Posts Tagged ‘Michel Odent’

BirthKeeper Summit: CliffsNotes for You


I’m still savoring the wonderful moments & memories from the recent BirthKeeper Summit. From points around the globe, renowned midwives, physicians, doulas, childbirth educators, lactation consultants, human development educators, myriad cultural and human rights leaders, environmental activists, medical ethicists and a neonatologist came together in Northern California with a single unified intention.

We were there to discuss and promote our most precious birthright: being born healthy and loved into a flourishing and just world, which honors women and protects the life-giving relationships of MotherBaby & MotherEarth.

{Read more about it — including a QUIZ for you! — in my quantum, time-bending CliffsNotes BKSummit Diary at}


The Childbirth – Autism – Erection Connection


Today has been World Autism Awareness Day, and Kim Stagliano despises it. The mother of three autistic daughters, she finds the “feel-good frippery” and air of festivity around the globe — with the rallies, events, balloons, and everything in blue (even the Eiffel Tower) — suggests a party rather than a crisis.

Good intentions aren’t in question: Autism Speaks talks about World Autism Awareness Day as an event that “celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism.” Yet Stagliano bristles at the jovial tone of April (Autism Awareness Month), and the suggestion that “the circumstances of my daughters’ existences are to be celebrated. For me, this should be a month of solemn acknowledgement and education about a global crisis.”

Stagliano points out the sharp rise in autism over the past decade, and notes MIT scientist Stephanie Seneff’s prediction that by 2025, half of all children will be born with autism.

{Finish reading this post at}


theogeo through a Creative Commons license

Blessing Pregnancy

KristinBlessingway_optIt was my pleasure and honor to participate in a Blessingway ceremony for Kristin, a member of my mountain community whose baby is due this fall. As I watched her sitting in her chair of honor…like a goddess on her throne…and we showered her with our womanly care in various ways — massage, braiding & adorning her hair, laying hands on her belly — I thought about the biochemical messages her baby was receiving during those lovely hours: I am loved… I am celebrated… the world is a safe, nurturing and caring place.

I was reminded of Michel Odent’s phrase, “the function of JOY in pregnancy.” It has a blessed function and a scientifically supported one: to build the baby’s brain in a way to be prepared to thrive and succeed! To read more about pregnancy as “Nature’s Head Start Program,” check out my article on



Photo by Mary Ann Halpin

More Principles for an Empowered Birth

I believe that all women, consciously or not, participate in a collective knowing about the empowerment we might claim in birthing our babies. But instead of empowered birth, as birth anthropologist Robbie Davis-Floyd has so thoroughly researched, the majority of women have a birth experience that is demoralizing and dispiriting. And that gets parenting off to a less-than-peaceful start!

So to add to the first batch, to further enrich Empowered Birth Awareness Week, here are yet more ways to engage Parenting for Peace principles to up your odds of having an empowered birth.

Principles for Empowered Birth: Part II

WSLaboringCoupleNurturance – Fathers and partners, this is the golden hour for you to express this principle magnificently!

  • You now act as her womb: it’s up to you to cocoon her from phone calls, texts, tweets, visitors, and all other contact—anything characteristic of the modern human, especially lights and language. All such stimulation brings adrenaline to her system. You yourself should use the very minimum of softly spoken words with her—again, so as not to call forth the labor-slowing adrenaline.
    • Rather than humanizing birth, as some reformers call for, Michel Odent suggests we need to dehumanize birth, or rather, mammalianize it—by taking away everything that distinguishes humans: rationality, speech and technology. Cameras are big culprits; the camera-face a woman feels she must put on will right there interfere with the process! Odent confidently declares, “Go ahead, let everyone into the room, chat, watch TV, run the cameras—and she’ll give birth after thirty or thirty-six hours of labor. If you respect the physiology, that same baby will be born in less than five hours.” {Read more ideas at}

Jason Lander, through a Creative Commons license

Practical Principles for An Empowered Birth

As we reach hump day of Empowered Birth Awareness Week, how fitting that Step 4 of my Parenting for Peace roadmap is actually entitled “Empowered Birth”! The book is based on 7 principles, applied through 7 steps in time — beginning pre-conception and going through adolescence. In honor of EBAW, here is a collection (in 2 parts) of practical ideas of how to engage each of the 7 Parenting for Peace principles in specific ways to up your odds of having an empowered birth.

Principles for Empowered Birth: Part I

LaborWaterMeditativePresence – I can think of few more potent opportunities to discover and practice advanced dimensions of this principle than during labor and birth. Birth anthropologist Robbie Davis-Floyd, in describing how she charted a new rapport with presence during her second labor (a home VBAC), compares it to swimming a marathon, noting that the champions “don’t count the distance. They enter a timeless dimension, where this stroke is all there is. This stroke, and this one, and then this one. I am in that timeless world. I quit wondering eons ago when the baby will come out. There is only this contraction, and this push, and this pause, and then this contraction, and this push, and—Then the midwife’s Voice, summoning forth my consciousness from its burial in the depths of sensation.” {Read the rest at}

Jason Lander through a Creative Commons license

The Childbirth – Autism – Erection Connection

OdentLast fall I sat riveted in a Honolulu conference room, listening as obstetrician and primal health researcher Michel Odent declared that women are losing the capacity to give birth. Odent makes the compelling case that this is happening thanks to the systematic (yet unconscious) disuse — and thus, atrophy — of our human oxytocin system over the past few decades. He draws stunning parallels between the decline in physiologically normal births, the increase in autism and (forgive the pun) the rise in male erectile dysfunction. Those all rely on the same system: without oxytocin there is no physiologically normal birth, no human empathy, and no intercourse!

Over many years Dr. Odent has applied a revealing lens on a range of mental health issues: zeroing in on a central feature of conditions such as autism, criminality, suicide, he has cast it rather lyrically as “an impaired capacity to love.” When he used this novel perspective from which to survey a broad spectrum of supposedly unrelated research–on juvenile violent criminality, teen suicide, autism, anorexia, obesity and more–he found something striking: “[W]hen researchers explored the background of people who have expressed some sort of impaired capacity to love–either love of oneself or love of others–they always detected risk factors in the period surrounding birth.”

I spotlighted a few of Odent’s perspectives in my report on the new findings on the connection between induced labor and autism risk. This week it so happens that I’m working on a textbook chapter on “Pre- and Perinatal Influences on Female Mental Health,” and here again, Dr. Odent’s prescient insights emerge as key points. Here’s one example (and sorry — please excuse the textbook-y language!):

Given the gender gap of depression and the fact that twice as many women as men suffer from major clinical depression–one woman in eight experiences at least episode in her lifetime–it is relevant to include Odent’s observation that the rate of college students reporting they’ve been diagnosed with depression has risen from 10% to 21% in just eleven years! Acknowledging the complex causal tapestry involved in depression, he urges us to consider that in that same decade, 2000-2011, “it was a time when the number of women who were able to give birth to their baby and to the placenta thanks only to the release of their natural hormones dramatically decreased.” He reminds us that depression is related to how stress-axis “set points” are established in the pre- and perinatal period, pointing out the myriad brain areas showing altered activity in depressed subjects that have an important phase of development and “set point” adjustment during the period surrounding birth.

An Audience with Michel Odent

I was privileged to have the opportunity to be one of a small number of people at that breakout session of Michel Odent’s Mid-Pacific Conference on Birth & Primal Health Research. Now, thanks to the recent release of his important book Birth and the Future of Homo Sapiens…and the fact that his London book launch event was videoed…you have the opportunity to listen firsthand to this visionary thinker talk about these oh-so-important topics!  Provided you can understand him (the author of this excellent UK Telegraph article writes that Odent’s French accent is “as thick as a ripe Brie”), it is a master class in visionary thinking about the future of humanity.


Odent cautions us (with respect to our tendency to anguish over studies like the new one linking labor induction to autism risk) that when reading about such studies…or listening him talk about any of the conditions he is researching through a primal health lens…you cannot be thinking of your own family, your friends, or your neighbor’s cousin’s autistic son. These are population-based (epidemiological) studies that reach conclusions in terms of tendencies, risk factors and statistically significant differences amongst huge numbers of people. It is not appropriate or valid (although it is always tempting) to apply these autism risk findings to specific individual cases!

Contrary to one of the many vitriolic comments to the Telegraph article, this is the reason he says his new book is NOT meant to be read by pregnant mothers. Too close, too often-bleak. Michel Odent is the first one to promote chronic JOY in the lives of pregnant women.

The rest of us, though, best get our heads out of the sand and look at the big…the really big…unified picture of birth — and autism — and erections — and the future of us all.

Induced Labor & Autism Risk

A new study linking labor induction to increased autism risk was this week’s big birth story. This isn’t about blame, or guilt. With new awareness comes an understandable tendency to veer in the direction of feeling angry, ashamed, and similar negatives that keep us stuck. With new awareness also comes power, which is worth us taking a deep breath, steadying ourselves, and taking our heads out of the sand about autism risk and how we do birth in America.

My colleagues like Michel Odent and Sarah Buckley have been writing about this concern for years, and I reported on it in Parenting for Peace (see excerpt below). Dr. Odent cautions us (with respect to our tendency to anguish over these reports) that when reading about such studies, you cannot be thinking of your own family, your friends, or your neighbor’s cousin’s autistic son. In his latest book Childbirth and the Future of Homo Sapiens, Odent emphasizes that these are population-based (epidemiological) studies that reach conclusions in terms of tendencies, risk factors and statistically significant differences amongst huge numbers of people. It is not appropriate or valid (although it is always tempting) to apply these autism risk findings to specific individual cases! {Please read the rest at} (more…)