Scientists discover new twist to giving birth

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I found a fascinating clip in the Sunday papers this week which I thought may interest many of you, especially those of you who may be just pregnant, soon to be giving birth or have just become new mothers .  Scientists at Radford University in Virginia, USA have discovered how the female pelvis evolved 100,000 years ago allowing women to become smaller and more agile but still retain the ability to give birth to babies with big brains.  Dr Laura Gruss describes how early female Homo Sapiens faced conflicting evolutionary pressures.  Fossils show that early women were much larger than they are today with broader shoulders and bigger hips.  Their thickset bodies made it easier to give birth to babies with larger heads, but harder to run and walk long distances and stay cool in African climates.  “Their solution was to evolve a birth canal with a twist in it so the baby is rotated through 90 degrees as it is born and comes out facing backwards rather than sideways as in other apes”, explains Gruss.  “The twist meant the whole pelvis could get narrower and the hips could get slimmer, and as a result they required fewer calories.  Until this change, women may have been bigger than an average modern man.  It meant we could produce large-brained infants from a slimmer, more efficient body”.

This helps us understand why it’s so hard for women to give birth – we have an evolutionary compromise at work – the twist that our babies have to make in order to come into the world is fraught with difficulty not just for the mother but also for the baby.  It really is the first and most arduous journey we will ever make in our lives.  Cranial osteopathy can really help mothers and babies who have had a long or problematic delivery get back to feeling comfortable again.


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