Originally Posted by mwherbs
As for Michel Odent, I think that he is very insightful but I would put some of his observations into context. At his hospital in France women were attended, much of the time a midwife was in the room if outside the room they listened to the women if they sounded unusual or close to delivery they were ready to be more present. So these women gave birth in a hospital where emergency services were in the same building and were being monitored. They did not want women to be informed or educated about birth, so they would know a woman was going to have a breech or twins and not tell her, just prepare for the birth themselves. They felt the less a woman knows the better as long as they could handle the tricky stuff themselves. These women had to leave home in labor to go to the hospital to give birth in a protected setting, where if there was a problem they would be taken care of. A friend of mine who gave birth to her first while, at Michel Odent's hospital in France was moving around getting ready to push her baby out and the doctor was all of a sudden sitting next to her- she was a little surprised by his presence because they were told the doctor usually only attends for more complicated births most births were attended by midwives.
The hospital in Pithuviers was a long time ago
and where he was just beginning to put together some of his ideas about birth. They were quite radical at the time (well, that kind of hospital still is, unfortunately) but not in an extreme sense. At the time they were focusing on things like water birth (I think Pithuviers had the first water birth, intended anyway), upright birth (as were the Bradley people at the time,) low lights, comfortable atmosphere, etc. Obviously he hadn't yet figured out the part about how much just feeling
observed affects the process -- he himself would be right in there lifting the woman up into a squat, lol.
Another couple things to keep in mind is that homebirth was not legal (not sure if it is now, although France is certainly controlling about birth issues in general...) and Odent was trained to monitor, intervene, etc. So he was working through all that, experimenting. His idea about spontaneous birth do not appear in his book about Pithuviers ("Birth Reborn"), that I can remember anyway. I don't know about his later books (I have yet to read them) but his articles, such as the one from which I quoted above, are pretty to the point about how much direction and the feeling of being observed affects the process.
That's interesting about them keeping information from the mother... do you happen to remember where that was talked about? I do remember reading about how he thought the most important information about birth would be gotten from other mothers, not from doctors, which is why they set up a weekly get-together so that women would have access to each other.