Earlier this Spring I had the amazing opportunity to listen to Dr. Michel Odent, MD speak at BINI Birth in Sherman Oaks, CA. A French surgeon who is a true pioneer in the history of childbirth, well known as an advocate for natural birth, champion of the innate capacity of a woman to know how to birth, father of the water birth method, proponent of breastfeeding within the 1st hour postpartum, and prolific writer/author. I literally sat in the glow of a master, speaking of his lifetime passion: childbirth and the brilliance of the female body.
Surprisingly nervous at being in the presence of such a childbirth master and legend, I looked around the room filled with doulas, midwives, and other maternal health and childbirth advocates and sensed that we all shared the same anticipatory anxiety. His presence was large, even though his manner was mild and respectful, soft spoken, and joyful. Although his French accent was thick, and many of us had some difficulty understanding him in the beginning, his charisma and passion created a universal language that was beyond words, and contagious. In moments he captivated us all.
Dr. Michel Odent is a master physician, truly. In his mid-eighties, he travels continuously speaking globally on the topic of homo sapien evolution which he believes is impacted through the modern way that we are giving birth to our babies. Dr. Odent has much to say about the love hormones and oxytocin and the lack of it during C-sections and how that may impact the DNA of humans ultimately. He continues to write, and to sift through all the research – collecting and monitoring his database, it is quite impressive. He is relentless in his quest, and to be in his presence you know beyond a doubt that he will work until the moment of his death. This is his mission, his life passion, his gift to humankind.
I took pages of notes, and I could go into a term paper description of how he presents the birth process and the wisdom of the female body to create the EXACT CORRECT and PERFECT CONDITION WITHIN AND OUTSIDE OF HER BODY to birth a baby and allow that newborn to experience the stress, to have contact with microbes that are actually crucial in the baby’s capacity to survive, to initiate their immune system, their lungs, etc. Instead I will do my best to bullet the top 5 walk away facts from a morning with Dr. Michel Odent:
- To be born is to enter the age of the microbe– newborn baby’s immune systems need the microbe of their mother’s bodies. Modern hospital births are afraid of the microbes of the mother, why? A birthingmother does not need to be sterilized before holding her newborn baby who just came out of her womb!
- A woman and her body instinctively know how to give birth – as long as modern medicine doesn’t interfere, she should be able to complete this quite naturally and skillfully – all she needs is some support or partnering
- The mother’s brain activity can inhibit natural birth, to mimic mammals her neocortex shuts down during birth – stimulation of bright light, talking, intrusive monitoring or tests, nurses coming in and out of the labor room – this actually stimulate the brain at the exact time that it needs to be going into more of a meditative zone in order to perform the task of labor.
- TRUST: the female body, nature, the birthing baby – we are all here because we were born, and because before the age of modern medicine generations and generations before us were quite capable at that task.
- Women have the strength and determination to give birth, we are not helpless and incompetent when it comes to birthing and nursing – why is the message in modern culture consistently reinforcing that erroneous belief?
Sure I am a maternal health advocate, a medical social worker, and a champion of natural child birth. But I also love medicine, and have worked in medical centers for the past 24 years. I am definitely an east meets west type of gal. But I believe in the core of my being, that women ultimately know how to give birth, and if they trust and those that are surrounding them and supporting them during that process trust and believes in this capacity, that in most situations, it will be smooth and it will be a powerful experience. My life in modern medicine as a medical social worker has also shown me that within the bell curve are extremes in either direction. And I encourage that birth plans and options be discussed in detail between the woman and her partner and her health care team. It is impossible to predict how a birth will go exactly, but preparation for different routes, and the flexibility and expertise in navigating changes in plan is what the birth team is for.
Are you inspired? I still am! Thank you Dr. Odent.
Alisa B. Donner, MSW, LCSW, Co-Founder of PAM, and mom to a magnificent wonder!
**REMINDER – Pregnancy Awareness Month’s blog post is for moms and expectant parents by moms (and of course some experts sprinkled in – and some mom’s are licensed board certified experts!). HOWEVER, we are not giving blanket ADVICE on what you should be doing, eating, how you should be exercising, parenting, etc. These are opinions, food for thought….think about it all, talk with your mate, and when it comes to diet, exercise, and health questions, ALWAYS discuss and seek advice from your medical health provider.
Alisa Donner, body wisdom, doula, Dr. Michel Odent, maternal health, midwifery, natural birth, Pregnancy Awareness Month, water birth