Midwives, from time immemorial, have been the principal guides for women in childbirth. But their expertise and their role has been compromised in many industrialised countries. With the demise of traditional midwifery, we have the rise of medicalised birth. As we've lost our guides to childbirth, we have lost sight of the meaning of birth.
The Ecologist meetspioneering midwife Ina May Gaskin, who has helped thousands of women tap into their inner mammal. ‘If chimpanzees can do it, so can we,' she says. The practical consequences of fear in childbirth are proven: instead of oxytocin, the love hormone that open up the body, we have adrenaline, which shuts down our natural processes. This leads to, for many, a cascade of interventions. Having the right hormones makes a huge difference in the kind of birth you have. This is what doctors don't tell you.