WG5: Neuro-psycho-social perspectives


Working group five
Neuro-psycho-social characteristics and effects of labour events.

Chair: Dr Ibone Olza Fernández olzafernandez@gmail.com
Co-chair: Eleni Hadjigeorgiou eleni.hadjigeorgiou@cut.ac.cy
Advisor: Kerstin Uvnäs-Moberg Kerstin.Uvnas-Moberg@slu.se

Observational studies of neuro-psycho-social characteristics and effects of labour events, with a particular emphasis on the effect of personal interactions and behaviors within and between maternity care staff and laboring women and their families on neurohormones specific to labour processes.

Subgroup one: Oxytocin release during physiological childbirth in humans: a systematic review

Many of the physiological and hormonal processes that occur during labour are not fully understood. It is, however, acknowledged that the hormone oxytocin plays important role. Oxytocin is not only a hormone, it is also a signaling substance in the brain that, when released during birth, skin-to-skin contact, and breastfeeding, induces important physiological and psychological adaptions in the mother and infant (Uvnäs-Moberg, 2003). The one oxytocin receptor most commonly demonstrated is the uterine type of oxytocin receptor but it is likely that there are other oxytocin receptors due to different oxytocin-like effects (Freund-Mercier et al, 1987).

The implication of the neuropeptide oxytocin on mothers and offsprings has been well documented in mammals but there is little evidence to support such links in humans (Uvnäs-Moberg et la, 1990, Feldman et al, 2010). Motherhood/parenting involves interrelated biological, psychological, and behavioral care giving mechanisms and humans as social animals are biologically prepared to form bonds with their babies. These bonds provide protection and caregiving, ensure survival, and offer soothing during times of distress (Levine et al, 2007). Endogenous oxytocin can be released by stimulation of olfaction, as well as by certain types of sound and light. This means that positive interaction involving touch, warmth, empathy and psychological support may be health-promoting (Uvnäs-Moberg, 1997). Therefore, Working Group 5-1 aims is to increase scientific knowledge regarding oxytocin release during physiological childbirth in humans first through a systematic review of the literature in this field. In the next year, Working Group 5-1 plan to continue with applied research.

Subgroup 2: The psychology of childbirth

Midwives face the complex challenge of bringing together different knowledge on how to keep birth normal. The importance of women’s psychological status throughout the childbearing experience is now well acknowledged (Jomeen, 2012). Childbirth is a profound psychological experience with a deep impact in women, an impact that is physical, psychical and existential. The concept of normal labour is still subject of much debate. Traditionally the definition of “normal childbirth” has included the word “physiological” and usually mentioned the lack of interventions as a must. Normal childbirth is generally considered to be a sequential process that leads to the fetus being expelled from the womb. Normal childbirth is also considered to have a spontaneous onset, and timing and progress are crucial aspects of the definition of normality. Labour progress is evaluated with only “objective” measures such as cervical dilation or contractions pattern as recorded in the partogram proposed by the WHO. However in almost all definitions retrieved of normal labour or childbirth the psychological aspects of birth are excluded. Normal birth is a physiological AND a psychological process but its deep and profound psychological aspects are not mentioned in the definitions, which can give the impression birth is only something purely mechanical. This reductionist definition is likely to be related to some of the current problems with childbirth.

WG-5 subgroup 2 aim is to study and describe the psychological process and experiences of natural childbirth. To answer the research question: What is the psychological experience of natural childbirth like and what are its components; we will start by reviewing women’s experiences of normal or natural childbirth published in the scientific literature. .Once we describe the psychological experience of childbirth from both women’s and professionals perspectives we will analyse childbirth related psychopathology i.e. birth related trauma and PPD.

WG5 Reports

[NOTE: You can read all the reports from all the working groups on the Publications & Outputs page here]

WG5: Neuro-psycho-social perspectives. Download a report on Neuro-psycho-social characteristics and effects of labour events here. And here is a pdf of WG5 members who have worked on this project. (Updated Jan 2017)

Meier Magistretti, Soo Downe, Marie Berg and Katharina Tritten-Schwarz have published their research entitled: Setting the Stage for Health: Salutogenesis in Midwifery Professional Knowledge in Three European Countries.  You can download it here.

WG5 (Sept 2016): Get this report here.


 WG5 profiles

ibone olza

Ibone Olza-Fernandez
Childbirth is ours (El Parto es Nuestro)
Disciplinary background: MD, PhD Perinatal Psychiatrist

Ibone’s research has focused on the effects of intrapartum synthetic oxytocin use, perinatal neurobiological disorders and obstetric violence.

She has done extensive clinical work on PTSD due to childbirth, perinatal mental disorders, birth professionals’ mental health and breastfeeding support.

Ibone is also a birth rights activist.

Eleni Hadjigeorgiou

Eleni Hadjigeorgiou
Cyprus University of Technology
Disciplinary background: Midwifery educator, Special scientific officer

Eleni is a midwifery educator and finished her PhD in Midwifery 2012. Her research interests are: Birth rights, advocacy in midwifery, normal birth.

She was the main researcher in four projects and participated in two EU funded projects – YSAV and BREAST.

Working Group 5 members

You can read profiles about the members of this group on this by  downloading this pdf here.

Eleni Hadjigeorgiou (Cyprus) eleni.hadjigeorgiou@cut.ac.cy Cyprus University of Technology

Andria Spyridou (Cyprus) a.spyridou@external.euc.ac.cy European University Cyprus

Luise Lengler (Germany) luise.lengler@t-online.de Hannover medical school

Sigfríður Inga Karlsdóttir (Iceland) inga@unak.is University of Akureyri

Sigridur Sia Jonsdottir (Iceland) siaj@unak.is University of Akureyri

Yael Benyamini (Israel) benyael@post.tau.ac.il Social Work at the Tel Aviv University

Giedre Sirvinskiene (Lithuania) giedresirvi@gmail.com Lithuanian University of Health Sciences

Svitrigaile Grinceviciene (Lithuania) svitrigaile@gmail.com

Steffi Savona Ventrura (Malta) steffi.savona@gmail.com

Marianne Nieuwenhuijze (Netherlands) M.Nieuwenhuijze@AV-M.nl Research Centre for Midwifery Science

Tanja Vrijkotte (Netherlands) t.vrijkotte@amc.uva.nl Acad Med Center (AMC) Public Health

Zada Pajalic (Norway) Zada.pajalic@hioa.no Department of Health, Nutrition & Management

Alicja Kotlowska (Poland) kotlowska@gumed.edu.pl Medical University of Gdansk

Bogumila Kielbratowska (Poland) bogumila.kielbratowska@gumed.edu.pl Medical University of Gdansk

Magdalena Blazek (Poland) psymb@ug.edu.pl Medical University of Gdansk

Maria Kazmierczak (Poland) psymk@ug.edu.pl University of Gdansk

Patricia Leahy-Warren (Republic of Ireland) patricia.leahy@ucc.ie UCC

Janka Debreceniova (Slovakia) debreceniova@odz.sk Citizen Democracy and Accountability

Esther Crespo (Spain) crespoesther@hotmail.com Barcelona Hospital

Fátima Leon Larios (Spain) Fatimaleon@us.es Faculty of Nursing, Seville

Luis Joaquin Garcia-Lopez (Spain) ljgarlo@cop.es University of Jaen

Ibone Olza Fernandez (Spain) iboneolza@gmail.com Childbirth is ours (El Parto es Nuestro)

Pedro J Serrano-Castro (Spain) pedro.serrano.c@gmail.com Hospital Torrecardenas

Elisabeth Hertfelt Wahn (Sweden) elisabeth.hertfelt.wahn@his.se University of Skövde

Anette Ekström (Sweden) Anette.ekstrom@his.se University of Skövde

Christina Nilsson (Sweden) christina.nilsson@gu.se

Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg (Sweden) k_uvnas_moberg@hotmail.com

Amali Lokugamage (UK) amali@integratedmedic.com University College London

Professor Bengt Lindstrom (Norway) bengt.lindstrom@svt.ntnu Institute of Social Work and Health, NTNU

Professor Sandra Morano sandra.morano@unige.it Genoa University/Genoa University Hospital

Professor Dr. Claudia Meier Magistretti (Switzerland) claudia.meiermagistretti@hslu.ch The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts

Julia Leinweber (Germany) julia.leinweber77@gmail.com  Protestant University of Applied Science, Freiburg

Ms Susanne Grylka-Baeschlin (Switzerland) gryl@zhaw.ch Zurich University of Applied Sciences