Just what we need, another old white male “mansplaining” childbirth to us women

pushing a touch screen

A new article about Dr. Michel Odent has me pondering an interesting phenomenon.

Have you ever noticed that it is old white men who feel they must “mansplain” birth to us womenfolk?

What is “mansplaining”?

According to Wikipedia:

To explain (something) condescendingly (to a female listener), especially to explain something the listener already knows, presuming that she has an inferior understanding of it because she is a woman.

The father of childbirth mansplaining was Grantly Dick-Read, who freely admitted that his claims were intended to get women back into the kitchen and pregnant, instead of agitating for political and economic rights.

He was followed by a string of childbirth mansplainers:

Fernand Lamaze
Frederick LeBoyer
Robert Bradley (“Husband Coached Childbirth”)
Marsden Wagner

And, of course, Dr. Odent.

What are Odent’s qualifications for mansplaining childbirth to us womenfolk?

The self-proclaimed “childbirth specialist” is not an obstetrician. He’s a surgeon. As far as I can tell, he has no qualifications of any kind for issuing childbirth instructions beyond his “fascination (and adoration) of women and the way they have delivered babies since the beginning of time.” In other words, no qualifications at all.

He’s publicizing his latest book, Childbirth and the Future of Homo Sapiens.

But in and among the complex scientific jargon and references, are some light-bulb moments; some absolute gems that you will keep turning over in your mind for days. His book is a tinderbox that will infuriate both the pro-C-section lobbyists (babies born this way are five times more likely to suffer allergies he points out) and the natural birthers (infant death globally between birth and 28 days appears twice as high after planned homebirth than hospital birth).

Odent’s conclusion:

… [M]illennia of evolution has caused women to lose the ability to birth as nature intended (ideally, in his mind, alone except for one “knitting midwife”) and therefore our global priority should be “to rediscover the primary needs of laboring women.”

The newspaper reporter cautions:

But before we dismiss him as a kaftan-wearing loon who likes women to suffer, we should listen.

Okay, let’s listen. Then we can dismiss him as a kaftan-wearing loon who like women to suffer.

On oxytocin:

“Most women give birth now on a synthetic Oxytocin drip. It is the most common medical intervention in childbirth,” he explains. But with no long term studies on its side effects, he says: “We are playing with the Oxytocin systems of human beings without knowing what we are doing.”

Thanks to masses of recent research into its effects, medical science now accepts that natural Oxytocin is the ‘love’ hormone needed to initiate and maintain labour. Nicknamed the ‘shy’ hormone, it requires a dark, quiet, familiar and non-threatening environment in order to flow (the antithesis of noisy, brightly lit maternity wards with unknown faces coming and going). Its enemy is adrenalin – hence the increasing popularity of birthing mothers using hypnotherapy to stay calm and offset the negative effects of ‘fear, fight and flight.’

Odent is a fan of this type of Oxytocin (hence his claim that women should birth privately with a midwife who is so busy knitting that she doesn’t transmit her own adrenalin through the ‘mirror neurone complex’). The hormone ‘peaks’ moments after birth and causes the overwhelming sense of ‘love’ that some women report on seeing their baby.

But he is frankly terrified by the long term effects of synthetic Oxytocin (which suppresses the natural version) on babies, mothers and – controversially – their bond. Odent points out that autistic children produce less Oxytocin. He is incensed that “thousands of articles all over the world” have discussed the link between MMR jab and autism although there is no “valuable epidemiological study detecting correlations” between the two.

No long term studies on its effects? Literally tens of millions, possibly hundreds of millions of women and babies have been exposed to synthetic oxytocin (which is an chemically identical to oxytocin produced in the body) over a period of 2 full generations, and we have yet to discern any harmful effects.

The rest of Odent’s claims are also unsubstantiated.

The enemy of oxytocin is adrenalin? Really? You know what dramatically increases adrenalin in labor? Pain! You know what dramatically decreases adrenalin in labor? Epidurals! According to Odent’s “reasoning,” every woman ought to have an epidural in labor.

Synthetic oxytocin suppresses the natural version? Really? Why would that be a problem? We only give synthetic oxytocin when there isn’t enough natural oxytocin to get the job done. And it works.

Oytocin causes the overwhelming sense of ‘love’ that some women report on seeing their baby? Where’s the evidence for that claim? There is no evidence. Odent simply made it up.

But wait! There’s more:

Odent is perhaps most famous for recently claiming that men should not attend births…

“It is only in the middle of the twentieth century that the birth environment became ‘masculinised’. The number of specialist doctors increased at lightening speed and almost all were men,” he writes.

Now that’s funny. Here’s a man complaining that childbirth has become masculinized while simultaneously pushing his masculine beliefs about childbirth. Ironic, no?

This book reads like a giant ‘I dare you’ to the medical world. He dares researchers to open the can of worms to ponder if ‘HOW’ we are born impacts on ‘WHO’ we become. And that in turn dares the obstetric world to treat women as sensitive yet capable mammalian beings rather than mere parts in a masculinised, medicalised production line of baby-makers pumped full of potentially harmful drugs.

His book asks if this is “utopian?”

No, it’s not utopian.

It’s classic fabricated, unsubstantiated mansplaining.

184 Responses to “Just what we need, another old white male “mansplaining” childbirth to us women”

  1. trillia
    August 9, 2016 at 6:14 pm #

    Dudes we hope slain childbirth are sick in the head with extremely twisted ideas. They think I’m crazy. Haha. Nope. They are sadist perverts. Women know this.

    unlike our offer here, I also know that PITOCIN is BAD news. Cotton picking insane. women’s bodies would be able to bOrth in MUCH less discomfort outside patriarchy’s disease, pharma, poisoned water, hormones in meat and dairy (macrosomia, anyone?), war, psychological strain, etc etc.

    Men can tend to their business. The women are talking.

  2. Joy_F
    June 23, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

    I hate that! The stupidest comments on breastfeeding and childbirth sights are always from men! “My wife didn’t have any problem with thus and so” great. Maybe you are just a crappy husband and didn’t listen (as men are apt to do). Men should be banned from commenting and especially from giving their not helpful opinions. It’s not their bodies. Good freaking grief.

    Especially white men. Talk about clueless commenting!

    • Eddie
      June 23, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

      Note: Given the lack of tone in internet communications, I’m not offended or angry or hurt. I’m surprised. At most, mildly irritated.

      *blink* Really? White men are clueless? Men are apt to be crappy husbands and not listen? I’d comment on other stuff you said, but I wasn’t really paying attention. If you want to make your own forum and ban men, that’s your prerogative. But to suggest a blanket ban on all BF and childbirth sites is beyond the pale.

      Yes, it’s not the man’s body. But it is his baby.

      I’ve seen stupid posts from men here. I’ve also seen stupid posts from women here. That’s because idiocy is a trait of humanity, not just of any subset thereof.

      • Joy_F
        June 25, 2013 at 1:38 am #

        Breastfeeding and natural parenting is deeply set in white social classism. Women of course make awful points as well, but the reason for noting white men has more to do with them often being the ones (Dr. Sears etc.) who introduce this stuff to try and get white women to behave and set guidelines for acceptable behavior that purposefully exclude other races and ethnicities. The whole movement is incredibly racially charged, and drips of classism as well.

        Why else would the bad parenting adds (the pregnant mother on the mechanical bull, the baby in bed with a butcher knife) intentionally feature African Americans?

        White men come at most issues from a position of privilege which ill prepares them to be able to understand It’s his baby too, as you say, so rather than demanding his wife do this or that for that baby, how about he demand paternity leave, decent affordable childcare, healthcare policies etc rather than condescendingly pretending to understand things that they cannot?

        Listen toys and support us, but please beyond that, when it comes to issues of women’s bodies, men need to back off. Stop regulating birth control, stop policing breastfeeding, stop coming up with new theories of how cavemen lived and therefore how modern day women should copy the noble savage of prehistoric times. Just stop.

        • Eddie
          June 25, 2013 at 2:22 am #

          I never realized that men’s sole contribution was in regulating birth control, policing BF, and talking about cavemen, and otherwise being backwards brutes. Sorry, but sexism and racism are just as deplorable in reverse. I’m not buying it.

          To paint all ____ (men, women, whites, blacks, gays, straights, whatever) with the same brush is — IMHO — to be anti-feminist. You’re just betraying the same flavor of bigotry you claim to be against.

          • Expat in Germany
            June 25, 2013 at 3:53 am #

            Joy’s rant calls to mind the republican “war on women” and to the extent that the majority of national politicians are men, she has a point, but you are right, the problem is not ALL men, just a subset thereof. Drs Sears and Odent on the left and some conservative lawmakers on the right.

          • Joy_F
            June 25, 2013 at 11:20 am #

            You are absolutely right – not all men. Particular ones, men that get on these sites and talk down condescendingly to “dumb” women who must not know better than they, the enlightened ones.

            Ranting? Absolutely again. I’ve been out of the US for a long time – ten years actually, and this sort of ridiculousness is only possible in a wealthy, privileged society. In many countries today, childbirth is still the most common cause of death for women of childbearing age. Not to mention the completely debilitating complications (fistulas for example) that can sentence a woman to a living hell on earth.

            I have no problem with men who humbly listen and want to help, of white male doctors who do their jobs and save lives and search for ways to make things better.

            But I have little tolerance for men who are going to argue condescendingly that women need to get in line and do what they say. “My wife had no trouble breastfeeding, so it must all be a myth” or “my sister gave birth naturally in her backyard so attacking homebirth is uncalled for.” It is these men – particular men – that I think should have no place on blogs having to do with women’s care.

            And yes – I am tired of as you put it – the white male squad deciding if health insurance should cover birth control. Maybe it should no longer cover prostrate exams or Viagra. Those white men were the ones I was thinking of exactly.

          • Eddie
            June 25, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

            Let’s say that some woman gives birth naturally in her back yard. Why do you find it more annoying for her husband or brother to be ignorant of the risk she took and saying others should do the same than for her to be ignorant of it and say others should do the same? This is a real question. I find both of them to be frustrating, if for slightly different reasons.

            Curiously, a pattern we run into about home births discussed here is where the woman is all for it and the husband is against, due to the risks to wife and baby.

            One thing I’ve had to explain to a few (male) friends about birth control is that insurance companies left to their own devices want to cover it. In America, a reproductive lifetime’s supply of birth control costs less than a single pregnancy. This is a surprise to some men.

          • Joy_F
            June 25, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

            I don’t think we are actually disagreeing Eddie. I was directing my complaints toward particular commenters who have said things like “my wife/sister did it like this, therefore you should be able to and all info to the contrary is a myth.”

            As to the birth control and insurance companies, absolutely agree and I have seen the studies. There seems to be a lot of anti-science ignorance out there and I am not sure why.

            I think I didn’t clarify in the first comment because I thought it was given – as the article is referring also to “those particular men” I thought it was implied.

          • Eddie
            June 26, 2013 at 1:17 am #

            In that case, it seems I mistook your first posts, for which I apologize.

          • LukesCook
            June 25, 2013 at 4:05 am #

            “Sorry, but sexism and racism are just as deplorable in reverse.”

            Unless the balance of power is equal, they aren’t.

          • Eddie
            June 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

            Is this a defence of reverse [racism, sexism, other “ism”] or are you just saying both are deplorable but not equally so? I can’t think of a kind of prejudice or harassment or bias that is made acceptable by being in the backwards direction.

            (I don’t see EEOC or affirmative action as being racist or sexist. I see them as forcibly applying a balance to society in order to right wrongs.)

          • Joy_F
            June 25, 2013 at 11:32 am #

            It’s not equal. Women don’t have the same power to oppress, particularly not women of color. We know this, it’s a fact of life.

            And my intention was not to portray all men as this way, but particular ones – the ones who condescendingly get on these blogs and explain how we are stupid. Those men. Who seem to be majority white from their pictures – but that would fit with this being a class issue as well – those particular men shôuld learn to listen, and at least hear rather than dictating what all women should do – and taking away things from them since they still have power after all.

            Like the recent contraceptive hearing in the House of Representatives, where old white men sat around and discussed whether or to allow women birth control without a single woman’s voice on their panel. That is what I am referring to. Those white men.

            If the roles were ever reversed, you would see why the anger exists. But they never will be, so nothing to worry about – its just a rant after all.

          • Eddie
            June 25, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

            You’re absolutely correct that it’s not equal. It’s more rare for the oppressed to be in a position where they are able to oppress those in the majority. That doesn’t make it acceptable when it occurs. I oppose all forms of prejudice. For example, sexual harassment is no more acceptable if a women does it to a woman or to a man, than if a man is the culprit.

            About the men you refer to above, I agree with you completely. If and when those particular men show up here, you’ll see that I oppose them as well. Fortunately, this blog attracts few of those men. Perhaps they’re intimidated by the very large number of highly educated women who comment here, as well as by Dr Amy’s credentials. Prejudiced men, in my experience, tend to be intimidated by smart women. That always struck me as funny. (That my female friends would dumb themselves down always struck me as tragic.)

            I completely agree that “natural child birth” and associated ideas are as much about class as about race. In many ways, even more about privilege. Dr Amy has spelled that out very clearly a number of times, and I agree.

            I lived outside the US as a child. It gives a different perspective. A useful perspective, IMHO, to be able to see one’s culture from the “outside.” Living outside the US, I also saw strong poverty, which has informed my awareness of privilege. From that perspective, just about all people living in industrialized countries are in a position of relative privilege.

            I’ve experienced prejudice before. Nothing as constant or unrelenting or oppressive as what many women or people of color experience on a regular basis, and enough to know it’s only a taste. And “worry” isn’t driving anything I say. I object to prejudice in any form. Yes, there are those who only object to “reverse” prejudice. I am not one of them.

        • Lizzie Dee
          June 25, 2013 at 5:03 am #

          Joy, your anger and dismissal is understandable, but don’t you think your view is a bit disproportionate? Sure, “white social classicism” is decidedly at the bottom of much of the skewed perspective, and it may be that some influential men are the instigators – but it does take women to run with it. Odent’s lordly pronouncements are infuriating, but I personally think that the Ina Maes are much worse. When you are inside a privileged group – whether it is men who cannot reconcile themselves to a lost status quo, or women who have easy natural births, it is difficult to see things from other perspectives – but that is not all that difficult to see through – and vanity is a fair bit of it anyway. Those who deliberately lie and distort for personal gain and power are a lot more troublesome and women beware women when it comes to policing mothers is a lot more depressing.

          • AmyP
            June 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

            “Odent’s lordly pronouncements are infuriating, but I personally think that the Ina Maes are much worse.”

            The problem with Odent isn’t so much Odent, as it is the fact that thousands of women listen to him. The only power he has is the power that women have given him. If women weren’t listening to him, he’d just be some guy on the internet with opinions–annoying but nearly harmless.

          • trillia
            August 9, 2016 at 6:18 pm #

            It’s to time to stop blaming women for men’s sickness.

      • Joy_F
        June 25, 2013 at 1:50 am #

        It s in some ways as if the British came back to Kashmir to “fix” things whenever I see white men commenting about what women “should” do. You just want to say, “thanks, but haven’t you caused enough damage already?”

      • trillia
        August 9, 2016 at 6:16 pm #

        “Blink” indeed. “I’m not angry! You haven’t gotten my goat! !!1!”

        Haha. You protest too much. Men are largely clueless and need to learn to hush their mouths.

  3. deafgimp
    June 21, 2013 at 2:08 am #

    Just for fun, the mainsplaining tumblr


  4. rh1985
    June 19, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    So I wasn’t sure where else to post this, but I wanted to bring to people’s attention in case anyone in California wants to write to their representative against this bill since I know “baby friendly” hospital topics have come up here multiple times before – http://myemail.constantcontact.com/FYI–Baby-Friendly-Hospitals.html?soid=1110175474110&aid=TRShpDigx_U

    it’s a bill to mandate California hospitals join the “Baby friendly” hospital program. As I am not in California, I doubt anything I say would do much good but I am horrified by this bill.

  5. PollyPocket
    June 19, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    I think Odent’s gender is irrelevant. He makes unfounded claims which do not help anyone. It’s simply an ad hominem attack. His statements are absurd on their face, just as they would be if a female or female midwife or OB made them.

    I don’t like ad hominem attacks from the NCB crowd, and while it might be good to demonstrate that a respected and revered member of that crowd is all but insane, I don’t think it furthers the cause if preventing poor outcomes in childbirth.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      June 19, 2013 at 8:54 am #

      I disagree. I think it is extremely relevant. His belief that women need to be told how to give birth is misogynistic. It is quite remarkable that only old white men feel they need to explain birth to women. Women physicians and scientists seem to feel no need to tell other women how they “ought” to give birth.

    • Karen in SC
      June 19, 2013 at 10:03 am #

      How is the above an ad hominem attack? Dr. Amy clearly explains, without inflammatory language, why he is not qualified to be an expert in obstetrics. She also debunks some of his other claims about childbirth, then labels him as a kaftan wearing loon for espousing those beliefs. I would think an “attack” would have to go much further, but that’s my opinion. ymmv

    • Eddie
      June 19, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

      I get your point, and without context it can seem like just an ad hominem attack. I once objected to the term “mansplaining,” here, some months ago. If any one individual male doctor says something like this, his gender is probably irrelevant.

      But the overall context is that the thought leaders of the NCB movement seem to all (or at least primarily) be old, white men. In the context of a way of thinking that in some ways is inherently sexist, that’s interesting and in some ways telling. It doesn’t reflect on all men. It doesn’t reflect on all male doctors. It doesn’t mean that male doctors cannot talk with authority about these matters. But it is worth noting.

      OT: Every time I see “Grantly Dick-Read” I read “Dirk Gently.”

  6. June 19, 2013 at 7:14 am #

    How good this article is! I like it. I will share with my
    friends. I hope that many people also have hobby the same as me.

  7. Name
    June 19, 2013 at 6:50 am #

    So….if a male doctor has information that could help and protect women, they should deliberately withhold that info from women? Because it’s antifeminist for a man to try to help women?

    What a crock.

    • Karen in SC
      June 19, 2013 at 7:44 am #

      see realitycheque’s comment below

    • Gene
      June 19, 2013 at 8:25 am #

      This in some ways is a good point. I know plenty of women who will only see a female OB/Gyn because “men don’t have the equipment, so they don’t KNOW”. I’ve seen parents visibly relax if I mention that I am a mother myself (because I KNOW what it is to have kids). Female urologists face some discrimination because they don’t have a penis and therefore wouldn’t understand erectile dysfunction, etc (like women don’t have urinary tracts?). But to immediately dismiss a man’s opinion because of his gender is wrong.

      Though in this case, I believe that Dr. Odent is an idiot in spite of his gender, not because of it.

    • KarenJJ
      June 19, 2013 at 8:33 am #

      Attacking information because it came from a man is wrong. It’s pretty easy to attack the information for being crap information without bringing in gender.

      Problem is when someone is trying to explain the experience of childbirth and the feelings of love towards children and setting goals and aims that aren’t what the vast majority of women want anyway. Explaining what we want and why it’s good for us, I find that condescending “mansplaining”. Similar to when Sheldon tries to explain to Raj what Indian culture involves.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      June 19, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      What makes you think that those men had information that could help and protect women?

      The history of natural childbirth is the history of old, white men telling women how they “ought” to give birth based on their views on the role of women and what childbirth ought to “mean” to them. It has nothing to do with science.

      Grantly Dick-Read, the father of the natural childbirth philosophy, was a eugenicist who was quite honest about his goal of convincing women of the “better classes” to have more children and give up those pesky demands for political and economic equality. He thought that by lying about childbirth pain (he simply fabricated his central premise that “primitive” women don’t have pain in labor) he could convince them.

      Dick-Read came out of a long tradition of men who insisted that educated women developed infertility, “shriveled ovaries,” and “hysteria,” a disease they located in the uterus (hyster is Latin for uterus).

      Many medical advances, including pain relief in childbirth, were initially opposed by men (and still are in some places) because they believe the Biblical injunction that women should give birth in pain. Indeed, it was women themselves, first Queen Victoria, and then the wives of prominent British politicians who DEMANDED access to pain relief for themselves and for poor women.

      It is more than a coincidence that natural childbirth is a philosophy created by old, white men. I believe it reflects a desire to police women’s bodies by telling them how they “ought” to give birth. It has nothing to do with science, and it is a shame that so many gullible Western, white women (and apparently some men) have fallen for it.

    • BeatlesFan
      June 19, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      It’s not antifeminist for a male to help women. Trying to help women doesn’t include telling them what to do, or making them feel like failures for failing to meet impossible standards.

  8. realityycheque
    June 19, 2013 at 3:12 am #

    NCB: “Don’t trust OBs! They’re surgeons!!”

    *proceeds to take advice on birth from an ACTUAL surgeon with no qualifications in obstetrics/midwifery to speak of*

    • Eddie
      June 19, 2013 at 3:32 am #

      ROFL … I thought the same thing!

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      June 19, 2013 at 10:19 am #

      Yeah, but that’s really not all that different from the “‘Dr’ Amy doesn’t even have a license!” and then go on to listen … lots of people who were never OBs in the first place.

      It’s standard procedure for this bunch.

  9. Felicitasz
    June 18, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    (Why does the page turn black halfway down in the comment section, making the material next to impossible to read?)

    • stacey
      June 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

      It is an annoying mystery no one has figured out thus far. I hate Disqus, and this is just one of the reasons.

    • Lisa Cybergirl
      June 19, 2013 at 5:38 am #

      Someone posted how to deal with it, and I illustrated it:

      When you finish reading a thread, go to the far right of the heading of the first message in the thread, and hover – you will see a minus sign. Click it, and it will collapse the whole thread under that message, making lots more room before you hit the black.

      • Turkey Sandwich
        June 19, 2013 at 10:51 am #

        This is life-changing. Thanks!

        • deafgimp
          June 21, 2013 at 1:43 am #

          I find it just as annoying. You have to hunt down the exact spot and click on every thread to make it small enough so it doesn’t run over to the black. When there’s a lot of responses it’s a huge bother. I wonder if changing her site’s theme (so that it doesn’t have the color blocking at the bottom) would make a difference.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      June 19, 2013 at 10:21 am #

      At least the black section is better than the blue section. Barf.

      The blue at least is easier to read if you select all (ctrl-A)

  10. Cait
    June 18, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    Michel Odent absolutely does my head in.

    Also, am I the only one being stalked by adverts for Laboraide? It’s basically a mouthguard being sold as pain relief for labouring women. I am agog.

    • theadequatemother
      June 18, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

      if you need a mouthguard so you don’t break your teeth during labour you probably also need an epidural….

    • LibrarianSarah
      June 18, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

      Reminds me of that episode of the Simpsons when future Maggie was in labor and the nurse said “She needs an epidural” and future Dr. Hibbert replied “Come now. You know we discovered something much better” and stuck a pacifier in her mouth.

    • Dr Kitty
      June 18, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

      It seems to be a hi-tech version of biting down on a stick.
      I do not think it is much of an improvement on the original.

      • Certified Hamster Midwife
        June 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

        Biting on a ginger root would taste better.

        • KarenJJ
          June 18, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

          Or a block of Lindt.

          • Box of Salt
            June 18, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

            But your teeth are going to go through that.

          • KarenJJ
            June 18, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

            Hopefully 🙂

          • Sue
            June 19, 2013 at 2:23 am #

            That’s the idea: bite through, swallow, repeat.

          • Petanque
            June 19, 2013 at 2:12 am #

            Then you’ll need more Lindt!

    • stacey
      June 18, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

      ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????

    • SkepticalGuest
      June 19, 2013 at 12:12 am #

      Please tell me you are making this up.

  11. fiftyfifty1
    June 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    Once again, the “But You Won’t Bond” threat. And we women jump right up and wring our hands in response. How does this threat have such power over us? All this fretting over Bonding has got to be a place and time-bound cultural phenomenom. History will look back on this the way we look back on the hysteria over masturbation in the 1800s or on the obsession with stool patterns of the early 1900s.

    • June 18, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

      You know what really impedes bonding – a dead baby, a dead mother, and traumatic birth experiences….

      Cesareans, epidurals and pitocin are not the cause of bonding problems….

      • Certified Hamster Midwife
        June 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

        There’s a great scene in “Call the Midwife” where a retired midwife/nun muses that when she started out in the early 20th century, babies were left to splash around naked in the gutters, not dressed up and fussed over. She asks herself, do more of the babies survive now because they’re fussed over so much, or do mothers allow themselves to fuss over them more now [c. 1952] because we can be reasonably certain they will survive to adulthood?

        If you are privileged enough to receive medical treatment (or to have it available, if you reject it…) and have the leisure time to read birth websites and books, you’re already ahead of most of the planet. If you give enough of a crap to worry about whether you’re a good mom, you’re probably a great mom, artificial bonding hormones be damned.

        • KarenJJ
          June 18, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

          I remember reading a story about Indian parents giving birth in Australia. They didn’t have a name picked out, they mostly left the baby in the nursery and they weren’t interested in skin to skin or even cuddling. The midwives were worried about the baby, bonding and whether it was wanted or not and whether there was a family problem. They consulted someone who told them that it was quite common because traditionally people in India were afraid that the baby wouldn’t live. The midwives spoke to the parents and yes, the baby was very much wanted, but they were following tradition and were worried about the baby not living. The moral of the story was that the midwives would also need to be aware of cultural traditions and be sensitive to different practices.

    • realityycheque
      June 19, 2013 at 3:09 am #

      It’s disgraceful the way they play on the whole ‘you won’t bond if you don’t birth this way/breastfeed/have immediate skin-to-skin’, and they call obstetricians ‘fear mongering’?

      I don’t understand though, have these women never bonded with anyone else in their lives? Friends? Their partners? Why do they think that oxytocin in those first few hours or days of life is somehow going to determine the quality of their relationship forever? It just doesn’t make sense and completely ignores every other close non-biological relationship we have in our lives.

      Also, what does it say about adoptive parents? I hate that there’s a part of me that knows that it’s probably not too far fetched for a sanctimommy to claim that adoptive parents don’t have “the same” bond to their children as biological parents have. Ugh.

      • AmyM
        June 19, 2013 at 6:45 am #

        They will probably try to claim that in other relationships, chosen ones like those with a partner or friend, the bond works by a different mechanism. Not that they could tell you what it is. And then of course bonds with non-mother relatives work by yet a third mechanism. But mother child bonds? Nope. Only being passed through a vagina and smeared with vaginal fluids will do, and then using those fluids to be welded together skin-to-skin immediately after the birth. You can be the passer or the passee, but otherwise there will never be a bond and you will be a sociopath who pulls wings off flies and sets fires.

    • Lisa Cybergirl
      June 19, 2013 at 5:44 am #

      What’s supposed to happen to all these un-bonded babies, anyway? Do they become serial killers or something?

    • Lisa Cybergirl
      June 19, 2013 at 5:44 am #

      What’s supposed to happen to all these un-bonded babies, anyway? Do they become serial killers or something?

      • KarenJJ
        June 19, 2013 at 5:47 am #

        My personal suspicion, based on no evidence whatsoever, is that they become NCB advocates that then blame their mother for any of their shortcomings.

        • Ashley Wilson
          June 22, 2013 at 2:23 am #

          THIS!! THIS THIS THIS!!! I have actually seen this. One of my NCB “friends” very clearly has Issues with her mother. And it’s the really messed up kind where they pretend everything is okay but the way she talks about her mother… Basically think of any mother/daughter relationship from Arrested Development.

          Another case I’ve seen was a NCB troll attacking a community I was apart of. She was relentless and it became clear that she was just doing her best to “not be like her mother”.

          I’m sure that this isn’t true of all cases or even most cases. Woo and echo chambers are powerful things. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this is true of a lot of the diehard flat out crazy NCBirthers.

      • Anaesthetist
        June 19, 2013 at 6:12 am #

        this just annoys me – its a human baby, not a gosling

        we form
        bonds, we dont imprint. Your bond with your child started prenatally and
        continues with your relationship. You can bond with adopted children.
        Fathers and extended family also bond with the child. Your baby is not
        doomed to spend its life searching for someone in scrubs because a
        midwife handled them or trot round a labour ward trying to learn to use
        forceps because they are imprinted on the obstetrician who assisted

        • Eddie
          June 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

          Someone voted this down?! I think this point is so apt! We don’t imprint. Human beings don’t require primitive imprinting to form bonds.

      • fiftyfifty1
        June 19, 2013 at 8:22 am #

        Exactly! They issue dire warnings that you won’t bond correctly, but then what? What does that mean exactly? That child will walk around like a robot and the mother will forget to feed it? No, I think what they imply is that Mom and baby will LOVE EACH OTHER LESS than they would otherwise. I suppose that means that they will love each other only as much as a father and baby love each other, which in our culture is assumed to be less in an unspoken way. To which I think “Fine then”. What if this is all true and fathers really DO love their kids less? And that if I “do it wrong” I might only love my children as much as a father does. The dads of the world don’t seem to be sitting around all sad worrying about that. As a matter of fact men seem to be doing pretty well overall worldwide!
        So this comes down to people telling women that if they don’t follow NCB they will be doomed to being like a father. And we women not only BELIEVE this, but react to this threat like it’s some sort of horrific outcome. I just don’t get it.

  12. Anj Fabian
    June 18, 2013 at 2:09 pm #


    Congratulations to Jeevan!

    • Certified Hamster Midwife
      June 18, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

      Has he figured it out yet?

      • fiftyfifty1
        June 18, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

        Ok I’m clueless about these matters. Do we know why his traffic went up so far so fast over the last few days? I mean I know why he gets lots of overall traffic: his blog is terrific. But more lately?

        • Certified Hamster Midwife
          June 18, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

          I checked for links to him in Google but that was rudimentary. I’m surprised Blogspot offers no analytics tools.

          • rh1985
            June 19, 2013 at 12:06 am #

            It’s possible he used some keyword that attracted a bunch of bots. I’ve had that happen on book reviews I’ve posted.

            Blogspot does show some things but it’s basic like country of the visitors.

          • Jocelyn
            June 19, 2013 at 12:38 am #

            It does also show the top sites where the traffic is coming from. If he’s getting a ton of traffic from the same few sites, they’re likely spam sites sending over zombie stats so that he’ll come look at their site.

  13. June 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    Bwahahaha, loved this article. Penn and Teller did an episode about dolphins but maybe they should do one on natural childbirth, as well- thanks for recommending, I’ve been watching it and love it!

  14. T.
    June 18, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    I have thought that, since CS take away the evolutionary need for “relatively small heads” it would be a good things evolutionary speaking, as it would allow us to develop bigger brains.

    • Certified Hamster Midwife
      June 18, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

      People don’t seem to be getting much smarter, though.

      • rh1985
        June 19, 2013 at 12:07 am #

        I saw this on Facebook: “We live in an age of smart phones and stupid people.”

      • T-
        June 19, 2013 at 4:40 am #

        Evolution time is hundreds or thousands or millions of years. If any change derived from the widespread use of CS are going to happen (I believe they will) it is going to be far down the road 🙂

        • Antigonos CNM
          June 19, 2013 at 4:49 am #

          Maybe by that time, we will all have evolved to have computers in our bellies, like Teletubbies, and babies will be created synthetically

        • Lizzie Dee
          June 19, 2013 at 11:00 am #

          What do you believe they will be?

      • Antigonos CNM
        June 19, 2013 at 4:48 am #

        About 15 years ago, when on night duty on postpartum, I was called to a room where a mother held her screaming newborn out at arm’s length and plaintively asked me “Wha..at do I do with it?”, and all I wanted to do was say [I didn’t} “Feed it, you stupid cow?”, I came to the conclusion that [1] I was getting burned out, and [2] the human race not only hadn’t evolved much in 50,000 years [or whatever], it was rapidly regressing. Or as my Iraqi, and very patriarchal, Father-In-Law would have said “Education spoils a woman’s brain”. Crying baby = hunger = solution: food [bottle or breast unimportant which] seems SO obvious, somehow.

        • T.
          June 19, 2013 at 9:28 am #

          I have decided to see this as satire.

          • Antigonos CNM
            June 19, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

            Unfortunately, it is a true story. And I’ve had variations of it more times than I can count. There are definitely a fair number of immature women out there who think a baby is a fashion accessory and get a very rude awakening when they find the little darling isn’t as easy as having a cat or dog.

    • theadequatemother
      June 19, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

      or smaller pelvises more conducive to walking upright without 5th and 6th decade osteoarthritis…

  15. Amy M
    June 18, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

    How does this guy have any credibility at all? Every single reader here can point to her (or his for that matter) own story to show that Odent is spouting a load of crap. Sure we all have anecdotes, but he is not exactly backing up his claims with sound evidence.

    My anecdote–I eventually got the pit to regulate contractions, which prevented a Csection. The birth of my children took 22hrs, but it was very calm–I remember a nurse or doctor remarking on that. I was given pain relief, so I was not screaming or traumatized. I was pretty relaxed for most of it. My husband was present, but mostly sitting or standing quietly by. I wouldn’t say it was dim, but not overly bright either. I did not have that immediate rush of love for my infants, but it developed later, over time and they are not autistic or otherwise impaired. Dr. Odent can stick it. I can’t believe any woman would stay married to an ass like that.

    • Ceridwen
      June 18, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

      My labor was extremely similar. Got pit because the contractions just weren’t hard/regular enough and I was dilating extremely slowly despite many hours of labor.

      The pit did it’s job perfectly, my epidural worked great, and the entire labor was a much nicer experience than I was anticipating. I had an immediate rush of relief at her birth. I was happy she’d made it through safely (and that I had as well). And no issues bonding with her at all.

      The attitude of people like Odent is nothing but harmful for women IMO.

  16. June 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    If ever there was a load of BS, surely this would be it.

    • theadequatemother
      June 18, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

      what effect does smelling a big ol pile of BS have on oxytocin release? 🙂

      • June 18, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

        Maybe that’s the true discovery – Odent has discovered a BS – Oxytocin link. After all, isn’t a lot of falling in love all about romantacizing the idea of the subject of affection….

        • theadequatemother
          June 18, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

          so instead of a real deep and abiding love, through thick and thin, colic and tantrums and wrapping the family car around the family hockey net, tickets for public drunken teenage pissing and teen pregnancy scares, kids that move back in after college…instead of a love that can handle ALL of that, Odent is advocating for….


          Cool. Sign me up. Sounds more useful and fulfilling.

          • June 18, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

            Infatuation would seem to explain a lot of the NCB culture….

            I want the thick and thin kind of love – and I’m guessing that had nothing to do with Oxytocin.

          • An Actual Attorney
            June 18, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

            I’ve had (in my misspent youth) a fair number of oxytocin rushes from orgasms and was infatuated with a fair number of partners. I much prefer the thick and thin kind of love I have with my wife and actual kid.

            Not that there isn’t a place for a great shag or other form or oxy-rush, but what the hell does that have to do with anything?

            Also, does “Dr” Odent not love his kids?
            (the quotes around dr are just to be snarky)

    • desiree
      June 18, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      How about we measure moms’ blood oxytocin levels and use that to determine who loves their kids more? Would Odent argure against the love/oxytocin link if it didn’t suit his purposes? Of course he would.

  17. theadequatemother
    June 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    I have always been really confused by Dr Odent’s version of neuroendocrinology so a couple of months ago I did a bit of reading around it.

    warning…not a neurobiologist. I hope someone here is and can contribute to this…

    The posterior pituitary, which releases oxytocin, does so into a venous plexus that is outside the blood brain barrier…so basically the hormone gets dumped into the peripheral circulation much like it would if you gave it IV. In fact, you could picture a wee tiny IV into one of the draining veins in you neck…same effect.

    Where it gets complicated is that the posterior pituitary also has neuronal projections other parts of your brain. So when oxytocin gets released there it has effects on emotions, memory, etc.

    If you give IV oxytocin or an epidural the spike in oxy that you see with birth in the peripheral blood stream is blunted. Okay…where Odent really extrapolates is to assume that the central effect is also blunted. How would you know without some probes planted deep in the grey matter or immediate sacrifice, brain biopsy and histiologic staining? I found some animal studies where they had done this sort of thing and concuded that central oxy release was also blunted…however, I am not an animal and blunting in one area again doesn’t automatically mean blunting in all areas and with all the various effects (pre junctional, post junctional, excitatory, inhibitory) how do you start to sort out what effect a reduction has in any one area?

    Neuro studies on animals also made us think that if we blocked ca and mg receptors in stroke victims we could mitigate the damage. turns out it made it worse. Oops. Studies stopped early/ pharma stock decreased.

    And why is the moment of birth your one and only chance for bonding? what about all that snuggling, feeding and what not that comes later? what about the magic of shared experiences? Why can’t Odent put this into perspective, even if it is a real effect, how important could it possibly be?

    • Certified Hamster Midwife
      June 18, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

      Isn’t letdown of milk a huge oxytocin rush?

    • yentavegan
      June 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

      Oh for the love of G-d!! My mother loves and is bonded with me and my siblings. she was knocked out cold for births. her babies were brought to her hours after being born. There is no magic window of opportunity to fall in love with your infant. What does Dr. Odent think we women are, ducks?

  18. Susan
    June 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    Great point. Is there even one female OB darling of the natural birth movement? I definitely believe men can be excellent OBs; I had a male CNM for the birth of my daughter as well. But, there is something to this phenomenon of the elevation of male doctors who believe in their philosophy to some sort of cult leader/rock star status. During my tenure in the natural movement I went to a lecture by Michel Odent. I don’t remember much about what he had to say now but I definitely remember the feeling of in the room as the women smiled and nodded and fawned over him. In retrospect it’s creepy and not surprising that he enjoys his position of being able to expound on this theory or that to a worshipful audience.

      • LibrarianSarah
        June 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

        Damn is their a nonsense or quackery that this woman doesn’t believe in?

        • Susan
          June 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

          Yeah that’s crazy. I’ve heard the name but I don’t know if she is on the Odent/Bradley/Dick-Read level in the natural birth world. She could be and I just don’t know it. I have to try covering my mirror tonight!

          • Certified Hamster Midwife
            June 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

            When I was little I got freaked out by the moving silhouettes car headlights created on my walls and couldn’t sleep. I got blinds.

    • stacey
      June 18, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

      There are female OB NCBers- not many, but they exist. None are famous like then men though. The only famous women that come to mind are ones with zero relevant credentials.
      They worship male doctors (Odent is NOT an OB) because any male doc is seen as proof of their righteousness. And of course, because patriarchy.

    • realityycheque
      June 19, 2013 at 3:20 am #

      It’s funny how they whip out the complaint that all OBs are males as an argument against hospital birth… and yet they’re happy with men when it suits their agenda?

  19. mostlyclueless
    June 18, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    I’m a grad student in the biomedical sciences having a baby soon. My adviser is a 50something guy with 3 kids.

    He read a book recently in which there is an anecdote about a Native American woman who is traveling with her tribe. She leaves the group briefly, squats, pops out a baby, and is back with the tribe before anyone notices she’s gone.

    On the basis of this anecdote, my adviser has concluded that THIS is the natural course of birth, and the hours/days long labors that women have now are due to modern medical interventions. He honestly believes that if we would stop intervening, we would all just squat out babies and be back to work in a jiff.

    This man is a respected biomedical researcher at a top-tier university.

    • SkepticalGuest
      June 18, 2013 at 11:49 am #

      Hmmm…I attempted a homebirth. Mistake? Yes. But…I was in labor for 30 hours AT HOME, with my midwife and no medical interventions. Got that, Mr. Advisor: 30 effing hours of labor with no intervention and NO BABY. Took another 20 hours at the hospital for that.

      Also, getting up and walking off right after delivery seems to be courting PPH. Just sayin’.

    • Jocelyn
      June 18, 2013 at 11:53 am #

      Why do people hear ONE experience like this and decide that the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of births that take hours and hours and are filled with pain are the births that are “unnatural”?

      • mostlyclueless
        June 18, 2013 at 11:54 am #

        Right? And it’s not even an anecdote from someone he met — it’s something someone put in a book that allegedly happened to one woman over a hundred years ago.

        • stacey
          June 18, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

          Totally ignoring the very real possibility that she was not noticed because she was IGNORED. Or that it was BS to begin with.

          • Antigonos CNM
            June 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

            Unassisted birth like this seems to have happened in a number of Native American tribes– I first read about it in a primary source work on the Cheyenne. Of course, we don’t know how many women never made it back to the tribe carrying their little bundles of joy, or how many left dead babies behind them. The Cheyenne had other delightful practices, such as leaving crying babies, in their cradleboards [no skin to skin here!] outside of their village, to teach babies that crying brought rejection, not gratification of their needs [crying infants could alert an enemy] I am reminded of Dr. Tom Dooley writing about Vietnamese women, who squatted all day in rice paddies, which was great for their pelvic floors, and who had babies the right size for their Asian pelves, and perhaps it was a factor, but he never saw the dead ones, did he? Besides, there’s a genetic aspect: a woman who doesn’t survive her first birth isn’t going to pass on her genes to any daughters, so women with pelvic abnormalities, tendencies to PPH or pre-eclampsia get winnowed out over time.

            I have definitely seen culturally different reactions to labor pains, regardless of interventions or the lack thereof. Did you know that Nigerian women snap their fingers with contractions?

          • Sue
            June 19, 2013 at 4:27 am #

            Nigeria has the highest maternal death rate in childbirth, so I’m not sure that finger snapping helps much…

          • Antigonos CNM
            June 19, 2013 at 4:55 am #

            A subject which definitely needs more study. Obviously it isn’t the finger-snapping, it might be which fingers are snapped, and whether it is accomplished in a natural or unnatural way. Or whether the finger-snapping woman trusts her fingers…

            Chinese women smile throughout their contractions. But if you notice tears in their eyes, they may well be fully dilated.
            Puerto Rican women scream the house down BEFORE they go into active labor. Two reasons: they are heavily embued with the “suffering Madonna” ideal of womanhood, and they also believe that a son [of course, a son!] born in an easy labor, won’t be a strong man. So they behave as if they are being murdered by dismemberment in labor. Other Hispanics tend to be much the same way.

            [Of course, I’m generalizing]

        • attitude devant
          June 18, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

          Is he possibly talking about Sacagawea?

      • June 18, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

        maybe it’s because they want to believe it? Because they may be afraid of giving birth and want to believe that stories like this will happen to them if they do the right things- whatever they are. Besides, I ate pretty much anything, had three healthy pregnancies and no problems whatsoever. My SIL eats only organic food, almost no meat, tons of veggies and she’s the one who had to have a CS the frst time. Now she’s pregnant again and she was scheduled for induction ebcause of her liver. Luckily, she got better and doesn’t have to be induced. Doing the right things doesn’t get you the right birth, but I’d appreciate your thoughts for my SIL, let’s hope all goes well.

      • Squillo
        June 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

        And ignore the fact that they’re only hearing about the ONE because it’s so unusual.

      • realityycheque
        June 19, 2013 at 3:24 am #

        Exactly, you’d think that with his credentials, if nothing else he would understand anecdote and outliers and recognise that you can’t deduce anything from a single experience.

    • Ainsley Nicholson
      June 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

      I’m sure he would like very much to have you pop out the baby and be back in the lab before anyone notices you are gone.

    • theadequatemother
      June 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

      it was probably her forth or fifth baby! or maybe because the tribe was on the move her fear of being left behind trumped everything else. Or maybe there was a significant amount of socialization/ group norm in that culture that meant you couldn’t make a fuss over childbirth. I remember reading a story somewhere of two different communities in africa, where the women came to the same hospital/ medical center for birth and women from one were screaming while women from the other were silent because that was what was expected in each culture and how you got respect and a big gift out of your partner/ husband.

      • Certified Hamster Midwife
        June 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

        Africa has push presents?

        • Susan
          June 18, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

          Yes, like maybe he’ll only get two other wives….

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      June 18, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

      So 3000 years ago, when the book of Genesis was written, what were the nasty interventions they were doing that made childbirth so obviously painful, even to the men who wrote the bible, that it was considered to be a curse from God?

      • AmyP
        June 18, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

        Thinking that childbirth is painful is a patriarchal conspiracy. I read this on a website about orgasmic birth. (Can’t find it now.)

        Don’t ask me why the authors of Genesis would want women to falsely believe childbirth is painful.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          June 18, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

          Of course you don’t. You aren’t a guy. As guys, we learn this during the secret meetings.

          So, in summary, it’s a guy thing, you wouldn’t understand, so don’t worry your pretty little head over it.

    • Seattle Hannah
      June 18, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

      I wonder what he thinks of the women in the show “I didn’t know I was pregnant” who think they are dying and it turns out they are just giving birth?

  20. Lizz
    June 18, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    This was the guy that ruined the birth of my son for me. Because all I had going through my head after that c-section was his stupid line from the “Business of Being Born” about c-section babies and Mothers not getting love cocktail.

  21. Squillo
    June 18, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    All this explains why there’s no autism in primitive cultures.

    • LibrarianSarah
      June 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

      Those poor primitive cultures are really missing out on some awesome individuals then.

  22. Squillo
    June 18, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    I’ll listen to Michel Odent about the “primary needs of laboring women after he spends nineteen hours pushing a 9-pound melon out of his asshole.

    • Yammy
      June 18, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

      To be fair, the amount of pure crap that has come out of him might weigh in at approx. 9 pounds.

    • Eddie
      June 19, 2013 at 2:14 am #

      Reminds me of a Cosby episode where all the men were pregnant, but I don’t believe that’s where the baby was supposed to come out. (I’d forgotten that he played an OB.)

    • Rea
      June 20, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

      Maybe when he gets a kidney stone and feels the glorious oxytocin rush from passing that, he will finally understand 🙂

  23. EllenL
    June 18, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    The excruciating, unrelieved pain of my first birth experience interfered with bonding with my baby girl. I was so shocked and traumatized by the pain that I couldn’t enjoy being a mother. For months, I would look at mothers with two or more children and think – you were willing to do this AGAIN?? You must be nuts!! It took 6 years, and finding a compassionate OB, before I was willing to face labor again. That second birth was blissful because my desire for pain relief was respected and supported.

    Thank you, Dr. Amy, for telling it like it is and for supporting women’s choices!

    • June 18, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Trauma is the real enemy – so why are we so focussed on everything but?

    • moto_librarian
      June 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      My story is yours, EllenL. If epidural anesthesia did not exist, we would not have had a second child. I had flashbacks about the first birth for months.

  24. RockSci
    June 18, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    As I read this I had Dara O’Briain’s excellent response to the ‘Oxytocin is best released in a quiet, dimly lit environment’ claim going through my head – “Ehh, it’s not a fucking badger!”

  25. attitude devant
    June 18, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    I was an exchange student in France, living in Evreux, and I can’t even begin to tell you how typically French this is. I can practically see the guy, snifter of Calvados in his hand, expounding to his tablemates after a five course meal. It’s all pure philosophic BS—has no basis in reality and never did. He is what my French sister, Dominique, a feminist if ever there was one, taught me to call a ‘con’ (not very polite slang for ‘asshole). If Dominique were at the table he would have gotten an earful.

    • June 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

      Yes, Pamela Druckerman mentions the inequalities in her book “Bringing Up Bebe”. She says that French women get paid much less compared to men (the inequalities of pay are much bigger in France than they are in the US). But she also says that French women complained less about their husbands- of course, they had much lower expactations! Druckerman was so impressed with the French way of parenting that she didn’t even notice the huge pressures put on French women (you have to be back in shape after 3 months and be a “woman” again- for the sake of your husband). On the other hand, I have friends who gave birth in France and were very happy with the care- you can stay in the hospital longer, epidurals are readiley available and you get so called perineal re-education (to check for incontinence etc) which is covered by insurance. Let’s not forget that the first feminists were French!

      • AmyP
        June 18, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

        The pelvic floor stuff they do in France sounds like a really good idea, but I suspect that it’s done largely for dad’s benefit.

        • Allie P
          June 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

          So then everybody wins? 😉

        • June 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

          I had the same thought- also the getting back in shape thing is not for the women either. My ffrancophone father is always so impressed with all things French, but he told me a story in which a woman breastfeeding in public was chastized with the words: “Hide them, they’re for your husband”- meaning her breasts of course

      • Bombshellrisa
        June 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

        I read that book too. I found it interesting the different attitudes the women had about getting epidurals and how they viewed breast feeding.

        • June 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

          Yes, I also found it interesting, especially in the light of “American parents got it all wrong” and how wonderful we raise children in Europe. Not true, but I am also interested in how different cultures raise children- my blog is on that very topic 🙂

  26. Gretta
    June 18, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    It all sounds so lovely and simple. If only it were true.

    • KarenJJ
      June 18, 2013 at 10:46 am #

      It’s easy for a man to find it lovely and simple.

      • attitude devant
        June 18, 2013 at 11:11 am #

        Remember that the word “chauvinist” is originally French. Just saying.

  27. GuestB
    June 18, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    He believes in a link between MMR and autism? God help us all.

    • Esther
      June 18, 2013 at 10:43 am #

      No, he believes in a link between CS and autism from the sound of it.

      • GuestB
        June 18, 2013 at 10:59 am #

        Either way, all arrows point to Kaftan-wearing Loon.

      • Felicitasz
        June 18, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

        No, he believes a link between syntetic oxytocin and autism. I heard him talk about it, he thinks that the syntetic oxytocin given during labour interferes with the natural production of oxytocin, not only for the mother but for the baby as well because the syntetic oxytocin crosses the placenta and gets into the baby’s circulation. (I do not know if it gets to the baby’s brain as there is a blood/brain something I do not know the correct English term for, barrier, maybe.) Anyway, Odent’s theory is that if the syntetic oxytocin indeed interferes with the baby’s natural oxytocin system, the sensitivity of oxytocin receptors for example, this can/may / might affect early social / emotional regulation and responses, i.e. bonding, responding to feelings of love, early sensitivity to human connection. He thinks that in-labour syntetic oxytocin overload might be accountable for, at least parts of, autism cases.
        I can grasp the theory as it is but I am very skeptical about it. After having heard his talk, I wrote a blog post about this, basically telling my readers that at this point we have no idea what really causes autism, and we (= human beings as a community) try to seize control and come up with theories, such as the one about MMR shots, or, come to that, attachment parenting 😛 This oxytocin stuff is one theory among many, and _ I can’t tell if it has a grain of truth or not_ (if there is someone here who can, PLEASE do, and please give me reference) – however, I would be very upset if we made an evil out of syntetic oxytocin without sound proof and within a decade after we had been proven wrong about having had made an evil of the MMR shots. Unproven theories cost lives, and this far, syntetic oxytocin saved many…
        (disqus doesn’t let me in today but I am the usual Felicitasz, with all my characteristic mistakes in English 🙂 )

        • Squillo
          June 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

          If this were true, wouldn’t it mean that babies’ brains develop essential functions related to love and communication during the twelve or so hours of labor rather than over nine months of development?

          Moreover, the research on nasally administered oxytocin suggests that the effects of manipulating oxytocin levels are temporary.

          • Felicitasz
            June 18, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

            Temporary: on grown-ups.
            I am really interested in getting some literature about a) does the in-labour syntetic oxitocin get to the babies’ brain at all? b) if yes, in what quantity? c) if yes, does it really have an effect on the further sensitivity of receptors? d) even if it is so, does this whole thing have anything to do with early social / emotional development?

            It is OK if we have no idea, but in that case, let’s admit it.

  28. A Lurker
    June 18, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Please tell me you’ve seen this: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mdqw8ej69N1re0anyo1_500.jpg

  29. KarenJJ
    June 18, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    I went in to labour with my first at 5am, just days off the longest day of the year. Finding a dark place would have been difficult. Quite frankly, sitting on my own in the dark in labour sounds depressing.

    • emkay
      June 20, 2013 at 3:17 am #

      If you were supposed to give birth on your own, how would all the midwives and doulas get paid?!

  30. Esther
    June 18, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    And here’s the result of such mansplaining:


    • KarenJJ
      June 18, 2013 at 10:15 am #

      Awesome. Humans are incapable of loving anyone that they didn’t squish out of their vagina.

      • ccccat
        June 18, 2013 at 10:28 am #

        This claim that “artificial” oxytocin somehow hinders moms or babies from bonding flies so squarely in the face of the real experiences of millions of women, I consider it to be by far the most insulting argument against intervention.

        • Sullivan ThePoop
          June 18, 2013 at 10:34 am #

          I completely agree. I fell instantly and intensely in love with my two babies that were induced and for some reason did not with my one that wasn’t. Not that I ever loved her any less, I just didn’t have that feeling. Since it was such a weird labor it is possible that my production of oxytocin was low, but anecdotally it seems like synthetic oxytocin can clear that right up.

        • suchende
          June 18, 2013 at 11:29 am #

          I assume their evidence is the fact that women are so easily able to abandon their children in daycares or with nannies and pursue fulfilling careers outside the home. Clearly there is something deeply wrong with the baby-mother bond.

        • Jocelyn
          June 18, 2013 at 11:46 am #

          I agree. And it doesn’t take into account fathers or adoptive parents – I guess they don’t love their children because they didn’t get the “love hormones” from pushing them out? Too bad. I guess I should tell my friends (who adopted) that they don’t REALLY love their daughter. It’ll probably come as a surprise to them.

          • stacey
            June 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

            It is supremely offensive to adoptees as well as step and half kids. As if they aren’t loved. Come on.

            Adoption has its problems, but the ability to form a bond and love is NOT one of them. Unless the kid has RAD from long term neglect (not common in US), moms, dads, and kids, have no problem loving others.

            And then theres DAD- or a partner- they didn’t have the baby either? What about them? They can’t love?

            Or BFFs? The list is endless. You would think humans weren’t social animals….

          • KarenJJ
            June 18, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

            A relative had her head shaved for cancer as part of a fundraiser and she was about to go through chemotherapy. Beside her was her stepdad getting his head shaved too. Humans are complicated, love is complicated and yes I cried at the event.

          • Lizzie Dee
            June 19, 2013 at 11:52 am #

            Humans are complicated, love is complicated

            Amen to that. But NCB wants to lay claim to a simple formulaic one size fits all version of reality.

            All this anxiety about bonding would make more sense if there was an epidemic of people leaving their children on doorsteps. Even IF it could be proved that the Odent theories on natural oxytocin could be proved somehow, then what? The implication is that you will be a better mother, but better than what, who? Is a very close bond between mother and child always and automatically a plus? What about mothers who want it to be exclusive, shutting out interlopers like fathers and grandparents? Love IS complicated, can be ambivalent and even destructive. I definitely bonded in a way to my sister’s children, and in some ways it is a simpler, more straighforward love than the sometimes overwhelming feelings for one’s own children.

      • ol
        June 18, 2013 at 11:51 am #

        (Sorry for my English) when I read a wonderful book on biology about motherhood in mammals there were interesting explanation why a sheep recognises as its own baby and feeds it only if a lamb got out from vagina. Because many sheep give birth at one time and there is need to remember what lamb is its and not to feed someone else’s. And in Odent’s book he talks about sheep and then continues that the same situation is in humans. Love and so on… But we don’t give birth in flock, our babies can’t go from mother soon after birth, we can remember our babies well without this “vaginal” mechanism.

        • attitude devant
          June 18, 2013 at 11:53 am #

          Also, sheep don’t really see well. So using their own smell to identify their baby makes sense.

          • VeritasLiberat
            June 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

            In my family there was an orphaned barn kitten who was nursed and raised with a litter of dachshunds. Not only did the kitten bond with them, he never realized that he was not a dog. He socialized with the dogs (instead of the other barn cats), greeted visitors with them, etc.

          • Lisa Cybergirl
            August 31, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

            I brought home a kitten, hoping she would be company for my older female cat – they never got along, but the kitten bonded with my pug immediately! They greet each other with both a cheek-stroke and a butt-sniff. No oxytocin to be found…

        • Clarissa Darling
          June 18, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

          Well to this day my mom can barely recognize me. Darn C section! I have to say it really helped when I was a teenager though–my mom would do something embarrassing and I would tell my friends “I don’t know that woman” and my friends believed me because mom treated me like I was a stranger.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      June 18, 2013 at 10:57 am #

      Almost as interesting as why old white men feel they have to mansplain childbirth to us simple womenfolk, is why Western, white women gullibly believe and worship the mansplainers.

      • Stacey
        June 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

        Well, to be fair, women have had a millennia of being in the position where they are forced to listen to such authoritative men. Patriarchy and all.

        Its super disappointing for modern women to fall for it, especially so called feminists. But they do. It takes more than 30 years of partial equality, in a few countries, for women to realize that this type of patriarchy exists and what to do about it. I hope more learn, quicker.

      • Eddie
        June 19, 2013 at 2:27 am #

        +1. Why is that?

        I don’t get it either. But when I attended Al-Anon meetings, I chose to not say “Him” or “His” in the 12 steps but instead say “God” or “God’s.” (To me, God is neither male or female, as such, and I didn’t want to refer to God as specifically male.)

        Not one man ever objected. Not ever. There was a loud, small minority of women who objected so strenuously that I was stunned. I could tell stories about their attempts to manipulate and browbeat me, but it would be a tangent. I don’t understand this at all. But it must be related.

        But geez, looking back, imagine if I’d said, “God as we understand Her.” Some of those women’s heads would have popped, and still not one of those men would have cared. The exact opposite of what’d I’d naively expected.

    • Jenna
      June 18, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

      Wait. Women are cows? Why is that drawing of a cow-woman? It looks like a human baby. WTH?

  31. The Computer Ate My Nym
    June 18, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    I felt in love with my c-section immediately after failed attempt at induction with the dreaded synthetic oxytocin baby right away. My partner did too, despite not having undergone the oxytocin (natural or otherwise) increase of labor at all. My mother, OTOH, wasn’t interested in the baby until she knew that I was safe. It’s almost like all of us had our own thoughts and agendas and brains that are complex enough to override or attenuate any effects oxytocin or lack thereof had on us.

  32. Allie P
    June 18, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Most women give birth with a pitocin drip? Is that true? Is that even close to true? I had an induction and I didn’t have pitocin.

    And what’s with the whole “dark environment” nonsense. First of all, my labor room was plenty dark. They didn’t turn on the lights until it was time to push. It was night time.

    • BeatlesFan
      June 18, 2013 at 10:16 am #

      I didn’t have a pitocin drip with either of mine. I had a shot of pit during 3rd stage, that was it. With DS, the lights were turned way down (he was born right before 7PM, but it was August so still fairly bright outside) and turned totally off with DD (born mid-morning). In both cases, the bright lights weren’t turned on until well after the baby was born.

      • OttawaAlison
        June 18, 2013 at 11:25 am #

        Remember in BOBB all those women kept getting pit, so it must be true of every hospital.

        • BeatlesFan
          June 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

          Oh yes, of course. They must have done it without my informed consent, or perhaps I was too drugged from the pain meds to notice 😉

    • moto_librarian
      June 18, 2013 at 10:51 am #

      No pit with my first. Room was dark per my request (shades drawn, lights off, late summer afternoon).

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      June 18, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      It wasn’t the last time I did OB (admittedly, this was over a decade ago.) Most women in the hospital give birth with little or no intervention beyond monitoring and whatever pain control they wish to have.

    • Jocelyn
      June 18, 2013 at 11:48 am #

      I actually did have pitocin, because when my water broke there was some slight meconium and they wanted to speed things up and get her out of there. I didn’t mind.

    • theadequatemother
      June 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

      I don’t think it’s even close to true…just remembering the large cohort and randomized early vs late epidural or epidural vs narcotics studies, its a minority of women who end up on pit prior to the birth…and that is *supposed* to be a high risk group since we all know epis slow labour right? SNARK.

      he might be confusing pit infusions with pit as part of third stage management or just widely extrapolating to create a sense of urgency/ doom and hence a wider market for his ideas.

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