Or, Has Michael Odent finally jumped the
Has something happened that is stopping women from performing the most ordinary but amazing act in nature? Well according to French surgeon and Obstetrician Michael Odent it has. But I'm not so sure...Firstly big hat tip to Kiran Chug who has already blogged about this here, I wanted to write about this too and chip in a few of my very own opinions - I'm going to be quite ranty here I suspect.
Odent is one of the pioneers of water birth and as such is often lauded by natural birth advocates for empowering women. But to me many of his opinions smack of old school (and he is in his 80's) patriarchal misogyny. Telling women how to give birth, releasing fathers from any responsibility and insisting that women must suffer to bring forth children. Are those really things to aspire to in 2015?
"To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children"
And then we get to the real woo.
Odent is also on the editorial board of the deeply dubious magazine "What Doctors Don't tell You" (WDDTY). I've written about this before and in my opinion it is a horrible and dangerous publication. It advocates conspiracy theories and ignoring actual medical advice in favor of unproven or completely disproven alternative remedies. Which of course just happen to be advertised, for a price, in the magazine.
So my opinion on Odent? I really can't trust anything he says. He makes grand proclamations based solely on his own beliefs, but uses his position and medical title to make them sound like facts. His involvement with WDDTY suggests he either fails to understand some pretty basic science or is happy to make money out of flogging dangerous nonsense (I'm really not sure which is worse).
But back to his current round of wisdom. There are a number of things that just don't make sense in the newspaper articles. He claims that an "insignificant number" of women now give birth naturally, but in the UK around 40% give birth with no drugs or interventions. That's hardly an insignificant number. Perhaps his definition of natural is a little more limited*?
He claims that an increase in the length of the first stage of labour between the 50's/60's and today is proof that women are loosing the ability to give birth properly but fails to take into account changes such as maternal age and obesity which are likley to play a large part in that. He actually seems to suggest that the use of artificial Oxytocin is causing an evolutionary change, a use ot or loose it effect, where natural production of oxytocin is disappearing. The idea that such a species wide evolutionary leap could be wrought in a couple of generations is bizarre.
Are there problems in modern childbirth? Absolutely, but I don't think any of those problems will be solved by one, publicity hungry, retired doctor, spouting off in the Daily Mail to flog a book. It only builds confusion and conflict. I also don't think we will make childbirth better by prescribing exactly how it should be done. Natural birth is a great choice for many but modern medicine has saved countless lives. The two must be balanced and women's choices respected. Many mums will want to avoid drugs in labour, others will want the very hurty thing to stop hurting and when there are good modern options with minimal side effects why shouldn't they make use of them? I don't think that having an epidural prevents your atonement for the sins of Eve and I don't think it'll turn you into an irresponsible mother either. It's just a choice and surely choice should be encouraged?
*Oh and the Dolphin/shark thing?...
|The Quote is a bit hard to see but reads: "This film explains why millions of women, all over the world, dream of giving birth in the sea, among Dolphins" - Dr Michael Odent|
Perhaps this is why Odent Doesn't class that 40% of "normal" births as being properly natural, they just haven't gone far enough! I really hope this is a spoof but it seems like some people have extrapolated from Odent's idea for birthing pools to the point where they now advocate giving birth in the sea with "Dolphin attendants". Yep, what could be more natural than bringing your child into the world surrounded by cold saltwater, large marine predators and whatever other beasties decide to come along. I can't see anything going wrong there, oh no! All that's just my opinion of course, but at least I'm making that clear.