The Other Side of the Glass

Part One was officially released June 2013 in digital distribution format. To purchase to to If you were a donor and want to download your copy send an email to

The trailer

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pain and Pleasure

The fetus is not a “little adult,” Anand says, and we shouldn’t expect it to look or act like one. Rather, it’s a singular being with a life of the senses that is different, but no less real, than our own.

From article, The First Ache, in New York Times today,

http://www.nytimes. com/2008/ 02/10/magazine/ 10Fetal-t. html?_r=1& th&emc=th& oref=slogin

I began reading this and just had to highlight some points and give my perspective. It focuses on pain. Our society is obsessed with pain; well, with the elimination of pain. Have you noticed? Drug companies spend a lot of money to advertise for every imaginable pain and rake in billions of dollars for their efforts. And, we still have a lot of people unable to feel their pain ... and they are unable to feel their pleasure, their joy, and humans struggle to truly embrace love, touch, regard, and healthy, sexual connection. Consider with me as you read the article, what's up with this focus on understanding and getting rid of pain? Pain is a primary, human emotion, as is pleasure. Can we have one without the other?

He finds “outrageous” the suggestion that the fetus feels anything like the pain that an older child or an adult experiences. “A fetus is biologically human, of course,” he says. “It isn’t a cow. But it’s not yet psychologically human.” That is a status not bestowed at conception but earned with each connection made and word spoken. Following this logic to its conclusion, Derbyshire has declared that babies cannot feel pain until they are 1 year old.

If this is true, why do we nurture and love our babies? Why are we aghast at the story of an adult abusing a newborn or infant? Should we evaluate the experience of our infants with the same standard then that obstetrics uses in the evaluation of the newborn and the consequence of their work? Baby is alive, Baby looks ok.

As you read about the debate over when does pain start in the human and do prenates feel pain, wonder with me, "Do prenates, laboring and birthing babies, and infants FEEL ... so is all of the love we give them even important if they don't FEEL." Is there no "psychology" as this one researcher says? Or can you embrace the growing scientific evidence shared in this article that tells that we are CONSCIOUS beings during gestation? What does not yet psychologically human mean anyway? I have, sometimes regrettably, two degrees in the psychology field. I belong to the emerging field of pre and perinatal psychology ( even though I don't care for the title because of the word psychology. Psychology has a bad rap these days and what it means to some prevents them from pursuing the field of pre and perinatal life.

However, my colleagues -- from a myriad of field -- have been synthesizing the scientific research for over two decades. Today's article supports not only their work in the study of fetal pain (experience and consciousness) but also that there is a consciousness before conception, an existence, a being, a soul that comes in at conception. One can begin, as pioneering scientists have always done with emerging information to look even broader and deeper. We can wonder about the conception experience of the consciousness (soul) and the experience of the laboring and birthing baby in terms of pleasure and pain, or as biology looks at experience, growth or protection. Yeah, that brings up the abortion issue; I address it at the end.

I am only half way through the article and had to post my responses so far. What a great dialog we could have in this country if so many folks weren't afraid to change their behavior (obstetrics) and so many folks were afraid to acknowledge the consequences of our unknowing so far (the effects of random conception, unaware gestation, invasive drugged labor and birth, and disconnected infancy .)

Does the fetus feel pain?

"When the surgeon lowered his scalpel to the 25-week-old fetus, Paschall saw the tiny figure recoil in what looked to him like pain."

"I don’t care how primitive the reaction is, it’s still a human reaction,” Paschall says. “And I don’t believe it’s right. I don’t want them to feel pain.”

“Pain perception probably does not function before the third trimester,” concluded Rosen, the review’s senior author. The capacity to feel pain, he proposed, emerges around 29 to 30 weeks gestational age, or about two and a half months before a full-term baby is born. Before that time, he asserted, the fetus’s higher pain pathways are not yet fully developed and functional."

Before nerve fibers extending from the thalamus have penetrated the cortex — connections that are not made until the beginning of the third trimester — there can be no consciousness and therefore no experience of pain. Sunny Anand reacted strongly, even angrily, to the article’s conclusions.

Anand acknowledges that the cerebral cortex is not fully developed in the fetus until late in gestation. What is up and running, he points out, is a structure called the subplate zone, which some scientists believe may be capable of processing pain signals. A kind of holding station for developing nerve cells, which eventually melds into the mature brain, the subplate zone becomes operational at about 17 weeks.

I've said it a hundred times maybe here ... from the moment of conception there is no time in human development that is not critical. Every moment of life, from conception forward, through gestation, during LABOR AND BIRTH, the hours and days in the hospital, infancy, childhood ... everything we experience is registered.

after birth.

How important this wording is to our unconscious --- the separation of PREnatal and POSTnatal. Our language reflects a huge discrepancy in our thinking about human babies that is perpetuated by science and obstetrics. Notice this as you are reading anything from the science of prenatal life to ACOG literature. We look at the human being's experiences in two categories, Before birth and AFTER birth. Please begin to wonder about that ... how is it that we do not consider the same profound understandings to exist for the laboring and birthing baby? Why do we not understand that the newborn baby that we see so interactive and responsive at home three days later was also the same in the hospital. WHY do we, as a society, and around the world, believe that when the baby is in the hospital, in the care of professional medical people that whatever is done to the baby won't be remembered, and so, it doesn't matter?

Before nerve fibers extending from the thalamus have penetrated the cortex — connections that are not made until the beginning of the third trimester — there can be no consciousness and therefore no experience of pain.

Maybe not ...

"....five children who were captured on video by a Swedish neuroscientist named Bjorn Merker on a trip to Disney World a few years ago. The youngsters, ages 1 to 5, are shown smiling, laughing, fussing, crying; they appear alert and aware of what is going on around them. Yet each of these children was born essentially without a cerebral cortex. The condition is called hydranencephaly, in which the brain stem is preserved but the upper hemispheres are largely missing and replaced by fluid."

Mercer concludes:

“The tacit consensus concerning the cerebral cortex as the ‘organ of consciousness,’ ” Merker wrote, may “have been reached prematurely, and may in fact be seriously in error.”

Maybe the "consensus" that has pervaded conventional thought and lead us for generations to believe that the human baby doesn't remember the pain ... maybe that consensus is also in error.

Many noted that if Merker is correct, it could alter our understanding of how normal brains work and could change our treatment of those who are now believed to be insensible to pain because of an absent or damaged cortex.

While the scientists go on and on debating the if and when, and while obstetrics continues to promote that our laboring and birthing baby doesn't feel the experience, birth trauma doesn't exist so it doesn't matter they do to a baby to get them here, while they promote that the newborn doesn't remember, as in doesn't remember the happiness of the experience either, while they promote the baby remembers being dropped by the mother, but won't remember pain inflicted by a medical caregivers, while they promote that the baby IS affected by maternal ELICIT drug use but not by use IN the HOSPITAL, while all this goes on around us, LOOK at babies. LOOK at NEWBORN BABIES. SLOW down, LOOK at them ... at how they interact with their loved ones. Look at how gently and softly parents touch their newborns as the medical caregiver is so rough. Wonder at how the baby settles down in the arms of this PROTECTIVE parent and thrashes and flinches when that rough caregiver comes near or they hear that person's voice.

The possibility of consciousness without a cortex may also influence our opinion of what a fetus can feel. Like the subplate zone, the brain stem is active in the fetus far earlier than the cerebral cortex is, and if it can support consciousness, it can support the experience of pain. While Mark Rosen is skeptical, Anand praises Merker’s work as a “missing link” that could complete the case for fetal pain.

If the prenatal brain can support consciousness we can begin to extrapolate about the laboring and birthing baby and the infant AND about the consciousness that exists at conception and before. As the article goes on, of course it gets into abortion, as does the field of pre and perinatal psychology as we embrace that the human being has a soul, an existence before conception (and after physical life here). Embracing the concepts of pre and perinatal psychology that lead us to believe that the birth experience is a critical developmental time. It scares many who do not want to fully consider abortion beyond the typical, mainstream bi-polar perspective of the "right" versus the "left" that pervades ever issue in our modern life. I consider that while physical life here can be ended with abortion, consciousness, the essence, soul, energy that exists before conception a soul can not be killed, and that the experience of abortion is between these three souls (mother, father, and baby).

IN FACT, “THERE may not be a single moment when consciousness, or the potential to experience pain, is turned on,” Nicholas Fisk wrote with Vivette Glover, a colleague at Imperial College, in a volume on early pain edited by Anand. “It may come on gradually, like a dimmer switch.” It appears that this slow dawning begins in the womb and continues even after birth. So where do we draw the line? When does a release of stress hormones turn into a grimace of genuine pain?

Do we really need decades and decades of conclusive research to tell us to be soft, gentle, kind, quiet, respectful in the presence of a newborn? Do we not know that when we deaden our ability to feel pain, we also deaden our ability to feel all emotions?

Don't we want to be able to feel our pain, so we can feel our pleasure?

Don't we want to be able to feel our pleasure, so we can feel our pain?

Don't we want to know we are alive? And, don't we want to experience our lives here on this wonderful planet?

So, that's as far as I got. More later for sure....

1 comment:

alisaterry said...

This is quite fascinating. Thank you!

"Soft is the heart of a child. Do not harden it."

A public awareness reminder that things that happen behind the scenes, out of our sight, aren't always as rosy as we might think them to be. Perhaps its a restaurant cook who accidentally drops your burger on the floor before placing it on the bun and serving it to you. Here it's an overworked apathetic (pathetic) nurse giving my newborn daughter her first bath. Please comment and rate this video, so as to insure that it is viewed as widely as possible, perhaps to prevent other such abuse. -- The mother who posted this YouTube. How NOT to wash a baby on YouTube Are you going to try to tell me that "babies don't remember?" There is no difference to this baby's experience and the imprinting of her nervous system/brain and one that is held and cleaned by the mother or father either at the hospital or at home? By the way, this is probably NOT the baby's first bath. The nurse is ungloved. Medical staff protocol is that they can't handle a baby ungloved until is has been bathed (scrubbed if you've seen it) because the baby is a BIO-HAZARD -- for them. Never mind that the bio-hazard IS the baby's first line of defense against hospital germs.

Missouri Senator Louden Speaks

Finally, A Birth Film for Fathers

Part One of the "The Other Side of the Glass: Finally, A Birth Film for and about Men" was released June, 2013.

Through presentation of the current research and stories of fathers, the routine use of interventions are questioned. How we protect and support the physiological need of the human newborn attachment sequence is the foundation for creating safe birth wherever birth happens.

Based on knowing that babies are sentient beings and the experience of birth is remembered in the body, mind, and soul, fathers are asked to research for themselves what is best for their partner and baby and to prepare to protect their baby.

The film is designed for midwives, doulas, and couples, particularly fathers to work with their caregivers. Doctors and nurses in the medical environment are asked to "be kind" to the laboring, birthing baby, and newborn. They are called to be accountable for doing what science has been so clear about for decades. The mother-baby relationship is core for life. Doctors and nurses and hospital caregivers and administrators are asked to create protocols that protect the mother-baby relationship.

Men are asked to join together to address the vagaries of the medical system that harm their partner, baby and self in the process of the most defining moments of their lives. Men are asked to begin to challenge the system BEFORE they even conceive babies as there is no way to be assured of being able to protect his loved ones once they are in the medical machine, the war zone, on the conveyor belt -- some of the ways that men describe their journey into fatherhood in the medicine culture.

Donors can email to get a digital copy.
Buy the film at

The film focuses on the male baby, his journey from the womb to the world and reveals healing and integrating the mother, father, and baby's wounded birth experience. The film is about the restoring of our families, society, and world through birthing loved, protected, and nurtured males (and females, of course). It's about empowering males to support the females to birth humanity safely, lovingly, and consciously.

Finally, a birth film for fathers.

What People Are Saying About the FIlm

Well, I finally had a chance to check out the trailer and .. wow! It's nice that they're acknowledging the father has more than just cursory rights (of course mom's rights are rarely acknowledged either) and it's great that they're bringing out the impact of the experience on the newborn, but I'm really impressed that they're not shying away from the political side.

They are rightly calling what happens in every American maternity unit, every day, by its rightful name - abuse. Abuse of the newborn, abuse of the parents and their rights, abuse of the supposedly sacrosanct ethical principal of patient autonomy and the medico-legal doctrine of informed consent, which has been long ago discarded in all but name. I love it!

In the immortal words of the "shrub", "bring it on!" This film needs to be shown and if I can help facilitate or promote it, let me know.

Father in Asheville, NC

OMG'ess, I just saw the trailer and am in tears. This is so needed. I watch over and over and over as fathers get swallowed in the fear of hospitals birth practice. I need a tool like this to help fathers see how very vital it is for them to protect their partner and baby. I am torn apart every time I see a father stand back and chew his knuckle while his wife is essentially assaulted or his baby is left to lie there screaming.
Please send me more info!!!!
Carrie Hankins
CD(DONA), CCCE, Aspiring Midwife

Thanks for sharing this. It was very touching to me. I thought of my brother-in-law standing on the other side of the glass when my sister had to have a C-section with her first child because the doctor was missing his golf date. I'll never forget his pacing back and forth and my realizing that he was already a father, even though he hadn't been allowed to be with his son yet.

Margaret, Columbia, MO

In case you don't find me here

Soon, I'll be back to heavy-duty editing and it will be quiet here again. I keep thinking this blog is winding down, and then it revives. It is so important to me.

I wish I'd kept a blog of my journey with this film this past 10 months. It's been amazing.

I have a new blog address for the film, and will keep a journal of simple reporting of the journey for the rest of the film.

I'll be heading east this week to meet with a group of men. I plan to post pictures and clips on the film blog.

I'll keep up here when I can -- when I learn something juicy, outrageous, or inspiring related to making birth safer for the birthing baby.

Review of the film

Most of us were born surrounded by people who had no clue about how aware and feeling we were. This trailer triggers a lot of emotions for people if they have not considered the baby's needs and were not considered as a baby. Most of us born in the US were not. The final film will include detailed and profound information about the science-based, cutting-edge therapies for healing birth trauma.

The full film will have the interviews of a wider spectrum of professionals and fathers, and will include a third birth, at home, where the caregivers do a necessary intervention, suctioning, while being conscious of the baby.

The final version will feature OBs, RNs, CNMs, LM, CPM, Doulas, childbirth educators, pre and perinatal psychologists and trauma healing therapists, physiologists, neurologists, speech therapists and lots and lots of fathers -- will hopefully be done in early 2009.

The final version will include the science needed to advocated for delayed cord clamping, and the science that shows when a baby needs to be suctioned and addresses other interventions. Experts in conscious parenting will teach how to be present with a sentient newborn in a conscious, gentle way -- especially when administering life-saving techniques.

The goal is to keep the baby in the mother's arms so that the baby gets all of his or her placental blood and to avoid unnecessary, violating, and abusive touch and interactions. When we do that, whether at home or hospital, with doctor or midwife, the birth is safe for the father. The "trick" for birthing men and women is how to make it happen in the hospital.

Birth Trauma Healing

Ani DeFranco Speaks About Her Homebirth

"Self-Evident" by Ani DeFranco

Patrick Houser at

Colin speaks out about interventions at birth