I've been wondering for a while how to talk about the book I have just finished, Michel Odent's Do We Need Midwives? I do not have a scientific or medical background, and this book pushed me right to the limits of my knowledge. It was like being a grad student again, and I was glad to have those skills to fall back on!
Odent is concerned with the future of human birth practices, and the implications of this for our species as a whole. Drawing on a large selection of sources Odent points to implications of our birthing practices that can already be identified in terms of epidemiology. However, some of these conclusions seem to have been reached by looking back into studies that actually had a different focus, so it is hard to say how accurate they might be. Odent talks about how our birthing practices have evolved. In the primitive case he suggests (using anthropological cases) that the birthing woman would have been alone, possibly with a trusted woman guarding the space from a distance. These women were more likely to experience fetal ejection reflex and an easy birth. The midwife has developed as a social construct from companion to helper/guide/coach, and has assumed more and more control over the process. Odent points out that their very presence may mean a harder birth for the mother (certainly I experienced a fetal ejection reflex during my easy second birth, significantly when I was alone in the room). Odent considers the impact that the increased use of artificial hormones in managed births may be having on us as a species. Given that synthetic oxytocin does not cross the blood/brain barrier, it is easy to see the use of artificial hormones will change they way we parent, and as this becomes a normal way to give birth this will be reinforced by social conventions. There must also be evolutionary biological repercussions for our abilities to produce and respond to these hormones. In terms of cesarean section Odent considers the long term implications of several factors, such as the fundamental differences between pre-labour and in-labour cesarean, and the popular idea of "seeding the microbiome" of section babies with their mother's vaginal flora. Odent finishes the book with an addendum to be read in 2030, which is concerned with the issue of genetic selection/manipulation. The book reminds me of a Malthusian concern for the future of mankind, that something must be done to steer us, as a species, down the right path; a call for us to make conscious decisions about our evolution. This idea is so overwhelming for me. There are, of course, no hard and fast answers in the book, and for me certainly it raises a lot more questions. Where do we go from here? I have no idea! I would LOVE to hear the thoughts of others who have read this book, especially those with a background in obstetrics and midwifery.
This week I am mostly knitting on the Baby Bluejay for Bob, to match Sausages' Bluejay, which is completed and waiting for buttons and blocking. The smaller one has whizzed up and is nearly at the end of the hood, so I should have a matching pair by Easter! My car knitting has been a pair of basic socks, but my experiments with gauge and fit meant that I have ripped them out to start again. Still, a good opportunity to practice the German stretchy cast on!
The picture above is my little collection from Unravel. SocksYeah was the thing I most wanted to get. I'm hoping to get Rachel's collection When Granny Weatherwax Knits Socks for my birthday, and these skeins will be a pair for me! I wanted a skein of lace weight to knit Who Goes With Fergus, and on the day I went for this glowing green skein from Triskelion Yarn. I have no idea what the cream and brown yak will become, but there's 75g of DK there, and it's the softest thing on earth! My favourite walking boots are made from yak leather, and I have an urge to make something I can wear at the same time! Probably a hat, I guess. Did you go? What did you choose?
I'm so grateful to Ginny for creating and curating this wonderful link up. I love to see what other people are creating and reading around the world, and it has led me on so many adventures! Do leave me a note to let me know you've been by, and thank you for visiting!