Birth Without Violence

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Overview

A revised edition of the classic that changed the way children are met when they enter our world

• The original book that challenged society’s beliefs about awareness in the newborn

• Shows how gentle lighting, a quiet atmosphere, and a warm bath allow a newborn to ease the transition from womb to world without trauma or fear

• Includes a new preface by the author, the founder of the gentle birth movement

Birth without Violence is the first book to express what mothers have ...

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Overview

A revised edition of the classic that changed the way children are met when they enter our world

• The original book that challenged society’s beliefs about awareness in the newborn

• Shows how gentle lighting, a quiet atmosphere, and a warm bath allow a newborn to ease the transition from womb to world without trauma or fear

• Includes a new preface by the author, the founder of the gentle birth movement

Birth without Violence is the first book to express what mothers have always known: babies are born complete human beings with the ability to experience a full range of emotions. First published in 1974, it revolutionized the way we perceive the process of birth, urging us to consider the birth from the infant’s point of view. Why must a child emerge from the quiet darkness of the womb into a blaze of blinding light and loud voices? Why must an infant take its first breath in terror, hanging upside down as its vulnerable spine is jerked straight? Why must the infant be separated from its mother after spending nine months inside her nourishing body?

Examining alternatives to technocentric approaches to childbirth, this new edition of the classic text, complete with a new author preface, shows us how we can ease the transition from womb to world without trauma or fear. Birth without Violence illustrates how to create an environment of tranquillity in which to welcome our children: a relaxed mother, gentle lighting, soothing atmosphere, and a warm bath that mirrors the child’s prenatal surroundings. Dr. Leboyer’s simple techniques demonstrate how a birth without violence has far-reaching implications for improving the quality of human life physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

The first book to show us how the birth trauma can be radically minimized by simple procedures based on a new attitude.

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Editorial Reviews

Utne Reader
“One of the twenty books that changed the world.”
The Boston Globe
Birth without Violence is a sensual experience, visually and verbally, as its poetic prose blends with the pictures like the unfolding of a happy dream. . . . The impact is strong, [Leboyer’s] appeal inviting.”
Michel Odent
Birth without Violence is a work of art, and Frédérick Leboyer is the artist who will have the greatest influence on the health and way of life of the next generations.”
From the Publisher

Birth without Violence is a sensual experience, visually and verbally, as its poetic prose blends with the pictures like the unfolding of a happy dream. . . . The impact is strong, [Leboyer’s] appeal inviting.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780749306427
  • Publisher: Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/16/1997
  • Pages: 146

Meet the Author

Frédérick Leboyer, M.D., was the first physician to challenge society’s beliefs about awareness in the newborn, revolutionizing the course of prenatal care and the way babies are introduced into the world. A retired obstetrician who attended more than 10,000 births, he is a graduate of the University of Paris School of Medicine where he served as Chef de Clinique. He lives in Switzerland.

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Read an Excerpt

Part 3

7

Now the stage is set.

The lights are dimmed.

The curtain may rise.

The child can make his entrance.

At last he is here.

8

Head first, and then his shoulders, one after the other.

Either all this happens naturally, or some help is

needed at this critical moment.

As soon as the head is out the child wants to draw a breath,

which is impossible for him because his chest is still

imprisoned in his mother’s body.

If the shoulders are stuck, his progress

comes to a halt, and help is needed quickly,

because anguish is building up furiously in the child.

How can we help?

By sliding a finger under the child’s armpit we can help

the rotation of his body and liberate the little prisoner.

Then, holding him under both arms we hoist him

out, as if pulling him from a well, and put him

straight onto his mother’s belly.

Most important of all, we never, never, at any time

touch his head.

He’s lying on his mother’s belly.

And where better to receive the child than this

belly. It has the exact shape to receive

the baby. When he was within, it was rounded and convex;

it has now become hollow, and waits like a nest to cradle the child.

Soft and supple, it moves with

the rhythm of the mother’s breathing,

and the living warmth of her body makes it

the perfect place for the newborn to be.

Finally, and this is most important, because the

baby remains so near to her, the umbilical cord can remain

intact.

9

Cutting the cord the moment a baby has emerged from his

mother’s womb is an act of extreme cruelty, and harms

the baby to an extent that is hard to believe.

Leaving it intact, however, so long as it

continues to beat, transforms the whole birth experience.

For one thing, it forces the obstetrician to be

patient, and leads him, as well as the mother, to respect

the rhythm, the sense of time ordained by the child.

Besides, leaving the cord intact allows the

natural physiological changes to take place within the

child’s body at their own pace.

We have already described the way air suddenly rushing

into the baby’s lungs has the same effect on him

as a burn. But there is more.

Before his birth, the child lived in oneness.

For him there was no difference between

the world and himself, because inside and outside were

one. He knew nothing of polarities. He didn’t

know about being cold, for example, because cold

cannot exist without heat. The body temperature of

the mother and the baby are exactly the same. How

then could he appreciate any contrast?

As he enters this world, the newborn baby encounters

for the first time a kingdom of opposites in which

everything is either good or bad, pleasant or

unpleasant, agreeable or disagreeable, wet or dry.

What is the gate through which he enters this kingdom

of opposites?

Not through his senses, that comes much later,

but through breathing.

When he takes his first breath, he crosses a threshold,

a border. He breathes in, and from this action is born its

opposite: he breathes out.

And then in turn . . .

Thus he is launched irrevocably into the eternal

cycle, the never-ending oscillation, the very principle

of our world, in which everything comes back to this

breath, this pulsation.

He is in the world where everything, for always,

is born of its own opposite:

Day from night, summer from winter,

riches from poverty, strength from weakness, never ending,

without beginning.

10

To breathe is to become one with the world outside,

to tune in to the music of the spheres.

Its function is to make the blood take in oxygen

and get rid of wastes, mostly carbon dioxide.

But in this simple exchange, two worlds come

near each other, try to mix and touch: the world

of outside and the world of inside.

It is in the lungs where they meet—the blood

mounting from one’s own depths, the air

coming from above.

The blood and air rush to conjoin, anxious

to mix and mingle.

The blood arrives in the lungs, depleted of its

oxygen, its strength spent, dark with waste: the carbon

dioxide which makes it old.

Here it is going to rid itself of its old age, gain its

energy, rejuvenate.

Transformed by this visit to the fountain of youth, it

departs, alive, red and rich!

It returns to the depths where it gives forth its riches.

Once more lets itself be filled with

wastes, and then returns to the lungs. Thus the cycle

continues indefinitely.

As for the heart, it keeps pumping, pushing the blood

sending it, rich and red toward the thirsty tissues of

the organism, and sending it back when it has

become old and worn-out, for renewal to

the lungs.

How does all this happen in the fetus,

Where the lungs are not yet working? The blood of

the fetus, just like ours, needs to be renewed.

The placenta fulfills this role.

In the act of drawing breath, of oxygenating his own blood

with his own lungs, the child becomes himself, in effect

saying, “Woman, what do we have in common?

I no longer need an intermediary between myself and the world.”

Of course it is only the first step, for all the rest he

still relies totally on his mother.

But it is a step in the right direction.

With his first breath, the child sets forth on the road to

independence, to autonomy, to freedom.

But practically speaking, much depends on the way

this transition takes place.

Whether this transition is made slowly, progressively, or

brutally, in panic and terror, can make the difference

between a gentle birth

. . . and a tragedy.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted August 25, 2010

    AWESOME MEMORIES!

    Our 32yr. old son was born using Dr. Leboyer's method. Sadly, in all these years I have never met another family that used this method. It was the most awesome experience and our son has always been healthy, and even tempered. Now I am a grandmother-to-be and I can only pray that our grandbaby will have the same wonderful birthing experience!!

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  • Posted May 2, 2010

    Make your child's FIRST MOMENTS OF LIFE moments of Peace, Love & Respect

    This book changed my life. The BEST THING I EVER DID FOR MY CHILDREN was follow Dr. Leboyer's method and make my daughters first moments of life moments of peace, love & respect. Peace by darkening the room and requiring all present to whisper so that their eyes and ears could slowly acclimate from the darkness and quietness of the womb to the boldness of life. Welcoming them with love and respect for their fragile little lives by treating them with the utmost gentleness and warmth. Birth overwhelmes ALL the senses of an infant. Light were there was dark, sharp, chaotic noise where there was muted sounds, burning oxygen in the lungs where there was warm fluid, coarse fabrics and touch where there was a warm pool of fluid, consciousness where there was serenity. Children learn soon enough the harshness of this world, making the first moments they experience welcoming helps them develop confidence to face challenges w/an abiding sense of peace. I know this sounds really far out. . .but it's not. I've seen the huge difference these births make in the lives of children!

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