16 April 2008

Michael Odent says birth is women-only business

Leading obstetrician Michael Odent says he is finally able to say what he really thinks about birth: men should stay away. According to the doctor who has been delivering babies for 50 years:

"The effect of this is that, with a man present, a woman cannot be as relaxed as she needs to be during labour, and hence the process becomes longer and more difficult."

Odent says that when men are present in the birthing room, often their anxiety rubs off on the birthing women and disrupts the natural release of oxytocin (the wonder hormone that starts labour and helps with bonding). Moreover, Odent argues that men are at greater risk of negative post-natal symptoms particularly if they see their partners through a difficult birth.

Finally, and this is the part that really annoys me...Odent thinks that if a man sees his partner give birth he might be turned off by her sexually forever:

"There are many things we do in private in order to preserve a degree of modesty and mystery.
And, for the benefit of our sex lives, it may be worth adding childbirth to this list. "

This is so old school. Whilst some men I talked to in my study, for instance, were a bit freaked out by the whole process of birth, when they saw their babies being born that same fear just turned into love. The men I spoke to found their wives more attractive and felt more in love with them after birth because they felt it united them as a couple.

What do you think? Should men be kicked out of the birthing suite?

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/femail/article.html?in_article_id=559913&in_page_id=1879


Anonymous said...

Odent wants to "give birth back to women". He is super supportive of midwifery and homebirth and waterbirth. Underdog causes still, esp in the USA.
He is trying to open up choices...a couple needs to feel free to choose where and how to birth, and not feel pressured to do the "modern thing" or the "politically correct thing".
The "mystery" comment he made may not fit everyone. There are many ways people like to tend to their relationships with their partners.
Obviously Odent has seen quite a few surprised at the intense emotion birth can engender. A warning for couples to look closely at themselves before they leap into the joint birth experience. It is not for everyone...
Maybe flexibility is the key...if labor is going poorly (for either partner...can we build an adrenaline meter?) have Dad leave for a while...see how things go then.

Anonymous said...

I agree that seeing a woman give birth may be off-putting sexually to her partner. Several men have come up to me in private ans told me as much (I used to be a midwife). However, it's usually if the birth was particularly traumatic, or the men had not done any reading or classes to prepare themselves for the birth. I think men should be given an easy get-out option if they start to feel uncomfortable, and that they should ALWAYS be absent from the room when suturing is performed - that is never a pretty sight, and the time out can be used to freshen up and call the relatives.

Anonymous said...

Hell, if I have to go through it, so does he.

Why should men get off lightly? All they have to do is orgasm and women then have to put up with the rest of the hell? I don't think so. He is going to park his little "I want a kid" butt in the room, and he's going to stay in there whether it puts him off sex or not.

Oh, and if there is sutures involved, he'd better watch that, too. So what if he gets queasy. I'm the one that's going to have to feel it.

Anonymous said...

My experience with having my husband at all three births (one hospital, and two homebirths) has been mixed. The first time, I fed off his anxiety and confusion. The second time, after we were both more educated, a doula brought a peaceful balance of feminine comfort and energy, and he reflected that.

The third time, he brought his own calm, and we had a beautiful birth even without a doula. He learned to reflect my emotions and provide reassurance. I think, often, men simply need to acquire the skill of nurture and empathy.

That said, as a birth doula, I've notice that all men are NOT created equal in the birth room. There are certain men (as well as many women) who simply lack the ability to be reassuring under pressure. In my opinion, all such people, male or female, should be left out of the birth process, so the mother doesn't feed off their negative "vibe".

As far as being sexually "off-putting" is concerned, we've never experienced that problem. We're generally both ready to roll shortly after birth. ;o)

Anonymous said...

I supported my wife through two births and I felt pretty useless during them. Get hair out of eyes or leave? Provide water or will she throw it up? Reassurance or condescending? Hold hand or get in the way? Chit chat for distraction or irritating babble? Run for mid-wife or leave in mid-wifes capable judgement? And so on.
However, there was no way that either I or my wife would have allowed me to not be there. I blogged about it as possibly the worst day of my life.
Most of what Odent sounds like rubbish to me but it's another opinion and option....

Anonymous said...

It is so easy to take out few senteces out of Odent talk and make some assumptions. I dont see what he says as an old school. I see it as a coming back to the nature. There is so many chemical and psychological processes going on during the labour and all of it is needed. He is not against men at all he just sees child birth as much more deeper process especially on the psychological level and if women is completely relaxed it can be done in minimal pain. I decided to go that way myself also influenced by Frederic Leboyer (also great birth specialist) had a dark quiet room and a midwife on the side, and everything was so calm. It was only me and the baby, i could fully concentrate on my body and the baby. Hard to believe but my child didnt cry after the birth just made a happy sound, and i didnt have any pain i hard so much about, also the position i delivered my child was so different (i found my own) to the ones i read about or heard women were going through. Look at cats, they aslo hide in the dark, isolated place to give birth !!
I am pregnant again adn soon will have a chance to repeat the experience. Cannot wait :)

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