Michel Odent (born 1930) is a French obstetrician and childbirth specialist.
Born in a French village in 1930, Odent studied medicine in Paris and was educated as a surgeon in the 1950s. He has been presented in Lancet as “one of the last real general surgeons”.
In charge of the surgical and maternity units of the Pithiviers hospital (France) from 1962 to 1985, Odent has developed a special interest in environmental factors influencing the birth process. He introduced the concepts home like birthing rooms, birthing pools, and singing sessions for pregnant women. After his hospital career he was involved in home birth, founded in London the Primal Health Research Centre, and designed a database (primalhealthhresearch.com) in order to compile epidemiological studies exploring correlations between what happens during the “Primal period” and health later on. Michel Odent is Visiting Professor at Odessa National Medical University and Doctor Honoris Causa of Brasilia University.
Odent is the author of the first articles about the initiation of breastfeeding during the hour following birth, the first article about the use of birthing pools during labour, and the first article applying the Gate control theory of pain to obstetrics.
In a book published in 1986 (“Primal Health”) he provided evidence that homeostasis is established during the “primal period” (fetal life, birth and the months following birth): this is the phase of life when human basic adaptive systems are adjusting their “set point levels”. Odent is currently focusing on the possible evolution of Homo sapiens in relation to the modern ways to be born.
Odent is the author of 15 books published in 22 languages. In his books he is constantly referring to the concept of reduced neocortical activity as a key to rediscover the basic needs of labouring women and to make possible a real “fetus ejection reflex”.
His books include:
- Birth Reborn (1984, Pantheon, NY)
- Primal Health (1986. Century Hutchinson. London)
- The Farmer and the Obstetrician (Free Association Books)
- The Caesarean (Free Association Books )
- The Scientification of Love (Free Association Books)
- The Functions of the Orgasms: The Highways to Transcendence (2009, Pinter & Martin Ltd.)
- Childbirth in the Age of Plastics (2011, Pinter & Martin Ltd.)
- Childbirth and the Future of Homo sapiens (2013, Pinter & Martin Ltd.), reissued as Childbirth and the Evolution of Homo sapiens in 2014
- Do we need Midwives? (2015, Pinter & Martin Ltd.)
- The Birth of Homo, the Marine Chimpanzee (2017, Pinter & Martin Ltd.)
- The Future of Homo (2019, World Scientific Publishing Co. Ltd.)
- Natural childbirth
- Pain management during childbirth
- Water birth
- Campbell, Denis (2009-10-17). "Men should 'stay away from childbirth'". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712.
- Lifeline. About Michel Odent. Lancet 1999;353:764.
- Gillett J. Childbirth in Pithiviers, France. Lancet, October 27, 1979:894-896.
- "UnB - Universidade de Brasília - Doutor Honoris Causa". www.unb.br (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2017-06-05.
- Odent M. The early expression of the rooting reflex. Proceedings of the 5th International Congress of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Rome 1977. London: Academic Press, 1977: 1117-19.
- Odent M. L’expression précoce du réflexe de fouissement. In : Les cahiers du nouveau-né 1978 ; 1-2 : 169-185
- Odent M. Birth under water. Lancet 1983: pp1476-77.
- Odent M. La reflexotherapie lombaire. Efficacité dans le traitement de la colique néphrétique et en analgésie obstétricale. La Nouvelle Presse Médicale 1975 ; 4 (3) :188
- Odent M. Childbirth and the Future of Homo sapiens. Pinter & Martin. London 2013.
- Odent M. What about the future of Homo sapiens? Human Evolution 2013 (in Press).
- Odent M. The fetus ejection reflex. Birth 1987;14(2):104-105.