Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Childbirth Unmasked 3

Chapter 2 - Instinct and Stress.
Instinct as in the innate ability to birth our young. Jowitt compares how we behave in labour to how animals behave. We have been taught (wrongly) by the media and doctors how to labour where as animals do not have their own Ten Born Every Minute, they labour instinctively.
"Instinctive behaviour is behaviour motivated not by conscious rational thought, but by subconscious direction from the brain".

We are told the value of stress hormones for short term survival. How they evolved to keep us safe while in danger. The very surprising fact about this chapter is that it does not mention the receptor sites for the stress hormone adrenalin discovered on the cervix in the 1970s, well before this book was published. These adrenalin receptors are the main reason that getting stressed in labour leads to a long, painful labour.

Now I am confused, Jowitt seems to think that the heart is made up of smooth muscle. What! There are three types of muscle in the human body: Cardiac muscle is found only in the heart; Striated muscle helps us to sing and dance; Smooth muscle is mainly found around hollow organs such as the uterus, stomach and large bowel. If our hearts were made of smooth muscle then there is no way we could run the 100m in less than 10 seconds, it would take more like 10 weeks.
"Adrenaline and noradrenaline have opposite effects on different parts of the body, for example they make the smooth muscle of the heart work harder but stop the smooth muscle of the womb contracting".

If you love human anatomy and physiology then you will adore this chapter, otherwise it is a bit heavy to get through.
"The chain reaction that leads to cortisol is: CRF - ACT hormone - cortisol. CRF works by unleashing a group of hormones manufactured in a prohormone string of amino acids - pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC)".

Basically, what Margaret Jowitt is saying in this chapter is if we are to labour as nature intended then we need to radically change our approach. Stress hormones mess with your labour where as relaxation helps you to work with your labour.
"Despite the fact that childbirth is safer now than it has ever been because more of us are closer to achieving our genetic potential, professionals play on the fear instinct to coerce women into hospital birth and thus increase consumption of hospital services and safeguard their own jobs, wittingly or unwittingly. Fear of childbirth is still the biggest hurdle to be overcome..."

Pain Free Labour books available from Amazon. Cheap as chips.