“…our ancestors were mere animals governed by the primitive emotions and drives of the limbic system until they received the divine gift of reason, installed in the newly expanded neocortex. The Promethean script is pleasing in that it neatly raises us above all the animals, justifying our superiority by our rationality. At the same time, it captures our sense that we are not yet gods – that the fire of rationality is new to us, and we have not yet fully mastered it.”
Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis
Birth physiology as a chapter of brain physiology
Michel Odent suggests that pregnancy and all phases of labor should be looked at in the light of the concept of neocortical inhibition. The human brain includes a highly developed ‘new brain’, or ‘neocortex’. The neocortex has usually been presented as a tool at the service of vital physiological functions, providing information about space and time, and facilitating communication. However, recent work has shown that we should consider the capacity of the neocortex to occasionally prevent or inhibit physiological functions. It is if there are physiological accelerators and also physiological brakes.
There are nature’s solutions for making human birth possible and sometimes easy; therefore, acknowledge basic needs of a laboring woman:
In all human societies, even those where genital sexuality is comparatively free, couples isolate themselves to make love. Such a universally accepted need for privacy in specific situations indicates a deep-rooted understanding of an essential aspect of human nature.
Since language is a powerful neocortical stimulant, it is easy to reach the conclusion that silence is a basic need.
It was found that melatonin, the ‘darkness hormone’, is an essential birth hormone. It is now established that there are melatonin receptors in the human uterus, and that melatonin works together with oxytocin to enhance contractions.
We must remember that all attention-enhancing situations stimulate neocortical activity and therefore inhibit the birth process. A laboring woman needs to feel protected against all possible stimulant.
From the book “The Birth of Homo, the Marine Chimpanzee” by Michel Odent,first published in Great Britain by Pinter & Martin Ltd 2017