Book Review by Mardell Weisenburger, BirthWorks Birth Doula student
Becoming All You Can at a Whole New Level
Wow – This is the best book I’ve ever read that encompasses the entire realm of pregnancy, labor, and birth from the standpoint of getting in touch with oneself and nature, whether it is for the pregnant mom or the caregiver. This takes becoming all you can be to a whole new level which includes the unseen factors of birth such as energy, attitudes, intuition, human values, instincts, relationships, peace, fear, worry, anger, forgiveness, all emotions, and most of all, love.
How Instinctive Birth Is
The overall recurring theme of the book that I loved most is the clear understanding of just how instinctive birth is. There are many ideas that support this, including the analogy of the turtles (p. 6-7), the comparison of animals giving birth instinctively (Odent p.64), “...born with instincts….” (Northrup p.70), the references to the physiology of a woman’s body in regards to the amino acid residues “…that only allows an ion with a specific set of properties to pass through” (p.83), the information of the birth hormones (p.84-86), the detailed list of what oxytocin does (p.262), the list of concepts that empower women for birth (p.213-214), and my favorite quote (p.216) - “Think of how the body knows to grow a fetus with different organs, each with its own specific purpose and function. Think of how the uterus knows to contract, pulling its muscle fibers up to open the cervix. There are atoms in all the tissues. Tremendous power is contained within the atoms…” Also, the entire chapter Birth Times (p.287-288), especially where Cathy writes about the rhythms of the oysters, and birds and shows the correlation to human rhythms and the connection to the earth. I have known for a long time that birth is instinctive. One reads that, hears it, but just HOW is it instinctive became a bit more distinct after reading this book. Something clicked a bit deeper.
Mysteries and Connectedness
I stopped and paused several times while reading and pondered the beauty, mystery, spirit, and power of my body. How does the body know when to ovulate, or the egg to attach to the uterus, and how does the baby know when to send the signal to be born?… So many beautiful mysteries to ponder. I thought of so many years ago when my father-in-law passed away. He was the first dead person I ever touched. I wondered where the energy went that made him laugh so uproariously. I thought of my own father when after he passed, I asked the undertaker a million questions, and learned there was so much life still in that body, like bacteria taking over to decompose. The rhythm of the earth through birth and death is as natural and consistent as the sun which rises and sets each day. How does all the earth/universe know all these things? I find myself wishing I could experience pregnancy and birth again to have the opportunity to be in touch with earth, Spirit, and myself all at the same time, once again. Our understanding of the human body is minimal – we are walking miracles. The focus and interconnectedness on Human Values (Truth, Love, Peace, Right Action, Non-Violence) and how they connect to the senses, the elements and the earth helps to ground the reader and realize the connectedness of all humanity. It allows us to “birth in the spirit” and allows mothers to fully “experience happiness and bliss” (p.51). What we do, how we think, what we speak, matters. It matters not only in birth, but in parenting, and in all of our lives.
Value of Not Being Attached
I appreciated the chapter entitled “Detachment”. Learning to detach from the “results of the outcome” for moms, dads, caregivers, and childbirth educators vs attachment “…means [not] being emotionally affected by the outcomes of our actions and events in life” and is necessary to birth in the spirit - “Detachment is the process of being able to be open to our feelings and fears, yet relating to them in a new way and being unaffected by the results.” (p. 223). As a doula, this is important support for me personally. I feel the lapse [I chose] in my BirthWorks training perhaps may have been necessary for this to develop.
It is difficult to write just two-pages about this book. It is a wealth of information not only about birthing in the spirit and human values as I stated above, but also encompasses pelvic body work, nutrition, the importance of sleep, and even parenting. I appreciate and love all the suggested exercises in the book that help the reader to be in touch with themselves, develop confidence, and better able to understand the concepts. This book is by far my favorite and I will re-read it multiple times and will carry it with me to every birth as my support.
BIRTHING IN THE SPIRIT is what is sorely missing in our birth world. I feel I definitely found my soul work and this book has resonated deeply with me.