This pregnancy, make a conscious effort to be aware of your inner mystic. We say this tongue in cheek, because you have your own inner mystic within you, but you also have this little developing mystic within your body.
There is no other time in life when we have one foot in this reality and another foot in the unknown world of spirituality than pregnancy. Women have the distinct ability to walk in both worlds of the real and the mystical. Obviously, many of us go through life seemingly unaware of our surroundings, forgetting look at the mountains, trees, or other wildlife in front of us on the way to work, but this time in your life, this pregnancy, make a conscious effort to be aware of your inner mystic. We say this tongue in cheek, because you have your own inner mystic within you, but you also have this little developing mystic within your body. This little boy or girl is floating in the ambient temperatures you are providing with the warmth of your body, and every second he or she is listening to reassuring drumming of your heartbeat. This chapter is a bridge from you to the baby and will give you points of focus to connect with your baby as you go through the day. Every mother has the ability to connect with their child, why else would we have the concept of mother’s intuition? It reminds me of a patient who was explaining to me the difficulties of her previous pregnancy.
“right around the time of my 38th week I had a dream that my baby was suffocating. It was like he was just not getting enough air and I was trying to help him but for some reason I couldn’t get to him. It was so frightening I woke up with tears in my eyes and my heart was pounding. I just lay there in bed and remembered the doctors told me about charting the baby’s movements with “kick-counts”. I started to feel for the baby’s movements and within 20-30 minutes I had not felt him move once. I called the doctor and she advised me to go to labor and delivery for a non-stress test where they check the baby’s heart rate. When I arrived the baby was having dips in the heart rate and they decided to keep me at the hospital. I was contracting on and off and with each contraction the baby’s heart rate would drop. The doctors told me this was called a late deceleration and that the placenta was no longer getting oxygen to my baby so the planned a cesarean. 30 minutes later my little boy was delivered and the level of oxygen in his blood was low. He did great but the doctors told me they were so glad I had that dream, it probably saved my baby’s life. They then shared with me there was a true knot in the umbilical cord (figure 1) and with uterine contractions the cord would squeeze cutting off vital nutrients to my baby boy.”
figure 1. True knot of umbilical cord.
Spirits, Chemicals, and Jacobs Ladder
It is long-debated when the spirit or soul enters the human body. Many traditions stated it was the quickening, or the time when the mother begins to feel baby’s movements in utero. For most women this occurs around the 17th to 20th week. Whatever your beliefs there is a chemical process that begins in the fetus around the 7th to 9th weeks when the pineal gland is formed in the fetus. The pineal gland has been referred to as the “third-eye” in many mystical traditions so it’s no shock to discover the location of this gland is the midplane of the brain. It is thought to produce melatonin, a very powerful hormone and antioxidant that controls our sleep and wake cycles. Rick Strassman, MD has speculated that the pineal gland might also be the site of production of a compound called DMT or dimethyltryptamine. DMT is a naturally occurring hallucinogen that is thought to be released at times of intense stress such as death, near-death, birth, and episodes of intense severe pain. There are two interesting theories we want to point out about DMT before moving on.
The first piece is more informative and special because it revolves around that question of when the spirit or soul enters the body. Going back to Strassman’s work DMT: The Spirit Molecule he discusses the theory of DMT being made in the human body at the 49th day of fetal development. In the Tibetan Book of the Dead, there is a description of the reincarnation process and how after death, the soul undergoes a 49-day spiritual journey towards rebirth. Obviously, the concept of reincarnation is difficult for many in the Western world to understand, but one can see the potential here for information coming from the mystical traditional of Buddhism and the scientific materialism of Western research. If the spirit is looking to enter or re-enter the body 49 days after death and DMT (the spirit molecule) begins production in the human body around the 49th day in utero maybe we should consider looking into this synchronicity with more observation and an open mind. Around the 49th day of fetal development maybe you could be more open and clear by participating in reflection, contemplation, and meditation. We would recommend the following activities during the 7th week of your pregnancy.
1. Journal daily and pay special attention to synchronicities or coincidences. Also try to record your dreams for later interpretation. Try not to wait until the morning to record dreams but wake and jot them down in a journal before going back to sleep.
2. Spend more time in meditative practice, possibly 10-15 minutes per day and with your inhale and exhale focus on the baby inside you and surround him or him with that welcoming love that only a mother can provide.
3. Spend time reading from holy texts based on your faith or belief systems and read them aloud.
4. Really spend time appreciating one person in your life. Be tactile, smell their hair and touch their skin, whether intimate or kind. Feel the energy of life in both of you and listen to the energy beginning to grow in your pelvis.
The second item with DMT is purely theoretical and based on our understandings of indigenous shamanic practice and sacred plants. If we understand that birth is a naturally stressful and painful process on the body, and we are also aware that birth, for the baby, also a time when stress hormones are high it is not a far leap to assume that DMT is being released simultaneous within the mother and the baby. There is a period during labor called ‘transition’. It is basically that time when the women is transitioning from the first stage of labor into the more active second stage (pushing). We have often noticed when unmediated women in labor reach the 7-8 cm dilation phase they often appear they are having an out of body experience and will say they don’t remember that phase of the labor very well. Our theory is that this is the time when DMT is being released into the bloodstream from the maternal pineal gland. This release of DMT causing adding some greatly needed pain relief and thus causing this out of body experience. If the mother and baby are releasing DMT simultaneously it could be the ultimate point where bonding occurs. Indigenous shamans will often say that while under the influence of plant medicines (which contain DMT like substances), they will travel the axis mundi or the world center. Most spiritual traditions will refer to this axis mundi or center as the point where Heaven and Hell connect and it is described as a feminine energy. It has also been described as an umbilical cord attached to the perceived world providing spiritual nourishment. This part of labor may provide the point where mother travels the axis mundi to connect with her unborn child and the spirit of feminine energy. The question then follows, “what happens in those women who are medicated or who have an epidural for pain control”? A majority of laboring women do have epidural for pain control and while this is not something we discourage as physicians, it does make one sit back and consider the effects of our pain-numbing society and the potential ramifications.
Before we leave the concept of the axis mundi and delve into the mystical world within the uterus and the fetus growing there, it is important to see this concept is present in many developed societies. The axis mundi is the center of the world, and the baby is at the center of the mother. No tale is more descriptive of the axis mundi that Jacob’s Ladder. The biblical patriarch Jacob dreams of a ladder to heaven in his dream in the book of Genesis. In the Hellenistic Jewish tradition this ladder has been a means for angels ascending and descending and the angels are seen as souls ascending and descending to bodies. As with the intercourse necessary for fertilization and pregnancy, Christian traditions explore the axis mundi or Jacob’s Ladders as the intercourse between Heaven and Earth with Christ as the medium or infant. Islamic tradition looks upon Jacob’s Ladder as symbolic of the straight path of religion and creation. There has been speculation the song Stairway to Heaven was influenced by this concept of axis mundi and Jacob’s Ladder or travelling to a spiritual center. If we look at the last part of that now famous song it could be this applies to the birthing process as well:
And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul.
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold.
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last.
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll.
And she's buying the stairway to heaven.
The key to the song is the passage or winding down the road with a lady of white light wanting or looking to show someone the beauty of the world and if you listen very hard the answers truly come when all are one and one is all. What a beautiful concept of the mother discovering one mind with her baby at the instant of birth through connection of labor and the pain that buys the stairway to heaven.
A Life In Secret
Thomas Verny, MD wrote the seminal book, The Secret Life of the Unborn Child and questioned the medical paradigm tradition of separating the disease from the person, in this case disease was the pregnancy. With the definition of disease being
“A pathological condition of a part, organ, or system of an organism resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs or symptoms”
some in medical practice felt pregnancy was a joyous disease process. Verny’s book brought attention back to the individuality of the mother, and more importantly the baby. In the 60’s 70’s and 80’s women smoked cigarettes during pregnancy and while breastfeeding because data had not shown the deleterious effects of this habit. I have seen pictures of my mother breastfeeding me in the late 1960’s with three of her friends and all four of them are smoking in the house with me latched to the breast. It’s no wonder I had chronic ear infections as a child, but if the operating paradigm was stable with a baby one foot away from cigarette smoke one can see how there was no concern for a baby inside it’s mother’s womb. We now see how the baby can benefit from good things like exercise, nutrition, and clean conditions and we can also see how things can negatively effect a pregnancy. In our current state of chronic stress, fatigue, and technology overload it is important to buffer the pregnant woman from these influences by occasionally detoxing from the stimulus. As we look at the internal world of the womb and how the unborn baby lives mystically shrouded it comes to light how you can calm your infant by simply breathing deeply or listening to comforting music.
One simple means of showing the effects of the outside world on the unborn baby is the changes seen when the child is stimulated with a loud or otherwise obnoxious sound. In the OB triage unit when a patient comes in for decreased fetal movement, we might perform what is called vibroacoustic stimulation testing (VAST). VAST is where a small device is placed against your belly and a buzzing sound stimulates the baby. This shows not only as fetal movement, but the startled response stimulates the flight or fight response in the healthy fetal brain. Figure 2, shows a fetal brain that is more than likely suffering from decreased oxygenation. This can happen for various reasons, but we show this a means to show the dramatic response the heart rate shows to VAST in a healthy brain.
Figure 2. Poor fetal heart rate variability.
In contrast, when the bay is stimulated by loud sounds like VAST or honking car horns, rock concerts, and possibly yelling, there is a measurable increase in the activity of the heart that can be measured in Figure 3.
Figure 3. Healthy Fetal Variability after VAST.
This type of fetal stimulation measured through the heart rate and movement has been shown not simply with acoustic or tactile stimulation, but was seen in research when women even thought about smoking a cigarette. The concept that fetal response to noxious stimuli being measured through the heart beat was not seen if the mother smoked but when she simply thought about smoking. It can be inferred then that the baby will respond in kind to pleasant thoughts and gestures by the mother as well. It has been suggested children respond to different types of music and can even differentiate different composers. It may be the composers use of minor or major keys or the increased use of deep base and drums during symphonies. For those women who like rock or louder types of music, keep in mind that the baby could definitely be stimulated by the sounds. If you are not soothed by the music then chances are neither is your baby. It’s ok to play loud rock music, but it would be nice to add in some more soothing music as well, remember, like you, your baby is developing a discerning taste for tunes and exposing them to different types of music could be fun. Try this exercise:
Studies have been done over the years showing significant response to musical stimulation. Abrams et al. showed that by 26 weeks most nervous development to the ears is complete and babies respond to sounds by changes in the heart rate (as shown above). Other sounds that dominate the unborn baby’s world are maternal heartbeat and gastric sounds, mother’s physical movements and the baby’s own heartbeat. Shetler (1985) had a small pilot study of 16 showed that infants exposed to musical stimulation in utero demonstrated increased imitation of sounds made by adults, appeared to have structured vocalization earlier than the infants who did not have the stimulation in utero. In an attempt to determine the effects of daily stimulation of music in utero, Wilkin et al (1993) exposed babies at 32 and 38 weeks to 10 minutes of music. There was a 10-minute control period with no music followed by a period of music with headphones on the abdomen. Four types of music were played (white noise, piano solo, choral, and rock) and the mothers were asked to record the number and types of movements (mothers also were not able to hear the type of music being played). The babies were again monitored 6 weeks postpartum and monitored for
· Number of movements
· Opening of eyes
· Frowning and anxiety
· Was the baby listening
· No response
At the 32 week mark the fetuses did not seem to differentiate between the types of music played. At 38 weeks there was an increased response to the choral and piano solo. At the six-week postpartum check, the babies exposed to music were more attentive, alert, and active. While both the babies exposed to music in utero and those who were not seemed visibly more anxious when exposed to rock music they were less disturbed. Finally, Lafuente et al (1997) demonstrated that babies exposed to approximately 72 hours of music from 28 weeks to birth demonstrated superiority in gross and fine motor development, verbal development, and some aspects of body control than the control group not exposed to music.
Memories of Life In Utero
One day in the summer of 2010 I was driving our 8 year old Angelo to his basketball practice. There is that time in a child’s life when they talk to you from the back seat and you learn all manner of things about them and their siblings. It is almost as if they are in a therapy and lying on the couch exploring the depth of their psyche. During this particular trip, from out of nowhere he stated
“Hey dad, I remember being in mom’s belly”
Sensing the beginning of an interesting conversation I responded, “Really, what do you remember?”
“Well, you know how if the sun is behind something like a piece of paper and you hold it up you can see shadows?
“Yes, I know what you’re talking about” I said.
“Well, I remember looking at the light coming through mom’s belly and I could see her veins in a really neat pattern.” He said matter of factly.
“Wow that sounds pretty cool”
He sat for a second and then dropped something on me I wasn’t expecting, “It is but the veins turned into a picture and talked to me while I was in there. They turned into the face of Buddha and told me to find my destiny”.
It was all I could do not to stop the car and ponder this. What eight year old has this type of knowledge base to talk about Buddha and finding his destiny. Neither my wife or I are Buddhists although she did read books by such notable authors as Jon Kabat-Zinn and Jack Kornfeld, but we have never been to a Buddhist service, if anything we were married in an Episcopal ceremony and had been to church a few times in the typical Anglican fashion. There are two things that stand out from this bold statement by my eight year old. One is that he remembered seeing light in the uterus, and researchers have shown the baby can detect light during the seventh month. Second is that he seems to have some sort of recollection of messages or memories and while this might be the topic for yet another book, I cannot discount this as simple imagination. Since that time he has purchased over 40 buddhas which he has on display at our house and he has Tibetan prayer flags hanging above the doorway to the room where he plays XBOX.
I have one patient who described for me an interaction with her daughter who I delivered 8 years ago. She said,
“for the longest time my daughter would describe a kitchen she remembered from somewhere in her past. It really seemed to bother her that she had such a great memory a place that felt comfortable to her and one that was so ingrained and yet she could not place it. We had lived in the same house since she was born so there really was no reason for me to think she was having such a memory from somewhere in her past.”
She continues the story a few months later when the were going through some old pictures.
“We were cleaning out the closet and a bag of old photos fell to the floor. As she was looking through them she grabbed one and with a smile beaming from ear to ear she held it up and said, ‘mommy this is it, this is the kitchen!’
The kitchen her daughter remembered was from the house where the mother had lived while she was pregnant. The mother remembered how she loved to bake and how she truly loved that kitchen with all the beautiful smells and wonderful foods she was creating. She feels that her joy from that time period imprinted itself on her daughter although she has no idea how she was able to recount the designs and decorations of the kitchen.
Some reading this may say, how can I believe the baby has memory or feelings in utero, while others will openly accept this as fact. I think those who choose to believe the baby has no recollection are worried about the effect their actions could have in this arena. Studies done in the early 1990s by Van der Bergh demonstrated that a fetus growing in a women suffering from anxiety tended to be more active than babies with mothers who did not report anxiety and that maternal emotions had a small but significant effect on fetal motor activity. This prenatal influence was carried into the neonatal period after birth. If there is a demonstrable effect of maternal emotions onto those of the unborn baby then could it not be possible for emotions to be imprinted as well, and thus a prenatal imprinting of personality? While maternal emotion and stress has been shown to influence prenatal environment this is not something that is for concern for those occasional life stresses but more of interest in women with difficult life situations. Rest assured, there is comfort even for those who are chronically stressed. The baby still garners much comfort in your simple heart beat and by your ability to take slow long deep breaths. If you are feeling overtly stressed try the exercise included here and bring your breathing to a point where you can deepen and slow your heart rate and your infant will follow your lead.
Mom is the connection for the baby to the outside world and as such she is the sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch for her baby. What she sees can stimulate emotions and as such stimulate production of stress or relaxations hormones. What she hears may also be heard by the baby and bathing herself in relaxing sounds when possible also gives the baby a relaxing environment. The foods she eats are sent directly to the infant and thus she has the ability to send a message of caring and love literally with every bite. Smells can also have the ability to provide profound stimulation or relaxation on the mother. Smells of lavender or flowers may be the trick for bringing deep breathing with aromatherapy.
You as the mother are the antenna. As such it may be difficult to filter out those things you wish to transmit and bring in those more meaningful messages. Many pregnant women in these times are working stressful and demanding jobs and in our current domain of increased dissatisfaction there is a definitive decrease in downtime. While you may not be able to filter out all of the messages you can definitely set aside some time daily or weekly where you can sit down in some small quiet space and take time to send messages to your unborn child. Like the woman who loved to bake in her kitchen, these messages seemingly were transmitted to her child and it may be because that special repetitive time she had was just for her and the baby. This time allowed for unconscious messages and programming to the child that they were protected and safe and constantly carried throughout these special times by a loving and relaxed mother.
Do We All Have Suppressed Prenatal and Birth Memories
Drs. Stan and Christina Grof integrated breathwork (hyperventilation), evocative music, bodywork, and expressive arts into a form of therapy that has brought many participants back to their births. This therapy, trademarked as Holotropic Breathwork is a therpeutic process that is intended to move the patient or client towards wholeness (thus the meaning of holotropic). While there are reportable somatic and sensory effects from this process, there are also many perinatal regressions reported from this type of therapy. Participants experiencing perinatal memories involve the physical aspects or emotional process of actually being born and some patients are able to verify their claims through their own birth records. There are many patients with chronic migraines who go through this type of therapy that report they feel themselves coming through the birth canal and the doctor placing obstetrical forceps on their heads for the delivery. They describe rotation, pulling, and pain sensations with the process and some have gone back through their delivery records and verified they were delivered by forceps when this was unknown to them prior to the Holotropic Breathwork. In his book The Holotropic Mind Grof describes the regression to birth as a four tiered process through his interactions with patients:
· The Amniotic universe – Feelings of bliss and content as the participant claims these are the only feelings they are aware of and there is a protection or love that gives them a sense of security.
· Cosmic Engulfment: No Exit – The beginning of labor or that time of insecurity when the environment is shifting and changes towards labor. There is a feeling of being stuck in a place that is chaotic and a sensation that there is no way out.
· Death vs Rebirth Struggle – The second stage of labor or when the mother is pushing. A struggle of survival in the sense that there is an impending change and shifting to an outside an unknown world and a leaving behind of the security that one has know since formation. A metaphor for many changes in our lives including death.
· Death vs rebirth experience – birth of the baby. There is intense fear and chaos once again until the baby is placed with its mother whom he r she recognizes by voice and the intense joy and happiness of a new phase that begins with breastfeeding and continued bonding of the maternal-baby unit. Obviously this can be severely disrupted in those institutions where mother and baby are separated after birth and participants of Holotropic Breathwork have described this phenomenon.
Critics of Holotropic Breathwork state the hyperventilation utilized is a potentiator for seizures or other problems liked increased blood pressure and should only be undertaken if cleared by a medical practitioner. That being stated, this type of treatment is always to be done with a sitter or a person that is responsible for guiding the patient when they begin to have the holotropic or transpersonal experience.
Rebirthing-Breathwork is a treatment that grew out of the work of New Thought philosopher Leonard Orr. Orr developed his theory after becoming a born-again Christian and spending hours and hours in the bathtub. He began having memories of time spent in the womb and being born. Initial participants would submerge themselves face-down in the bath tub and use a snorkel for breathing. Orr discovered there was a certain breathing pattern that occurred in most individuals and used this breathing pattern outside of the bath tub as the basis for his rebirthing-breathwork. Along with Grof, Orr believed that the human birth process was and is a traumatic event, and that humans do not forget the trauma of their birth, but suppress memories that later come out as different pathologies in adult life. As described in the example above where a patient delivered by forceps might have the physical manifestations of headache and migraine, Orr believed that the metaphor of being pulled out by forceps might make someone more likely to develop tendencies for others to pull them out of situations. There are currently no well controlled studies of either of these techniques. However, the validity of breathwork in psychological cases has been examined and found to beneficial as a therapeutic modality by such recent reviews by Young and Caswell in 2010.
Intrauterine Bonding and Prenatal Communication
A study in 1998 by Armstrong and colleagues set out to see if maternal distress and depression could change or effect childhood sleep problems after the baby was born. Despite all the books out there telling us how to handle children with sleep problems during that critical neonatal period, Armstrong discovered something fantastic and at the same time groundbreaking; childhood sleep problem may have its beginnings in the prenatal period, or in the womb. From this work they decided that mothers at risk for excessive anxiety or depression during pregnancy should have an extensive workup and possible therapy because there is potential this process could have a direct effect ton the fetus. Cindy-Lee Dennis and Lori Ross replicated these findings in 2005 when they discovered mothers exhibiting depressive states at 4-8 weeks pregnant had children that woke more during the times of 10 pm and 6 am. These studies are not given as means of scaring new moms but one can see how our behaviors can change the climate of that internal world of the uterus. If our fears and anxieties that possibly turn into depression can influence sleep behaviors in utero and beyond one could make the assumption that the opposite would be true as well.
We have four children. Our to youngest children were not the best of sleepers for the first seven year of their lives. This means many Saturday mornings where we were up before the rising sun. While we have often thought it was because we had children who were type-A personalities like ourselves, we stumbled upon a study that showed mothers who were early risers had children who were the same and those mothers who went to bed late also had children demonstrating the same behavior. One could surmise that because mom’s wake early or go to bed late they might also externally influence their children’s sleeping patterns, but it might be a case for pregnant women to improve sleep hygiene while pregnant to try to go to bed at a reasonable time and get 7-8 hours of good sleep. Easier said than done, right? Well, others conclude this means that maternal influences on the fetus are occurring prior to birth and the intimate bonding of mother and baby even have coinciding diurnal rhythms after birth.
How can you communicate with your baby? We have discussed some things like music, the sound of your voice and eating a healthy diet, but what about touch. How can you ouch your baby. There are things felt between mother and baby that are difficult to describe outside of a mother’s intuition. We live in a culture dependent on diapers and allowing children to soil themselves. As children age you might be able to see certain behaviors prior to voiding that will tip you off to taking them to the bathroom. When we are potty-training our children this sensitivity towards voiding becomes very attuned and both spouses often become entwined in the process. Is it possible for mothers to sense the voiding of their children in the neonatal period? Some would say yes. For many months your baby has been swimming in a pool of amniotic fluid that serves many purposes from providing hydraulic support to lung maturation. This amniotic fluid is made because the baby urinates inside the womb. It is a natural process that you have been a part of for your entire pregnancy. Your blood stream is also cleansing the baby of toxins as the baby’s kidneys filter things out and send them back o you. Other than the circulatory system which is bringing the air from outside into your baby through your lungs, the kidneys and voiding are one of the most integrated forms of maternal fetal bonding known. More than likely our inability to feel the needs of our children with regards to voiding after birth is due to our reliance on technology and its necessity. It’s not to say wraps or diapers are not necessary, but they do literally create a barrier.
Let’s get back to communication with your unborn baby. The simplest, most-direct way to communicate is through touch. You can place your hands on your belly and gently push the baby’s feet or legs that are up in your abdomen in the later part of pregnancy, and you will often notice they push back. The baby kicks back as a means of communicating with you. It could be out of frustration with its position or due to loud music, or it might just be a playful stretch. Later in the pregnancy, physicians and midwives will often ask mothers to perform fetal kick counts. These are simple measures of fetal well-being and they give information that the baby has good oxygenation to the brain. It is a simple rudimentary test, but yields great results if done twice daily. Often the test is done in a position with the mother laying on her left side and after having recently consumed a meal or had something to drink. You start the clock and monitor or count movements. Keep in mind any movement counts and once you record six movements you are done. You might reach this number in two or fifty minutes, but all is normal if the number is six within 60 minutes. If there is no movement we recommend calling your doctor, but in most cases the baby is sleeping and might need a repeat test after some stimulation or food.
A Baby is Born
As we discussed earlier, researchers have shown that birth is one of the most stressful times in a human being’s life. It may go without saying but let’s consider the process and be mindful. Physicians and researchers are not aware of the signal in each woman that starts the labor process. It could be multifactorial or some different aspect in every pregnant patient. Is it some chemical released like oxytocin or does the uterus simply grow to some unknown determined size and then it starts its rhythmic contracting? Birth is one of the more natural processes and yet we have commercialize and institutionalized it to the point where it is seemingly unrecognizable. There have been great strides made in the birthing process, but hospitals and physicians have changed this from a highly individualized process to something that is born of protocols and procedures. We don’t feel this was done out of disrespect for the birth process, but nonetheless some of the changes have seriously altered the potential joy of birth and the physiological response to birth and the postpartum periods.
How many of us remember our own birth? Zero?
We saw earlier how therapies like Holotropic Breathwork have found significant discoveries of potential birth memories and yet, there are many skeptics. In 1982 researchers showed that administration of oxytocin not only caused a nurturing behavior but it also had the effect of memory loss or amnesia. Some have speculated this is a reason why we have no distinct recollection of our own birth. Women are also undergoing a distinct surge in oxytocin throughout the labor process and while many patients may remember their birth, many more have vague recollections of the process. Is this an evolutionary safe-guard to perpetuate the human race; a means to soften the memories of labor pain so that in a few years the woman is ready to proceed again with pregnancy?