Thursday, May 19, 2011

A new book from Michel Odent - part 2

[Continuing on from the previous post]

Having now finished, and enjoyed this book, there's one additional point I would like to explore. It's a small detail.

In the epilogue, Odent indulges in some fanciful thoughts about childbirth in the land of Utopia, January 2031. [That's only 20 years from now, and my grandchildren may be having babies at that time!]

This chapter has appeared previously in Odent's newsletter, and republished with permission at the midwivesVictoria blog in 2009.

My interest in this utopian dream was piqued by a question "What if the prerequisite to be qualified as an obstetrician would also be to have a personal experience of giving birth without any medical intervention and to consider birth as a positive experience?"

... at which time the participants in this utopian scenario all shouted "Eureka!"

Odent has previously proposed this prerequesite for the authentic midwife. It's idealistic, but fascinating.

My response, which may be influenced by personal bias, culture, and anything else, is to immediately say "no way!" as far as obstetricians are concerned.

Obstetricians should perhaps be required to have major abdominal surgery after 36 hours of sleepless activity, then be required to tend to a little creature who needs all that a newborn baby needs. Even that would not start to mimic the emotional/hormonal cocktail that a new mother experiences.

A midwife is 'with woman', bringing a special partnership to the childbearing event that allows the woman to proceed under natural physiological influences without fear. This allows her body to do whatever it needs in the growing and birthing and nurturing of a baby.

There is no similar concept of 'partnership' in medical/obstetric ethics or standards. The doctor/obstetrician is required to be an independent thinker, who brings special surgical skill to births that would not do well under natural physiological processes. The doctor is not there to be 'with' the woman.

For this reason I reject any suggestion that the obstetrician in the utopian setting would be someone with "a personal experience of giving birth without any medical intervention and to consider birth as a positive experience." Indeed, if an obstetrician had that level of experience, I would suggest that obstetrican could also be admitted to the profession of midwifery.

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