[ExI] Human extinction

David C. Harris dharris234 at mindspring.com
Wed Aug 20 08:38:43 UTC 2008

On uterine contractions, 
describes the role of oxytocin.  A midwife friend said that oxytocin 
stimulates the contraction of the longitudinal muscles, pushing the baby 
along.  If fear stimulates epinephrine (adrenaline), that hormone causes 
contraction of the circular muscles near the cervix, keeping the baby 
in.  Supportive friends and experienced, trusted, women from the tribe 
can encourage confidence.  I think the purpose of warm water as a 
birthing "medium" is partly for the baby's first experience and partly 
for relaxing the mother.   And there is a hormone called relaxin that 
dilates the cervix.  Genentech considered making it as a drug, during my 
years working there.  All are parts of the natural process of giving birth.

I agree with Giovanni that you have an excellent perspective on the process.

Regarding the Christian view of maternal pain as part of God's curse on 
Adam and Eve --- that view was one of the factors retarding the use of 
early anesthetics in childbirth.  Any religion that encourages  
unnecessary pain is, IMHO, an abomination. 

  - David Harris, Palo Alto

Amara Graps wrote:
> Here's another angle on the subject of this thread and religious faith.
> Don't you think that it would be weird if humans evolved to where we are
> today if every baby's birth was excruciatingly painful? An assumption of
> excruciatingly painful births is what the US culture (and perhaps other
> cultures) hammers into the head of every pregnant woman, so no wonder
> when it comes to the time of her birthing, she is terrified out of her
> mind.  But many other cultures (especially the less developed ones)
> treat birthing as natural; women are working out in the fields, they
> take a time out for a couple of hours and give birth to their babies and
> then they go back to the fields (!). Women's bodies were made for
> birthing, if one understands how the different muscles of uterus work
> together to bring the baby out. The circular muscles around the cervix
> that tightly hold the pregnancy must relax during birthing to allow the
> longitudinal muscles at the top of the uterus to gently push the baby
> down. All the woman need to do is deeply relax like in a trance and
> 'breathe' her baby out. To allow her body to do what it already knows
> how to do.
> But women in this (U.S.) culture are not taught that. I'm coming to a
> position that it is a long western myth that giving birth _must_ be
> painful. The myth is certainly helped along by Catholic traditions that
> call birthing 'Eve's curse' and treat it like her punishment for her
> 'sin'. Birthing is mostly painful because women are terrified about it.
> They are terrified because they are told it must be. And so their terror
> prevents their body from performing well the physical functions that it
> was evolved to do. And so the circle continues.
> I think that the biggest 'pain' I'll have in my own birthing of my baby
> girl will be asserting my position in a medical community that is
> structured for only interventionist birthing methods (in Boulder County,
> only about 20% of the women birth their babies without epidurals, for
> example). I want my own birthing should be a celebration of life, not a
> traumatic ordeal.
> Amara

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