Edited December 2009


We first describe why and how childbirth is monitored in delivery rooms. We then discuss a negative aspect of the method, advocate improvement and make suggestions to pregnant women.


Why Monitor Childbirth?

Compared to birth in animals, childbirth is more difficult thus more dangerous.What makes childbirth more difficult and dangerous is the human evolution towards larger brains and larger heads to contain these larger brains and also the changes in the proportions of the human pelvis allowing us to walk upright.

Larger heads and pelvis changes contribute to a series of uneasy twists and turns for the baby to adapt her/his head to the birth canal, making the progression in the pelvis the most critical part of the whole process. Midwives, nurses and obstetricians like myself are always on the lookout for potential complications at that time. Such complication necessitate external action to avoid damage. Clearly, due to human evolution, childbirth is no longer, as in animal birth, an individual task. Childbirth necessitates teamwork.

How Is Childbirth Monitored?

Childbirth monitoring is documented by the “Listening to Mothers Survey”, conducted in 2002 by the Maternity Center Association, the First National U.S. Survey of Women's Childbearing Experiences.

(quote): "Most women in the survey said they experienced electronic fetal monitoring (93%), intravenous drips (86%), epidural anesthesia (63%), artificially ruptured membranes (55%), pitocin augmentation (53%), bladder catheterization (52%), and repair of episiotomy or laceration (52%). In addition, 44% of women reported having their labors induced. The cesarean rate was 34%, and 10% of vaginal births involved the use of forceps or vacuum. (end quote) Read more about the 2002 Maternity Association Survey

A Negative Aspect Of The Method

Although this very efficient resource, while providing maximum safety for mother and baby, completely overlooks the newborn’s experience. Indeed nothing is done by that "efficient" teamwork to avoid and to reduce the anxiety, pain and anger experienced by the newborn.


It today’s delivery rooms, it looks as though, the baby, the central stage figure of the whole process, has no feelings or perception. In fact, it looks like the newborn is an unanimated object, something the assisting team has to intercept and verify (almost like a suspect package) and clean and wrap-up before release.

(quote):" Professionals have been making babies angry, afraid, defensive, sad and disoriented for the greater part of a century since medical management of birth became the "norm" in the United States" (end quote from: APPPAH)

The 2002 “Listening to Mothers Survey” cited above, also describes and criticizes the care of the newborn by the assisting team:

(quote) Despite the importance of early contact for attachment and breastfeeding, most babies were not in their mothers' arms during the first hour after birth, with a troubling proportion with staff for routine, non-urgent care (39%).. (end quote)

There is, however, in that report, no mention of any action to reduce the distress of the newborn nor any indication that the assisting team is aware of it.

Another Approach

Newborn distress during childbirth and how to cope with it was brilliantly described in 1973 by a French physician, Frédérick Leboyer, in his book “Pour une naissance sans violence“.(Birth without violence) . The following two quotes are from the English translation of that book

(Quote 1): "Do you think babies like being born?" - "What do you mean, like to be born?" - "Exactly what I said. Do you think children are happy to come into this world?" - "Happy? But a newborn baby doesn't feel anything. So it's neither happy nor unhappy." - "How do you know that?" - "Well, it's obvious. Everyone knows that." - "That's not much of a reason, is it?" - "I suppose you're right. But all the same, they don't really see or hear properly, do they?" - "And that makes you think they don't feel anything either?" - "Of course, they don't." - "Then why do they cry so bitterly?" -"Well, that's to expand their lungs, isn't it?" - "Expand their lungs! That hardly explains it. My goodness, don't tell me you've never heard a newborn baby cry!" - "Yes, of course I have. But that doesn't necessarily mean he's suffering." - "Do you think he's expressing his pleasure, his delight at being with us?" - "I don't think it's either of those things. I told you, babies don't feel anything." - "And what makes you so sure? If I may ask once more." - "Well, for a start, they're so small. I mean, at that age ... " - "How can an intelligent person like you say that! As if size had anything to do with it. Small! As for age, have you forgotten that, the younger you are, the more intensely you feel? Young children suffer agonies about things that seem quite trivial to us because they feel a thousand times more than we do. This is the blessing and at the same time the curse of their heightened sensitivity." - "Well, you could be right. But, all the same, it's still hard to understand that they can feel, I mean there is no real consciousness at that stage, is there?" (end quote)

(quote 2) The simple fact is that as soon as a child is born he starts to cry and how bitterly and although this is very strange, it is the one thing that delights everyone there. " How beautifully my child cries!" exclaims the happy mother, thrilled and amazed that something so little can make so much noise. Could childbirth be as distressing for the child as for the mother? And if so, does anyone care? It doesn't seem so, judging by the way we treat the new arrival... (end quote).

If by itself the birth process is distressing, it is obvious that distress is greatly increased by the usual (and abusive) behavior of the nevertheless well intended (and ill informed) childbirth assisting team. See a video

Birth abused newborns grown into extensively crying infants and become violent adults (quote) " Any violence which greets a baby in the womb or around the time of birth will serve as a silent and unconscious form of conditioning which acts as a template for future relationships" (end quote) Read More

It is obvious that an efficient assisting team should not only assist the mother. The assisting team should also by all means assist the newborn in providing a smooth transition from one world to the other.

Suggestions To Pregnant Women.

That book of Dr. Leboyer has revolutionized the thinking about how we bring our children into the world.

We are realizing (are we?) that too often we do it in a way one can only define as child abuse.

(Child abuse is acting or failing to act resulting in any form of harm to a child. Neglecting to act, or not providing for a child's needs, is also a form of abuse)

1 - Do your homework

- Have you visited all the links in this page? If not do it now

- Other web sites you should visit contain information of great interest:

- (quote): "We find that prenatal and perinatal experiences have a profound impact on health and human behavior. We believe that life is a continuum which starts before conception, not at birth. Read more

.- (quote): "... any violence which greets a baby in the womb or around the time of birth will serve as a silent and unconscious form of conditioning which acts like a template for future relationships. This conditioning--depending upon its frequency and severity--can affect a person's physical and mental health for decades to come....In modern hospital birth, violence and pain have become routine for babies! For most of the last hundred years, neither obstetricians nor psychologists regarded pain as a reality for newborns (end quote) Read more

- (quote): "Babies communicate this (their rejection of violence at birth) with their strong voices, their anguished facial expressions, and by vigorous movements of arms and legs. Are they not famous for crying fiercely at birth? Both parents and professionals expect this, smile nervously, and call it "healthy." Birth cries are not yet taken seriously, although most of them are clearly a reaction to violence. Screaming babies tell us that something is wrong."(end quote) Read more

- (quote): "One of the most violent routines associated with hospital birth in the 20th Century is the practice of male circumcision, a surgical alteration of the penis, in the past always performed without anesthetic, and at the present frequently performed without anesthetics. In my view, this physical and psychic trauma cannot possibly be justified for any of the "medical" reasons which have been proposed over the last hundred years.(end quote) Read more

- Correcting your diet and taking supplements before and during pregnancy improves its outcome and the quality of the baby. Read more

- You should e-mail to the author of this page any question, comments and suggestion you may have.

2 - Do your fieldwork

Visit the Maternity Ward or the birthing center of your choice. Talk to the responsible midwife/nurse/obstetrician about your decision to avoid any undue trauma to the baby you are carrying and that you expect the assisting team to provide your baby with a smooth transition form one world to another. To substantiate your request you can direct them to this page http://www.longevinst.org/nlt/childbirth.htm and to the URLs it contains.

Explain them what you want:

1 - The birth to occur in dimmed light and in silence.

2 - Your baby to go directly from your womb to your naked abdomen, where your hands shall gently massage it.

3 - No activity from the team except the close monitoring of the condition of the baby by checking muscle tone, skin color and pulse (by holding the umbilical cord, NOT with a stethoscoop on the baby's chest).

4 – No premature umbilical cord clamping to let the blood circulation switch on its own pace from the placenta to the lungs and to avoid brain damage and anemia

5 - No undue aspiration device in the mouth, nose or throat

6 - No rubbing your baby with a piece of fabric to “clean” it.

7 - When everything is done, a warm bath for you and the baby

Should they be reluctant and unwilling to provide the service you request, visit other hospitals or birthing centers until you find one that will satisfy your request.

You can also tell them that

At their request Dr. Devroey (resume)  will come to their hospital to instruct the staff of the delivery room how to reduce the stress of the newborn emerging from the womb into a totally new world.
Dr. Devroey will also educate the staff on how to facilitate the infant/mother bonding, which occurs best at birth, and is so beneficial for the baby’s further development and education.


3 - Also be aware of the following:

In the childbirth business YOU and all pregnant women are the clients and like in all businesses the service provided in delivery rooms will only start improving after the clients have made clear their protest.

Every day in the USA there are about 10,000 women giving birth . The majority of them complain of inadequate service to them self and of abusive "treatment" of their newborn in the delivery room. Imagine the cumulative effect if only a fraction of those 10,000 women starts every day testifying about their experience?

The Longevity Institute suggests sending a letter to your representative, describing your frustration not finding a delivery room accepting your request. You should also send that letter if you already have a child and can testify of any inappropriated handling of your newborn in the delivery room. Find the name, street address and e-mail address of your representative in a list of representative by zip code and use this template as a model for your letter.

   Copyright © 2003-2007=2010 Edmond Devroey MD                                                                                                                    Edited: 12-26-09