Birth and Breastfeeding: Rediscovering the Needs of Women During Pregnancy and Childbirth

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CLAIRVIEW BOOKS, Feb 1, 2007 - Health & Fitness - 156 pages
Humanity, argues Michel Odent, stands at a crossroads in the history of childbirth--and the direction we choose to take will have critical consequences. Until recently a woman could not have had a baby without releasing a complex cocktail of "love hormones." In many societies today, most women give birth without relying on the release of such a flow of hormones. Some give birth via cesarean section, while others use drugs that not only block the release of these natural substances, but also do not have their beneficial behavioral effects. "This unprecedented situation must be considered in terms of civilization," says Odent. It gives us urgent new reasons to rediscover the basic needs of women in labor.

At a time when pleas for the "humanization" of childbirth are fashionable, the author suggests, rather, that we should first accept our 'mammalian' condition and give priority to the woman's need for privacy and to feel secure. The activity of the intellect, the use of language, and many cultural beliefs and rituals--which are all special to humans--are handicaps in the period surrounding birth. Says Odent: "To give birth to her baby, the mother needs privacy. She needs to feel unobserved. The newborn baby needs the skin of the mother, the smell of the mother, her breast. These are all needs that we hold in common with the other mammals, but which humans have learned to neglect, to ignore or even deny."

Expectant parents, midwives, childbirth educators, those involved in public health, and all those interested in the future of humanity will find this a provocative and visionary book.

Our Mammalian Roots (and a little girl in North Dakota) At the Dawn of the Post-Electronic Age (side effects of electronic fetal monitoring) The Hospital of the Future (privacy in the birthplace) On Another Planet (the human environment in the birthplace) The Fetus Ejection Reflex (regarding the birth of non-human mammals) Cats (a diversion) The Old and the New (the main chapter) Colostrum and Civilization (the newborn and contact with the mother) From Holland to Malawi (a Dutch midwife and a traditional birth attendant) Photos and Videos (the invasive camera) Freud as a Midwife (low-profile midwives as the experts on psychology) The Hormone of Love (the hormonal basis of "love") Breastfeeding and Family Structures (two inseparable topics) Lullaby Time (the specifically human lullaby)

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Until recently a woman could not have had a baby without releasing a complex cocktail of 'love hormones'. Most women give birth without relying on the release of such a flow of hormones. Some give ... Read full review

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I am a physician myself and this book is a must read for any expectant parent. It should be required in medical school too. Amazing book. Will likely change your thinking about giving birth. Brilliant.


Introduction to the First English Edition
At the Dawn of the PostElectronic Age
The Hospital of the Future
On Another Planet
The Foetus Ejection Reflex
The Old and the New
Colostrum and Civilization
From Holland to Malawi
Photos and Videos
The Hormone of Love
Lullaby Time

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About the author (2007)

Michel Odent is popularly known as the obstetrician who introduced the concepts of birthing pools and homelike birthing rooms at the maternity unit in Pithiviers (France) in the 1960s and 1970s. His ongoing, influential work in childbirth and health research has featured in TV documentaries such as the BBC's Birth Reborn, and in authoritative medical journals. More recently, he founded the Primal Health Research Centre in London and has developed a preconceptional program to minimize the effects of intrauterine and milk pollution. He is the author of dozens of scientific papers and ten books published in twenty languages.

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