Preach It!

No one can tell a woman what is best for her and her baby ... waterbirth, homebirth, hospital birth, doctor, midwife, Unassisted Childbirth (UC) or cesarean surgery ... it is for her and her baby to know. The best we can do is support her to access, trust, and know her own inner wisdom and communicate with the Being within her - the One whose birth it is through her womb and the man. - Janel Mirendah, Attachment/Birth trauma therapist, Filmmaker of The Other Side of the Glass.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Michel Odent's Observations about Men in Birth

An article about Michel Odent and his observation that the presence of a man in labor and birth disrupts and slows labor has created quite a discussion on Face Book (and probably elsewhere).,27574,25804208-36398,00.html

I was encouraged to whip up a piece with his interview with me where he talked about this.

In it, one can hear Michel Odent, MD, in his own words, discussing his observations about the impact of men in the birthing environment.

My teacher of birth trauma healing, Raymond Castellino, has collected obstetric text books from the forties. It is helpful in treating the trauma from birth to know the trends and what was likely during an era. Obstetrics is like fashion; it goes in trends. Every ten years obstetrics promotes something very different as "scientific". In the 70's the push by who? WAS it women? got father's in the hospital room with birthing woman.

In the 1940's the obstetric text books warned against the use of drugs ... for the mother AND the baby. An interesting piece of history is that it was WOMEN who wanted to use drugs during birth. It is part of the feminist movement. Women campaigned and fought for the right for "pain relief" during birth. Even the Pope had to ok it because women by God's orders, remember, are meant to bear the pain of labor for punishment for the ruin of Man.

Odent's voice and observations must be heard during this time of strength of women claiming their bodies and their baby's birth and the fight to keep midwifery legal and so the right for women to choose the caregiver and place she chooses.

The question of whether or not it is best for the birth of the baby and for the mother AND for the FATHER for him to be there has to be considered.

Odent has unique perspective that likely few if any OBSTETRICIANS have experienced. He shares at the beginning that how his observations of fathers disrupting the mother's labor and birth is based on attending birth in every situation home and hospital, both excluding fathers and including fathers. He started in the early 50's as a physician/surgeon and attended women where the father was not present. Then in 70's to mid 80's he attended births in the hospital where the father WAS present; then a decade of attending homebirths with the father present. And since the early 2000's he attends homebirth with an experienced woman, a Doula, with his presence only to make it legal. He and the father are not in the birth.

I have heard often this past two years working on this film of fathers who do not want to be in the birth, and the now forty years later the expectation is that every man must be there or something is wrong with him, he is a betrayor if he doesn't want to be there and perform the way he is supposed to. Never mind that HIS feelings are rarely considered, never mind that HE must be prepared to participate in the birth that is heavily controlled by others and by DOGMA. Either he has to abide by the "medical model" and physicians and nurses rules and expectations based on insurance and hospital needs, or he has to abide by the "midwifery model" including homebirth and the midwives guidance, theories, and expectations.

Society, theorists, doctors, women have very rarely included the male in ANY decision but Odent is saying they haven't LOOKED AT THE IMPACT on LABOR AND BIRTH.

Odent is questioning how the social expectation of men at birth happened and progressed, WITHIN THE HOSPITAL SETTING, not by midwives, but by theorists, in the early 70's, without ever looking at the impact of the change; without asking HOW WILL IT IMPACT THE LABORING MOTHER?

What I, the baby advocate/birth trauma therapist, filmmaker/interviewer, sees is that men in birth is one more issue in birth that is defined and controlled by the medical establishment. As long as birth is in the clutches of doctors, insurers, and lawyers, what ever we do as consumers to try to change practices within the system are going to be distorted and manipulated to stay within that framework.

The question is, WHAT did happen when the movement, the "fight" began to include fathers? How did men participate in it? DO men really truly want to be in the middle of it? And, do women really want them to be? Can a man today say so if he doesn't want to? Society now, 40 years later, expects a man to be there or something is wrong with him. Now, it's a "betrayal" of his partner if he doesn't.

Perhaps, women who birth at home will begin to validate his findings. I hear it enough. She doesn't actually want him there. ONE MORE thing that women and men DON'T communicate honestly -- because they haven't the language or training. WHAT do women want when they free themselves from the medical establishment's restriction and dogma? WHAT DO MEN REALLY WANT AND NEED? We need to know this important information in order to create a new way of birthing.

We need to find out ... way beyond the medicalized, indoctrinated dogma of what we've been taught is normal ... we need to support women to choose to not have their husband and we need to support men who now feel rejected or left out when she doesn't. In part two Dr. Odent explains more the impact on the relationship the disruption of birth where there is this conflict.

I think men might be numb and angry and overzealous, over needy to violent in their efforts to control women because of their exclusion in birth that has also taken away THEIR ability to really participate in the way they need to, the way the nature intended?

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Buy It!

Part One: The Other Side of the Glass: a Birth Film for and About Men officially released in digital download format on June 2, 2013. Go to to purchase a digital download.

Men have been marginalized in birth for a long time. The old joke is that a man was sent off to boil water to keep him busy. I believe they were making the environment safe. Birth moved to hospitals and for forty years women were separated from their partners who was left to wait in smoke filled waiting room. Finally, he would see his baby from "the other side of the glass." Now a man can go in the birthing room and even get to hold his partner's hand during surgery. But they are still marginalized and powerless, according to the fathers I interviewed around the country.

Historically, birth has been defined by the medical establishment. The midwifery and natural birth movement now advocate for need "to educate and prepare men to protect their wife and baby" in medical environment. Seems logical ... if we process with the same illogic that got us here.

Through the voices of men - and doctors and midwives - men share heart-touching stories about how this is not workin' out. A man is also very likely to be disempowered and prevented from connecting with their newborn baby in the first minutes of life.

Now is the time for men to take back birth.

The film is about restoring our families, society, and world through birthing wanted, loved, protected, and nurtured males (and females, of course). It's about empowering males to support the females to birth humanity safely, lovingly, and consciously.

Donors, check your emails or email me at for info to download. Release on DVD is not planned at this date.

FREE online! watch Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 10 at

"Doctor's Voices" - Stuart Fischbein, MD - Part 1

Doctor's Voices - Michael Odent, MD

Human Rights Violations

Resources - Healing Birth Trauma

"The Other Side of the Glass" has the potential to open up feelings that have been denied and ignored for a very long time. How to heal the trauma of birth at any age will be addressed in the film. Meanwhile, these are pioneers in the field.

Raymond Castellino and Mary Jackson -

David Chamberlain, Ph.D. -

Judith Cohen -

Myrna Martin -

Karen Melton -

Wendy McCord, Ph.D. -

Wendy McCarty, Ph.D. -

And, many, many more all over the world at
In both relationships and life trust begets trust.
Generosity begets generosity.
Love begets love.
Be the spark, especially when it's dark.

--Note from the Universe,

"Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so children have very little time with their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world." - Mother Theresa