Breech-first twin, mother standing, with Dr. Michel Odent (France)

Michel Odent is a French surgeon and obstetrician who was in charge of the Pithiviers Maternity Unit for over 20 years. At a time when cesarean rates were rising and births in France were highly medicalized, Odent turned the maternity wing at his state hospital into a haven for undisturbed, physiological birth. Most of his changes were low-cost and low-tech: creating an environment in which women were private and completely undisturbed during labor. He replaced delivery tables with big, low mattresses and cushions, birth pools, and simple furniture to aid spontaneous movement. His maternity unit had a 6-7% cesarean rate during the 1970s and 80s, even though it accepted an unscreened population.

This is a brief video of a breech birth at Pithiviers--in fact, the mother is carrying twins and the first baby was born breech. The baby does not rotate to sacrum-anterior after the trunk is born (the most likely culprit is a nuchal arm). At this abnormal sign, Dr. Odent steps in right away and frees the arm. The baby is born very quickly.

Text by Dr. Rixa Freeze, PhD