Since the middle of the twentieth century, the development of plastics has been one of the main factors influencing the history of medicine. For example, an anaesthesiologist was formerly an expert in delivering drugs by inhalation. Today, this expert delivers drugs through plastic catheters, in particular via intravenous and epidural routes. Where obstetrics is concerned, a typical modern woman in labour is visualised as having one of her arms connected to a plastic bag through a plastic tube, while a plastic catheter is inserted in the epidural space in her spine. The development of plastics has not only transformed most medical disciplines; it has also made possible the emergence of new medical concepts such as intensive care units, and new disciplines such as neonatology.
Focusing on obstetrics, Childbirth in the Age of Plastics asks vital questions about childbirth today—and tomorrow— and demonstrates that the current turning point in the history of childbirth is also a turning point in the history of humanity.
Introduced as a medical student to the surgical unit of a Paris hospital in 1949, and still involved in several fields of medicine, Michel Odent has the authority to study contemporary history from this new perspective.