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BABY BORN FACING FORWARD makes it possible for a monkey mother to reach down and carefully guide the infant out of the birth canal. She can also wipe mucus from the baby's face to assist its breathing.

desire for companionship and security.

Psychiatrists have argued that natural selection might have favored such emotions—also common during illness and injury—because they led individuals who experienced them to seek the protection of companions, which would have given them a better chance of surviving [see "Evolution and the Origins of Disease," by Randolph M. Nesse and George C. Williams; Scientific American, November 1998]. The offspring of the survivors would then also have an enhanced tendency to experience such emotions during times of pain or disease. Taking into consideration the evolutionary advantage that fear and anxiety impart, it is no surprise that women commonly experience these emotions during labor and delivery.

Modern women giving birth have a dual evolutionary legacy: the need for physical as well as emotional support. When Sophia Pedro gave birth in a tree surrounded by raging floodwaters, she may have had both kinds of assistance. In an interview several months after her helicopter rescue, she told reporters that her mother-in-law, who was also in the tree, helped her during delivery. Desire for this kind of support, it appears, may well be as ancient as humanity itself. ^

Human Birth: An Evolutionary Perspective. Wenda R. Trevathan. Aldine de Gruyter, 1987. Birth as an American Rite of Passage. Robbie Davis-Floyd. University of California Press, 1993. Bipedalism and Human Birth: The Obstetrical Dilemma Revisited. Karen R. Rosenberg and Wenda R. Trevathan in Evolutionary Anthropology, Vol. 4, No. 5, pages 161—168; 1996.

On Fertile Ground: A Natural History of Human Reproduction. Peter T. Ellison. Harvard University Press, 2001. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN 85


Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

If Pregnancy Is Something That Frightens You, It's Time To Convert Your Fear Into Joy. Ready To Give Birth To A Child? Is The New Status Hitting Your State Of Mind? Are You Still Scared To Undergo All The Pain That Your Best Friend Underwent Just A Few Days Back? Not Convinced With The Answers Given By The Experts?

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