider, oxytocin is involved.”(1)For the baby also, birth is an exciting and stressful event, reflected in high CA levels (27). These assist the baby during birth by protecting against the effects of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and subsequent acidosis.


Undisturbed birth is exceedingly rare in our culture, even in birth centers and home births.
Two factors that disturb birth in all mammals are firstly being in an unfamiliar place and secondly the presence of an observer. Feelings of safety and privacy thus seem to be fundamental. Yet the entire system of Western obstetrics is devoted to observing pregnant and birthing women, by both people and machines, and when birth isn’t going smoothly, obstetricians respond with yet more intense observation. It is indeed amazing that any woman can give birth under such conditions.

Ecstatic Birth
by Sarah J. Buckley, MD

Dr Sarah J Buckley MD is a family physician and mother of four children, and an internationally-acclaimed writer on pregnancy, birth and parenting. Her website, www.sarahjbuckley.com is dedicated to Gentle choices in pregnancy, birth and parenting
This article has been previously published in Mothering Magazine, issue 111, March-April 2002, and also in Byron Child, issue 5, March 2003

Giving birth in ecstasy: This is our birthright and our body’s intent. Mother Nature, in her wisdom, prescribes birthing hormones that take us outside (ec) our usual state (stasis), so that we can be transformed on every level as we enter motherhood.

This exquisite hormonal orchestration unfolds optimally when birth is undisturbed, enhancing safety for both mother and baby. Science is also increasingly discovering what we realise as mothers - that our way of birth affects us life-long, both mother and baby, and that an ecstatic birth, a birth that takes us beyond our Self, is the gift of a life-time.

Four major hormonal systems are active during labor and birth. These involve oxytocin, the hormone of love; endorphins, hormones of pleasure and transcendence; epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones of excitement; and prolactin, the mothering hormone. These systems are common to all mammals and originate in our mammalian or middle brain, also known as the limbic system. For birth to proceed optimally, this part of the brain must take precedence over the neocortex, or rational brain. This shift can be helped by an atmosphere of quiet and privacy, with, for example, dim lighting and little conversation, and no expectation of rationality from the laboring woman. Under such conditions a woman intuitively will choose the movements, sounds, breathing, and positions that will birth her baby most easily. This is her genetic and hormonal blueprint.

All of these systems are adversely affected by current birth practices. Hospital environments and routines are not conducive to the shift in consciousness that giving birth naturally requires. A woman’s hormonal physiology is further disturbed by practices such as induction, the use of pain killers and epidurals, caesarean surgery, and separation of mother and baby after birth.


Perhaps the best-known birth hormone is oxytocin, the hormone of love, which is secreted during sexual activity, male and female orgasm, birth, and breastfeeding. Oxytocin engenders feelings of love and altruism; as Michel Odent says, “Whatever the facet of Love we consider, oxytocin is involved.”(1)

Oxytocin is made in the hypothalamus, deep in our brains, and stored in the posterior pituitary the “master gland”, from where it is released in pulses. It is a crucial hormone in reproduction and mediates what have been called the ejection reflexes: the sperm ejection reflex with male orgasm (and the corresponding sperm introjection reflex with female orgasm); the fetal ejection reflex at birth (a phrase coined by Odent for the powerful contractions at the end of an undisturbed labor, which birth the baby quickly and easily)(2); and, postpartum, the placental ejection reflex and the milk ejection or let-down reflex in breastfeeding.

As well as reaching peak levels in each of these situations, oxytocin is secreted in large amounts in pregnancy, when it acts to enhance nutrient absorption, reduce stress, and conserve energy by making us more sleepy. (3) Oxytocin also causes the rhythmic uterine contractions of labor, and levels peak at birth through stimulation of stretch receptors in a woman’s lower vagina as the baby descends. (4) The high levels continue after birth, culminating with the birth of the placenta, and then gradually subside. (5)
The baby also has been producing oxytocin during labor, perhaps even initiating labor;(6) so, in the minutes after birth, both mother and baby are bathed in an ecstatic cocktail of hormones. At this time ongoing oxytocin production is enhanced by skin-to-skin and eye-to-eye contact and by the baby’s first suckling. Good levels of oxytocin will also protect against postpartum hemorrhage by ensuring good uterine contractions. (7)

In breastfeeding, oxytocin mediates the let-down reflex and is released in pulses as the baby suckles. During the months and years of lactation, oxytocin continues to act to keep the mother relaxed and well nourished. One researcher calls it “a very efficient anti-stress situation which prevents a lot of disease later on.” In her study, mothers who breastfed for more than seven weeks were calmer, when their babies were six months old, than mothers who did not breastfeed. (8)

Outside its role in reproduction, oxytocin is secreted in other situations of love and altruism, for example, sharing a meal. (9) Researchers have implicated malfunctions of the oxytocin system in conditions such as schizophrenia (10), autism (11), cardiovascular disease (12) and drug dependency (13), and have suggested that oxytocin may mediate the antidepressant effect of drugs such as Prozac. (14)


As a naturally occurring opiate, beta-endorphin has properties similar to meperidine (pethidine, Demerol), morphine, and heroin, and has been shown to work on the same receptors of the brain. Like oxytocin, beta-endorphin is secreted from the pituitary gland, and high levels are present during sex, pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. Beta-endorphin is also a stress hormone, released under conditions of duress and pain, when it acts as an analgesic and, like other stress hormones, suppresses the immune system. This effect may be important in preventing a pregnant mother’s immune system from acting against her baby, whose genetic material is foreign to hers.

Like the addictive opiates, beta-endorphin induces feelings of pleasure, euphoria, and dependency or, with a partner, mutual dependency. Beta-endorphin levels are high in pregnancy and increase throughout labor, (15) when levels of beta-endorphin and corticotrophin (another stress hormone) reach those found in male endurance athletes during maximal exercise on a treadmill. (16) Such high levels help the laboring woman to transmute pain and enter the altered state of consciousness that characterizes an undisturbed birth.

Beta-endorphin has complex and incompletely understood relationships with other hormonal systems. (17) In labor, high levels will inhibit oxytocin release. It makes sense that when pain or stress levels are very high, contractions will slow, thus “rationing labour according to both physiological and psychological stress.”(18) Beta-endorphin also facilitates the release of prolactin during labor, (19) which prepares the mother’s breasts for lactation and also aids in the final stages of lung maturation for the baby. (20)
Beta-endorphin is also important in breastfeeding. Levels peak in the mother at 20 minutes, (21) and beta-endorphin is also present in breast milk, (22) inducing a pleasurable mutual dependency for both mother and baby in their ongoing relationship.

Fight-or-Flight Hormones

The hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine (adrenaline and noradrenaline) are also known as the fight-or-flight hormones, or, collectively, as catecholamines (CAs). They are secreted from the adrenal gland, above the kidney, in response to stresses such as fright, anxiety, hunger or cold, as well as excitement, when they activate the sympathetic nervous system for fight or flight.

In the first stage of labor, high CA levels inhibit oxytocin production, therefore slowing or inhibiting labor. CAs also act to reduce blood flow to the uterus and placenta, and therefore to the baby. This makes sense for mammals birthing in the wild, where the presence of danger would activate this fight or flight response, inhibiting labor and diverting blood to the major muscle groups so that the mother can flee to safety. In humans, high levels of CAs have been associated with longer labor and adverse fetal heart rate patterns (an indication of stress to the baby). (23)

After an undisturbed labor, however, when the moment of birth is imminent, these hormones act in a different way. There is a sudden increase in CA levels, especially noradrenaline, which activates the fetal ejection reflex. The mother experiences a sudden rush of energy; she will be upright and alert, with a dry mouth and shallow breathing and perhaps the urge to grasp something. She may express fear, anger, or excitement, and the CA rush will cause several very strong contractions, which will birth the baby quickly and easily.

Some birth attendants have made good use of this reflex when a woman is having difficulties in the second stage of labor. For example, one anthropologist working with an indigenous Canadian tribe recorded that when a woman was having difficulty in birth, the young people of the village would gather together to help. They would suddenly and unexpectedly shout out close to her, with the shock triggering her fetal ejection reflex and a quick birth (24).

After the birth, the mother’s CA levels drop steeply, and she may feel shaky or cold as a consequence. A warm atmosphere is important, as if the mother is not helped to warm up, the ongoing cold stress will keep her CA levels high, inhibiting her natural oxytocin release and therefore increasing her risk of postpartum hemorrhage. (25)

Noradrenaline, as part of the ecstatic cocktail, is also implicated in instinctive mothering behavior. Mice bred to be deficient in noradrenaline will not care for their young after birth unless noradrenaline is injected back into their system (26).

For the baby also, birth is an exciting and stressful event, reflected in high CA levels (27). These assist the baby during birth by protecting against the effects of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and subsequent acidosis. High CA levels at birth ensure that the baby is wide-eyed and alert at first contact with the mother. The baby’s CA levels also drop rapidly after an undisturbed birth, being soothed by contact with the mother.


Known as the mothering hormone, prolactin is the major hormone of breast milk synthesis and breastfeeding. Traditionally it has been thought to produce aggressively protective behavior (the “mother tiger” effect) in lactating females.(28) Levels of prolactin increase in pregnancy, although milk production is inhibited hormonally until the placenta is delivered. Levels further increase in labor and peak at birth.
Prolactin is also a hormone of submission or surrender--in primate troops, the dominant male has the lowest prolactin level--and produces some degree of anxiety. In the breastfeeding relationship these effects activate the mother’s vigilance and help her to put her baby’s needs first.(29) The baby also produces prolactin in pregnancy, and high levels are found in amniotic fluid, possibly of uterine or placental origin.(30) The function of prolactin in the baby is unknown.


Undisturbed birth is exceedingly rare in our culture, even in birth centers and home births.
Two factors that disturb birth in all mammals are firstly being in an unfamiliar place and secondly the presence of an observer. Feelings of safety and privacy thus seem to be fundamental. Yet the entire system of Western obstetrics is devoted to observing pregnant and birthing women, by both people and machines, and when birth isn’t going smoothly, obstetricians respond with yet more intense observation. It is indeed amazing that any woman can give birth under such conditions.
Some writers have observed that, for a woman, having a baby has a lot of parallels with making a baby: same hormones, same parts of the body, same sounds, and the same needs for feelings of safety and privacy. How would it be to attempt to make love in the conditions under which we expect women to give birth?

Induction and Augmentation

In Australia, approximately 20 percent of women have induced labor, and another 20 percent have an augmentation--stimulation or speeding up of labor--with synthetic oxytocin (syntocinon, pitocin) (31). In the U.S., these rates are 19.8 percent and 17.9 percent, (32) adding up in both countries to around 40 percent of birthing women being administered synthetic oxytocin by IV during labor.

Synthetic oxytocin administered in labor does not act like the body’s own oxytocin. First, syntocinon-induced contractions are different from natural contractions, and these differences can cause a reduced blood flow to the baby. For example, waves can occur almost on top of each other when too high a dose of synthetic oxytocin is given, and it also causes the resting tone of the uterus to increase (33).

Second, oxytocin, synthetic or not, cannot cross from the body to the brain through the blood-brain barrier. This means that syntocinon, introduced into the body by injection or drip, does not act as the hormone of love. However, it does provide the hormonal system with negative feedback—that is, oxytocin receptors in the laboring woman’s body detect high levels of oxytocin and signal the brain to reduce production. We know that women with syntocinon infusions are at higher risk of bleeding after the birth, because their own oxytocin production has been shut down. But we do not know the psychological effects of giving birth without the peak levels of oxytocin that nature prescribes for all mammalian species.

As for the baby, “Many experts believe that through participating in this initiation of his own birth, the fetus may be training himself to secrete his own love hormone.”(34). Michel Odent speaks passionately about our society’s deficits in our capacity to love self and others, and he traces these problems back to the time around birth, particularly to interference with the oxytocin system.

Opiate Painkillers

The most commonly used drug in Australian labor wards today is pethidine (meperidine, Demerol). In one state, 34 percent of laboring women in 1998 were given this drug.(35) In the U.S., several opiate-like drugs have been traditionally used in labor, including meperidine nalbuphine (Nubain), butorphanol (Stadol), alphaprodine (Nisentil), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and fentanyl citrate (Sublimaze). The use of simple opiates in the labor room has declined in recent years, with many women now opting for epidurals, which may also contain these drugs (see below). (36) As with oxytocin, use of opiate drugs will reduce a woman’s own hormone production, (37) which may be helpful if levels are excessive and inhibiting labor. The use of pethidine, however, has been shown to slow labor, more so with higher doses (38).

Again we must ask: What are the psychological effects for mother and baby of laboring and birthing without peak levels of these hormones of pleasure and co-dependency? Some researchers believe that endorphins are the reward we get for performing reproductive functions such as mating and birthing; that is, the endorphin fix keeps us having sex and having babies (39). It is interesting to note that most countries that have adopted Western obstetrics, which prizes drugs and interventions in birth above pleasure and empowerment, have experienced steeply declining birth rates in recent years.

Of greater concern is a study that looked at the birth records of 200 opiate addicts born in Stockholm from 1945 to 1966 and compared them with the birth records of their non-addicted siblings. When the mothers had received opiates, barbiturates, and/or nitrous oxide gas during labor, especially in multiple doses, the offspring were more likely to become drug addicted. For example, when a mother received three doses of opiates, her child was 4.7 times more likely to become addicted to opiate drugs in adulthood (40).

This study was recently replicated with a U.S. population, with very similar results (41). The authors of the first study suggest an imprinting mechanism, but I wonder whether it may be a matter of ecstasy--if we don’t get it at birth, as we expect, we look for it later in life through drugs. Perhaps this also explains the popularity (and the name) of the drug Ecstasy.

Animal studies suggest a further possibility. It seems that drugs administered chronically in late pregnancy can cause effects in brain structure and function (eg chemical and hormonal imbalance) in offspring that may not be obvious until young adulthood (42–45). Whether such effects apply to human babies who are exposed for shorter periods around the time of birth is not known; but one researcher warns, “During this prenatal period of neuronal [brain cell] multiplication, migration and interconnection, the brain is most vulnerable to irreversible damage.”(46)

Epidural Drugs

Epidural drugs are administered over several hours via a tube into the space around the spinal cord. Such drugs include local anaesthetics (all cocaine derivatives, eg. bupivicaine/marcaine), more recently combined with low-dose opiates. Spinal pain relief involves a single dose of the same drugs injected through the coverings of the spinal cord, and is usually short acting unless given as a combined spinal-epidural (CSE).

Lotus Births: Waiting til baby's umbilical cord falls off

An increasing number of women are choosing to leave their newborn baby's umbilical cord attached, in an all-natural trend called Lotus Birth.

Lotus Birth, or umbilical nonseverance, means the mother waits for the cord to detach from her baby naturally - rather than cutting it off near the stomach after childbirth.

It can take up to 10 days for the placenta and umbilical chord to fall away.

Read more from this mainstreamy article frm the Daily Mail:

On "Care of the Placenta" from LotusBirth.net:

• When the baby is born, leave the umbilical cord intact. If the cord is around the baby's neck, simply lift it over.

• Wait for the natural delivery of the placenta. Do not use oxytocin - this forces too much too soon into the infant and compromises the placenta delivery.

• When the placenta delivers, place it into a receiving bowl beside the mother.

• Wait for full transfusion of the umbilical blood into the baby before handling the placenta.

• Gently wash the placenta with warm water and pat dry.

• Place the placenta into a sieve or colander for 24hrs to allow drainage.

• Wrap the placenta in absorbent material, a nappy or cloth and put in into a placenta bag. The covering is changed daily or more often if seepage occurs. Alternatively, the placenta may be laid on a bed of sea salt (which is changed daily) and liberally covered with salt.

• The baby is held and fed as the mother wishes.

• The baby is clothed loosely.

• The baby can be bathed as usual - keep the placenta with it.

• Keep movement to a minimum.

~ http://www.lotusbirth.net/index.php/care-of-the-placenta


From Anglo-Saxon med-wyf, "wise-woman" or "witch." Even in the
Christian era, priestesses of the Great Mother maintained their monopoly
of obstetrics, for most men were afraid of the taboo mysteries of
birth. The Bible declared a new mother sacer or untouchable for as long
as 66 days after giving birth (Leviticus 12:5); and by canon law, a
mother was not allowed to enter a church until 40 days after childbed.
For the first half of the Christian era, the arts of medicine
remained almost exclusively in the hands of "wise-women" because
ancient healing shrines had been devoted almost exclusively to the
Goddess's priestesses.1 In ancient Egypt, midwifery was the province
of Sevenfold Hath or who gave each infant its seven souls. The Malayan
Semai still say all midwives are holy, partaking of the spirit of the First
Midwife who lives in the highest of the seven heavens, each one of
which is ruled by one of the Seven Celestial Midwives, identical with
the Hathors. An earthly midwife is a sort of fairy godmother, with a
spiritual tie to each child she brings into the world.2
Mexican peasants attribute similar powers to the recibidora who
combines the functions of obstetrician, godmother, priestess, and
witch. She performs complicated knot-magic in binding and tying the
umbilical cord and casts spells for the future fate of the newborn. 3
Pagan Rome recognized several kinds of midwives, who received
separate offerings after a successful birth. There was the obstetrix
who performed the delivery; the nutrix or "nurturer" who encouraged
the mother's milk and taught techniques of nursing; and the ceraria,
priestess of Ceres charged with birth rituals. 4 All were connected with
the women's temple, like the Greek Horae who were temple-women
on earth and ascended to heaven as midwives to the gods.
Medieval Christianity detested midwives for their connections with
pagan matriarchy and Goddess-worship. Churchmen viewed them as
implacable enemies of the Catholic faith. Handbooks of the Inquisition
stated: "No one does more harm to the Catholic faith than midwives,"
because they invariably offered newborn children to the service
of the devil with a magical baptism by the kitchen fire. 5 The real
reason for ecclesiastical hostility seems to have been the notion that
midwives could help women control their own fate, learn secrets of
sex and birth control, or procure abortions. The pagan women of
antiquity had considerable knowledge of such matters, which were
considered women's own business, not subject to male authority.6
Patriarchal religion however forbade midwives to assist their patients
in preventing conception, relieving themselves of unwanted pregnancies,
or easing their birth-pangs.
In 1591 a Scottish noblewoman, Eufame Macalyne, was burned
alive for asking a witch-midwife for drugs to ease her labor pains. 7
Parliamentary Articles of Enquiry in 15 59 ordered churchwardens to
report any use of "charms, sorcery, enchantments, invocations,
circles, witchcrafts, soothsaying," or any like procedures "especially in
the time of women's travails."8
Some charms and sorceries were allowed as long as they were of
the Christian variety: that is, with Christian names substituted for
pagan ones in the formulae. Women in childbed were officially advised
to bind around their thighs a long charm in Latin, beginning In
nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti Amen, followed by invocations
of saints and secret names of God. If the names were not Christian,
however, the charm was devilish. An episcopal injunction of 15 54 said
midwives mt.1st not "use or exercise any witchcraft, charms, sorcery,
invocations, or prayers other than such as be allowable and may stand
with the laws and ordinances of the Catholic church." 9
Christianity's official view was that to relieve women's sufferings in
any aspect of reproduction was to oppose God's will in the matter of
the curse on Eve. God decreed that she and all her female descendants
must bring forth children with "sorrow" (pain). Consequently, up to
the beginning of the 20th century, doctors refused to consider treatment
of the major cause of women's deaths, childbed (puerperal) fever.
The clergy held such deaths to be either a just reward for an immoral
life, or the expression of God's continuing judgment on "the sex." 10
When James Simpson proposed to relieve women's labor pains
with the newly discovered anesthetics, chloroform and ether, there
was a great outcry from the clergy, who called it a sinful denial of God's
wishes. According to Scottish clergymen, to relieve labor pains would
be "vitiating the primal curse against woman." 11 A New England
minister wrote: "Chloroform is a decoy of Satan, apparently offering
itself to bless women; but in the end it will harden society and rob God
of the deep earnest cries which arise in time of trouble, for help." 12
With the usual half-concealed sadism of patriarchal morality, he was
really saying that female screams of pain gave God pleasure, and men
must see to it that God was not deprived of this.
The matter was resolved when Queen Victoria allowed her doctor
to give her chloroform during delivery of her eighth child, and
publicly hailed the new pain-reliever as a great blessing. All at once the
clergymen were silenced, in effect conceding to the Queen the right
to overrule God.13
Toward the end of the 19th century, male doctors moved in on
the last remaining area of exclusively female medicine, and took the
midwifery-trade away from women. At the instigation of the American
Medical Association, the U.S. Congress outlawed midwives, and the
new male " obstetricians" replaced them. Frequently, an elder midwife
found herself out of work, or even in jail for illegal practice, in a
community most of whose members she had brought into the world! 14
The effects of the new male professionalism were not always
Our mechanized civilization, in the interest of a speedy delivery, at the
convenience, even at the timed participation of the physician, often
endangered mother and child with impatient interference in the natural
process, and too often compounded this mistake by anesthetizing the
mother completely. All too soon, as a result of scientific pride over
inventing a formula for feeding independent of the natural source of
milk, the child was parted from its mother and deprived not only of
mother's milk, but of the experience of a warm, loving, commensal
relationship with her, the kind we must have also with Mother Earth. 15
The male-dominated medical profession not only took up delivering
women's babies, but even presumed to teach women how to "mother"
them which often led to terrible mistakes like the turn-of-the-century
minimal-handling theory, which assumed that crying children must not
be "spoiled" by cuddling them but should be picked up only at
predetermined infrequent intervals. Perhaps the ultimate hubris was
attained by L.K. Frank who wrote: "The psychiatrist is uniquely
competent to tell us how to practice the Christian injunction to love
little children." 16 Here is modern "education" ignorant of the historical
truth that the very existence of the human race depended for
countless thousands of years-long before either Christianity or
psychiatry were heard of-on the unique ability of mothers to love little
children and of "wise-women" to assist the instincts of motherhood.
  From Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets

 The Business of Being Born

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