Born in 1930, Michel Odent is a well known and well respected midwifery pioneer, having written the first articles about the use of birthing pools during labour, applying the “Gate Control Theory of Pain” to obstetrics, and breastfeeding in the first hour after birth wherein Odent was the first to document the newborns ‘breast crawl’ ability in medical literature. It is due to his influence that ‘home like’ birth environments and birthing pools are widely available in maternity units. He went on to found the Primal Health Research databank which “explores correlations between the ‘primal period’ (fetal life, perinatal period and year following birth) and health and personality traits in later life”
Not without controversy, Odent recently claimed 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. “Around 1970, women started requesting that Dads to be attended births which “almost overnight became a doctrine. Sophisticated electronic machines invaded the delivery room, high technology being a male symbol…The almost total masculinisation of birth had been achieved.”
Odent is the author of thirteen books printed in 22 different languages and is a contributing editor to Midwifery Today magazine.