Saturday, December 8, 2012

Birth Without Violence

This is not normally a book I would have selected, but a friend in my prenatal yoga class brought it in for me to read and I felt intrigued about the perspective of a book that was originally published in 1975.

The author of this book, Frédérick Leboyer M.D., has an unconventional look at the life of a child in the womb.  Part 1 almost made me angry at times because the author repeatedly expresses how horrible life in the womb is for the child.  He states that it is a prison that is claustrophobic, life-threatening, and disliked by the baby.  My mind wanted to stop reading this book during this section, but I was able to convince myself that it is okay to passionately disagree with the author during this section and continue on to what he actually has to say about birth.

Part 2 continues the same attitude emphazing the horrific trauma of birth for the child.

Birth Without Violence by Dr. Frederick Leboyer
Parts 3 and 4 are worth reading if you can filter out the negativity in a way that allows you to still grasp the key points how to have a "birth without violence."  Leboyer presented many birthing and post-birth methods which I actually agree with including:
  • subdued light in delivery room and early hours after birth
  • low/minimal sound in delivery room and early hours after birth
  • not encouraging immediate crying of baby
  • delayed cord clamping
  • placing child on abdomen while cord is still pulsing
  • delaying measurements, eyedrops, and other disruptive hospital protocols in the first hour or so after birth
  • following cord cutting or birth of placenta, partially submerging the baby in a basin of water to allow it to slowly adjust to freedom of movement, experience lower gravity as it was used to in the womb, and de-stress from the physical trauma of labor
  • not rushing any of the steps above and giving the baby adequate time to adjust to its new surroundings
  • infant massage
A free copy of this book can be found here.  This link directs you to part 3.

This is a book of technique in layman's terms and is not a difficult read full of medical jargon. The author is a poet and the structure of his writing reflects his poet's voice.  It is a thought provoking book and truly did change my birth plan with the desire to potentially try the water basin technique (as true water birth is not an option at my hospital).  Although I am not a fan of section one, I can agree with the author that labor and birth is a traumatic event for the baby and many of the techniques suggested in part 3 would potentially calm the stress response in the child's body as opposed to traditional hospital protocol. 

I wouldn't want this to be the only birthing book that you read.  But if you are intrigued by water birth, peaceful birth, or any of the bullet-points listed above, borrow or pick up a copy of this thought provoking work to read more. I would love to hear your opinion in the comments below, especially if you have read this book or delivered using Dr. Leboyer's method.

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