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Will we ever evolve to give birth painlessly/safely?

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    (Original post by zosolobos0)
    apparently, natural birth -if done right (with the right midwife and method) and providing the mother is healthy (nutritionally and physically), does not have to be painful
    seriously?! explain?
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    (Original post by Lostfish)
    What I don't get is why we haven't already evolved to have less painful childbirths?

    We've supposedly evolved form monkeys and we have so many adaptations but yet the child bearing didn't change? Surely those female stone age humans who suffered extremely painful contractions or died during childbirth were those less adapted an would have less of an advantage of producing offspring?

    So those humans should not have produced many offspring, those humans who were slightly more adapted wouldve passed on their genes?

    But yet without doctors we would be at a much higher risk of losing the child or dying ourselves?
    If adaptations can work for every other part of us why not childbirth
    I don't reckon we'll evolve in the next thousand years as natural section does not take place now, and if a woman was unable to have a child there are many other options like fertility treatments which would allow her to have children

    In the 21st century a man is not going to choose to have children with someone because they are slightly adapted to have children slightly less painfully as they have a slightly larger than usual pelvis. Evolution in my opinion will not progress much in humans
    Well, we aren't evolved from monkeys; we share an ancestor. With the adaptation, it's likely that there isn't a strong enough selection pressure. Perhaps the genes that would code for a less painful childbirth are too obscure to be the result of a mutation at this stage. Another point is that pain during childbirth doesn't tend to prevent the production of offspring (They're born). Danger in childbirth is fairly universal among mammals so it's likely that any selection regarding this issue has been fairly taken care of through the generations.
    As for pain and danger in childbirth; how do we know that these have not evolved as we have become civilised. It is possible that the dangers have evolved inadvertently as a result of our helping the women give birth. The dangers have less of an impact on offspring survival if we use our brains to help the mothers during labour.
    We've been classified as homosapiens for (around) 200,000 years (though that is debated) and we have had records for between 4000 and 6000? (The exact period is arbitrary, it is still that far short of the 200,000 year estimation) so can we presume to make assumptions about pain during childbirth for that tiny period of our evolutionary history?

    Sometimes things that seem as though they should have been removed via evolution just don't present a strong enough pressure on the population... And hormonal pathways seem to have evolved to allow women to forget the severity of/ feelings associated with the pain.
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    (Original post by sammy-lou)
    Not study help, but thought this was appropriate forum

    This has bothered me for ages!

    How is it that giving birth is still such a painful and dangerous process? Why hasn't this been 'naturally selected out' by now?
    people have been giving birth for a relatively long time now and i dont think much has changed in the vag department... i doubt people will evolve to give birth easier, there are people who give birth less painfully, but there isnt something that kills off those that do experience pain, so i doubt evolution will be at work here...

    having multiple kids could make birth easier but that wont make your daughter inherit such a thing
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    (Original post by sammy-lou)
    Not study help, but thought this was appropriate forum

    This has bothered me for ages!

    How is it that giving birth is still such a painful and dangerous process? Why hasn't this been 'naturally selected out' by now?

    I know that in our society these days, we generally think of giving birth as something safe, but there's no doubt that there are still so many risks. An estimated 1/7 pregnancies end in miscarriage

    How is it that the very life process which is essential for the continuation of human life is still so likely to go wrong?

    I'm sure someones going to come up with a very simple answer for me, but I'm going to risk it because I just don't get it...
    (Original post by sammy-lou)
    Yeah, but that is what evolution can do - it can change anatomy, and it would take thousands of years
    (Original post by NR09)
    No because with today's medicine it is not advantageous for woman to evolve in this way.

    Painkillers and drugs are doing the job so evolution doesn't have to :borat:
    What you guys seem to be assuming is that evolution doesn't affect behaviour. It could be said that we have evolved to have less painful childbirths by developing modern medicine.

    Think outside the box (no pun intended!), why would the evolutionary change have to be in the ladies' downstairs area? It could just as easily bring about changes in behaviour, couldn't it?
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    This is a very interesting thread, I have to say

    Well I suppose its important to correctly understand what is meant by natural selection for a genetic characteristic. An characteristic's frequency in a population will increase across generations if:
    In possessing the characteristic, the probability of that genetic information being passed on to future generations increases.

    The pain of childbirth is something that would potentially act as a deterrent against sexual reproduction, pregnancy and childbirth. I appreciate this may not be true for you as an individual, but when you consider the scale of the entire human population of billions, this would have significance.

    Say for example, within a population of humans you have an even mix of individuals with a genetic predisposition towards having painful childbirth, and those with one towards painless childbirth. Parents with a painful childbirth will be less likely to reproduce due to the idea that it would act as a deterrent to pregnancy, so in a population of billions, they will have less children. Those with painless childbirth will reproduce more than them, since they don't have the deterrent, so they will have more children. (again, its important you try to see this as happening across the scale of a population of billions, rather than for you, as a discrete individual)

    For any given generation, there will therefore be a smaller proportion children possessing the 'painful childbirth' characteristic than there would have been present in their parents' generation.

    Therefore, with time, the proportion of the population with the 'painful childbirth' would decrease, and the proportion with the 'painless childbirth' would increase... until the population would consist almost entirely of individuals with a genetic predisposition to painless childbirth.

    By this logic, painful childbirth would be naturally selected against and the answer to the title of this thread would be yes. (please read on, I will explain why in practice it is not as simple as this)

    There are 2 important assumptions in coming to this conclusion:
    • There are no 'side effects' in having a "painless childbirth" characteristic.
      For example, if the method by which the individual gains the ability to have painless childbirth leads to still born babies, this would be selected against.
      I.E. there would be more chance of genetic information being passed on via a "painful childbirth" which produces a living baby than a "painless childbirth" which produces a dead baby (in which case the chance would be 0)
    • You have the 'painless childbirth' characteristic in the population to start with!
      Natural selection is relative. It works by comparing one allele with another and seeing which is more likely to lead to the production of more offspring of the same species. In a population (such as ours) where all natural childbirths are painful, there are no painless childbirth alleles to be naturally selected over them.
      This allele could only come into being in two ways, a mutation or genetic engineering. Pregnancy and childbirth is a complicated process which results from a variety of different genes, and for there to be a mutation that occurs that removes the pain of childbirth, while still maintaining the chance of the offspring surviving, there would probably have to be several mutations in many different genes (and it needs to be the correct mutation too, I.E. a specific change needs to occur to the gene, as opposed to any old change), which is statistically improbable and could take an awfully long time to occur naturally. However by manual manipulation of the DNA (genetic engineering) one can attempt to remove the pain from pregnancy, however that assumes our understanding of the way DNA works is full, since we may inadvertently remove the pain from pregnancy but in doing so, also cause harm to the baby, or even prevent a living baby from being produced, which again would be something that is selected against in a population.


    Well I hope all that made sense lol

    sorry for the long/confusing post, heres a potato for your efforts:
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    (Original post by NR09)
    No we didn't.
    That's why I said ' supposedly '

    Unless you're suggesting we just appeared on Earth...
    theoretically we have evolved over time so as this thread is based on will we 'evolve' then obviously I am going to talk about humans having already evolved so if you have any other reasonable explanation for how we came about, with evidence, then I would be interested in your opinion rather than just disagreeing with me.
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    (Original post by rockshow7)
    Well, we aren't evolved from monkeys; we share an ancestor. With the adaptation, it's likely that there isn't a strong enough selection pressure. Perhaps the genes that would code for a less painful childbirth are too obscure to be the result of a mutation at this stage. Another point is that pain during childbirth doesn't tend to prevent the production of offspring (They're born). Danger in childbirth is fairly universal among mammals so it's likely that any selection regarding this issue has been fairly taken care of through the generations.
    As for pain and danger in childbirth; how do we know that these have not evolved as we have become civilised. It is possible that the dangers have evolved inadvertently as a result of our helping the women give birth. The dangers have less of an impact on offspring survival if we use our brains to help the mothers during labour.
    We've been classified as homosapiens for (around) 200,000 years (though that is debated) and we have had records for between 4000 and 6000? (The exact period is arbitrary, it is still that far short of the 200,000 year estimation) so can we presume to make assumptions about pain during childbirth for that tiny period of our evolutionary history?

    Sometimes things that seem as though they should have been removed via evolution just don't present a strong enough pressure on the population... And hormonal pathways seem to have evolved to allow women to forget the severity of/ feelings associated with the pain.
    Very true I didn't think about this I do assume thought that according to what you have said we may have had even worse childbirths thousands of years ago.
    However I still believe that as childbirth is crucial when it comes to a species not dying out I would have thought that by now child birth would be less painful, as in it is still one of the most painful things to go through where I'm sure without midwives many of mothers and babies would have dies during the process.

    Out of all of the parts of us that hae evolved the main thing being child birth would be at least less painful than it is? But who knows, maybe the selection pressure wasn't strong enough but over so many years you would've thought there would be more of a change in the anatomy to make it easier to give birth.

    But as for now I doubt we will evolve much more natural selection does not really take place; eventually there will be more and more advanced medicine to make childbirth almost painless, the chance of this happening is much higher than the chance of us evolving imo
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    After watching Knocked Up, I really feel bad for you ladies.
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    Evolve in the sense that humans won't experience childbirth pain, no i doubt so. But advances in medicine probably mean that will be a reality soon enough!
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    (Original post by joey11223)
    No we won't, we're going the other way. Our heads are getting larger but the female pelvis isn't increasing in size because whenever a baby does get stuck, or heavy bleeding occurs after birth, we have a medical team on stand-by to do a caesarian or to stem the bleeding. I'd imagine you'd be more likely to see it occur in tribal areas of Africa, since often birth is without any medical intervention and carries more of a selective opportunity.

    I personally think there will be a time where all births are done via caesarian because it will become mechanically impossible to give birth naturally, or frankly for ease. I could also envisage a culture shift where giving birth naturally is seen as dirty and degrading, what lesser beings do.
    this
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    Giving birth is safe nowadays very few mothers or babies die when giving birth, not enough for natural selection to work. I don't think there is a mechanism in natural selection that would reduce the pain mothers experiance, its not like natural selcetion cares whether it hurts or not.
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    i loved childbirth, first taste of pussy i ever got, mmmmm
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    From what i remember from psychology ages ago women are designed to only be able to reproduce a certain amount by having to carry the child for a long time and generally ensuring she only went with one guy as opposed to the guy being able to impregnate dozens of women (I've explained this horrifically but the jist is there). If childbirth were to become painless I think many more women would have more children and it would increase the population too much - I think thats why its painful to an extent so you don't want to repeat the experience too many times and your offspring will have a higher chance of 'survival' if we were still in caveman times.
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    (Original post by Lostfish)
    That's why I said ' supposedly '

    Unless you're suggesting we just appeared on Earth...
    theoretically we have evolved over time so as this thread is based on will we 'evolve' then obviously I am going to talk about humans having already evolved so if you have any other reasonable explanation for how we came about, with evidence, then I would be interested in your opinion rather than just disagreeing with me.
    We didn't evolve from monkeys, this is scientific fact.

    Humans, apes(which of course we are also), and monkeys evolved from a common ancestor. Are you suggesting that monkeys are just unevolved humans?

    I wasn't refuting evolution; I was pointing out that that humans did not evolve from monkeys.
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    (Original post by destroyerofsouls)
    What you guys seem to be assuming is that evolution doesn't affect behaviour. It could be said that we have evolved to have less painful childbirths by developing modern medicine.

    Think outside the box (no pun intended!), why would the evolutionary change have to be in the ladies' downstairs area? It could just as easily bring about changes in behaviour, couldn't it?
    I never thought about it like that...I always thought that evolution strictly causes a structural or physiological change in an organism.

    What you say makes sense though, by evolving a more complex brain we have become more intelligent and now don't need to structurally evolve as we have developed the means to negate the negative (and sometimes fatal) factors that childbirth brings.
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    (Original post by sammy-lou)
    [I]How is it that giving birth is still such a painful and dangerous process? Why hasn't this been 'naturally selected out' by now?

    I know that in our society these days, we generally think of giving birth as something safe, but there's no doubt that there are still so many risks. An estimated 1/7 pregnancies end in miscarriage

    How is it that the very life process which is essential for the continuation of human life is still so likely to go wrong?

    I'm sure someones going to come up with a very simple answer for me, but I'm going to risk it because I just don't get it...
    According to some of my lectures last term, birth is difficult for humans because we have big heads and hips narrow enough to keep us bipedal. If hip size increased enough to comfortably fit the head in the birth canal, then ladies would not walk upright. If head size decreased enough to fit the current birth canal, then we would have pretty small brains.
    Also, which birth is hard and painful, it doesn't seem to stop people doing it.

    With the miscarriage point, many of those occur very early in pregnancy, often before the lady would know that she was pregnant. Whilst some would become healthy babies, many have abnormalities that are incompatible with life, and an early miscarriage that ends like a heavy period would be physically less taxing than a later one, or a still birth.

    If you study a bit of embryology, you'll realise that there is a huge amount of stuff that can go wrong, hence the number of miscarriages (+still births and neonatal deaths). It's because putting a human together is pretty complex, and doing it inside another independent human even more so. However, we're still not that bad at having healthy babies. Even at 30 (bearing in mind that a woman is most fertile in her early 20s, and from then on her fertility starts to decline) about 75% of women will have a live birth after a year of trying to get pregnant, and 90% after 40 years. They aren't terrible odds.
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    Well I read in a book somewhere, The Human Story I think it was called, said that as we have evolved, the size of our species' skull has grown to accommodate our bigger-than-usual primate brain. However, the growth of our skulls is not in proportion to the growth of the female pelvis, causing a much more painful birth than other primates!

    TL;DR we're all too clever for the good of our own species
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    (Original post by PinkMobilePhone)
    I'm gonna agree with this.

    There is no animal on this planet that gives birth 100% safely. Even other animals sometimes die in childbirth.


    OP (and rainbowpanda) - for what it's worth, as painful as childbirth is, it's worth it when you see your baby at the end. I wouldn't have gone through it three times if I didn't totally believe that
    Oh and definitely take the drugs
    My mum had issues with both her pregnancies, she had vasa praevia (unknowingly) but luckily I survived that (apparently most babies don't). I also had the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck and some gunk stuck in my throat which had to be removed. How I managed to get through all this I'm not sure!

    While in labour with my brother he did a somersault in the womb at the last minute and she had to have a caesarean. Awkward child :P

    I'd be so afraid of something going wrong D:
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    (Original post by rainbow.panda)
    My mum had issues with both her pregnancies, she had vasa praevia (unknowingly) but luckily I survived that (apparently most babies don't). I also had the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck and some gunk stuck in my throat which had to be removed. How I managed to get through all this I'm not sure!

    While in labour with my brother he did a somersault in the womb at the last minute and she had to have a caesarean. Awkward child :P

    I'd be so afraid of something going wrong D:
    my middle child had the cord around his neck as well. Nearly died during that one. Scary stuff.
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    (Original post by PinkMobilePhone)
    my middle child had the cord around his neck as well. Nearly died during that one. Scary stuff.
    My mum said if I hadn't managed to get through the birth canal without rupturing the fetal blood vessels I would have bled to death D:

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