Snapshots of Love

A woman sings old remembered songs in a shower. The sound of her laughter echoes in the room and blends with the sound of the water.

“Hands!” A woman opens the shower door during a contraction, reaches out and holds onto her husband’s...and my...hands. When the contraction ends, the door closes and her eyes close.

Only a few hours away from birth, a woman takes time between contractions to place tin foil on the sofas and chairs; her power remains.

“I like it here” says a woman as her head burrows into the corner of the car’s backseat.

“Hips!” “Water back!” A woman moves autonomously in labour. She calls to us to take our places during each the hips, at the back, and at her hand.

“Happy?” The lips turn into a smile, her eyes crinkle, the water runs over her body.

“Shhhhh” Her eyes gleam as she looks at her newborn, rooting for the breast.

All these snapshots are of women under the influence of the “love hormones” - oxytocin, endorphins and prolactin. As a doula, I continually witness the softness, the power, and the amazing transformational effects of these hormones, which are released when women are undisturbed.

So, with these snapshots of birth "as I witness it" in my head, I watched The Business of Being Born online last night. The enormity of the loss of normal birth, the rising infant mortality rate, and the rise in planned cesareans in the U.S. struck me like never before. Michel Odent’s warning about what we could potentially lose made me dream about births all night.

Are we, as a civilization, beginning to lose what makes us human?

I spent today speaking with clients, and googling more of what Dr. Odent has said on the subject. In the Scientification of Love, Dr. Michel Odent explores this question, looking at love “from a scientific angle, yet with great respect for the beautiful orchestration of normal physiology as it works to its best capacity when it is undisturbed. Love, we learn, is a strategy for human survival.”

As critical as our need is to protect the environment, I think our need to protect the integrity of normal birth may even be more fundamental.