Frederick Leboyer

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Frederick Leboyer (born November 1, 1918) is a French obstetrician and author. He is best known for his 1975 book, Birth Without Violence, which popularized gentle birthing techniques, in particular, the practice of immersing newborn infants in a small tub of warm water — known as a "Leboyer bath" — to help ease the transition from the womb to the outside world. He also advocated that a newborn be laid on its mother's stomach and allowed to bond, instead of being taken away for tests.

Leboyer graduated from the University of Paris School of Medicine. His own birth was traumatic and without anesthetics available, his mother had to be pinned down. Leboyer attributes his interest in birth to this experience. Leboyer is often mistaken as a proponent for water births. Although Leboyer's disciple, Michel Odent, became known for introducing birthing pools in hospitals as an option for lower lumbar pain management. As a consequence, water births were seen as a birthing method that he encouraged. Odent has stated that being submerged in water longer than 2 hours can decrease the progress of labor. Odent developed an effective method of reducing pain in the lower lumbar region. Informed by the Gate Control Theory of Pain, Odent injected sterile water underneath the skin surface in the lumbar region. This technique produced a localized source of pain, which in turn reduced the more severe regional pain women experienced in the lower lumbar region during labor. Because this method of non-pharmacological pain management could be viewed as too simple, Odent introduced the birthing pool which could deliver a similar form of pain management. Many sources mistakenly attribute a belief that humans should birth in water to Michel Odent. He has stated that this option is possible, however he does not promote any method, he only points to information to better understand any method. Leboyer himself is against the idea of waterbirth[1]

Making love is the sovereign remedy for anguish.
— Frédérick Leboyer, in Birth Without Violence (1975), p. 62

Bibliography[edit]

  • Birth Without Violence (1975)
  • Loving Hands: The Traditional Art of Baby Massage (1976)
  • Inner Beauty, Inner Light (1978)
  • Si l'enfantement m'était conté (1996)
  • Birth Without Violence (DVD, re-released 2008 through New Earth Records)

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