What must we do not to disturb the physiology of the birth process? This question might today be one of the key questions for an obstetrician or a midwife. If one wishes not to disturb the course of labour and delivery, it is first necessary to understand the physiology of parturition. It is often difficult to find a whole chapter about the physiology of delivery in most of the classical handbooks of obstetrics. Indeed, it is only possible to find scattered data either about the physiology of uterine contractions during different stages of labour or about the mechanical process. Reflections on the importance of psychological conditions or data about the fluctuations of hormonal and humoral secretions exist, but rarely together. There may be an explanation for this deficiency and for our failure to elaborate a proper synthesis of the available knowledge. First, it is difficult to define and even to imagine a normal, physiological delivery, for all cultures have exerted specific influences, not only those in industrialised societies. Besides, generally speaking, it would be a common temptation to give up the idea of facing the difficulties of physiological studies involving any event relating to sexual life. Such a study would imply pulling together disciplines which are usually distant from one another and would not fit in with the requirements of teaching practice.
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