I raise my hand for the Nobel Prize « Vlastimil Marek

I raise my hand for the Nobel Prize

18.4.2013

The sensational news in the paper Mlada Fronta Dnes (published 14 July 2007), an article named “Another baby murder – mother stomped her baby”, spurred yet another passionate debate amongst psychologists and psychiatrists. Their opinions were ranging from “the mother is suffering from schizophrenia or could have been under influence of drugs” to “she is mentally unfit or has pathological personality which causes that she’s unable to feel empathy or has no maternal instincts”.

When someone asked whether it is possible that a woman who had never displayed any such pathological behaviour and the pregnancy was wanted and planned and whether a post natal depression could have played a role in this case, the response from one of the debating psychiatrists lifted me from my chair in pure disbelief (and in the end served as an inspiration for this article): “It’s very rare, but the post natal depression can lead to mother killing her baby. But if I knew the reasons why this happens, I’d raise my hand to claim the Nobel Prize”. Yes, really. Let me answer to him and to The Nobel Committee.

So, let’s start from the beginning: the main reasons for the post natal depressions stem from traumatic childbirths. The mothers-to-be are under pressure from the medical staff, scare-mongered into thinking what could go wrong, the labour is being constantly interrupted and/or forced to speed up by administering powerful drugs, in number of cases subsequently leading to caesarean section as the “solution” – all of this fundamentally contributes or directly causes sometimes lifelong traumas and consequences. In some cases they are emotional, but also psychological and physical (including direct physical complications following the surgical procedure). During the medicalized hospital childbirths, the hormonal processes (which otherwise occur during natural childbirth, helping speed up mother’s recovery on all levels and enable or strengthen the bond between her and her baby) don’t kick in. The woman is likely to experience difficulties to conceive in future, accepting her pregnancy, her future childbirths will be more complicated and far more likely to require medical procedure. The obstetrician will then be able to conclude that she simply doesn’t have “maternal instincts”, and all will repeat itself in the next generation, should she give birth to a girl. A boy may likely have diminished ability to empathize with others and have tendencies to tantrums and aggression in later age.

The maternal instinct develops to its full potential during the natural (i.e. not medicalized) childbirth. Women who experience lack of maternal instinct have been robbed of it (with its generational impact) by the male obstetricians and their doctrine that pregnancy is an illness and hospital childbirth the only appropriate treatment.  Furthermore, the post natal depression and other post natal psychological traumas started to appear after all childbirths started to be “treated” in hospitals, together with all the invasive and chemical treatments. They’re practically non-existent in women who gave birth naturally.

The next comment from the above mentioned psychiatrist is another example of his typical male misunderstanding of the true cause of the problem. He says: “Childbirth is greatly stressful event which can trigger hidden psychiatric disorder in a woman. The exhaustion itself can short-circuit her otherwise normal behaviour”. What can I say. I personally know women who gave birth naturally and experienced something completely different – floods of energy and orgasm. And before you start shaking your head, try to google first (and be surprised).

But the real “pearl of wisdom” is his next comment: “Rejection of the new born baby is quite common occurrence, but it doesn’t always end in killing the baby.” What on earth is this. I absolutely oppose the crude apathy and cold-blooded calm style in which such doctors and psychiatrists pass comments like that. As if it doesn’t concern them one bit. On the contrary, women rejecting their babies after birth is a clear sign that something is fundamentally wrong! Just like the natural course of childbirth is interrupted or forced, so are the complex hormonal processes responsible for bonding of mother and her baby (and strength or absence of maternal instinct).

By his own words, if the solution of this problem means claiming the Nobel Prize, then I raise my hand too. As soon as we remove the cause (being the male dominated obstetrics and their typically male aggressive “style” with its clear link to the lack of respect to motherhood) and as soon as we start promoting the corrective actions (meaning: support birthing houses and home births, or even adapting the hospital maternity wards to allow women to feel as if they were at home and safe – “birthing hotels” – you heard it here first), the number of women who lack maternal instinct or suffer from post natal depression will start to fall rapidly.

I would share the Nobel Prize with the true experts in the field, from whose work I have vastly borrowed for over the 15 years I have been supporting and promoting the women’s choice of natural births. These are namely: Thomas Verny, Peter Fedor-Freybergh, Frederic Leboyer, Michel Odent and Marsden Wagner. I’m sure that all of us (males) would follow up to ensure that the Nobel Prize Committee consist of at least 50% female members. The Nobel Prize would also go to female champions  of natural births, namely: Ina May Gaskin, Penny Simkin, Ingeborg Stadelmann and Henci Goer. They would further promote more of those who deserve to share this honour.

From the Czech promoters and supporters I would pick: midwives Ivana Königsmarková and Zuzana Štromerová, also Ludmila Mojžíšová (in memoriam), the women from the Movement for Active Motherhood lead by Petra Sovová, Petra Vnoučková, and all those brave mothers who despite the rigid expectations of society and the ultimate doctrine of the modern obstetrics decided to do the right thing and gave birth at home, namely one for all Johanka Kubaňová (but there are many many more, now, f.e. Leila Lee). They have fought for their right to give birth to their own children in the most normal and natural way (to minimize the damage that could be done to them). And this often meant going against the whole establishment (of mostly male obstetricians). Once they won their right to give birth at home, they could forget all about any potential medical support. They were on their own.

The comment that “some women simply don’t have maternal instincts” is a professional failure of the male obstetricians. It is also a pure myth which needs to be dissolved sooner rather than later. Every single woman has maternal instincts coded in her genome, which is triggered by natural childbirth (similarly as it is in puberty – the sexual instinct is coded in every person’s genome and it simply kicks in upon reaching the appropriate age – naturally). As long as we don´t obstruct the Nature´s wisdom.