The Functions of the Orgasms: The Highways to Transcendence
by Michel Odent
[2009. London: Pinter & Martin Ltd., 149 pages, paperback.]
[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 91, Autumn 2009, © 2009, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Jan Tritten.]
Michel’s newest book is overflowing with important information that can help you be a better midwife, doula, childbirth educator, doctor or parent. He gives a mini course on the history of childbirth “methods,” as well as a discussion of how culture has always disturbed birth over the millennium.
He includes thorough discussion of the female hormones and how they work together, as well as how they get disrupted. Also included is a discussion of sexuality and falling in love, with studies cited. He discusses “orgasmophobia,” legendary orgasms and the future of love, in both a pessimistic scenario and an optimistic one.
This amazing opening paragraph begins the second chapter:
“It happened in a London hospital. A woman was about to give birth to her first baby. A student midwife, an experienced doula and the father were invisible and silent, sharing the sacredness of the moment. At the very time when the ecstatic mother-to-be, who was standing up, started to say ‘What a pleasure!’, ‘It’s like making love’, ‘The baby is coming’, and at the precise moment when the perineum started moving, the door suddenly burst open. A female doctor entered the room, shouting: ‘I need to make an assessment. You must lie down on the table.’ The birthing woman repeated in an imploring tone: ‘Please, please, I beg you, I beg you…’ Some time later a drip of synthetic oxytocin was necessary to get the baby out… It is easy to interrupt an orgasm.”
I must say I have never read a more powerful beginning. It says so very much. Michel ends this chapter with: “From a practical perspective we are now in a position to present authentic midwifery as the art of creating the conditions for the fetus ejection reflex.”
While this book is not entirely about childbirth, all practitioners will find it helpful for their further understanding of some of the wider issues surrounding birth. Michel also says, “There is already in every country a tiny core of people who are ready to formulate radically new questions. I hope you are one of those few!”
Reviewer Jan Tritten is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Midwifery Today magazine.