Evolution’s grace notes: birth is responsive and adaptive

Birth is inherently a physical process, but that physical process is interwoven with the other elements of the experience of being alive, both seen and unseen, objective and subjective, external and internal. Each element is affected by the next, and affects the next in turn.

The physical process of birth is in such an intricate dance with these other elements that we cannot untangle where one begins and the other ends. 

That is because moment to moment, our beautiful, complex brains, wired by evolution for survival through community, are assessing our safety. They are alert to every relational nuance and environmental cue, never more so than at such a vulnerable and evolutionarily crucial time as giving birth. Evolution is heavily invested in the continuation of life. The birth process, orchestrated by the endocrine (hormonal) system, is in intricate interplay with the nervous system’s primal perceptions of safety. It does not only matter that the woman is safe; it matters that she feels safe. Her ancestors in the delta, the jungle, the mountain forests, the world over, through the brutal selection of fitness, have handed down an inherently responsive and adaptive process for birth that is hypersensitive to danger; that expects to unfold within the safety and support of community and has inherent feedback mechanisms for danger. 

Birth is a process that flourishes beautifully not only with a perception of safety but even more so when held with love. 

Another beautiful grace note of evolution – that oxytocin, the hormone of love, is the lead conductress of the orchestration of nervous and endocrine systems in birth. That we birth our babies into our communities, awash with love. That leading by love presupposes that the woman is being held in love as she births. That her community has gathered around her in love. That the gathering of her community around her is holding her safe.