Reigniting Our Passion

This is the 2nd part in a series by Doula Ana P. Markel, of how she surrounded herself with wise and passionate people and became more vibrant in her quest and vision to help babies, women, and humanity through non-violent birthing.

Michel Odent, MD was, is, and will always be for me the highlight of my learning and breakthroughs in this field of nonviolent birthing (as well as in life). The first time I heard Dr. Odent speak I was already teaching childbirth education and attending births as a Doula. He revolutionized my brain in a way that I came home and revised most of my entire curriculum. He has been a major influence in the philosophy and practice of BINI Birth and how I work.  He teaches on physiological birth and respecting the process from a space of true love for life and human connection.  Today at the age of 82 he has the energy, curiosity, and love for life of a 22 year old.

When I presented  on panel with Dr. Odent at the April Midwifery Today Conference, his stamina and focus was awesome. He had organized a unique and ground-breaking conference last Fall in Honolulu where he gathered professors and experts from many different disciplines. I had attended and was overwhelmed with all of the scientific information, data really, for several months afterwards.  My meditation since has been on how to translate and weave all of this information into my workshops, doula trainings, and daily work at BINI Birth. Listening to Dr. Odent this spring at the Midwifery Today Conference was exactly what I needed. He was able to break all this new information into a simple presentation that made all midwives stand and applaud for many minutes, many of us with tears rolling down our cheeks. 

He synthesized it perfectly. Here are the main points I took from him:

  • We cannot think short term. We must think long term in terms of childbirth, health and the decisions that we make about pregnancy, birth, and early parenting.
  • We must incorporate wisdom from multiple disciplines, when we do this we are able to then see the long term impact of our choices.
  • We cannot forget the physiology of labor and the hormones of labor. The perfect hormonal cocktail a woman and baby release in labor are the hormones of bonding, attachment, protection, and love. What would happen in our society if all babies were born bypassing this release and exchange?
  •  Review the research data, information is power.  For instance, there are studies questioning the use and effect of Pitocin and potential impacts on breastfeeding, even autism.  Conclusive, perhaps not, but should we not question our new modern practices with rigor?
  •   How do we balance the capacity of modern medicine with respect of a woman’s body and the perfect design it has to give birth?  Does it need to be conducted at a pace that matches insurance carrier reimbursement rates?


Listening to Dr. Odent inspired and reconnected me to the “why” I wanted to be a birth professional:  to spread the good news that women have choices and that pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting are not experiences from which a woman suffers from.  To help women during labor rejoice in the beauty of her surrender and her vulnerability.  To embrace imperfection, and the unpredictability of the new and the not expected.  To be a conduit to the sense of humor, love, and connection as we bring in new life.

Through pregnancy and birth we can change the world. It is utopic and real. When we care for the mothers we are in turn caring for the planet.

Ana Paula Markel ICCE, CD(DONA), Founder of BINIBirth, and PAM Advisor


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