I want to share with you today some great words of wisdom from the wonderful Michel Odent, a French Obstetrician and leading pioneer for natural childbirth. In his 80’s he is an inspiration in himself but the way he talks about birth is captivating. He states “we need modern science to rediscover and explain what is simple and common sense”. A common sense approach to birth is something we most definitely agree with here at The Wise Hippo.
We talk of how our hippos can birth calmly and comfortably, however there is an important difference for humans birthing… We have a developed neo cortex. This is important because birthing has nothing to do with the neo cortex but comes from our archaic, primitive brain. Our inhibitions though do come from the neo cortex. It therefore must be switched off during the birthing process to allow a woman’s natural birthing instincts to come to the fore
“Birthing is an involuntary process, we cannot help it but we can inhibit it and knowing this we need to protect it from that happening”Michel Odent
Let’s look at this in more detail:
- Language stimulates the neo cortex – Silence (or more specifically lack of communication) is a basic need of labour. Language in particular when expressing a question needs activity in the neocortex to prepare an answer.
- Light can stimulate the neo cortex – the darkness hormone melatonin reduces neo cortex activity.
- When we feel observed we observe ourselves and the neo cortex is stimulated
- When we perceive a possible danger the neo cortex is stimulated
- Emotional states are contagious – if a labouring woman is being supported by someone with high adrenaline levels this may cause her to mirror their hormone activity.
We address the above during our Wise Hippo hypnobirthing classes as follows:
- We teach the dad/birth partner how to be the labouring woman’s advocate and deal with any discussions that need to take place.
- We suggest that they look at ways to dim the lights (particularly in a hospital room) if possible. If it isn’t mum’s are reminded that their hypnosis techniques cause them to be more internally focussed and therefore less aware of outside stimuli.
- Birth partners learn how to protect mum from unnecessary interruption and be a gentle loving support.
- We explore different locations for birth so a mum is able to choose the best place for her, where she feels safe. We also discuss the need for her to be part of any decisions about the birth itself so that she can maintain emotional control (the birth partner gathers the information).
- Birth partners learn relaxation techniques alongside the mums so they don’t inadvertently pass on any adrenaline.
A common sense approach to birth indeed I think you will agree 🙂