The Big Picture

Our routine practices make the American way of birth and mother-baby care the most expensive in the world. Yet they are based on fundamental misconceptions and ignorance of both traditional wisdom and current scientific research. Birth practices in America disempower and often traumatize the very people they are meant to serve mothers and babies.

Our prevailing paradigm views birth as a “medical condition” that must be controlled and managed to “safely” and efficiently “deliver” a “product” called a baby from a “vessel” called a mother. The result is birth trauma, breastfeeding failure, compromised bonding and a national policy that accepts early and prolonged separation in the first year of life as “normal and healthy” all of which have ominous implications for the human species.

We are led to believe our birth, infancy and early mothering experiences have no lasting significance on the rest of our lives. Current scientific research and mounting clinical evidence show the opposite — our earliest experiences, from womb to toddlerhood, create patterns in our nervous system and brain that become the physiological foundation for life-long thinking, feeling and behavior.

These patterns affect all of our relationships, especially our ability to trust and feel connected to ourselves, others, the earth, and spirit. These are the roots of our society’s epidemic levels of anxiety, depression, anger, addiction and violence.

The problem and solution

These issues are missing from our public discourse and media. The fact that today’s parents seldom question contemporary birth and parenting practices is not because they are irresponsible or uncaring. They lack the information, modeling and support to make different choices. Change will come only when a better informed and impassioned public demands it. A well-focused series can do that and more.

For example, in 1975 the BBC aired A Time to be Born. The issue: a whopping 90% of all births occurring between the hours of nine and five due to the costly, risky, routine practice of artificially inducing labor. As a direct result of this one show, public outcry changed medical practice overnight.

suzanneThe Big Picture