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French obstetrician introduced yoga into childbirth.

Washington, D.C.: Yoga can help pregnant women keep healthy as well as ease the delivery of their babies, said the late Dr. Frederic Leboyer, who wrote the international best seller, Birth Without Violence.

Dr. Leboyer called yoga "a powerful medicine that can heal, cure and transform." Although not promising that yoga postures and yoga philosophy will necessarily ensure an easy delivery, he told mothers-to-be that "yoga is excellent for the child and excellent for you."

Yoga helps to free the body from physical tensions which are reflections of tensions in the mind, springing from unresolved conflicts. "Allow the emotions to surface and the body will be free," Dr. Leboyer stated.

The French physician's views have yet to receive serious consideration in medical circles. Some doctors, however, adopt the concept of "holistic health," which concerns itself with the patient's emotions and psyche and not just the patient's physical condition.

A standard American practice that Dr. Leboyer firmly opposed is that of women lying on their backs during labor. The mother resting on her side is "the perfect way of lying during labor and all through the last weeks of pregnancy."

The French obstetrician also recommended that women do not pull or push their babies through the birth canal but rather allow them to be born through "a beautiful rhythmic process."

The stirrups for the mother's feet, used during the last stages of labor, should be discarded. Instead, he advises the mother to take any position that keeps her body close to the vertical. She may recline against the wall, or better yet, against pillows.

"What helps the baby get through the birth canal is not the weight," Dr. Leboyer emphasized, "but the same energy that makes trees and plants grow skyward. In India, they call it 'prana.'"

Dr. Leboyer observed traditional childbirth practices in India and advised that many of these practices have value for the Western world.

After the baby is born, American mothers would do well to imitate "the flow rhythms of the traditional art of baby massage," which Indian mothers use to communicate love and strength to their infants.

Dr. Leboyer found that this maternal art does not necessarily come naturally. "Often the young mother is shy. She is afraid of her baby and does not know how to do it. It can take some time to learn baby massage. It involves very slow movements and pressure rather than just a caressing type of massage."

He stressed that the application of yoga principles in pregnancy and childbirth do not add up to a rigid scientific technique. "This is not a technique but a love story. From the beginning, the baby sees, hears and feels. The baby is somebody. We must treat him as an equal."
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Title Annotation:Frederic Leboyer
Author:Rossevelt, Edith Kermit
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jun 22, 1992
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