Mothers are losing the ability to give birth naturally and breastfeed because their bodies have become too reliant on drugs used during labour, a leading doctor has claimed.

Dr Michel Odent believes women are at risk of losing the hormones needed to deliver children because they have been supplied by doctors via drips for so long.

The Frenchman, who championed the use of birth pools in hospitals, added that a lack of naturally produced hormones will also hinder breastfeeding.

Women are already enduring longer labours, with mothers giving birth between 2002 and 2008 taking on average two-and-a-half hours longer than those in the late 1950s.

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