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Herbs + Oxytocin

On her lovely RealMud Garden blog, Kati mentioned herbs that can act as oxytocin synergists. That is, these herbs may increase the effects of oxytocin in our systems.

She's talking specifically about blue cohosh and its use by herbalists to induce labor. (It's also a posible abortifacient.) But this info might be useful to those of us looking to boost our own, everyday supplies of the cuddle hormone.

I found an old newsgroup post by Michael Moore archived on Henriette's Herbal Homepage that recommends cotton root bark and shepherd's purse, as well as blue cohosh, as tonics that can boost those sweet oxytocin effects.

Birth, Oxytocin and Ecstasy

Andrea works for an HMO, teaching childbirth preparation classes for expectant parents, as well as a class for other childbirth teachers.

In addition, for 23 years, she's had a private practice as a spiritual midwife. I'd read about ecstatic birth and orgasmic birth, and I realized that the experience of birth for both baby and mother had the potential to be very different from what most of us experience. I wanted to talk to someone who's witnessed thousands of births about what happens between mother and baby in the first moments.

Specifically, I was looking for the connection between ecstatic birth and oxytocin.

Certainly the flood of oxytocin that stimulates contraction of the uterus -- and also produces the intense rush of love a mother feels for the newborn, and the experience of fulfillment and connection that the baby ideally experiences as it enters the world -- is central to the ecstatic emotion.

Moreover, many scientists and practitioners believe that the jolt of pitocin, artificial oxytocin, often administered to speed hospital births can short-circuit the attachment reflex in the first few moments of a baby's life.

Andrea wanted to speak anonymously, because she wanted to speak freely. Every birth is unique, because of circumstances and because of the woman's choices. Andrea wanted to make sure none of her clients read this interview and felt criticized.

Hug: First, tell us about your work.

Andrea: Over the past 23 years, I've gone through all sorts of phases with my relationship to attending birth. I've done formal apprenticeships and attended births, largely illegally, for long time as a lay midwife or as a direct-entry midwife. I stopped doing that about eight years ago; another way I attend birth is sometimes as a doula for people who birth in the hospital.

Hug: What does it mean to be a spiritual midwife?

Andrea: I attend to women and their families during the prenatal phase, where they're opening their life to the transformation that's happening. I'm guiding that -- not necessarily the typical "eat right" kind of thing, although that's involved. It's more about addressing the emotional and mental changes, the energetic and spiritual changes that happen during pregnancy.

Another way to say "spiritual midwife" would be, "I attend to the emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing of women during pregnancy, birth and postpartum."

Hug: When did begin to practice this way?

Andrea: My son's birth is what opened my interest and passion for that. It was an ecstatic birth and an orgasmic birth. A lot of women birth and have largely ecstatic experience. Maybe they recognize it as orgasmic or maybe they don't. I definitely had an orgasmic birth.

There were no drugs. I was frightened of taking anything medical, I didn't want anything like that. I managed to be in this room that just had a queen-sized bed, with my husband and a nurse.

I didn't have any clue as to what was going to happen. I knew my body would open and I'd push the baby out. He came out, and he came right to me. I did not let anybody take him. I didn't want him bathed, I just wanted him and had him with me. I fell asleep for a few hours and went home.

Hug: What would you advise a woman who wants to have an ecstatic and/or orgasmic birth?

Andrea: Birth at home would be the first thing: Seek midwifery care. Trust the process. Totally trust your body, let go to your body, tell the truth. "I'm fearful," "I'm in pain," whatever the truth is, be with the truth. When all is said and done, when the baby is emerging, the truth will be ecstatic.

Hug: What does your experience tell you about the typical, modern birth?

Andrea: When women started birthing in hospitals with anesthesia, we created a society where there was no bonding. The bonding was off. And some of us saw it and said, "I'm having something else." And others just went even further away.

At the most stressful part of the baby emerging, we're disconnected. And we recapitulate that over and over. It's a terrible situation that got created.

Then you have something even more disconcerting: As things start getting more intense physically and emotionally in all the realms, there's an encouragement for women to separate completely from this experience. I can't imagine the long-term result of this.

Hug: Do you see more danger in the rise in elective C-sections?

Andrea: When you've had in-vitro fertilization and then a C-section, it's the mothering that's interfered with. We just cut the woman off from what would eventually support her, which is her own body. Everything in the body is made to respond.

The pain gets more and more intense, but you can bear it. And then the baby comes, and the pain ends. Your body is in bliss. If you had an orgasm, you are beyond, you're in light, in phase with your body and the baby. And the bond. And the love. My god. I have never gotten over that. Then, naturally, you put the baby to the breast, and naturally, you get up every two hours. For me, it was a breeze to wake up every two hours. It was what I wanted to do, to be with my baby.

Women with epidurals end up exhausted in body because the psyche hasn't met the challenge. They have no physiological responses, and then they have a baby to take care of. It's 2 a.m., and you've got a crying child, but you have no wherewithal to respond.

Why Food Equals Love

When things go bad, people -- especially women -- often turn to food. When there's no one to cuddle, a pint of ice cream does the trick.

Comfort food really does comfort. And it does it by evoking the same physical responses that does.

Oxytocin is central to feelings of love and being loved, and it's just a central to the feeling of satisfaction that comes from a good meal.

In the brew of digestive juices that turns your burrito into energy is the digestive hormone cholecystokinin (CKK). When food reaches the small intestine, CKK sends a message to the brain. The brain, in response, secretes oxytocin, suffusing the body with the feeling of contentment. Fatty foods stimulate more CKK production, thereby making us feel more satisfied. That's why ice cream is more comforting than asparagus.

But there'd another reason why we reach for ice cream, not asparagus, when we get the blues. Our infant brains learn to associate milky food with the live and safety we feel in our mother's arms. Breast milk, rich with fat, causes the secretion of high levels of CKK and, in response, oxytocin.

Being held while we nurse conflates the physiological response to food with the feeling of being loved. In fact, when French researchers blocked the effect of CKK in newborn lambs, they lost their preference for their mothers.

Sometimes, our bodies can't really tell the difference between ice cream and a hug.

Interview with the Maker of Liquid Trust

This is the second of my interviews with vendors of oxytocin products. Also see this interview with Mike Delaney, who sells OxyCalm.

 On August 4 2006 I spoke by phone with Jonathan Gilden of Vero Labs, makers of Liquid Trust. Here's an edited transcript of our interview.

Hug: Please give me some background on your company. When was it founded?

Gilden: In June 2005, following the study at the University of Zurich. The study showed that inhaling oxytocin made people more trusting and more open to listening to suggestions. The idea was simple: perhaps this would be a good consumer product. For example, a salesman's biggest obstacle is [getting people to listen to him.] We created a product that would assist him in at least getting the ear of people and not be written off right away. Also, as oxytocin is known as the cuddle hormone or bonding hormone, we wanted to open that door for people.

Hug: Do you have other products besides Liquid Trust?

Gilden: Not at this time, but we do have plans in the coming month or two to release at least one more product. There also are some future products and ideas in the research and development stages. I can't disclose whether they're oxytocin-based.

Hug: How was the product tested?

Gilden: I don't know. I hear the skepticism -- it’s a natural reaction to something of this nature. But the company offers a money-back guarantee. If somebody is skeptical, if for whatever reasons they believe it doesn’t work, the risk is extremely minimal: It's a 60-day money-back guarantee. Even if the person uses up the whole bottle, we'll refund their money,

Additionally, one of the companies reselling our product, Love Scent [an affiliate marketer],  has created a forum for people to talk about the effects they've experienced.

Hug: Is Liquid Trust regulated by the FDA?

Gilden: We do not recommend drinking it or applying it to the skin. We recommend putting it on one's clothing. So it doesn’t fall under the FDA's authority, because it’s not something that's administered. The product is similar to those in the pheromone industry, Natural Attraction, for example.

Hug: Did you experiment with self-dosing as you developed the product? Can you share some of your experiences?

Gilden: I have used it, but I don’t have any specific stories. I don't have a rocky relationship with my wife, but she does seem more calm since I've been using it.

Hug: How much oxytocin is in a dose? How did you arrive at this dilution?

Gilden: That's always a sticky question. It's a fair question, but for this company, the formula is its biggest asset. It can be verified that the product contains oxytocin, but the ratio of oxytocin in Liquid Trust is a trade secret.

Hug: The product also contains alcohol and water; elsewhere you mention a time-release factor that makes a spray last two to four hours. Is there also a time-release chemical?

Gilden: My understanding is that this is similar to pheromones, the hormone comes off you just like cologne. If you apply cologne, it doesn’t last all day, it softens as time goes on.

Hug: Critics say Liquid Trust has too little oxytocin to be effective. What's your response?

Gilden: Look at the results other people have experienced. Anyone can take advantage of our money-back guarantee. If you are skeptical, there's no reason you shouldn’t try it.

We tried to create the most effective product that we can. There's a lot of research that should substantiate the effects of oxytocin in the product.

Related story: My Oxytocin Dose

I do not endorse this or any products; however, I have decided to join the company's affiliate program, because so many people find my site searching for a place to buy oxytocin. If you really want to, click on the link below, and the company will pay me a share of the sale:

Who Needs Sex When You Have Drugs?

In this fun story on MSNBC's Sexual Health Channel, Brian Alexander mostly talks about the future of techno-sex. But he alludes to the ways that our increasing reliance on drugs and other external methods of managing our emotional lives may change relationships as we know them.

He says,

As I wrote in an earlier Sexploration column about the science of love, researchers are beginning to understand how human emotions like bonding and love are influenced by the body’s chemicals. Drugs to increase levels of these will eventually be created. Synthetic oxytocin, the chemical thought to help create human bonding, already exists.

This raises the possibility that marriage doldrums could be treated with something more effective than a new Ferrari or fling with the UPS guy. 

The question is, would an oxytocin treatment really be more effective than a real-world experience that created the same effect. (Alexander is being facetious, but it's a serious question.)

I think that, just as whole food is more nutritious than a handful of supplements because it contains inumerable traces of diverse chemicals, the human body's natural biochemcial responses will always be more rewarding, engaging and healthy than those that are chemically induced.

While it's a social tragedy that many of us grow up without our brains learning the oxytocin response, we'd do better to keep practicing until we can do it naturally.

Interview: OxyCalm Founder

There's a lot of interest in using oxytocin to ease the pains of social interaction. Several companies are working on drugs to treat social disorders including autism and social anxiety; meanwhile, many of us have begun to experiment with whiffing the stuff.

While I believe it's healthier and better in the long run for us to work on retraining our brains and learning strategies to boost our ability to pulse out oxytocin naturally, that quick hit is very attractive.

We take drugs for almost everything else, so why not for trust and intimacy?

Since 2005, OC International has offered OxyCalm, an oxytocin inhalant. Around the same time, Vero Labs began selling Liquid Trust, an oxytocin spray it markets as a way to make others more open to you. I thought it would be interesting to talk to the makers of these products, how they came to be and exactly what's in them.

Mike Delaney, co-founder of OC International, answered my questions via email.

HTM: Please give me some background on you and your company: when was it ounded?

Delaney: The innovators of OxyCalm and principals of OC International (OCI) have decades of experience in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry.  The principals of OCI are very familiar with the formulation, testing and use of oxytocin in the human and animal health pharmaceutical industries.  Their knowledge and experience made the development of OxyCalm possible.  In turn, Their knowledge and experience made the development of OxyCalm possible.  In turn, my father Maurice Delaney and I formed the OC International marketing company in June 2005.

OxyCalm helps promote relaxation, improve mood and enhance inner peace and tranquility.  Also, it can be used as an alternative to smoking.  These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent any disease; nor is it intended to affect the structure or function of the body.

It is our mission to help our customers live longer, happier and healthier lives without the use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

HTM: What was the genesis of OxyCalm?

We were familiar with oxytocin’s use in animal health and human medicine for contraction of the uterus and milk letdown, but previously we were not aware of oxytocin’s other effects on humans, both male and female, until we observed a report on CNN and later read about the “Trust in a bottle” study.

These observations lead us to read “The Oxytocin Factor” by Dr. Kerstin Uvnas Moberg. While this book is enlightening and fascinating, we observed that the studies referenced in the book were limited to injectable oxytocin of animal origin or endogenous oxytocin.

After reviewing the “trust in a bottle” study and reading the book several times, we concluded that the world needed an oxytocin spray which people can breathe to study or enjoy the beneficial effects of oxytocin in a wide variety of social situation and also for improving the body's ability to cope with stress.

HTM: Do you have other products besides OxyCalm?

Delaney: We also offer for sale a product called UltraCalm CES (Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation), which is U.S. FDA approved for the treatment of anxiety, depression and insomnia under US FDA 510(k) Number K895175.

In addition, we are in the midst of developing an OxyCalm room spray for the car, home, office or parties.

HTM: How much oxytocin is in a dose? How did you arrive at this dilution?

Delaney: Based upon our knowledge and experience with oxytocin, OxyCalm was formulated and packaged into 1oz (30mL) spray bottles in such a way as to be safe, economical and stable for two years when stored at controlled room temperature (20° to 25°C).

We selected a potency of 20 USP units per mL because we knew that in the “Trust in a bottle” study they utilized oxytocin nasal solution which contained 40 USP units per mL, equal to approximately 4 USP units per spray.   Each participant took three sprays in each nostril for a total of 24 USP units.

OxyCalm contains approximately 2 units of oxytocin in each spray so we theorized it would be safe and still cause the desired effect.  Judging from our customers’ responses for the first 1000 bottles, we were successful.

HTM: How much oxytocin is in a dose? How did you arrive at this dilution?

Delaney: We do not talk about a dose or dosing of OxyCalm because the US FDA might conclude that such discussion would imply that it is a drug under their control.  Instead, OxyCalm has NO DRUG CLAIMS, is manufactured in Canada and is sold worldwide on the internet at

We do acknowledge that OxyCalm provides approximately 2 USP units of oxytocin per spray.  The testimonials we have received, which have been 99+ percent favorable, range from one spray (2 units) to six sprays (12 units) per usage as desired by the customer.

HTM: What else does the product contain?

Delaney: OxyCalm contains  synthetic oxytocin USP 20 IU/mL, pleasant food-grade vanilla fragrance, USP purified water and Chlorobutanol USP as a preservative. It is very important to note that our oxytocin is chemically synthesized at a US FDA approved manufacturing facility and meets USP specifications.  It is not animal or human origin.

Since it is chemically synthesized, there is no concern about cruelty to animals nor the product containing pathogens or diseases which animals carry.  Also, there has been no animal testing utilized in the development of our OxyCalm product.

The United States Pharmacopeia states: oxytocin USP is a nonapeptide hormone having the property of causing the contraction of the uterine smooth muscle and of the myoepithelial cells within the mammary gland.  It is prepared by synthesis or obtained from the posterior lobe of the pituitary of healthy domestic animals used for food by man.  Its oxytocic activity is not less than 400 USP oxytocin Units per mg.

HTM: Did you experiment with self-dosing as you developed the product? Can you share some of your experiences?

Delaney: Yes, I acted as the “lab rat” while developing OxyCalm.  The first bench pilot product was an aqueous solution that contained oxytocin and chlorobutanol used in that preparation as a preservative.  The chlorobutanol preservative had a rather characteristic and unpleasant odor.  We experimented with numerous fragrances before we selected the pleasant vanilla fragrance we now use in OxyCalm.

I noticed and reported feeling more calm, focused and relaxed with each use of OxyCalm.  After one week of daily administration, positive differences were observed in our “lab rat’s” behavior and reaction to stressful situations.

HTM: Critics say OxyCalm has too little oxytocin to be effective. What's your response?

Delaney: Absolutely not!  OxyCalm is not too dilute. Your description in “My Oxtocin Dose” clearly indicates you and Mike took TOO MUCH!

You said, “After the first two inhalations…..I felt stoned,” and, “After the druggy feeling passed….”  OxyCalm is not designed to make users feel stoned or give users a druggy feeling.

Also, we have received a few reports that after taking too much OxyCalm, the particular individuals experienced aggressiveness and irritation.  Maybe this was happening to Mike?

The 5mg. of oxytocin which you and Mike used probably contained not less than 400 USP oxytocin units per mg. Therefore, the 5mg. of oxytocin probably represented not less than 2000 USP oxytocin units.  When you and Mike shared your concoction, you each used somewhere near 1000 USP oxytocin units.  Please let me remind you that in the “Trust in a bottle” study each of the participants received 24 USP units of oxytocin.  Also, for less than $87.00, you could have bought enough OxyCalm to last you and Mike at least 30 days.

When we developed OxyCalm, one of our main concerns was safety, so we formulated OxyCalm such that it contains oxytocin 20 IU/mL or 2 IU per spray.  Safety studies reported in the open scientific literature have been conducted primarily using solutions of oxytocin containing 10 to 20 IU/mL.  On our website, we suggest a range of  “two to six sprays, two to three times per day”, which allows our customers to adjust the use to within a range of 4 to 12 IU two to 3three times per day to achieve desired effects.

Note that 99 percent of the comments from our customers have been overwhelmingly favorable, when used in accordance with our product recommendations.

HTM: The idea that oxytocin could help people stop smoking makes sense; but are there any studies that support this?

Delaney: Our OxyCalm product was designed as a product that “helps promote relaxation, improve mood and enhance inner peace and tranquility.”  However, upon initial sales and distribution of the product, we received numerous testimonials from customers who were smokers, but not allowed to smoke on their company premises.  The feedback was very favorable in that the temptation and desire for smoking while prohibited was significantly lessened by the use of OxyCalm. 

HTM: How do you suggest people use the product for smoking cessation?  For relaxation?

Delaney: We have recommended OxyCalm to smokers as a pleasant, safe and economical alternative to smoking.  We have never indicated that OxyCalm is a “smoking cessation treatment product." Smoking cessation is a drug claim which requires FDA approval. 

For smokers, we recommend one or two sprays of atomized OxyCalm then deeply inhaling (counting to 5) through the nostrils and exhaling (counting to 10) five to 10 times a day. For relaxation, we recommend two to six sprays, two or three times per day.

Related Stories: My Oxytocin Dose, Interview with Liquid Trust

Book Review: "A Deeper Shade of Blue"

Depression is devastating not only to a woman but to her children, as well. In "A Deeper Shade of Blue: A Woman's Guide to Recognizing and Treating Depression in Her Childbearing Years" (Simon & Schuster 2006), Ruta Nonacs, M.D., Ph.D., explains the causes of female depress, its relationship with hormones, pregnancy and birth, and how to prevent depression or mitigate its effects. Nonacs is associate director of the Center for Women's Health at Massachusetts General Hospital and an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Some depressing statistics: According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, in any given year, about 10 percent of the adult population suffers from depression, and women are nearly twice as likely to suffer. The highest-risk period for women is during pregnancy and shortly after delivery.

And yet, the expectant mother is expected to be ecstatic; the new mother is supposed to be blissed out with oxytocin as she surrenders to the joy of nursing her newborn. Nonacs says it's all too easy for a woman's depression to be unrecognized, sometimes because she doesn't want to admit to it, sometimes because her feelings are dismissed by others as a brief hormonal episode.

In the brain, estrogen increases the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, two natural mood elevators, while progesterone has a calming effect. But the levels of these hormones rise and fall during the menstrual cycle; that's why women may be edgy, anxious or depressed as their period approaches. Experts think these hormonal shifts may trigger depression, Nonacs says.

But Nonacs doesn't blame everything on hormones; she points out that women are exposed to higher levels of stress than men: physical and sexual abuse; poverty; the pressure of working and taking care of home and family; and, perhaps, even parenting itself.

"If a woman's ability to fulfill her role as a mother is compromised in some manner or if she feels that she is not able to perform this role competently she is at risk for depression," Nonacs says.

Ideally, mother and baby engage in a duet of communication that includes gazing into each others' eyes, facial expressions, sounds and gestures. As the mother learns to respond to the baby, the baby learns to trust that she will respond to his needs. (Nonacs doesn't focus on the oxytocin pulses that the brain releases during these interactions, but these pulses reinforce the bond in both baby's and mother's brain, invoking the brain's rewards systems to create a strong attachment.)

But a mother's depression can interfere with her ability to be fully present and responsive to her baby. In studies, Nonacs says, "… depressed mothers were more withdrawn and less responsive to their infants' signals. Their facial expressions and displays of emotion were more muted or flat, and their voices more monotone."

There's evidence that a mother's depression can also negatively affect older children, whose self-esteem withers under her negativity. Children of depressed mothers may have diminished cognitive skills, difficulty maintaining attention, behavioral problems -- and they may themselves be more at risk of depression.

The most important thing a woman can do is get help for depression, Nonacs says. Psychotherapy and medication can minimize the effects on the child, along with getting help from other care givers. There are programs that coach mothers in improving their interactions with their babies, and baby massage can help the depressed mother focus on the baby (providing the extra benefit of promoting the release of oxytocin in response to loving touch).

"A Deeper Shade of Blue" covers the different stages of fertility, pregnancy, birth and postpartum, examining the biological and situational elements that could trigger a woman's depression: infertility, miscarriage, premature delivery, the normal hormonal changes of pregnancy and the "baby blues" that often follows delivery.

The book helps women distinguish between cyclical mood swings and true depression, with checklists and narratives. She offers strategies for coping with the inevitable stress of motherhood, resolving conflicts with your spouse, taking care of yourself physically and emotionally, and the different types of psychotherapy available.

Nonacs also details the many medicinal and alternative therapies available for depression, from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to bright light therapy to evening primrose oil.

She believes that post-partum depression can be prevented, and that, when it happens, its effects on the family can be minimized.

"At its worst, depression may interfere with a mother's ability to attach to and care for her infant, and this early disruption in attachment may result in a broad spectrum of problems as the child grows older," Nonacs writes. "… If you are a mother who has suffered from depression, this is likely a very difficult message to hear. You care deeply for your child, and it is unbearable to think that your depression may have in some way harmed your child." But children are remarkably resilient, she adds, and it's never too late to begin to repair the bond. "Acknowledging your depression and the problems that may stem from a child's exposure to this illness opens up an opportunity to intervene."


Oxytocin Treatment for Breast Cancer

A new method of treating breast cancer using hormones may be under development by Atossa Healthcare. The company received a patent in 2005 for using carbetocin, a synthetic oxytocin drug developed to stop postpartum bleeding, and other long-lasting oxytocin compounds against breast cancer - as well as for psychiatric disorders such as autism and OCD.

According to the patent abstract,

Ideally, new therapeutic and prophylactic agents against breast cancer will target important biological pathways in breast cell growth and differentiation. With respect to developing new hormonal treatment strategies, a large number and variety of hormones and growth factors are thought to interact in complex pathways to influence breast cancer initiation and disease progression.

... Among the many hormonal regulatory factors that have been investigated as possible tools for regulating breast cell growth, differentiation and/or survival, the peptide hormone oxytocin has received recent interest as a potential growth modulating agent for breast cancer cells.

The patent notes studies in which oxytocin inhibited the growth of mouse mammary cells.

The drug can be administered by intravenous or intranasal injection, inhaled, placed under the skin, applied to the skin, or swallowed. The oatent says the preferrd method is for the patient to self-administer via nasal spray or powder.

Atossa Healthcare is owned by Nastech.

Digg that "Cesarian Warning"

Thanks to Dan of Neurointerests for linking to my article on Digg. (Even more, for teaching me how to make the Digg This button work!)

That post explains Michael Odent's theories about how C-sections may interfere with the bonding process between mother and child at a crucial time. Moreover, because the infant brain must learn the oxytocin response, cesarian births also may deprive the baby of a jumpstart in bonding.

If you think it's important, please go back to it and hit that Digg button.

Another Cesarian Warning

Michael Odent, head of the Primal Birth Research Institute in England, created a wave of anxiety and dissent with recent remarks warning that C-sections could interfere with  bonding between mother and child.

According to  an article by Emily Cook in The Daily Mail,

Obstetrician Michel Odent said that undergoing the planned procedure prevents the release of hormones that cause a woman to 'fall in love' with her child.

"The hormone is produced during sex and breastfeeding, as well as birth, but in the moments after birth, a woman's oxytocin level is the highest it will ever be in her life, and this peak is vital.

"It is this hormone flood  that enables a woman to fall in love with her newborn and forget the pain of birth."

In comments to the article, mothers who gave birth via C-section protest that they love their children and couldn't feel more bonded to them.

This is a hard one. Of course, these mothers love their children and are deeply attached to them.  It's impossible to know whether the quality of their bond -- or their experience of it -- is different from that of a mother who gave birth at home, in private, without drugs (as recommended by Odent and others).

There's another issue: These mothers may have themselves been delivered in a way that allowed their infant brains to experience the rush of oxytocin and endorphins that creates the primal bond. Therefore, their brains knew how to release oxytocin in response to the gaze of the newborn baby. But the brains of their babies may have been deprived of that initial learning.

Of course, cesarian birthing methods have saved the lives of inumerable mothers and children, and it's extremely upsetting for a woman to hear that a necessary medical process might have harmed her child. We make those trade-offs all the time; at least her child has life.

But Odent was speaking against the rise in the use of C-sections, which are sometimes used to schedule the birth at a time that's convenient to the doctor and the mother. According to the article, one in five births is now a surgical procedure, while the World Health Organisation says the rate should be around 15 percent.

In short, doctors and mothers should do what's necessary to make sure they and their babies survive. But they should be aware that they -- and their babies -- may miss something vital that occurs with natural birth.

Odent is the author of many books, including "Primal Health: Understanding the Critical Period Between Birth and the First Birthday."