Frédérick Leboyer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Frédérick Leboyer
Leboyer in 1996
Born(1918-11-01)1 November 1918
Died25 May 2017(2017-05-25) (aged 98)
Vens, Switzerland
Alma materUniversity of Paris
Occupation(s)Obstetrician, author, activist
WorksBirth Without Violence

Frédérick Leboyer (1 November 1918 – 25 May 2017) was a French obstetrician and author. He is best known for his 1974 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 low lighting and quiet in a warm room to limit the supposed shock of birth,[Reynolds, Concise Encyclopedia of Special Education, 138] and 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.

Water births[edit]

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

Leboyer speaks at length about his philosophy of "birth without violence" in the 1975 documentary Giving Birth: Four Portraits.


Leboyer died on 25 May 2017 at the age of 98.[2][3]


Frédérick Leboyer was the uncle of prominent French psychiatrist Marion Leboyer.[4]


  • Birth Without Violence (1974)
  • Shantala: un art traditionnel, le massage des enfants / 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)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Interview with The Guardian" June 2011
  2. ^ Staff Reporter (2017-05-31). "Frederick Leboyer dead: Obstetrician behind 'birth without violence' dies at 99". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
  3. ^ Hommage au Docteur Frédérick Leboyer (1918- 2017) Archived 2017-06-18 at the Wayback Machine Société d' Histoire de la Naissance. 2017/05/30 (in French)
  4. ^ Jonathan Wolfe (22 June 2017). "Frédérick Leboyer, Who Saw Childbirth Through Baby's Eyes, Dies at 98". The New York Times.

External links[edit]