Birthowl’s natural childbirth

Building a Foundation for Compassionate Intelligence

by Diane GordonHow important is it for children to be exposed to nature? “Essential,” says Joann Lundgren, a long-time volunteer with the Foundation for Global
Community. “The earlier children connect with the natural world, the better for them and for society as a whole”

A parent, grandparent, former teacher and school principal, Lundgren heads a team from the Foundation which offers a course for parents and
teachers titled “Children and Nature.” Explains Lundgren: “Allowing the young child to experience the natural world is not just a nice thing to do.
It is vital. Children have a basic need to establish a deep emotional connection to the natural world. Until our society recognizes and finds a way
to honor this need, the future of our culture-and indeed, the future of all life-is endangered. Children who are denied the opportunity to bond with
the Earth are also denied the opportunity to develop a moral compass.


“It is this kind of profound bonding, first with the family and then with the Earth, that ensures that the child by age fourteen will have established a
foundation for compassionate intelligence-an intelligence that has the well-being of all life as its guiding principle. It is our job as adults to ensure
that our children develop that bond.”

One of Lundgren’s inspirations to create the course came from the writings of The Magical Child. The word
“matrix” is the Latin word for womb or origins and is defined as “that within which something originates, forms, or develops.” In Pearce’s model
each matrix provides a safe secure environment, a source of learning. The first transition from the womb and into a new matrix happens at birth,
which is where the Children and Nature course begins.

Photo by Etolene


Scientifically recognized benefits of breastfeeding

What are some of the scientifically recognized benefits of breastfeeding?

1.  Breastmilk has biological specificity.  No two mothers make the same milk. Your milk is custom designed for your baby.  The specific need for human babies is for brain growth.  God designed human milk to contain nutrients that promote brain growth.  Breastfed infants score an average of 8.3 points higher on IQ tests administered at age seven to 8.5; the studies show that the more human breastmilk they received, the higher the IQ.

2.  Human breastmilk is designed so that the baby’s body can totally utilize it – little is wasted.  Contrast the bowel movements of breastfed and formula-fed infants.   Formula- fed infants expel more smelly, solid waste. Their bodies are not able to fully utilize all the ingredients of the formula.

3.  Protection against disease.  Breastmilk contains white blood cells which destroy harmful bacteria in the baby’s intestines, and antibodies which kill germs and increase the baby’s immunity.  Colostrum, the first milk your baby receives, contains the highest levels of these protectants.

4.  Colostrum protects the baby’s immature digestive tract.  When a baby is born, his digestive tract is sterile.  It contains no bacteria at all, and the walls of the intestines let virtually anything through into the bloodstream. This condition sets the child up for potential allergies, because foreign substances which pass into the bloodstream get targeted by the immune system, and the infant’s body begins to manufacture  antibodies against that substance.  In other words, many of  the ingredients in infant formula which are not present in breastmilk pass directly into the baby’s blood stream and cause him to produce antibodies.  Whenever those substances are introduced into his body again, he will develop an allergic reaction based upon the antibodies in his blood.  Colostrum coats the lining of the intestines, which helps prevent foreign substances from passing through the intestinal walls into the blood stream.

5.  Women who breastfeed have a lower incidence of breast cancer.

6.  Breastfeeding helps Mom get back in shape after pregnancy.  Part of the fat layer which pregnant women put on is specifically for the purpose of supporting lactation after pregnancy.  If you don’t breastfeed, that fat doesn’t come off as easily.

7.  Breastfeeding releases the hormone prolactin into the mother’s system, which is a natural relaxant.

8.  Breastmilk contains epidermal growth factors (EGF) which enhance the growth of these cells in the lining of the intestinal tract.

9.  Breastfed babies are well-disciplined.  According to Dr. William Sears (1993), Pediatrician and attachment parenting  expert, “A baby who is on the receiving end of nature’s best nurturing learns trust, and the right feeling that goes with it.  The mutual sensitivity that both members of the breastfeeding pair have for each other helps both behave better.”

10.  Breastfeeding encourages proper facial and dental development.

11. Mother’s milk contains beta-lactose, which favors the growth of acidophilus and bifidus bacteria, break down carbohydrates,  inhibit growth of yeast, help form natural antibiotics and anti-carcinogins, and produce some of the B vitamins.  Cow’s milk (and cow’s milk formulas), contain alpha-lactose, which does not promote these beneficial effects.

12. Because breastmilk is so easily digested, breastfed babies wake up more frequently at night.  This frequent night waking is extremely beneficial for both health reasons and developmental reasons.  Babies wake up because they are easily aroused from light sleep.  This light sleep state makes it easier to communicate their survival needs.  When baby needs to eat,  needs warmth, or needs you to remove breathing obstructions,  he will be able to easily wake up and let you know something is wrong.  Also, babies’ brains grow rapidly during the first year of life.  During light sleep states, babies’ higher brain functions remain “turned on” whereas during deep sleep they are switched off and only the lower brain functions remain in operation.  The more time a baby spends in light sleep, the better the brain development of higher brain functions should  be.  When babies spend more time in light sleep, or REM, they are also more likely to awaken frequently.  When babies are formula-fed, this alters their sleep behavior so that they do not spend as much time in light sleep.


13. Breastfeeding is easier than bottle-feeding: no water to boil, no bottles to sterilize, no formula to buy, no warming before baby can drink it, no refrigeration required, no need to listen to baby cry while bottle is prepared, no chance that it will be too hot.

There is no human formula that will ever be made that is as healthy as breastmilk.  There is no way of feeding a baby which promotes attachment as well.

Many people cannot understand this statement.  They say, “I don’t know why you say that bottle-feeding isn’t as good as breastfeeding.  The baby doesn’t know the difference.  He only knows he was hungry, and now he’s full.  Even though he doesn’t know the difference between formula and breastmilk, he knows that Mom met his needs.  That’s all that matters.  He’s still being held, still being touched, still looking into the eyes of the person who’s feeding him.  The bottle doesn’t really make that much difference.”

I’m sorry, but I can’t agree with any of the above statements.  First of all, babies definitely know the difference between breastmilk and formula.  They smell differently, taste differently, and babies feel differently after drinking them.  Babies who are formula-fed have more digestive upsets, more constipation, and more ear infections and allergies.  Breastfed babies definitely have more of a feeling of well-being simply because they don’t have these digestive upsets.

Secondly, there is a whole sensory experience that goes along with breastfeeding which is lacking in the bottle-feeding experience.  Babies who breastfeed are skin-to-skin with their mothers, and there are many benefits of skin-to-skin contact and which are desperately needed.   It is a fact that breastfed babies spend more time in mothers’ arms.  How often have I seen babies lying in cribs or infant carriers with bottles propped up on pillows so Mom could do something else while baby eats.  Because breastfed babies are held more, they get more eye contact. When a mother breastfeeds, this is a deeply intimate experience.  She drinks in her baby with her eyes as the baby drinks in her milk.  There is a connection there, as if they are one.  There is a distance between the bottle-fed baby and the mother, one that can’t be avoided.  When I have shown pictures of nursing mothers and bottle-feeding mothers to people and asked them which mother “looks” more nurturing, the majority identify the nursing mother.  When asked why, they say things like, “She’s caressing her child while she feeds it,” “She is cradling the child in a caring way,” “The child seems to be part of her,” and “There is a contentment on both their faces.”  Bottle-feeding mothers hold their babies differently.  The baby lies on the mother’s lap with more space between them and in a more open position.  Baby is able to flail his arms and legs around more in space, and the experience is one of separateness from the one feeding him. The breastfed baby is often held in such a way that his body is wrapped around his mother’s body, and pressed tightly or firmly against it.  His experience is one of closeness, of being part of a whole.  It is often difficult for adults to understand how these subtle differences can be important.  To the infant, every physical experience has an emotional experience attached to it.  Though these experiences may seem insignificant to us, they hold deep meaning for the infant, and if repeated frequently, constitute a kind of conditioning which form the infant’s beliefs about himself and those who care for him.

Sometimes mothers will say to me, “Well, I’m going to bottle-feed my baby, but I’m going to do all the things that breastfeeding mothers do.  I’m going to hold the baby close, look into his eyes, caress him, and then it will be the same.”  If you’re going to do all that, why not just breastfeed? Why this resistance to the actual act of doing it?  Why try to camouflage bottle-feeding and dress it up to look like breastfeeding?  Why not just do the real thing?

Just because there are other options today does not mean that they are best. I hope that you will consider the benefits of breastfeeding and make the choice to give your child the very best.

Judie C. Rall and The Center for Unhindered Living 

Photo by ibu Menyusui

Why is labour important?

Ina may Gaskin on “why is labour important?”

Labor is important, because during labor, both the mother’s and the baby’s body is prepared for birth. The levels of certain hormones rise and ebb during labor. For instance, the mother’s oxytocin levels rise markedly just before the baby is pushed out of her body. This protects her against postpartum hemorrhage. High oxytocin levels in the mother (which are accompanied by higher levels in the baby, too) prepare the nervous systems of both to be attuned to each other. This creates a special “sensitive” period during which these special hormones remain at high levels in undisturbed birth, and this period is best spent by mother and baby in skin-to-skin contact with each other as the baby begins to nuzzle and nick the mother’s breast or the two just look into each other’s eyes and adore each other. The euphoria that follows an unmedicated labor is a very special time for anyone who is privileged to witness it. It’s even better for those who get to experience it.


When the mother experiences labor, she also has higher levels than usual of beta endorphin. This hormone then triggers another hormone, prolactin, which prompts her body to get ready for milk production at the same time that it prepares the baby’s lungs for more efficient breathing.

Labor also gives the baby’s torso a good squeeze, which helps to dry out the lungs and make them ready for breathing air in the outside world. Cesarean-born babies typically have wetter lungs, which can mean a higher rate of needing breathing assistance at birth.

Photo by Ian

Life before Birth

Q. When does a baby’s brain develop, and do we have to wait for this development before trying to communicate with our baby?

Around the third week after conception, a folding maneuver creates the neural tube from which the brain and spinal cord develop. If all goes well, a rapid, richly choreographed set of movements will put all the basic parts of the brain in place by eight weeks. These will not be replaced. From this foundation, brain parts will send out branches and establish billions of connections necessary for the perfect coordination of the entire nervous system. This process will continue for years after birth. Amazingly, the brain, like the heart, remains active during its own construction. Various experiences the brain has during this period including encounters with food, drink, medicine, games, accidents, and nicotine–will actually determine its final size and organization. Therefore, it is best to assume the brain is already working and to love your baby and communicate with it without any waiting period.

pregnant belly

Q. Can our baby feel pain or become emotionally upset in the womb?

Medical specialists and psychologists never thought this would be possible even for a newborn baby, but research now confirms that even babies born very prematurely express a gamut of emotions, and, without doubt, can experience excruciating pain. Ultrasound observations of behavior in utero, especially among twins, reveal a spectrum of emotions including anger, fear, and affection. Babies appear to react to needles that intrude into the womb with a mixture of shock, withdrawal, and aggression. Studies of pregnant mothers watching upsetting videos suggest that babies can become upset along with their mothers. Several studies have revealed that babies tend to become depressed when their pregnant mothers are depressed, an effect which begins in the womb and has been measured after birth.


Photo by Mark Von Minden

Postpartum Bath for mother and baby
  • 1 C Sea salt
  • Lavender flowers
  • Myrrh
  • 1 Ounce of uva ursi
  • 1-2 Ounces of organic comfrey leaf and root
  • 1/2-1 Ounce of shepherd’s purse


Boil large pot of water. Add herbs, and simmer 30 minutes to an hour. Strain. Add sea salt  Notes: sea salt– antiseptic. Uva ursi — healing for female organs. Comfrey — soothing and is said to aid healing by causing the edges of wounds to grow together. Shepherd’s purse, — preventing and controlling heavy bleeding.

The Sound Environment of the Womb

The sound environment of the womb is very rich. There are various interpretations as to the noise level, ranging between 30 to 96 dB. (decibel being a measure of sound intensity or loudness). A whisper can register 30 dB., a normal conversation is about 60 dB. and rush hour traffic can average about 70 dB. On the other hand, shouted conversations and motorcycles reach about 100 dB. Rock music has been measured as 115 dB. and the pain threshold begins at 125 dB. Yet, recent research with hydrophones have revealed that the womb is a “relatively quiet place” (Deliege & Sloboda, 1996), something comparable to what we experience in our environment between 50 and 60 dB.

Uterine sounds form a “sound carpet” over which the mother’s voice in particular appears very distinct and which the prenate gives special attention because it is so different from its own amniotic environment. These sounds are of major importance because they establishes the first patterns of communication and bonding. Some researchers have discovered that newborns become calmer and more self-regulated when exposed to intrauterine sound (Murooka et. al 1976; DeCasper 1983; Rossner 1979).

lullaby from the womb

The soothing sounds of the ocean and water are probably reminiscent of the fluid environment in which we began life. Tomatis suggests that the maternal heart beat, respiration and intestinal gurgling, all form the source for our collective attraction to the sound of surf and may have to do with our inborn sense of rhythm. Prenatal sounds form an important developmental component in prenatal life because they provide a foundation for later learning and behavior. With fetal sound stimulation the brain functions at a higher level of organization.

The ear first appears in the 3rd week of gestation and it becomes functional by the 16th week. The fetus begins active listening by the 24th week. We know from ultrasound observations that the fetus hears and responds to a sound pulse starting about 16 weeks of age (Shahidullah & Hepper, 1992); this is even before the ear construction is complete. The cochlear structures of the ear appear to function by the 20th week and mature synapses have been found between the 24th and 28th weeks (Pujol et al. 1991). For this reason most formal programs of prenatal stimulation are usually designed to begin during the third trimester. The sense of hearing is probably the most developed of all the senses before birth.

Four-month-old fetuses can respond in very specific ways to sound; if exposed to loud music, and their heart beat will accelerate. A Japanese study of pregnant women living near the Osaka airport had smaller babies and an inflated incidence of prematurity-arguably related to the environment of incessant loud noise. Chronic noise can also be associated with birth defects (Szmeja et al. 1979). I recently received a report from a mother who was in her 7th month of pregnancy when she visited the zoo. In the lion’s enclosure, the animals were in process of being fed. The roar of one lion would set off another lion and the sound was so intense she had to leave the scene as the fetus reacted with a strong kick and left her feeling ill. Many years later, when the child was 7 years of age, it was found that he had a hearing deficiency in the lower-middle range. This child also reacts with fear when viewing TV programs of lions and related animals. There are numerous reports about mothers having to leave war movies and concerts because the auditory stimulus caused the fetus to become hyperactive.

Alfred Tomatis notes that the ear is “the Rome of the body” because almost all cranial nerves lead to it and therefore it is considered our most primary sense organ. Embryonically, according to him, the skin is differentiated ear, and we listen with our whole body.

Waterbirth in children’s pool – Trabalho de Parto na Agua