Michel Odent

Michel Odent, MD, has been in charge of the surgical unit and the maternity unit at the Pithiviers (France) state hospital (1962–1985) and is the founder of the Primal Health Research Centre (London). He is the author of the first articles in the medical literature about the initiation of lactation during the hour following birth and of the first article about use of birthing pools (The Lancet 1983). He created the Primal Health Research database. He is the author of 15 books published in 22 languages. His 2015 book, titled Do We Need Midwives?, is followed by an addendum titled Will Humanity Survive Medicine? Co-author of five academic books, he is also a contributing editor to Midwifery Today magazine.

His approach has been featured in eminent medical journals such as The Lancet and in TV documentaries such as the BBC film Birth Reborn. After his hospital career he practiced homebirths. As a researcher Michel Odent founded the Primal Health Research Center in London, England, which focuses on the long-term consequences of early experiences. An overview of the Primal Health Research data bank www.primalhealthresearch.com demonstrates how health is shaped during the primal period (from conception until the first birthday). The research also suggests that the way we are born has long-term consequences for sociability, aggressiveness—in other words, for our capacity to love. Michel Odent has developed a pre-conception program (the “accordion method”) that minimizes the polluting effects of synthetic fat-soluble chemicals, such as dioxins and PCBs, during pregnancy and breastfeeding. His other research interests are the nonspecific long-term effects of early multiple vaccinations. Visit Michel Odent’s website at www.wombecology.com/. For further information on Michel Odent, his books and the Primal Health Research Center, visit www.primalhealthresearch.com. Learn about the Paramana Doula Course by Michel Odent and Liliana Lammers, an experienced doula, at www.paramanadoula.com. To view Michel Odent’s responses to questions on the Mothering magazine site, see www.mothering.com/sections/experts/odent-archive.html In addition to approximately 50 scientific papers, Odent has published 15 books in 23 languages. His books demonstrate his artistry in turning traditional questions around: “How do we develop good health?” instead of “How do we prevent disease?” or “How do we develop the capacity to love?” instead of “How do we prevent violence?” Michel Odent is the author of the first article in the medical literature about the use of birthing pools (The Lancet 1983), of the first article about the initiation of lactation during the hour following birth, and of the first article applying the “Gate Control Theory of Pain” to obstetrics. He is the author of 12 books published in 22 languages. After his hospital career he practiced homebirths. Odent’s 21st-century books (The Scientification of Love, The Farmer and the Obstetrician and The Caesarean) may be regarded as a trilogy. They raise urgent questions about the future of our civilizations. Other books by Michel Odent:

Photo by Patti Ramos

Preventing Shoulder Dystocia

French pediatrician and natural childbirth advocate Michel Odent shares his thoughts on the basic needs of a laboring woman and how if these needs were better understood, many shoulder dystocias would be prevented.

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Childbirth from a Bacteriological Perspective

From the early days of microbiology until the 1970s, one of the roles of midwives and doctors involved in childbirth was to protect the newborn babies against all microbes, including those from maternal origin. It was usual to shave the mother at the beginning of labor, to give her an enema and to put antiseptic solutions around the nipple.

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The Role of the Shy Hormone in Breastfeeding

A look at how the hormone oxytocin behaves similarly to a shy person “who does not appear among strangers or observers.

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Understanding Stages of Labour after the Paradigm Shift

Michel Odent covers the importance of the fetal ejection reflex as it relates to the second stage of labor.

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First Stage: Preparing the Fetus Ejection Reflex

Author Michel Odent reminds midwives that “when there is an authentic fetus ejection reflex, the midwife can forget her usual worries about, for example, shoulder dystocia, difficulties for the delivery of the head in the case of a breech presentation, difficult process of rotation, dangerous perineal laceration, etc.” and gives succinct pointers for helping women experience a natural fetus ejection reflex.

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If I Were the Baby: Questioning the Widespread Use of Synthetic Oxytocin

Birth expert Michel Odent explores the scientific data collected on the most common intervention in childbirth—the use of synthetic oxytocin to start labor—and concludes that doctors “would be wise to make labor induction an exceptionally rare practice.”

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Dispelling the Disempowering Birth Vocabulary

Before considering what makes the birth of human mammals special, we must first understand universal mammalian needs in the perinatal period. These needs are easily summarised and interpreted in the current scientific context. When giving birth, all mammals have strategies to avoid feeling observed: Privacy is one of their basic needs. At the same time, all mammals need to feel secure. For example, in a wild environment, a female cannot give birth as long as a predator is around. Physiologists easily explain that in such a situation the female releases hormones of the adrenaline family. This activation of the “fight or flight system” blocks the release of oxytocin, the key hormone in childbirth: The birth is postponed until the time when the female can feel secure. We are in a position to claim that today the priority is to “mammalianize” childbirth.

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The Tree and the Fruit: Routine versus Selective Strategies in Postmaturity

If you have on your shelf the English version of the book, titled History of Childbirth: Fertility, Pregnancy and Birth in Early Modern Europe, you will miss the analogy transmitted by the original title and the importance of the pages on the history of beliefs about the duration of pregnancy. Read more…. The Tree and the Fruit: Routine versus Selective Strategies in Postmaturity