The Farmer and the Obstetrician

Reviewed Publisher: 
London/New York: Free Association Books. 159 pp. ISBN: 1-85343-5651
Reviewed Title: 
The Farmer and the Obstetrician (2002)
Reviewed Author: 

Possibly Michel Odent's most important book to date, The Farmer & The Obstetrician details how agribusiness and the medical MANagement of childbirth were co-arising in the last century and the devastating impact these industries have had upon the Earth, along with society and families. In 159 pages that read more like a timely exposé than dry, scientific research, the author (an M.D.) suggests that we can help repair the devastation by adopting a sustainable model of childbirth care.

Odent analogizes what went wrong with industrialized agriculture as relevant to medicalized childbirth, through a historical narrative of the need each fills for humanity. In the case of agribusiness, the advent of chemical management of crops and livestock made it possible to grow quantities of food heretofore impossible. So it was with childbirth that at first, obstetrics was received with tremendous enthusiasm as the saving grace of women. Through the last century however, the dangers of pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, and antibiotics, to name some of the technological practices of farmers, are now making headline news. Likewise, obstetrics has become a topic for serious investigative journalism as the problematic consequences are becoming known.

At the close of the chapter titled, "Being a Midwife or an Obstetrician Before 2032," Odent writes, "Understanding the laws of nature and working with them ... is the main characteristic of a biodynamic attitude, whether in plant, cultivation, animal breeding or childbirth. The evolution of antenatal care gave us an opportunity to illustrate and clarify the concept of a biodynamic attitude." This "biodynamic attitude" will be familiar to perinatal psychologists. The connection between the earth, nurturing, the mother, and childbirth is made palpable in Odent's treatment of farming and its consequences. As we sow, so shall we reap. More and more people are awakening to the need to heal the Earth by healing birth.

Perinatal psychologists and health professionals in particular will find in this book the science to substantiate what we already know-food, birth, and our world are interdependent. And, I heartily recommend Michel Odent's new book to not only perinatal professionals but anyone who eats and was born. After reading The Farmer and the Obstetrician, your view of food and having babies will be transformed! This is a brilliant and, I hope, prophetic contribution to the 21st century and beyond-indeed, it is benestrophic.

Read this book and share it with your colleagues, friends, and families for the sake of our planet's future. Blessed be and blessed do.

Publication Date: 
12/2002