Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing

hormonalphysiologyI’m so happy to see the publication of Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care.

“Overall, consistent and coherent evidence from physiologic understandings and human and animal studies finds that that the innate, hormonal physiology of mothers and babies—when promoted, supported, and protected—has significant benefits for both in childbearing, and likely into the future, by optimizing labor and birth, newborn transitions, breastfeeding, maternal adaptations, and maternal-infant attachment.

There are likely additional benefits from avoiding potential harms of unnecessary interventions, including possible adverse epigenetic programming effects. From the perspective of hormonal physiology, these are not all-or-nothing benefits, but rather accrue along a continuum. Every mother and baby is likely to benefit from  additional support for physiologic childbearing, as far as safely possible, including when interventions are used.”

“Given the uncertainty and potential for significant harms to women and babies in relation to maternity care interventions, application of the Precautionary Principle would be wise in maternity care. Such a standard would involve:

  • rigorously verifying the benefits of proposed interventions in individual circumstances before undertaking them
  • limiting routine practices to those of proven benefit to healthy mothers and babies
  • avoiding the use of interventions for the convenience of women or maternity care providers and systems
  • initially using less invasive measures to address challenges, and stepping up to more consequential interventions only as needed”

Sarah Buckley


Buckley, Sarah J (2015). Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care. Washington DC: Childbirth Connection Programs, National Partnership for Women & Families.

You can download all sorts of goodies from their website, including the full report, an executive summary and a series of factsheets.


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