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Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2001 Nov;75 Suppl 1:S39-45.

New reasons and new ways to study birth physiology.

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Primal Health Research Centre, London, UK.


The age of cesarean sections on request, epidurals and drips of oxytocin is a turning point in the history of childbirth. Until recently women could not give birth without releasing a complex cocktail of 'love hormones'. Today, in many countries, most women have babies without releasing these specific hormones. The questions must be raised in terms of civilization. This turning point occurs at the very time when several scientific disciplines suggest that the way human beings are born has long-term consequences, particularly in terms of sociability, aggressiveness or, in other words, 'capacity to love'. I find it relevant to combine data provided by perspectives as diverse as ethology, animal experiments, studies of the behavioral effects of hormones that fluctuate in the perinatal period, and a branch of epidemiology I call 'Primal Health Research'. This combination of data offers new reasons to disturb the physiological processes as little as possible. We are also at a time when a physiological approach can help to rediscover the basic needs of women in labor. These women firstly need to be protected against any sort of neocortical stimulation. We must keep in mind what the main stimuli of neocortical activity are: language, bright lights, the 'feeling of being observed' and situations associated with a release of catecholamines.

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