Chapter 3 : It starts at the very beginning…

Perhaps surprisingly, it is generally believed that when we are born, every human being already has built-in natural pain control mechanisms.

Furthermore, it is posited that in our caveman days, these natural pain management processes or substances (hormones, enzymes and other naturally occurring chemicals in the body) would be activated almost from birth because the need to protect themselves against harm and pain was so much greater in those days.

After all, even then, millions of years ago, our antecedents felt pain but they did not have aspirin or ibuprofen that they could take to get rid of it when pain struck. Whilst some suggest that herbal remedies for pain relief date from these times, it is still nevertheless the fact that people back then had far less in the way of effective pain relief available, hence the belief that natural pain control mechanisms were far more prevalent.

This is important to understand because more recent research has built on this by indicating that these natural mechanisms have not entirely disappeared.

However, the world that a newborn baby arrives in is nowadays a very different world to that of our caveman forbears. Thus, there is some evidence that modern life simply fails to ‘switch on’ these natural pain control processes.

This was highlighted in a study at the University of Maryland in Baltimore which indicated that sugar and suckling activate these natural pain control processes in very young babies. Furthermore, they also established that these control mechanisms seem to have something to do with the spinal column, although as the research was not conducted on human beings, the exact relevance of this to man has still to be established with any degree of certainty.

Nevertheless, the research suggested that a few minutes of suckling and the rendition of sugar water to babies could significantly reduce the level of pain felt by laboratory animals a few moments later.

This is an important consideration for any expectant parents as it suggests that from the day that baby is born, it is possible to build up their natural resistance to pain relatively quickly and easily.

Whilst there clearly needs to be more study on this, it is definitely something to bear in mind if you are an expert parent or anticipate becoming one.

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