Alternative flash content


Ask the Midwife
1000 characters left

Leboyer Gentle Birth

leboyer-birth-without-violence-175wWhat is the Leboyer Method?

The Leboyer Method of childbirth is all about minimizing the trauma for the newborn; for the birth it advocates low lighting and a quiet room, amid soft voices and possibly with soothing music. Babies born using this method are brought into the world without pulling, tugging or rotating the baby's head, instead letting the mother, baby, and nature get the job done. Then the baby is immediately placed on their mothers' abdomens after birth where the newborn can be gently stroked and massaged, postponing umbilical cord cutting and suctioning. By waiting to cut the baby's cord until it stops pulsing, a baby is free to take their first breath on their own, when they are ready, instead of forcing them to. Far cry from the painful stimuli such as spanking the baby.

Then soon after birth comes the practice of immersing the newborn in a small tub of warm water, known as a "Leboyer bath" to mirror a return to weightlessness of the womb and help ease the transition from the womb to the outside world. Like with other childbirth methods, the LeBoyer Method caused controversy in its early creation but has gained acceptance by mothers, midwives and others over the years.

What are the Benefits to Birth Mother?

This birth method focuses primarily on what is done for the newborn, and can be Easily Combined with another birth method that focuses more on the birth mother, especially during labor. The benefits to the mother, however, with the Leboyer Method is the immediate bonding time with her child after birth and the comfort of knowing her newborn is being introduced to the world in a very gentle manner. Leboyer believed that babies born in less stressful surroundings will be more content. There is no actual proof of this, but what a peaceful way to come into this world.

Who is Frederick Leboyer?

Frederick Leboyer, born in 1918, is a French obstetrician who wrote “Birth Without Violence” (1974), a story told from the baby’s point of view - calling for a more sensitive and gentle approach to birth. LeBoyer believed that newborn babies are less stressed and traumatized by birth when it occurs in a way that is calm and gentle. Despite the initial resistance from the medical community, he changed delivery practices with his revolutionary idea. He believes the baby has “rights" at the delivery; that the baby has feelings and these feelings must be taken into account. It was mothers and midwives who listened to Leboyer and raised the call that routine practices of delivery change.

Never married, never a father, Leboyer has dedicated his entire life to the cause of the child and his fascination of birth. When his book became popular in 1975, he quit the medical profession after delivering an estimated 10,000 babies, mainly conventionally, in France. Besides "Birth Without Violence" he has gone on to write a book on infant massage "Loving Hands: The Traditional Art of Baby Massage" and another one on yoga, "Inner Beauty, Inner Light: Yoga For Pregnant Women".

At the age of 93, when asked about having no children of his own, he shakes his head slowly. "It's one of the greatest sadnesses of my life, really," he admits. "To have children ... it is one of the greatest privileges that life holds."

Where can I Read More?

You might enjoy the reading the new edition of Birth Without Violence: A revised edition of the classic that changed the way children are met when they enter the world, Frederick Leboyer (3 Aug 2009) Healing Arts Press. There is also CD version.