Humans are mammals, animals. Birth is a natural biological event. So it should be easy right? And we don't deserve a pat on the back for such a basic function? It would be like getting a gold sticker for shitting in the potty.
And yet, we -the humans- do not experience childbirth like other mammals. Other primates have an easier time of it than us. So why is human birthing so difficult? Why do so many view it as dangerous and why have we developed entire industries devoted to reproductive management?
Whilst some would dismiss the amazing reproductive abilities of human females as 'just biology', others declare it dangerous and beyond the capabilities of women, requiring interventions and management. So what is the deal? Is human birth dangerous? have we evolved beyond ourselves? Is that even possible?
One of the questions to consider is: Why are our babies so helpless? This article from the Scientific American adds a further insight into human evolution and the implications. Are we born so helpless because it has cultural advantages? (a more pliable brain?) Is it a metabolic response?
We are intelligent and socially organised enough to support our helpless infants. Birthing upright, kneeling or squatting makes a massive difference to labour and birth. Freedom to move as feels right for the mother, being supported not directed or instructed, safe and protected, factors in too.
There is a general assumption that we are born 'early' because our bipedalism means our pelvises can not accommodate our head size. It could be that there is more to it than simply bio-metrics. Holly Dunsworth has been considering this mythical 'obstetric dilemma':
The Obstetric Dilemma Hypothesis (this one contains a reference list at the end)
Labor Pains and Helpless Infants: Evolution or Eve (part one)
Labor Pains and Helpless Infants: Evolution or Eve (part two)
An interview with Karen Rosenberg, Paleoanthropologist. This is a wonderful interview! Here you will 'hear' from the leading researcher about the best explanations we have for why humans experience birth as they do.
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birth without fear
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