chapter  8
14 Pages

The birthing environment: A sustainable approach

ByCAROLYN HASTIE

Birds do it. Bees do it, even bears and humans do it. An instinctive and compelling need to prepare the environment for birth and the care of offspring, known as ‘nesting’, is common to the females of many living species. The tendency is to seek a safe, out of the way, private place to birth. Depending upon the particular species, preparation for birth can take weeks or merely involve retreating to a secluded, concealed place once labour begins. The birthing process is instinctive, mediated by a genetic programme and deep, ancient brain structures that are common to all mammals. If that birth space is disturbed or the female is threatened in any way, labour will usually slow down. Once the threat has passed, labour will resume. Humans, despite their cogni tive brilliance, also require facilitative environments for optimal child - bearing. Disturbances to that environment can have a cumulative effect, rendering a woman unable to birth normally. If the disturbances occur after birth, the exquisitely orchestrated mother/baby interaction patterns that lay the foundation of attachment can be disrupted with lifelong consequences.