Childbirth And The Future of Homo Sapiens - Book Review

"Childbirth and The Future of Homo Sapiens," by Michel Odent, had been sitting on my computer desk for a few weeks before I finally cracked its binding. It isn’t that I didn’t want to read it, I very much did want to. I simply wanted to wholeheartedly devote time and attention to the wealth of knowledge I knew awaited me within its pages.

Michel Odent has provided us with a handbook of sorts; a way of viewing childbirth simultaneously through both scientific and holistic lenses. He has presented us with evidence of how, as we birth generation to generation on synthetic oxytocin, the hormone of love, we are slowly lose the ability to produce it as readily and easily.

This can be seen in the increase in divorce rates, the dramatic decline in ‘successful’ breastfeeding, and women who ‘must’ be induced. He provides the groundwork for seeing cesarean in a new light – as a concurrently evolutionary leap forward and backward.

He challenges birth workers to reevaluate both their practices and their beliefs surrounding the roles that they play at any given birth. This book is not a book for expectant parents. This book is for the birth worker: midwives, doulas, childbirth educators, and obstetricians.

“Childbirth And The Future of Homo Sapiens” is a critical look at childbirth practices throughout both the medical and midwife model of care. He tackles the nocebo affect of words on labor, and, in particular, the fetal ejection reflex. Well intentioned words are often the only thing needed to activate the neocortex of the woman and suddenly, involuntary and primal urges becomes guided and voluntary intentions.

Finally, Mr. Odent has outlined the optimal birth environment from onset to postpartum. He details how reduction of neocortical activity allows for the production of oxytocin and endorphins, and how practices by birthworkers of ‘all walks’ interfere with that state of consciousness.

I highly recommend “Childbirth And The Future of Homo Sapiens” as a book to other birthworkers. It will challenge, perhaps even offend, but it is no less relevant and important.

When I finished his book, I sat to talk with a friend of mine. I mentioned how, unlike many of the books I read, this was not a 'feel-good' book, or even one that rose up in me a passionate response. Instead, what it did do was create an environment within me that allowed me to take a critical look at my own practices in the birthing culture. It brought me into a deeper understanding of how I can better serve the women I am led to.

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