For any woman, childbirth is the most magnificent experience of her life. Though the labor can be painful, the joy of holding the baby for the first time more than makes up for everything. But, whenever we talk about it, one of the themes we keep revisiting is the method of childbirth a woman opted for. While some choose to express their opinion on social media, others can have long discussions about it.
Michel Odent authored the book “Do we need midwives?” recently, in which he spoke at length about the future of human’s ability to give birth (1). He also brings up the topic of how the birth culture in today’s time can potentially alter the way a woman delivers in the future.
As per the World Health Organization (WHO), the rate of Cesarean delivery was reported to be 15 percent in 1985. According to the recent reports, in 2009, this number has increased significantly across the world. For every 10 childbirths in the US, one will be a C-section delivery. In 2002, the Cesarean deliveries rose up to 26.1 percent. Whereas, in Europe, the rate was reported to be somewhere between 13 and 25 percent. In Latin American countries like Brazil, the C-section rate is pretty high. While C-section is recommended only to women who are facing a complication, this method is now being opted for voluntarily to escape from the pain. People believe that Cesarean delivery is safer, healthier, and even less painful (2).
At times, oxytocin is given to artificially induce labor in a woman if she is facing difficulty. This can also boost the pace of the labor (3). However, Michel Odent strongly advocates childbirth in a natural and undisturbed setting. He even speaks of how this synthetic oxytocin that is induced during labor can affect its natural production. The synthetic oxytocin might not cross the blood-brain barrier, which may hinder the natural hormonal production of endorphins and oxytocin.
The hormone oxytocin is said to play a key role in breastfeeding and can also enhance the bonding between the mother and her infant (4). Therefore, Michel believes that any reduction in this hormone’s natural production might affect a woman’s ability to deliver naturally and nurse her baby. He highlighted how women nowadays are in labor for a comparatively long time. According to him, this is indicative of how they are gradually losing their capacity to deliver naturally. He further elaborated that women have become dependent on interventions like epidural injections for pain relief and other medications in recent times (5).
Michel raised a lot of eyebrows when he spoke of how the love hormone “oxytocin” is not released in women who have a pre-labor C-section delivery, hence, making them different from those who give birth naturally. Something similar has been indicated in a small study done by Yale School of Medicine. It states that the mother-baby bonding might be stronger in case of a natural birth as compared to Cesarean delivery (6). The probable reason is said to be the lack of hormones that are important for motherhood. According to the research, this hormone is mostly released in large levels during labor and moments soon after natural birth.
However, this does not mean that mothers who give birth in a way other than the natural one love their babies any less. Motherhood is a beautiful phase in a woman’s life and strengthens her emotional maturity multiple folds. After all, the real bonding happens after the baby is born.
The debate on different types of childbirth has been an ongoing one; let it not bother you so much. What matters is you and your little one’s safety and well-being. So, for all you super mommies across the world, keep doing your thing. You are awesome!
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