Michele Odent is known as a pioneer of birthing for the twentieth century. He introduced home-birthing like surrounding & birth pools to hospitals. He is an advocate of the natural birthing process and getting back to basics.
At the ripe age of 82, he is still actively working and researching in his field. Last year, he published a controversial book, Childbirth and the Future of Homo Sapians, which calls for women to get off the drugs “no one fully understands”. He claims that doctors around the world are all guilty of scaring pregnant women with their medical speak. Odent’s main conclusion is:
millennia of evolution has caused women to lose the ability to birth as nature intended and therefore our global priority should be “to rediscover the primary needs of laboring women.”
He’s stressed this is a medical book. Not a book for pregnant women. And my knowledge of his theories comes from articles and interviews rather than reading his literature first hand. However, from what I can tell, he raises some good points.
- The socialisation birthing has changed the way humans birth. A mother’s protective instincts kick in the minute she gives birth (if not before). We wouldn’t tear a newborn gorilla away from it’s mother, so why do we from a human? (It’s worth noting here that Odent himself gives credit to the fact that medical professionals have accepted the importance of skin-to-skin contact directly after birth in most cultures. But there is still a lot of ‘naturalness’ lacking from the process.)
- Since the 70s, the birthing process has become masculine. Fathers are present at the birth & until the 80s or 90s, doctors were often male. Similarly, technology (stereotypically considered masculine) has become married with the birthing process. In recent years, midwives (stereotypically female) have started to take back the birthing process with the likes of midwife led birth units in the UK (as I myself will be attending at UCLH in London on our big day… if it ever comes). Odent was key to introducing these centres where there is an emphasis on natural birth. There’s somewhere for the birth partner to stay, should you wish, and promotes a secure, calming environment.
Odent’s theories appeal to me. The more I read about the drugs, the effects they appear to have on newborns and the unknowns about them, makes me even more adamant I’ll have a natural birth. I’ve also been studying Hypnobirthing in preparation for D-day (or B-day as it were), which sympathises with Odent’s theories in many ways.
One thing I am definitely a fan of from Odent’s work is his appreciation for champagne. He suggests having a small glass of bubbly when you go into labour to release the mother’s inhibitions & allow her to relax for the labour ahead. (Could he be more French!?)
We’ve had a bottle chilling in the fridge since week 38 & today Dad & H brought us a much posher, mini bottle of bubby (& some chocolate macaroons for good measure) to enjoy… if Bump ever decides to arrive. Bring on the bubbles!