Birth Without Violence was written by Dr Frederick Leboyer, a French physician who started to challenge the medically accepted view of birth in the 1970s. He was “Chef du Clinique” at the University of Paris School of Medicine and attended more than 10,000 births during his obstetric career. His extensive observations of women in birth in both France and India led him to develop a great respect for initial experience of the infant as they enter into this world.
I really enjoyed this book. It is written in beautiful prose poetry with a very clear communication of the intended message. I read the newer translation version, translated by Yvonne Fitzgerald. Yvonne’s admiration of the artistic word is apparent and she did a fabulous job of translating both emotion and language. Translating a literary work like this could not have been an easy task!
I think that reading this book really made me think about some of the finer details of my baby’s birth experience. I think it will help me to have a greater awareness and sensitivity toward the sensory aspects of crossing over from a warm, muffled, dark water world to the sensory storm that we are all so accustomed to. Being aware of the sounds, sights, and touches that will be baby’s first welcome introduction to the outside will help imprint a message of love and security, rather than a sharp, over-whelming transition filled with fear.
There was one chapter that I didn’t totally agree with, but that is pretty minor considering the topic and is more a matter of personal opinion. (I won’t tell you which chapter because I don’t want to taint your experience when you read the book.) My only real critique of this book would be the title. I feel that the title “Birth Without Violence” would turn many away from reading the book and that including the word “violence” in the title still makes the focus on violence.
This is the one birth book that I read that I requested my husband read too. I thought it would be a good one to help express my desired overall “essence” of our birth experience. He actually enjoyed the read as well and I think he could really empathize with the experience (being a bit of a sensory kid himself). It is a very short read; I think it took me 3 or 4 nights (and I’m a slow reader), so it’s not a long one. I could see many moms enjoying reading it a few times to assist them in meditating and visualizing on the gentle welcome that they desire for their new one.
Overall, I would strongly recommend Birth Without Violence by Dr Frederick Leboyer for both expectant moms (and dads) and birth professionals (nurses, midwives, MDs, doulas). I think having a loving empathy toward baby’s first introduction to our bright, noisy world has the potential to change some of the fundamental messages being imprinted on the next generation.