This excerpt is taken from the 1974 book Birth Without Violence by Frederick Leboyer. Leboyer was a French obstetrician opposed to the violence and harm the medical model enacted on women and babies at birth.
In Birth Without Violence, Leboyer describes the violence of birth, offering the babies perspective. He demonstrates how traumatic and distressing medicalized birth can be. He advocates for women’s intuition, for medical professionals listening to women, and for a quiet, loving delivery.
This book could be considered relevant to birth everywhere or perhaps an analogy outlining how all live can be respected, human and non-human — a description of how we can open our eyes to the possibility of living without violence of any kind to our wild earth.
Birth Without Violence
What more can be said?
Only one thing.
Everything that has been said is so simple that one
feels embarrassed at having dwelt on it at such length.
Perhaps we have lost our taste for simplicity.
Once we’ve understood
the point of this whole story,
why don’t we try?
Well, it takes . . . a lot of courage.
We also need patience and humility.
We must keep in mind that it is the child’s first experience
As any good teacher knows, there is one sacred right:
the right of the child to experiment and make his own
Yes, patience, humility and silence,
and the awareness that the newcomer is a person we meet
and greet after he has nearly drowned in a storm.
Oh, and of course …
Without love, the delivery room can be perfect, with the
right lighting, the walls soundproofed, the bath
temperature just right – and the child will
If there is still any trace of nervousness, any suppressed
anger within ourselves, the baby will pick it up
His judgment is frighteningly acute.
The baby knows everything. All in his own mysterious
way. He catches everything, sees right into our hearts,
knows the colour of our thoughts, and all without language.