Evolution of our birthing capabilities

A different interpretation of the increased use of interventions is that women have evolved to be worse at childbirth and that there are more complications now than there used to be. French obstetrician Michel Odent argues that since the use of artificial oxytocin during labour and childbirth, our natural oxytocin system (on which childbirth, placenta expulsion, attachment and breastfeeding relies heavily) has been very much underused in the last several decades. In accordance with recent advances in epigenetics and evolution theory, this underuse might result in the oxytocin system not working as well anymore in subsequent generations[1] (see Box 21). But even if this were to be true, current statistics of 85% intervention-free births in some settings (which include high-risk births) still mean that C-section rates of up to 50% and induction rates of 20-30% are not at all justified. Moreover, if our current overuse of oxytocin-based interventions really has the power to mess with our ability as a species to give birth, breastfeed, love, and function socially and sexually, this would be a very strong argument to not use artificial oxytocin, unless absolutely necessary. By no means should this theory be used to justify more interventions.

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Book Introduction

Making informed decisions on childbirth

Here’s the introduction to my own book on pregnancy and childbirth:

Making informed decisions on childbirth
One scientist’s international perspective
               by Sofie Vantiers, Ph.D.

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I set out to write a book for pregnant mothers and expecting partners (regardless of whether they are male or female) who are preparing mentally, emotionally and psychologically for the biggest change in their life. Rather than convincing you of my personal right (or wrong) way of doing things, I aimed to make the reader aware of the issues that might come up, open up the discussion and provide some tools of investigation. I used to be quite firm in my beliefs of how to best give birth, feed a baby and raise children in general. Writing this book and doing more research actually made me more moderate in my opinions and more sympathetic to opposing or just different viewpoints.

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