Placenta, clitoris, foreskin, same old song, same fight, thank you Dr Leboyer(*)
(the premature cutting of the umbilical cord,
a violence responsible for the loss of ambilaterality)
"If we want to create a less violent world,
where respect and kindness replace fear and hatred,
we must begin with how we treat each other at the beginning of life.
For that is where our deepest patterns are set.
From these roots grow fear and alienation – or love and trust."
"Birth without violence reassures the child and prevents them from fear." Étienne Herbinet
"Well birthing, well-being." Danielle Rapoport
"The bath, it was marvellous for him." A dad
"Extraordinary, marvellous, remarkable, privileged birth." 120 mummies over 120
"My theory is that the best way to change the world is to change birth procedures." William Swartley
Respecting the baby as an extremely sensitive and vulnerable person, with acute feelings, emotions and sensations, Frédérick Leboyer(2) has revolutionized birthing procedures. His great innovation lies upon the observation that the premature clamping of the cord is traumatizing. Adopted by the WHO, it consists in respecting the natural clamping (waiting for the physiological ceasing of pulsations – but for cardiac weakness of the baby – which takes from five to twenty minutes – sometimes several hours – and allows the child to gain 80-100 grams of blood, rich in essential nutrients (3). It is accompanied by tender care, a maximum of gentleness and a calm and soothing environment: no telephone in the room, low voice, filtered light in the room (it is necessary to place a spotlight on the mother’s vulva in order to detect a possible haemorrhage), forbearing from pulling the baby’s head, no welcoming through holding by the ankles nor spanking the bottom but a little rest on the mother's belly(*), almost immediate nursing, never separating the child from the mother (adopted by the WHO) even for a relaxing little bath (without washing) that will come in its time, a plethora of massages and caresses, hours of skin to skin contact (adopted by the WHO), all that in order to minimize the baby’s suffering.
Odent(4) emphasizes the moments of intense happiness in the first encounter between the child and its parents, programmed by nature under the influence of the hormone of bonding (oxytocin). He insists upon the necessity of leaving the parents and baby to discover each other quietly, and implicitly exposes the intrusion in that family feast of rushed gynaecologists. It is as if a medical team came and performed the premarital exams in the middle of the wedding. Without going as far as Lotus birth in which the cord falls by itself out of desiccation at the end of a few days, he recommends to cut it only when it has become dry and hard. We are going to see that it has then fulfilled its task of feeding the baby with essential nutrients. He also stresses the immunity function of the irreplaceable colostrums – the milk of the first three days; it is the first nutrient that the child must receive.
As a result, crying is scarce, "Leboyer babies" are neither violent nor depressed, but peaceful, gay and energetic; they smile and hold their head from the first day, which was rare before(5). An inquiry over 120 Leboyer births(6) disclosed that they are ambilateral (ambidextrous) in a great majority. It also showed more independence and autonomy, precocious manual skill, slightly faster development (walking at 13 months instead of 14-15, cleanliness, feeding and clothing autonomy at 2-3 years old) and above all, "children without problems" (Michel Odent): no feeding or sleep troubles in 97% cases, less psychosomatic troubles (paroxysmal screams, first three month diarrhoea) and remarkable absence of asking for advice with 95% of mothers. Ten years later or so, another observation(7) of over 104 babies, revealed 96% ambilaterals, amazingly higher IQs, great ease at acquiring foreign languages and the absence of most infantile diseases. At variance with what occurs with conventional birth, the absence of fear of new experiences is most significant and reminds that circumcised children are more sensitive to pain. A third survey conducted psychological tests upon 263 four-year-old children. It found better motor function and sociability with those who had benefited from delayed cord clamping (more than 3 minutes) by comparison with those who endured the early cut (less than 10 seconds).
But the media success of "Birth without violence" started an as acrid as international controversy(8). Tired of that questioning and of the lack of means at his disposal, Leboyer resigned his appointment of chief of clinic(9) in a Paris hospital to dedicate himself to writing. If the lack of vocations in gynaecology in France is today worrying, "Birth without violence" is regularly reedited all over the world and several maternity wards institutionalized its approach "without sacrificing anything to medical requirements"(5). However, some of the latter can be avoided or minimized for healthy children. And above all, they can be delayed.
Swedish researchers hushed down the most virulent criticisms. A first inquiry(10); observing 400 births, showed that the Leboyer welcoming has no consequence upon infantile mortality. A second one(11) checked that bonding is better realized if the child can remain upon the mother during the first two hours. Others eventually discovered that since the baby is immunized against maternal flora, strictly rooming it in with the mother protects it against UTIs(12), the pretext – since antibiotics are greatly sufficient – of American doctors upholders of the inacceptable circumcision.
The risk of jaundice due to an excess of red globules is unconfirmed(13, 14, 15) or can be avoided by leaving the placenta at the same level as the baby. The respect of physiological clamping enables to avoid infantile tetanus(16). On the side of the mother, waiting for the voiding of the placental blood lessens the risk of post-partum haemorrhage and eases the expulsion of the placenta (17).
However, though recommended by the WHO, natural clamping is still not universally adopted and no man is a prophet in his own country; in France, only 10% of maternity wards practise it compared to 83% in Denmark(18). Leboyer encounters great success abroad where midwifes and doctors brought a river to the validity of the millennial technique brought back from Gandhi’s country by the gynaecologist yogi. And a strong stream(19, 20, 21), of which several editorials(22, 23), a meta-analytical study (24) observing 1,912 births in 15 controlled inquiries, and a review(25) is growing the opposite way affirming: "early clamping needs justification"14. An observer even affirms that it would require parental consent. The editor of "Archives of disease in childhood" notices that the absence of studies on the long-term effects has not made it humdrum. But have such studies been made when immediate clamping was adopted? The massive adoption of a technique that looks contrary to the natural process was deliberately antiscientific.
A first inquiry about cardiac rhythm(26) concludes to a statistically faster return to the norm with natural clamping. A second one concerning 30 babies affirms: "These results allow for thinking that the Leboyer birth is associated with temporary enhancement of pulmonary and systemic resistance whereas left and right ventricular functions are not affected"(27).
Then, it has been observed that, before birth, the mother delivers the baby an important bolus of blood (30 to 50% of the total blood volume) that is stored in the placenta(3, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34 35, 36, 37, 38). That flow is transfused right after birth(3) by the pressure of the ongoing contractions. Through bringing the oxygen necessary to the effort of starting breath, it enables avoiding the temporary asphyxia necessarily provoked by early clamping whereas, very obviously, depriving an adult of only 30% of her or his blood volume would put them into shock. Lind(3) notes that the first breath occurs 3 seconds later with natural clamping. Only dazed creed can counter the evidence that achieving the passage to respiration through a brutal, even brief, interruption of oxygen alimentation, is a method of barbarous coercion, similar to water torture, with disastrous psychological consequences. The loss of ambilaterality is the most conspicuous proof of it but several observers deem that alteration of the brain through temporary lack of irrigation is a cause of autism (1.5% of US children). Indeed, the latter is unknown to the Amish and Somali who wait for the placenta to come out before cutting the cord. Remaining a few minutes inside the mother, the placenta secures the baby the best possible oxygenation. Consequently, even in cases of maternal haemorrhage, the clamping must never be done before the settling of regular respiration.
That flow also has a double mechanical function: irrigating the organs that have not yet functioned (kidneys, liver and so on) without depriving the other organs with risk of hypovolemy and hypotension, and expanding the lungs. The rise of blood volume and pressure(39) enables the baby’s heart to fill in the air cells of the lungs, making them fit for their next task.
Eventually, it is heavily burdened in stem cells, red globules, glucose and above all iron, in such quantity and quality that the placental blood of a baby of the same family has been used in the treatment of anaemia. Depriving the child of it at a decisive time of their lives, notably in underdeveloped countries where half of the children are anaemic at the age of one, seems deliberately antiscientific. But that is not only true in underdeveloped countries; even a small deficiency of iron or a slight anaemia in infancy can entail cognitive defects. Several inquiries(36, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45) of which one(14) observed 358 births till the age of 6 months, showed that natural clamping greatly lessens the risk of anaemia; the rates of iron, ferritin, haematocrit(37) and corpuscular haemoglobin(33, 46, 47, 48), the rate of glucose(14, 49, 50, 51), are significantly increased. That is particularly important for children threatened either by their low weight or because their mother has little ferritin, or because they aren't affluent enough to get supplementary feeding in iron.
Placental blood also contains hormones inducing love and bonding (oxytocin), which favour the first exchanges between mother and child.
Ultee so concludes his study(14) upon 37 preterm babies: "Immediate clamping of the umbilical cord should be discouraged.", and: "There seems to be no detrimental effects of delayed cord clamping." Reynolds(52) too, reports the absence of adverse effects. On the contrary, early clamping strengthens the risks of hypotension(30), anoxia, intraventricular haemorrhage(36, 53, 54) (very particularly with preterm infants(29)) and resorting to transfusion(55, 56) and resuscitation(31).
The placenta seems a gift from the mother, a shopping bag that proves to the baby that they are not abandoned without resources, almost a first transitional object. So, it is demonstrated that nature has forecast a complex, extremely sophisticated system for birth. The meddling of hurried men into its plans is irrelevant, to say the least. The placenta is a system of alimentation and excretion through plasmatic exchange with the womb. It is irrigated by two arteries pulsated by the baby’s heart, not the mother’s, and a vein flows back into the baby. It is not voided in the same time as the child, likely so as to provide the baby with ultimate resources necessary to it in its first moments. Nature seems having programmed the stopping of the pulsations when the contents of the placenta are exhausted. Throwing it away before full completion of its functions is simply insane. The placenta is exterior to the baby’s body but it is part of it. It is the baby’s property; nature alone may separate them. So, and we are going to see see precisely why, the early cut is a criminal act.
The loss of ambilaterality, a damage to the brain
provoked by the premature cutting of the cord
After that review, let us come to the unedited contribution of this work: trying to answer the question raised by Rapoport(6): "… ambidexterity… is important, without us being able to know its significance". Some physicians qualify "anti-scientific" the complex reality(57) of ambilaterality without taking care that pre-existing observations – people who can do the most can also do the least – are enough to go forward without loitering about the variety of reports in the matter. Such rejection amounts to a blindness that, from lateralized persons, seems the expression of unconfessed jealousy. For ambilaterals perform amazing feats at sports, particularly tennis or combat sports. Opposing an obvious progress in the name of ignorance as to the exact extent of that progress is anti-scientific. We saw that being born within gentleness has long-term positive psychological repercussions. A valued quality, the ambilaterality of Leboyer babies shows that one does not destroy an organ in the middle of its functioning without lasting traumatization on the brain. Premature cutting impedes ambilaterality because it provokes a trauma. What is thus the mechanism of that trauma?
Ethology and elementary psychology make us think that lateralization, normally a consequence of apprenticeship, results from pathological inhibition.
First fact: submission (right-handedness) or likely opposition (left-handedness) to adult norms is absurd; it does not stem from trust but from the unconscious terror issuing from the brutal extinction of placenta alimentation before its gradual and peaceful natural stopping. Nature provides, for a few moments, a double system of oxygen and nutrient supply; as long as the cord pulses, the placenta enables progressive adaptation, gentle transition between both systems. Within nature, in the absence of medical hurrying, the mother has no reason to cut the cord that dries up and falls off by itself. If the cut occurs before the natural cycle, it does not only deprive the child from nutrients; it brutally interferes with the management of their body by the babies forced to take their first breath through unheard of violence. Provoking a terrible anguish, the cut is felt as a cruel mutilation. Intimately terrorized for life by adults including the mother, the child will have a tendency to comply with the norm. Ambilaterals are normal, right-handed and left-handed ones are not. The very concept of ambidexterity is symptomatic of the compulsion of domination of the obsessive neurotics who invented it.
Second fact, lateralization is equally shared in monkeys – who leave the cord intact – whereas the right-handed are in a majority with men.
Those two facts imply that that majority is a cultural phenomenon (the concept of ambidexterity is a good illustration of it); domination and intimidation thwarted the natural statistical equilibrium. There is no reason why the right hand should be strongest. The right-handed became more numerous because teachers imposed the use of the right hand for writing and because the military reinforced the phenomenon. Humanity is right-handed because human societies are overbearing societies. According to us, lateralization would be a psycho-sociological phenomenon and not the consequence of the domination of one of the sides of the brain, according to Janov’s5 neurologic but tautological explanation. The first trauma: the early cut, creates universal neurosis, its conformism and stream of inhibitions. So, the premature cutting of the umbilical cord is part of the educational techniques intended to break the will of the child.
Consciously or not with attendants to birth (nurses, mid-wives, gynaecologists), the matter is individual or collective appropriation of the baby within compulsive desires to enjoy the child. All pretexts are valid in order to grab the baby from the mum’s arms and have it for oneself for a while: "Now for weighing!" and the balance is in another room, or the mother catches a cold and the child must absolutely be placed in the nursery, at the risk of nosocomial infection against which they are not immunized. The mechanism of that appropriation is that of fetishist, infantile or primitive thought that, according to psychoanalysis, likens the part to the whole. Voodoo manipulators exploit it; in order to enslave their gullible victims and force them into prostitution (in absence of sexual mutilation abolished by the enslavers), they rob them of a lock of hair. Precocious clamping and obsessive medical care seem firstly a putting into accordance with current tastes of the rituals of separation of primitive peoples that enslave the individual to the tribe. They also are a means for medical teams to avoid the anguish of delivery. The child pays for that anxiolytic.
Leboyer also condemned excision and circumcision(58). What is true for the placenta is a fortiori so for the manusexual organs, very rich in erogenous and tactile nervous endings. Invasive and destructive, those excisions provoke a trauma at least as grave as the premature cutting of the cord. The same cause: violence, induces the same effect: deep submission and transgenerational repetition of the weird crime. All will not necessarily look traumatized; a minority will be gravely traumatized. There probably is a link of cause to effect between circumcision, the antiJewism that it provokes, and the genetic mutation inducing a high likelihood of breast and prostate cancer in a great majority of Ashkenazi Jews.
Submission is amplified by the traumatic breaking of the baby-mother bonding, of dramatic reciprocity when the mother, no longer finding the marvellous initial smiles, "does not recognize" her child any more and, in the worst cases, mistreats it8. As painfully experienced by Romberg-Weiner(59), it's a pity to have a Leboyer birth if the child is to be circumcised later on. Similarly, a gentle birth with premature cutting of the cord is not a gentle birth. Leboyer opposes that tyranny. His message can be summarized so: "Leave the baby, their placenta and the mother alone."
Provoked by the premature cutting, the symptom of lateralization brings a limpid illustration of the Freudian theory of allegedly symbolical mutilation as a technique of submission. The traumas of the early cut of the umbilical cord and of sexual mutilation are similar. That likeliness points out that, should they be ritual or medical, routine societal cuts upon young generations dramatically separate the child from the mother. The consequence, and sometimes even avowed aim of that terrorist violence is to submit them to a despotic society.
In the course of history, patriarchy has multiplied the tools of violence intended to break the infant-mother bond. Sexual mutilation is the worst one but the loss of ambilaterality shows that the early cut of the umbilical cord is very damaging too.
Breaking the infant-mother bond is one of the great sources of individual or collective mental disease and criminality. Correlating birthing techniques with adult behaviour: "obstetric procedures should be carefully evaluated and possibly modified to prevent eventual self-destructive behaviour.", several inquiries about suicide, , ,  confirm Leboyer’s findings. The same accounts for criminality, , , . Committed at the age when the vulnerability is the greatest, precocious violence is the worst excess of adults who lamentably reproduce, and sometimes worsen, what they themselves suffered. That vicious circle must be broken.
Exposed by Benjamin Franklin several centuries ago, the premature cutting of the cord dates back to the time when medicine practised bloodletting. It is the first act of violence by adults against the child whom it puts "under terror" (Alice Miller). Taking into account the multiplicity of chirurgical techniques deliberately used in history in order to submit the child: excision, circumcision, amygdalectomy, tonsillectomy, scarifications, etc., one may wonder whether a medical Machiavellianism would not have premeditated the precocious cut of the cord in the same aim. A movement in the opposite way is taking shape but the examples of Copernicus, Galileo, Freud... etc., showed that one does not solve the world’s problems easily. Medicine is a universe where the best coasts along the worst: rigid dogmas, coteries, incompetence, arrogance and prejudice, in the hands of all-powerful mandarins and from where, consequently, error is not absent. It took half a century to accept the discovery of hygiene (Semmelweiss) that enabled a strong lessening of post-natal mortality. Concerning gentle birth, here are more than thirty five years that fierce jealousy, stupid pride and blind foolishness ignore one of the most precious medical observation of all times. If, after the sharp resistance described by Rapoport (5), (7), the profession grabbed hold of most of Leboyer’s recommendations, the main one remains criticized and hardly followed, and albeit the exceptional interest of his contribution to humanity, he did not get the Nobel prize. However, the premature cutting of the cord traumatizes the brain and deprives the burgeoning life from essential nutrients. Non-violence succeeded in driving the English out of India, will it manage to get the better of the castratist, Western, Judeo-Christian medical order, the accusations of which seem mere slandering towards the multi-millennial empirical learning of India? Faced with psychoanalytical learning, and as documented by Rapoport (3), Lebyer's approach of birthing enables to assess that, if everything goes well elsewhere, the only birth trauma, generator of universal neurosis, is that of the premature cutting of the cord. Let us remember that Leboyer's discovery finds its origin in his own reliving, during the course of his personal analysis, of the trauma of his own premature cutting. The author of these lines could also feel the remembrance of the same hellish experience of a life-threatening torture, preceded by a birth within gentle enjoyment. Those who have not done that experience are ill founded for doubting.
The Leboyer revolution is a chance for the planet to get out of the deadly impasse where obsessive emphasis on productivity led it. Freeing the youth from the violence of adults will enable it to bring solutions to the issues of tomorrow through imagination and gentleness rather than by the equilibrium of terror and its recurrent exterminations.
(*) This article was the object of a 17 November 2010 "rapid response" to Huchons's article in the British medical journal: Why do obstetricians and midwives still rush to clamp the cord?
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(*) Il est souhaitable que la mère, ou le père au cas où elle ne peut le faire, soit la première personne à porter le bébé et le place elle-même sur son ventre.
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(*) November 17 2010, The Editor of the BMJ, in a rapid response, published a link to this article: http://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/11/03/answer-they-are-not-aware-dr-leboyers-findings
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