For centuries science has been the realm of men, but this skews the data. Much science is based on the cultural assumption that women's bodies are faulty, or at the very least passive.
For example, the common assumption until now was that during the conception it's a sperm race with the man’s sperm competing for a passive egg. But we now know the egg actually chooses which sperm it wants and draws it in! Not so passive, hey?
It’s time for a woman’s perspective. Which is why I get soo excited when I come across brilliant women scientists and researchers like Holly Dunsworth. This is what she taught me that totally blew my mind…
There Is No Obstetric Dilemma
For a long time scientists thought that human babies were born ‘early’ or ‘premature’ because when humans became upright our pelvis size couldn’t grow any larger, which means our babies’ brains had to be born when they were still small enough to fit through a woman’s pelvis.
Perhaps this came from the idea that a woman’s body is an imperfect version of a males standard, ideal body. His pelvis is small, her pelvis is big, therefore a large pelvis must be ‘flawed’ in some way.
In fact, Holly’s research is showing a completely different point of view. This is what she emailed me recently and I loved it so much I asked for her permission to share it with you…
“We're not born early or earlier than other primates. Some would assert we are, based on our smaller relative brain size at birth compared to other primates. But I think that's a problematic perspective and an incorrect one to boot.
We have absolutely larger brains at birth compared to all other primates and we have similar or even long, not short, gestation compared to all the rest too. So I say (and others do too) that we're not born early at all. We just have lots more brain growth to experience after we're born than other primates!
I definitely think it's the journey that's more important than the destination, so what goes into brain development and what goes on during it is the key factor in our evolutionary history more than the resulting huge brain at the end of the process. But most people like to focus on that big brain that results.
Our bodies are not broken. There is no obstetrical dilemma! Evolution is true but evolutionary thinkers have been wrong about childbirth.”
Isn’t that mind-blowing? I’m hoping to interview Holly, along with some other amazing women scientists and researchers for my upcoming book.
Perhaps humans are hardwired to have their brain develop in a highly social environment! If you think about it, our large brains and highly complex social structures are what make humans different from all other animals.
When a baby’s brain is developing in a womb, it’s quiet, dark and the temperature’s regulated: there’s very little stimulation.
When you think of a baby outside the womb, there are lots of cuddles and kisses, there’s heaps of skin-on-skin, singing, talking, and rocking.
All of these relationships, all of this love and all of this intense emotional development are what make humans human!
Instead of blaming women's faulty bodies for birthing too early, we should be celebrating women's brilliance in devising a reproductive strategy that results our ultimate success as a species - empathetic and compassionate people.
Three cheers for mothers!
Read more about Holly’s work here: