After years of working in the Holistic Health field and working on issues of sustainability, I have come to the conclusion that a key to the human race living in a sustainable relationship to earth is the ability to bond with the earth — to be in union with the earth, to comprehend others’ needs, and to intuitively understand how to facilitate getting those needs met. When one has the right mindset, one knows what to do. But before one can bond with the earth one needs to bond with their mother at birth. The choices made before birth, at birth, and immediately after birth play a large part in determining how the child will relate to other humans and to the environment.
In 1979, the state of California funded a study to look into the root causes of crime, violence, and related consequences. The study, An Ounce of Prevention — Toward an Understanding of the Causes of Violence, concluded that the greatest cause of these issues in society was the violence done to infants and mothers at birth, the main cause of the rise in drug abuse, suicide, abandonment and abuse of infants and children, family collapse, deterioration of schooling and social disintegration in general. Other studies since then have reinforced this connection. If this is true then it might be important to examine birthing practices more generally to find the most beneficial way to create a positive experience for mothers, babies and ultimately the society at large. Dr. Michel Odent, a noted French obstetrician who has promoted home births and the use of midwives states “If the planet remains inhabitable —a hypothesis we must not eliminate — it implies that ‘Homo Superpredator ‘ will eventually be overtaken by ‘Homo Ecologicus’. This will be characterized by a propensity to unite and establish a global awareness and by an ability to develop a fundamental respect for Mother Earth. The most urgent problems Humanity has to face are all related to different aspects of the capacity to love, including a compassionate interest for the unborn generations.” He is concerned about the human species if we do not reverse the cultural preference for hospital birthing, which rests on the false assumption that it is safer. Attitude plays an important role in making birthing decisions. Dr. Monika Lukesch, a psychologist at Constantine University in Frankfurt, Germany, did a study following 2,000 women through pregnancy and birth. Mothers who were most positive and looking forward to creating a family had the healthiest children, physically and mentally, at birth and afterward. Other studies have shown that poor attitude can result in poor health, fear, behavioral problems, gastrointestinal issues, lethargy, and emotional disturbances. But what attitude is it that drives women to give birth in a hospital? In the United States 95% of births are in hospitals, but maternal and infant death rates in the US are consistently among the highest in the world. Hospital interventions that are often used have been shown to cause birth trauma and lifelong physical and emotional scars that show up as fear, hate, or envy. On the other hand, countries with the highest usage of midwives at birth have the lowest death rates and lower amounts of trauma.
Inherent in a positive birth is the “fetal ejection reflex” controlled by the rear brain. When allowed to take over it assures a relatively pain-free, smooth, and exhilarating birth. Along with that is the secretion of oxytocin, which activates contractions, activates the “milk ejection reflex” for breastfeeding, and creates in the mother a feeling of love towards her baby. Neocortical activity, where the mother’s forebrain is stimulated with talking or other activity, can lengthen labor and create more pain. Hospital birth procedures seem to violate all of these natural rules. Fetal monitoring, for example, has been shown to result in more cesarean births, which create more difficulties in bonding, reduce the amount of microbiota needed for the immune system, and don’t allow for squeezing out of lung fluid. Odent emphasized that our capacity for love — of ourselves, others and Mother Earth — depends on not interfering with natural processes in the perinatal period. Worldwide, cultures that show the greatest levels of aggression and the ability to destroy life are also the cultures that interrupt this early development of a close loving mother-child relationship.
Pregnancies are a reliving of the whole evolutionary process of moving from water to land, the precursor of moving from womb to the air environment at birth. This can be seen as part of a process where a primal force guides the mother and baby through a birth process similar to the way other animals do it. If we refrain as much as possible from controlling the situation and have the courage to trust nature, the birth has a better chance of going smoothly. We also need to re-establish the spiritual nature of birth, and this can be a way to live the rest of our lives if we allow it to play out. By being patient and having confidence in the natural way, we can facilitate bonded families who will love the earth and live in a way that does not destroy it.
Steve is a Macrobiotic Dietary Counselor and Shiatsu Practitioner with skills in Cranio-Sacral work, Lymphatic Drainage, Meridian Emotional Release, and occasional Wild Food Walks.