Human beings react differently from other mammals to interference with the birth process. When delivery of non-human mammals is disturbed, the effects are immediate and easily detected. For example, when animals give birth by c-section or with an epidural, the general rule is that the mother is not interested in the baby. Among humans, on the other hand, we need extensive statistics to detect what are mere tendencies and risk factors. These are much more complex in our species: We speak and we create cultural milieux. In certain situations, particularly in the perinatal period, human behavior is less directly under the effects of the hormonal balance than the effects of the cultural milieu. For example, a human mother knows when she is pregnant and can anticipate maternal behavior, while other mammals must wait until the birth when they release a flow of love hormones to kindle their attachment to their newborns.
Today, we understand that to have a baby, a woman—like any other mammal—has been programmed to release a cocktail of love hormones. Today the number of women who actually “give birth” to babies and placentas thanks to this hormonal release is ever-decreasing. First, because many women give by birth by cesarean. Second, most of those who give birth vaginally receive pharmacological interventions. Unfortunately substitutes block the release of the natural hormones and do not create the same behavioural benefits. We have to wonder what will happen, in terms of civilization, if this trend continues in future generations. Can humanity survive the safe cesarean?
— Michel Odent
Excerpted from “The Future of Obstetric Technology,” Midwifery Today, Issue 85