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View Full Version : The mysteries of birth, pain, twins and fertility



Korn
Jul 13th, 2008, 10:16 AM
At school, when the girls started to get periods, I remember wondering about whether humans were suffering from some sort of 'design error'. Why not let humans have kids without those monthly problems? And why should birth be so painful? Why aren't pregnancies shorter/babies born smaller? AT 17, I also remember thinking of why pregnancy was linked to sex, since it's way to easy to get too many babies we use various awkward methods to avoid it. Are humans simply too fertile?

Later, I read about how some these things were associated with animal products. Some people can't get kids, but most of us 'can' get way too many. Wouldn't a 'design' that would let us have fewer babies bode better for a not overpopulated planet? Too little B12 is linked with lack of fertilty, but maybe too much B12 is linked with being 'too fertile' - which could be what we currently consider normal)? According to an article subtitled Don't Be a Vegan: Drink Milk to Have Twins (http://multiples.about.com/od/howtohavetwins/qt/howtohavetwinso.htm), vegans are five times less likely to get twins than omnivores and lacto-vegetarians. But - how desirable is it to be pregnant with several kids at the same time, breast feed them in tandem and so on?

Too little B12 is also linked with smaller babies. Maybe too much B12 is a reason that babies (that today are considered normal) are as big as they normally are? According to Too Many Twins (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg18124290.900-too-many-twins.html), there is "growing concern worldwide about the "epidemic" of multiple births caused by fertility techniques such as IVF. Twins and triplets are more likely to die in their first year or suffer long-term health problems such as cerebral palsy. Their mothers are more likely to have complications during pregnancy, as well as stress, depression and exhaustion afterwards."

Regarding menstruation, it's not only about how often it comes, but also about for how long women menstruate. Is it necessarily and always such a bad idea if men and women become 'less fertile' as they pass, say, the age of 40? Our ancestors didn't even get that old.

People don't die at earlier age if they are vegans or lacto-vegetarians, so there's nothing in the human design that suggests that meat eating is the reason people get as old as they currently get, but it looks like it could be worth considering if what we consider normal (large babies, possibly being way too fertile, and also being fertile for too long, painful menstruations and births is something we want to be normal, or if they are byproducts of eating dead animals and milk meant for their babies.


Or - would anyone mind if we wouldn't have to worry so much about contraceptives and only got an average of max 2-3 kids, had less painful births (either due to shorter pregnancy or smaller babies), and if women only got children/menstruation until they became, say 35-40 years?

Is what we consider normal today necessarily the solution that's most compatible with our wishes, and with... 'human design'?

Manzana
Jul 13th, 2008, 10:35 AM
Very interesting Korn...

I have to say, i'd be all up for just having one child (or 2 as a maximum) and not have to worry about contraception!... also, I agree that having one child at a time (and if possible with a smallish head!) sounds like a much more sensible idea!

On the other hand, I really don't think menstruation is such a problem at all (then again, in my particular case it is very rarely painful)

Hemlock
Jul 13th, 2008, 11:04 AM
In times past mothers and babies died with startling frequency due to disease/predators/starvation so if humankind hadn't been able to breed at an alarming rate the human race would have died out. Trouble is it's not very convenient to breed like that anymore.
I also think the large baby thing is a modern thing, babies have got larger as diet and living conditions have improved, I'm pretty sure stone age babies would have been much smaller.
Periods even in the victorian era were rare as women were always pregnant, but many of those babies dies in infancy or miscarriage.
It is proof of our design success that we now cover the face of the earth *debatable from a green point of view*.

Korn
Jul 13th, 2008, 12:17 PM
I'm pretty sure stone age babies would have been much smaller. They must have been - their parent's were much smaller. If we go back in history and look at the height of our early ancestors (you know, these scary creatures that without tools or only with a stone hunted and killed fast, large animals ;) ), they were just over 3 feet tall. Going back as short as to the mid-nineteenth century, European troops were around 1.65m - and they didn't select the smallest ones when they looked for soldiers. Today, Europeans has the highest average height in the world, often close to 1.80 (for males). 15 cm in one and a half century seems much, but the average height for Norwegians increased by 7.3 cm from 1920 to 1970, and the average height for Chinese children apparently increased 3-4 cm in only 5 years!

The Chinese are known for also adapting a Western diet more than before - with the diseases that follow it, and weight problems - one out of four Chinese are now considered overweight.

Since taller parents probably means taller babies but not necessarily a wider birth channel, maybe births were less painful before.

The main thing is of course that the unborn child gets the nutrients it needs, otherwise one would probably see a reduced fetus development rate, which could cause longer pregnancy and therefore increased, not reduced baby weight: " In the Albany study, a significant positive association (p < 0.001) existed between the occurrence of any aversion and increased foetal growth index (FGI). Foetal growth index is a measure of mean size for gestation length adjusted for population means in the specific geographic area. Several positive associations (p < 0.05) were noted between increased FGI and aversions to meat consumption, implying that decreased consumption of meat produced increased FGI. The mechanism seems to be that somewhat decreased protein intake results in slightly slower foetal maturation, resulting in longer gestation time, the evidence of which is then increased infant birth weight".... IF this quote (http://www.nvp-volumes.org/p1_8.htm) make 100% sense, that is. I'm not sure if it does.

sugarmouse
Jul 13th, 2008, 03:51 PM
I have a cynical view that we have been on the planet too long and thus all the health probelms associated with our 'unnatural' advancements..'design errors!:D
but yes, I am a misanthrope.

I beleive neanderthals had a much larger birthing canal than modern women?So birth is more painful now..guess thats an example of my above statement.

Menstruation... seems be a phenomenon commen to many animals.. I like my menstrual cycle personally...but guess agian, it can get in the way of 'modern'life.

Maisiepaisie
Jul 13th, 2008, 06:58 PM
I like my menstrual cycle personally...but guess agian, it can get in the way of 'modern'life.
Whats to like about it :confused: I see it as a complete pain in the ass and I'll be so glad when it stops.

JC
Jul 13th, 2008, 07:17 PM
if a woman gets sterilised does that mean that her menstrual cycle stops?

Hemlock
Jul 13th, 2008, 07:25 PM
if a woman gets sterilised does that mean that her menstrual cycle stops?

No, I've been sterilised. They just cut or tie the fallopian tubes so menstruation and everything else carries on as before but the eggs can't go anywhere, I think they just get reabsorbed into the body.

cookey
Jul 13th, 2008, 08:24 PM
No, I've been sterilised. They just cut or tie the fallopian tubes so menstruation and everything else carries on as before but the eggs can't go anywhere, I think they just get reabsorbed into the body.

Me too, I have clamps on mine and I've been told the eggs get re absorbed into the body. It's the lining of the womb which builds up over the month which is shed and comes out as blood at period time.
Personally, I didn't find the pushing the baby out part of childbirth the painful bit, you should be dilated enough to allow this to happen. Also if you have a good midwife who tells you when to push and when not to, you shuldn't tear too much if at all. I was lucky enough to have the same midwife for both of my births and had no stitches.
For me and possibly other women, it is the contractions during labour that were painful. Women have hormones which make them forget how painful the birth is not long after. I doubt if these hormones would be present if childbirth had always been a non painful affair.
Maybe we see childbirth as painful now because we live relatively pain free lives otherwise?
As has been said, women would have been either pregnant or breastfeeding most of the time so the issue of painful periods wouldn't have come up in the way that it does now.

JC
Jul 13th, 2008, 08:33 PM
but you don't get periods?

cookey
Jul 13th, 2008, 09:19 PM
It's the lining of the womb which builds up over the month which is shed and comes out as blood at period time.

JC if you are still talking about whether women get periods when they have been strerlised, the answer is yes, see above.

KTeh
Jul 16th, 2008, 04:51 AM
They must have been - their parent's were much smaller. If we go back in history and look at the height of our early ancestors (you know, these scary creatures that without tools or only with a stone hunted and killed fast, large animals ;) ), they were just over 3 feet tall. Going back as short as to the mid-nineteenth century, European troops were around 1.65m - and they didn't select the smallest ones when they looked for soldiers. Today, Europeans has the highest average height in the world, often close to 1.80 (for males). 15 cm in one and a half century seems much, but the average height for Norwegians increased by 7.3 cm from 1920 to 1970, and the average height for Chinese children apparently increased 3-4 cm in only 5 years!

The Chinese are known for also adapting a Western diet more than before - with the diseases that follow it, and weight problems - one out of four Chinese are now considered overweight.

Since taller parents probably means taller babies but not necessarily a wider birth channel, maybe births were less painful before.

The main thing is of course that the unborn child gets the nutrients it needs, otherwise one would probably see a reduced fetus development rate, which could cause longer pregnancy and therefore increased, not reduced baby weight: " In the Albany study, a significant positive association (p < 0.001) existed between the occurrence of any aversion and increased foetal growth index (FGI). Foetal growth index is a measure of mean size for gestation length adjusted for population means in the specific geographic area. Several positive associations (p < 0.05) were noted between increased FGI and aversions to meat consumption, implying that decreased consumption of meat produced increased FGI. The mechanism seems to be that somewhat decreased protein intake results in slightly slower foetal maturation, resulting in longer gestation time, the evidence of which is then increased infant birth weight".... IF this quote (http://www.nvp-volumes.org/p1_8.htm) make 100% sense, that is. I'm not sure if it does.

Yes, offspring of our ancestors would have been smaller b/c our ancestors themselves were smaller. The remains of "Lucy" (Australopithecus afarensis - the "missing link") were only about 3 ft. tall. And her pelvis (what's left of it) is proportionate to the skull capacity of a baby born in that time. Keep in mind that the brain of A. afarensis was about the size of a chimpanzee's. Over the course of evolution, a modern woman's pelvis has adjusted in size to meet the demands of pushing out a child with a larger cranium.

It is possible, I suppose, that because the size of the human brain has reached such a maximum that the anatomy of childbirth has been quite literally stretched to capacity... now that's a scary thought!

I thought your original post was very interesting, Korn. I read a study from the 60's (cannot remember the author) that had not-so-subtle racist undertones & had to do with multiple births. It applied the theory of r- and K-selection to humans...

***Insert: An animal that has a more r-selected reproductive strategy (such as mussels, fish, spiders...) create hundreds, thousands or even hundred-thousands of offspring and then abandon them in their environment, assuming that most of these offspring will die and that at least a select few will persevere and become adults and procreate, themselves.
An animal that has a more K-selected reproductive strategy (such as elephants, horses, apes...) are larger in body size and only produce 1 or 2 offspring at a time, investing months and even years in their offspring's gestation, infancy, and juvenile period to ensure that this one or these two individuals survive to procreate, themselves.***

... Anyway: This study claimed that African Americans produce more twins and triplets than do Caucasian Americans. In the subtext here, he is lichening AA's somehow to a category of a "lower life form" or species, which is completely appalling. But was written in the 60's, so what do you expect. :hmm:

Anywho, what I'm trying to get at is: It is clear that a large percentage of the lower socio-economic status population in the U.S. is composed of AA's. The situation in at least the U.S. shows that those of a lower SES have a poorer diet (filled with more fat, cholesterol, etc.). This is largely because the foods that are cheap over here are fast food nastiness and high-sodium & high-fat canned and boxed foods, while fresh and/or organic produce is quite expensive. My question is: Do you think that the high amounts of fatty animal products in a low SES diet contributes to this alleged high rate of multiple births in low SES communities? That would be a very interesting link to investigate, I think... :faint_smilie:

Mahk
Jul 20th, 2008, 03:13 AM
I'm not sure I'm buying the original article's claim that drinking milk significantly increases the likelihood to have twins. If this were true would we not have noticed that cultures that almost never drink milk (like much of Asia and Africa, where lactose intolerance is common) have much less twin births?

rantipole
Jul 21st, 2008, 05:46 PM
I beleive neanderthals had a much larger birthing canal than modern women?So birth is more painful now..guess thats an example of my above statement.


Warning--I'm about to nitpick:

You can't really use Neanderthals as an example of our ancestors because modern genetic research suggests that they were not our ancestors nor was there much gene flow between them and early Homo sapiens. They were a separate species that had ancestors in common with us, but they themselves are no more closely related to us than lions are to leopards.

Back to the main topic, remember that for the vast majority of our evolution a large percentage of infants died, the food supply was iffy, and health care and hygiene were poor. Addtionally, there is some evidence that our early ancestors did not mentruate every month even when not pregnant because they weren't well-fed enough to be fertile. In that context, having lots of babies made a lot of sense. Our technology has out-paced our evolution and now we are reaping the consequences.

Cheers,
rant

puffin
Jul 21st, 2008, 06:17 PM
Whats to like about it :confused: I see it as a complete pain in the ass and I'll be so glad when it stops.

To right, i remember going through 6 months without a period (not including the times i was pregnant) and it was a wonderful time, no cravings, no eating to much, no really painful bloated stomachs, no tiredness and aching legs. I know some women dont have such problems but mine are not nice.