I really respect Michael Odent for helping to spread the word about the importance of natural childbirth. But I find it hard to accept his reasoning that men shouldn't feel pressured to be present for the birth of their babies.
Odent made these statements more than a year ago, and he's still at it. In advance of an address at the Royal College of Midwives' conference next month, Odent is continuing to say that not only should men not feel that they should be there, they probably shouldn't be there even if they want to.
He told The Observer,
"The ideal birth environment involves no men in general. Having been involved for more than 50 years in childbirths in homes and hospitals in France, England and Africa, the best environment I know for an easy birth is when there is nobody around the woman in labour apart from a silent, low-profile and experienced midwife – and no doctor and no husband, nobody else."
Odent also told The Observer's Denis Campbell that seeing a woman in childbirth can ruin the man's sexual attraction for her. This is so disappointing. As we understand the connection between sex, love for a mate, childbirth and love for one's children, we see how oxytocin is central to each of these experiences. Therefore, they're really all part of the same thing, one big wheel of love within the family. Why would you want to leave a father out of part of this?
Certainly, a laboring woman needs to feel secure and safe. And, unfortunately, sometimes we don't feel really safe and secure with our mates. This is tragic, and if you're bringing a baby into this situation, it might be better for the man not to be there.
But I think Odent goes way too far in saying that men have no place in the labor room.