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Birth without Violence

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  461 ratings  ·  56 reviews
The classic guide to gentle birth that revolutionized the way we welcome our children into the world.

• The first book to express what mothers have always known: babies are born complete human beings with the ability to experience a full range of emotions.

• Shows how gentle lighting, a quiet atmosphere, and a warm bath allow a newborn to ease the transition from womb to w
Paperback, Revised Edition, 144 pages
Published April 1st 2002 by Healing Arts Press (first published 1974)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  461 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Jan 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: energy, women
Written by a French doctor, this book is actually poetry, which I did not expect. However, as the birth story is told, new ideas are presented that I will definitely remember. I hope to experience an easy unmedicated birth with this baby as I did with my two boys. From my experiences with the boys, I understand how the birth experience impacts the mother - this book gives insight into what it is like for a baby to leave the womb.

Quotes I liked:

"To be born is to suffer.
Birth is pain...
The nightm
Nov 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: midwifery-sex-ed
I liked the respect for the baby, and the clever evaluation on what it needs and how it might perceive standar assistance.. but not the viewpoint of the doctor that takes away the baby from the mum to give it a bath. Now we know how important the first two hours are for mum and baby, how to promote a successful breastfeeding during this time, how the instinct of the baby sends him toward the nipple.
But before such knowledge was made public, this must have been an extremely revolutionary text, a
Rachel Svendsen
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book that helps you to step back and imagine what it must be like for a baby to be born from the baby's point of view. It encourages giving the child a softer environment when they first emerge from the womb. It had some great ideas in it that I hope to implement in my own birth plan.
Miguel Ángel Vilela
Feb 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Future moms (and dads) in countries where birth does come with violence by default
Recommended to Miguel Ángel by: Esperanza
Shelves: parenting
It was ok, I can't say I liked it though. I did like many bits of useful advice, but the style and tone are anywhere between excessively poetic and nearly offensive. At first, it tried to get on my nerves, but I was alert because my wife couldn't get past the first couple of pages due to the writing style.

However, the content is interesting and useful, it explains things fairly reasonably (makes them easy to understand) but many times it makes me feel I'm witnessing a pedantic hammering ideas in
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Incredible and profound piece of art. Leboyer describes birth from the perspective of the child as it experiences the trauma of being separated from the omniscient, perpetually nurtured state of the womb to life on earth. This isn't a practical medical text in the same vein as the Mayo Clinic's Guide to Pregnancy, What to Expect or any other mainstream commercial book. It's a story, told from the child's perspective.

Leboyer draws from the Ancient Mysteries and the Classics with language that ca
Dec 24, 2009 rated it did not like it
So here's what this book says:

brand-new babies have feelings
don't bombard them with bright lights or loud sounds
don't cut the chord right away
put them in a warm bath
let all the transitions be gentle
...and that's it.

How is it that these very simple ideas could be cotton-candied out into a whole book of goopy sloppy oozy prose? "Yes, this hell exists. And burns. It is not a fable... it's flames assail the child from every direction; they burn the eyes, the skin, penetrate down through the flesh; t
Lindu Pindu
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fine book that helps us understand the perspective of a baby going through birth. Even if it’s not completely accurate, and who knows if it is, It’s a good starting point to at least think about the baby’s perspective, and how we can alleviate the dramatic experience it goes through during birth.

As for the author, he represents a kind of doctor that no longer exists: cultured, aware, astute and not just hyperspecialized.
The philosophical poem about childbirth that helped create the natural childbirth movement of the 1970's. I expected the phrase "birth without violence" to apply to the mother's experience of childbirth, but instead this work focuses on the infant's experience of birth, which is fascinating in a different way. If you're in the camp who measures the success of a birth in terms greater than a live mother and a live child, you will enjoy this book. If it's only the ultimate outcome that matters in ...more
Ave Spahn
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: birth
I absolutely loved the focus on the baby. So often the baby's needs and rights in birth and parenting are ignored. It isn't often that people focus on the experience from the baby's point of view and what his/her needs are. Leboyer's focus on that is very refreshing. The book breaks down the harmful and distressing practices of birth and re-writes them from the child's point of view, describing how that might feel, and encouraging us all to empathise and do what we can to make this new little pe ...more
Jul 09, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: birth-etc
This book is by an obstetrician, and I expected it to be much more informative. Supposedly Leboyer came up with different standards and techniques for childbirth, but this does not present them in any sort of concise or logical way.

It seemed like the main force of his effort was to be artsy and poetic, and his main idea seems to be that babies feel excruciating pain at birth.

He has a few logical ideas, but any other book on natural childbirth would probably present them better.

Birth into water
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gattegno
I was led to this book on reading a book review written by Caleb Gattegno in 1974. I copy part of it here.
"Can you imagine a whole book written about the fist ten minutes of our life in the world? Normally such a short duration will get as much as a mere line in any book on early childhood.. But Dr Leboyer, a French obstetrician, asked the question, "Why do babies cry when they are being born?" and managed to get what may be considered a complete answer. The answer to the question both makes sen
Aug 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Made some good points but the poetic form made it seem less scientific and believable. Also, he makes a point that the way you are born affects you for the rest of your life, which may be true to some extent, but I feel like probably not to the extent that he says, though, there is no way of proving it, so better to be safe than sorry. Either way, a gentle birth is so much better for the baby. Yes, baby will still get all the benefits he needs from getting squeezed by contractions and all, but s ...more
Aug 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Wanted to read this in part because I always hear this book referenced and this guy quoted and I just wanted to read the original. The basic premise is not so revolutionary anymore, thankfully, and yet -- could I get everyone in the (hospital) room to be quiet while I give birth? Could I get the lights dimmed, the nurses to leave us alone and not poke and weigh and suction etc. the baby? Yet another text that made me wish I could have a home birth. It surprised me the way it's written -- very fr ...more
Although the author draws heavily on Eastern philosophy and is rather dramatic for shock appeal, I appreciated many of the subjects he examined. It is obviously kinder not to mention more natural to have soft lighting, and gentle voices at a birth. I appreciated the anatomical details of why the cord should not be cut immediately after birth, as well as the comments on the handling of newborns. The photos of newborns are very precious.

This book is certainly appropriate for expectant parents, es
Jan 12, 2011 rated it liked it
A very interesting read, and I was surprised at how quick it was, too. I had heard of this book and the Leboyer methods but had never before read it. Very interesting writing style--dramatic, a little too much so, perhaps, but I liked how it verged on poetic, and pulled you into what a newborn infant feels that cannot express itself in words. I'm really glad that all of my children's births have been so peaceful, and I am looking forward to another one coming up here soon. This was worth the hou ...more
Dec 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
I couldn't get past the first few pages. I tried to have an open mind since poetry is not my thing...but I just couldn't. I am an experienced natural-birther, home-birther, unassisted-birther...but I can't do everything he said to do and I felt...guilty I guess. I feel like he took God right out of the birth...God clearly designed birth the way He did for a reason, and this book just tries to tear it all apart. I get that birth is "violent", but it needs to be rough to get the baby's system read ...more
Ok, his writing style is a little over the top, but consider it was written in 1975 and that the birth practices he recommends are actually being practiced now (as I can attest, having recently experienced many of them, at Kaiser Sunnyside Labor and Delivery, put into play quite nicely thank you very much).

An important book, and really tragic when you think about the bullshit things doctors used to do to babies (and probably still do in some places). Makes me want to hop in a time machine and b
May 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
mixed feelings here.

I expected this book to be LESS "touchy-feely" in terms of the descriptions.. more clinical, I guess.

With that said, Leboyer is a little OUT THERE with his ideas about the child hating the mother. gr on that, for sure.

but the ideas about it being quiet atmosphere, quiet voices, warmth, no blinding, all of those things are things E experienced being born, and I have pictures of her as a smiling hours old baby, and I LOVE THAT.

recommend--- welll..... who knows. Something to r
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: family-life
If you are looking for a book about birth based on scientific facts then this is not the one. Leboyer shows the miracle of birth from child's perspective. After so many books on labour and delivery focusing on pain relief and what is happening to woman's body on every stage of labour, this reading was quite refreshing. Yes, sometimes his language is overdramatic but I was deeply touched. Being born is as painful and overwhelming as giving birth. Understanding of what child is going through makes ...more
Feb 12, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the older version of the book - I'm not sure what the revised version includes. This version definitely seemed dated as I don't believe doctors hold babies upside down by their feet and spank their bottoms anymore. However, it did give insight into what a baby might experience upon being born. The style of writing is highly dramatic however, and tends to drag on and on describing the birthing process. Too many rhetorical questions! :)
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I loved the beauty of anticipating the birth of a baby with gentleness and peace. I loved the thought of soaking and floating with a fresh newborn, hours old, in a relaxing bath. I didn't agree with everything . . . I don't think I could give birth as quietly as in the dark as Leboyer advocates for, but I appreciated the reminder that birth is traumatic for a newborn too and treating them with gentleness and tenderness is important.
Oct 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
this is a truly amazing book. it has always troubled me that newborns are treated so roughly after birth. this book explains the leboyer method, which advocates a more compassionate birth with dim lighting, a quiet atmosphere and most importantly, gentle handling of the newly born baby. it is a beautiful book with incredible photos of smiling newborns.
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book lovingly creates a new vision for the birth process. Instead of the images of bright lights, screaming babies and distraught mothers, the process described here is one of peaceful calm, which definitely sounds appealing to any parent-to-be. Leboyer offers suggestions and techniques for making the delivery process less crazy and more enjoyable for all involved, especially the newborn.
I thought it was very strange at first but after reading it I liked it. it made me rethink the whole birthing experience for my own children. i think this would be a good book for women who want children. the birth technique that he describes seems like something every mother should use. i wish i had.
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone intending to become a mother or father
Shelves: non-fiction
Written in a combination of poetry and prose, this book challenges the accepted Western approach to childbirth. Written by an obstetrician who attended over 10,000 births, this book suggests taking care to ease the transition from womb to world. Simple suggestions such as low-lighting, whispered voices and delaying the cutting of the umbilical cord are not only possible, they seem common sense.
Mar 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 18+ years
I loved this book--it is amazing. It examines questions that have never crossed my mind. It really opened my eyes and changed the way I see the world. I think that it could prompt exploration and illumination in all aspects of one's life, not just to childbirth. A must-read.
I thought some of the ideas and concepts of the book were interesting, and maybe even correct. I did not like the way in which the book was written. I found it to be very distracting from the actual content.
Another book from the time when I was delivering lots of babies, and having my own. It was groundbreaking in its day, which seems kind of odd now that women have wrestled the birthing process back from the medicalised situation we had then.
Perhaps because birth has already changed so much since Leboyer wrote this, I'm finding this guy to be a nut so far.

Maybe this was ground-breaking for its time, but it's both blase and wacky for today's times.
Apr 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
I agree with so many of the points in this book. It is written in a type of prose which can be difficult to follow. We worry so much about what the mother will go through during childbirth while often not thinking about the traumatic experience of the baby.
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Frédérick Leboyer was a French obstetrician and author.

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