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Book review: Hold Your Prem by Jill Bergman with Dr. Nils Bergman

This book on best practices for premature baby (prem) care is invaluable. It will be exceptionally useful to empower parents of a prem AND as a resource for birth professionals. The Bergmans share best practices to meet prems’ needs that recreate as closely as possible the experience in the womb. This is quite profound, but in typical Western hospitals [dealing with liabilities (and fears) around prem care] is not always a priority. Prems being with mom, with skin-to-skin contact is best because it makes the biggest difference in terms of neuroscience (baby’s brain development) which wires babies’ nervous systems for health.

This book gives clarity on how to meet these deep needs and how we can change the landscape to prioritize prems’ needs – especially during the exceptionally significant early seconds, minutes, hours and days after a prem is born. This book is the premise for Kangaroula training offered next weekend by BirthWorks!  If you want to learn more, please register now or when it is offered again in 2021.

When certain things are not in place for the mother-prem connection, it is at the cost of stress on baby’s autonomic nervous system (ANS) and brain development.  What “the baby expects biologically” does not happen if the prem spends most of the time in an incubator (or crib), and being in this state of stress or shock, especially for a prem, wires their brains to not relax and expect stress, with costs for exceptionally important development in the first few months of their lives and longer.

“Skin-to-skin contact provides the biologically expected stimulation to wire the brain in the best way possible… The brain is stimulated by sensations. The sensations from the mother are good and reassuring. They make the brain develop… This brain-wiring depends on the mother’s presence.” (p.11)  Babies have certain sensory needs (feel of skin, smell of mother, hearing her voice and heartbeat, see her face and tasting breast milk) which if they are in place help babies relax (so they breathe, eat and sleep better).  But if a prem is not with mom, they go into “shock” when trying to regulate their own body temperature (and more) and their nervous system is stressed (fight-and-flight).  There are steep costs for a prem to be in a negative stress state, when their brain is not fully developed, lungs are not ready for breathing air, sight and hearing are highly sensitive, and skin is fragile (p.12). 

For parents, this book will empower you, so if your baby is a prem, you can take care of yourself, and understand what is happening in the hospital to advocate for your baby. [For parents of term babies, so much information is relevant to your babies’ care and needs as well.]  As parents of a prem, you will understand how normal it is to experience a multitude of emotions (such as… very confusing, scary, worry, fear, uncertainty plus joy, hope, love and also more positive ones too).  It provides information and insight into certain areas – how to read signs from your baby, technology used, problems prems might face in the NICUs, the value of skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding (with tons of tips), neuroscience (brain development), how you can best ask for help, and taking your prem home to parent them. You can use this book to “lessen the stress” and “help you and your prem cope better” (p.9) but more than that… you will understand what is going on (what your baby is telling you, even what good reasons there are for wires and tubes on your baby) and how the key thing that can help your baby is YOU! – your presence, your touch and your love. (You can hold your baby with the wires attached, if you ask.)

For professionals, you may find academic validation that much of what you intuitively do (outside of managing technology as needed) when working with prems is already in-line with best meeting their needs. You may understand parents of prems better, and thus how to work best with them to make positive changes for ideal care for their prem. As a childbirth educator or doula, the book clarifies the ultimate best baby care… because understanding and meeting a prem’s needs best is the most extreme way we can give the absolute best care to any baby, and deeply understanding the experience of parents of prems frames the support that is also best for any new parent.  

This book emphasizes the importance of the shared journey… starting with the mother/baby connection, and the cooperative teamwork of parents and providers together.  This matters a lot! – in the context of neuroscience, honoring parents speaking for their baby, and embracing that “mom + milk” are the key ingredients in building the prem’s health. The book also states that in NICU prem care there are some areas of controversy where academic “evidence is insufficient or absent” (pp.v), which reinforces the vital bond between mother and baby, and the need to find the best balance of mother-care and technological care. The conversation with prem parents and health professionals is key to improve prem care now and in the future.

Hold Your Prem helps us choose to care for term infants and prems with deep knowledge and awareness, in conscious ways that minimize trauma (which sadly is unintentionally created in some hospital/NICU-care models). The Bergmans empower parents and providers through detailed understanding and steps to allow the best nurture science, skin-to-skin contact, positive breastfeeding support and mother-baby bonding, so together we co-create a “nurture care” model to minimize stress, maximize babies’ comfort to meet their deep developmental needs in the early moments of their precious lives, enhance bonding, and align intention to create healthy babies and brain integration, so prems’ nervous systems are balanced and well, which can give prems the opportunity to live healthier lives and effectively connect socially in the future.

If you’re inspired to learn more and to learn how to advocate for prems in your work, consider joining BirthWorks for Kangaroula future trainings, now offered virtually.

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Book Review: Nobody Told Me About That – The First Six Weeks

Nobody Told Me About That – The First Six Weeks
by Ginger Breedlove

Book review by Cristin Tighe, BWI Program Director & CCE(BWI)

What a valuable read – this is the most comprehensive book about the postpartum time I’ve picked up. It’s focus on the first six weeks is key! As a mother of first a daughter and then twin boys, and as a postpartum doula, I have experienced the challenging personal reality of going through the early weeks with newborn(s) and have professionally supported varied clients through it!  The first six weeks or so with a baby is also the most precious time.  Having the option while pregnant to understand what to expect after the baby is born very comprehensively and clearly is a true gift – as it empowers parents, so they can enjoy this time more.

For parents-to-be, the first four chapters are like gold. They focus on what is normal (can eliminate much worry!), how to make safe and empowered sleep decisions, and feeding realities (including breastfeeding benefits and tips for success).  Understanding certain key things is exceptionally helpful – like it’s normal that a baby may have a cone-shaped head, acne or other skin changes, cross eyes or make funny sounds when sleeping.  It’s also so valuable to know what to expect day-by-early day about when a baby will poop, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, as well as the truth about how tending to a newborn after birth is often an emotional roller coaster but certain things can minimize that.

For mom, considerations and choosing before baby comes about early day visitors (and tips on how to manage them sweetly!), about how to prioritize mom’s sleep needs and shift the schedule as baby’s sleep and eating needs vary over the first weeks, will also assure her needs are met.  The 36-page chapter on breastfeeding is a lot… but if this is read before the baby comes, parents should feel very empowered on almost every key consideration for breastfeeding (and can skip other books and online resources as prep).

Other key chapters can definitely help parents, and without a doubt do provide valuable insight for birth work professionals and medical providers.  They include: in-depth information for fathers/partners, on postpartum depression (“the #1 complication of pregnancy”), returning to intimacy and to work, dealing with challenges (inequity/racism, unexpected interventions, mother and infant mortality, trauma, grief), as well as fun ideas on practicing mindfulness and getting a pet accustomed to a new baby.  Additional key topic chapters offer deep insight from women of color, LGBT* families, and real from-the-heart stories sharing the experience of what it’s like up to the first six weeks+ AND how moms can find their voice through this magical, demanding experience.

Do note this book is like a mini-encyclopedia, and often has repetition – so if you’re pregnant or a partner anticipating your new child – good to purchase it now.  (This book is so important for those in the US (or with a similar model) of more medicalized birth options and minimal support for after-baby care — which is often very little advice to no advice/hands-on preparation followed by mostly no professional support at home for weeks.  Even in countries, like Belgium, where you have in-home midwives visit every other day for a few weeks to check baby and mom, affordable pediatrician visits earlier than six weeks, and optional free childcare support, this book is invaluable.

Overall, this book empowers and deeply enlightens… of all the birth-related books on my bookshelf… this is a keeper! I will refer to it again and again for clients’ needs and do encourage both new parents and professionals to purchase it now.

 

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Book Review: Natural Labor and Birth: An Evidence-Based Guide to the Natural Birth Plan by Michelle Aristizabal, MD

I was very pleased with Dr. Aristizabal’s book, “Natural Labor and Birth”, although I must admit I went into it thinking I would just be reading about things I already knew as I’ve attended over 700 births as a doula. That was true in most cases, but I really liked her approach. It was an encouraging book to read because it didn’t come across as judging interventions. While it championed natural birth as a viable and healthy option for women, it also acknowledged the prudent use of interventions. It has been my experience whether in personal interactions or in
books or the media, that one side is so staunchly defended to the detriment of the other. For instance, natural birth is touted as so much of an ideal that anything unnatural is judged inferior. Likewise, when women speak of their plan for a natural birth they are often met with resistance from friends and family, or even their providers or nurses. And that simply isn’t fair, especially since it is the woman’s journey. It has always been important to me that birth be
approached with an open mind from all involved. And I feel Dr. Aristizabal does this.

There is a clear defense of natural birth, as the title describes. But I found it enlightening and interesting when I encountered places in the book where she would use evidence to discourage the presumed correlation between interventions. The most popular one that comes to mind is the often-warned connection between an epidural and the increased likelihood of a c-section. She compares a decent number of studies and couldn’t even draw a correlation between an early epidural versus a late epidural and their impact of having a c-section. It’s just not a cut and dry issue. No labor is. She also goes on to say that the most predictive factor in whether one might be increasing their chance for a c-section is their providers’ philosophy of care. And since the studies to date don’t appear to have evaluated the impact the patient may have on the process, it’s still somewhat murky. But the intervention is not the culprit as much as the people deciding or defending its use. Honestly, that was the point in the book that caught my attention the most. I found her perspective refreshing. And for it to be evidence- based was just icing on the cake.

I also appreciated that she didn’t stop at birth but continued her analysis of studies relating to the postpartum time frame. She addressed the huge deficit in postpartum support that protects the fourth trimester. She also acknowledges how to bolster breastfeeding success. So much can be done to improve what is offered to mothers in the hospital especially, but also at home. She also discussed the importance of postpartum care at home, including pelvic floor and core strengthening exercises, in addition to mental health well-being assessments. I appreciated her holistic, whole-istic and balanced approach by covering every important issue in regard to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.

In a country where homebirth is just now starting to take hold and grow, it’s important that we present options for a natural birth in the hospital without vilifying the medical system. There needs to be a level of trust to labor well, and finding the balance within the hospital setting for making a natural birth most likely, while still being flexible in case there are changes in the plan, is the best of both worlds. Trusting providers, trusting options, trusting a woman’s intuition, and trusting the process can all be incorporated within the hospital and result in a very high likelihood of a natural birth. And with books like this one, it will only make a natural labor and birth within the hospital a more recognized and realistic option.

*Michelle Aristizabal, MD, FACOG, is a board-certified General Obstetrician and Gynecologist in
Montclair, New Jersey. She runs a busy, private practice with a special focus on supporting women who desire low-intervention, unmedicated births.

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Birthing In The Spirit – Book Review

As I started my Doula/Birth Educator journey, “Birthing in the Spirit”, was the first book that I began to read. Maybe it was the flashy purple cover, or the catchy title, but something in me stirred when I saw this book. I was so excited to start reading it and discover the contents. This book did not disappoint… Birthing in the Spirit was a phenomenal read, and a great introduction to my education.

One of the first concepts introduced in the book was that energy grows the baby and energy is the force that pushes the baby out….therefore it is vital to have good flowing energy around you and in your body. I think that is a huge proponent to using a doula because the doula is able to provide that good, reassuring energy. I never knew before this, how much energy played a role in the birth and pregnancy. This also was pictured alongside all of the concepts that “birth does not need to be taught.” I really marveled at the idea that culturally, universally, all women have a “knowing” deep inside them about giving birth. This knowing is not something that can be learned, but rather accessed…

The idea of presenting a safe space to a woman who is giving birth is also crucial. The physiological effects of safety in birth are relaxation, lower pulse rate, lower breathing rate, steady mind, decreased fear, increased cervical dilatation and ending in a beautiful birth (98).  These are some things I really wish I knew back when I was giving birth!! The Ideas presented in this book are so traditional, so right…yet so novel! If only the whole world were to read this book during the first stage of pregnancy…what amazing change that would bring to our society and our practices of childrearing would exponentially improve.

Another area of “Birthing in the Spirit” that really spoke to me was about practical tips for managing our thoughts. I think as a doula it is very important that I be the strong one and can offer endless emotional support to the birthing mother. Since she will be in a state of intense emotion…like a flowing river, I need to be the solid rock that she can grab onto to regain strength. Words, Actions/Thoughts, Character and Heart are crucial elements to my character as a doula. I need to consistently grow and try to improve on these areas so I can become a better doula and better person inside and out.

Pelvic exercises were a completely new concept to me-aside from seeing that I have a book on it, and knowing that the seminar I need to attend had a class on it. I really enjoyed the story shown in chapter 15 of “Birthing in the Spirit”. The traditional lifestyle of women showed why they chose to give birth stretched out with the back straight, such as hanging from a bar. I did the practices myself and I do notice how the pelvic bone shifts. It makes total sense that the baby would be able to shift itself in the body during pelvic exercises! The utility is so clear!! This also brings back the idea of energy flowing through the body which needs the right pathway to flow through to bring the baby down! It all makes so much sense…

I think it is super important to educate future mothers about the pelvic bone! Avoid giving any negative commentary on the size or shape of her pelvis! Planting any seeds of doubt about her ability to give birth should be avoided at all costs! Birthing on hands and knees, and encouraging women to be on their hands and knees (scrubbing the kitchen floor etc), during the last six weeks of pregnancy makes room for the baby to move to the optimal birthing position and gets the woman used to the position she can try during labor. I feel so enlightened by this information, and so cheated by the information I learned when I was pregnant! It is like the American culture purposefully teaches the opposite of what we should be doing! It is madness. I had a C-Section birth because the doctor told me I had no other choice… I wish I could go back and try to do it in these positions, in a confident state of mind with no medical drugs used! Oh what a difference it would have made. I am so excited to teach and share this crucial information with all of my future clients and even my sisters who have yet to have any babies.

The last part I want to mention is the quote found on page 170. It reads: See only what is good. Hear only what is good. Eat only what is good. Touch only what is good. Smell only what is good. This is the way to good health. For the mind, body and spirit. I find this quote inspirational and beautiful…it is so simple, just like birth should be, just like getting pregnant should be. It should all be simple, good….and full of love. I really am going to strive for these things in my life. I think I may print out this quote and put it on my fridge. I can’t wait to have a beautiful room in my home that my clients can come to and read all these beautiful sentiments on the walls, feel nothing but support and love and look forward to motherhood there together.

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Becoming Home: A Memoir of Birth in Bali

by Melinda Chickering
 
When I tell friends from the USA, my home country, how we chose to give birth, they always say, “You’re so brave!” What would possess an educated, middle-class, thirty-something American woman to choose to give birth in a bathtub in Bali, rather than ensuring that she had the most advanced medical care in the world at her disposal, just in case?
Friends and family at home in the USA followed their cultural cues and ob/gyn’s advice. American culture prizes rationality, efficiency, risk mitigation, comfort and convenience. Most people take their doctors’ advice, have extensive pre-natal testing, give birth in a hospital, experience numerous interventions, and do not consider low-tech alternatives. Without the cultural tethers of ‘home’ and family, we faced a daunting freedom and sought our own way. I had always been one to do my research, and the pregnancy research revealed polarized opinions about how and where it’s best to give birth.
In over 30 years on Earth, I had never seen a birth – not of a farm animal, a pet or a person. My mom has four children, including two who appeared when I was an adolescent. Presence at their births could have been a marvelous bit of sex education! But in my home culture, birth is kept behind closed doors, a mysterious event fraught with pain, risk and fear. I hope that sharing my story will strip away some of the mystery and reveal some of the magic.
This is the story of how and why we decided to bring our baby into the world as we did, how it went, and how it changed my outlook on life. The answers we found in Bali and within ourselves paid off in a personally transformative experience. On the journey from head to heart, I found strength in loving support and empowerment in surrender. My experience of birth has become a touchstone of feeling more at home in the world, and in my own skin.
Becoming Home unfolds against the backdrop of contrasting cultures – eastern and western, traditional and modern. It braids together my experiences of Bali, of pregnancy and birth, and my own very personal shifts in the process.
My fears about giving birth arose from growing up in a culture focused on pain, inconvenience and risk mitigation on birthday. It was hard to trust that everything might be just fine. As a child, I had also felt vulnerable and unsafe, even in my own home. This was due to early experiences with divorce, drug and alcohol addiction and sexual abuse. From a child feeling unsafe, I grew up to be hyper-vigilant adult. These influences made it doubly difficult for me to surrender to the unknown and trust my body’s innate wisdom.
This also made it doubly worthwhile to do so. The fear that focuses on preventing worst-case scenarios often prompts interventions – even in healthy, normal pregnancies like ours – that also numb the potential of best-case scenarios. Our water birth at a small neighborhood clinic in Bali was a sacred experience that put me more in touch with myself and my sense of the divine as well as with my husband and our baby.
Becoming Home teases out the potential for birth to be more than birth – even a beautiful, gentle, empowering, loving and healthy one. It can be an opportunity to reach deep inside oneself and find the comfort of Home within. Our story also illustrates the contrasts not only between cultures of birth (modern and medicalized / gentle and natural) but also fundamental cultural contrasts between the cultures of Bali and the USA (east and west). There are some stark contrasts here that are no more vividly represented than in the context of such a precious and vulnerable experience as pregnancy and birth.
While modern medicine has a crucial role to play in emergencies, our pregnancy and birth were textbook normal, without pathology or complication. I believe that if we had chosen a hospital birth with many interventions, as is common in contemporary America, we would have forgone a huge opportunity. I hope our story inspires others to take their own leaps of faith – in birth or in life. Growing up in Iowa, I always dreamed of traveling the world, but I never imagined I would give birth in a bathtub in Bali.
Melinda Chickering is a writer and journalist who lives in Bali. Pre-order her book Becoming Home: A Memoir of Birth in Baliat https://publishizer.com/becoming-home/ .
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Review of the Essential Homebirth Guide

by Jane Beal, PhD, CD (DONA), CCE (BWI), CLS

The Essential Homebirth Guide is my new favorite book. It is wondrous, wise, and woman-centered. It is really the only book like it on the market for families planning or considering birthing at home. It’s also a great resource for homebirth midwives and childbirth educators looking to provide a valuable educational resource to expectant parents.
The information in the book is well-structured. After a foreword by Dr. Christiane Northrup, a welcome note, and a note from the authors, the book features twelve chapters, five appendices (on questions to ask during an interview, further reading for the homebirth family, resources for childbirth education and support, resources for higher risk mamas with homebirth hearts, and the photo credits), acknowledgements, notes, and an index. Each chapter begins with a brief overview of the contents (bullet-pointed) followed by a quotation from a mom that conveys her perspective. Every chapter is full of questions that families might ask (or might need to ask but not know that they should), followed by answers and explanations. Interspersed throughout each chapter are stories from mothers, black and white photographs, and occasionally an offset box that begins “the midwife says … “ or contains some useful, related information. The question-and-answer format really makes the chapters easy to understand. The cheerful, down-to-earth tone makes it easy to enjoy.
Chapter 1 tells the story of homebirth, giving a brief history that mentions early American midwives like Bridget Lee Fuller who caught babies on the Mayflower and Martha Ballard who practiced during the Revolutionary War era. It discusses the rebirth of natural childbirth and homebirth midwifery in the 1970s, referring to Ina May Gaskin, as well as some of the reasons that motivate families to seek homebirth today: many women are seeking it because they feel that birth is not a medical event nor should it be treated as one (p. 8); for others, it is more affordable care (p. 9); and some choose it because of deep religious convictions (p. 10). A growing number of women who have experienced birth trauma in the hospital are seeking a different kind of birth experience at home.
Chapter 2 focuses on early pregnancy, finding a care provider, and the importance of prenatal nutrition. The authors outline the distinctions amongst midwives: direct-entry midwife, certified professional midwife, licensed midwife, certified nurse-midwife, and physicians, including reference to the MDs, DOs and obstetricians who attend homebirths in some communities.
Chapter 3 focuses on what prenatal care with a homebirth midwife is like. Since midwives focus on holistic care, prenatal visits are 30-60 minutes long (compared to the average obstetrician visit, which is only 7-15 minutes long), giving the opportunity for conversations that build trust and develop relationship. Visits naturally include good, standard care: checking maternal blood pressure, pulse, weight, and urine as well as fetal heart tones and position. But mothers are involved in this process, reporting their own weight and learning how to read their own urine analysis strips. This is all part of encouraging home birthing families to take responsibility for their own self-care.
Chapter 4 discusses relationships in the mother’s life to her partner, her parents, coworkers and even strangers, and how these relationships might be affected by her desire or decision to birth at home. It gives wise advice for coping with diverse reactions to this choice. Chapter 5 is likewise about communication, specifically the importance of informed consent, crafting a birth plan for homebirth and the possibility of hospital transport, and involving family members in the plan with the understanding that it’s important not only to be informed, but flexible (since things really go exactly as we plan them!).
The authors give BRAINS as a great acronym for:
  • benefits
  • risks
  • alternatives
  • instincts/intuition
  • now/never/nothing and
  • safety/satisfaction (p. 76-77)
These six evaluative measures can be helpful when applied to any decision being made during the childbearing year.
Chapter 6 focuses on the birth team and different types of childbirth education. The authors note the great benefits of having a birth doula for physical and emotional support. They mention four doula training organizations: ALACE, Birth Arts International, CAPPA, and DONA. In the next edition of the book, I hope they will also mention TOLABOR: The Organization of Labor and Birth Options and Resources (http://www.tolabor.com) and BirthWorks doulas. With childbirth education, they give a brief survey of Lamaze, the Bradley Method, HypnoBabies and HypnoBirthing, Birthing from Within, and The Pink Kit. Again, I hope they’ll also mention BirthWorks childbirth education classes in the next edition, as these classes are excellent preparation for VBAC, HBAC, and homebirth in general.
This chapter also mentions a variety of other professionals and services that pregnant and birthing moms can benefit from, including postpartum doulas, massage therapists, and chiropractors as well as Mayan abdominal massage, yoga, and acupuncture.
Chapter 7 is all about special circumstances that might impact a family’s decision to have a homebirth. The authors begin by addressing risk and fear. They go on to discuss twins and breech babies. They acknowledge that some, but not all, homebirth midwives attend twin or breech births. They explain state regulations that may restrict a midwife’s ability to attend as well as the risks that make hospital-based resources useful in some of these cases.
They also take time to acknowledge the emotional impact a personal history of abuse can have on a childbearing woman. I hope the authors will expand this section in the next edition because this is such a critical issue facing a third of childbearing women today. On a related note, they discuss the pressures facing teen moms and what a great option homebirth can be for them. The story they include from the perspective of Nikki, a teen mom, is one of the most encouraging, inspiring, and witty in the whole book.
Chapter 8 focuses on HBAC: homebirth after cesarean. It’s a splendid chapter exactly in line with the BirthWorks philosophy and the principles of ICAN: International Cesarean Awareness Network (http://www.ican-online.org). It reassures mothers that home birth is certainly possible after cesarean and informs them of their options and resources.
Chapter 9 considers the “big ten” pregnancy-related issues: the emotional experience, anemia, vitamin D deficiency, Rh-negative blood, GBS, gestational diabetes, thyroid problems, common cold, hypertensive disorders, and miscarriage. The information provided is concise and comprehensible with an emphasis on prevention. As the authors say, “What is the take-home message? … 1) Make sure that the calories you ingest are nutrient dense and 2) exercise regularly” (p. 209). This is an excellent message! Good nutrition does prevent many (though, of course, not all) pregnancy-related complications.
Chapter 10 focuses on labor and birth at home. The authors discuss the importance of cleaning the house before the birth, in some detail, and what to do with pets and siblings as well as the necessity for a homebirth kit. In this chapter, they also discuss what to pack in a bag in case of hospital transport and options for what to do when a pregnancy is postdates, including out-of-hospital methods of induction. They discuss the experience of early labor, some pain relief measures for active labor (with an emphasis on water birth), and pushing out and catching the baby.
They mention some of the top reasons for transport to the hospital: fatigue, pain management, maternal fever or high blood pressure, significant blood loss prior to the birth, baby’s heart rate too low or too high, meconium in the amniotic fluid, uncontrolled postpartum hemorrhage, retained placenta, newborns who cannot maintain their temperature, and other newborn anomalies that require pediatric care (p. 266). This provides a good overview for parents and helps to foster realistic expectations.
Chapter 11 focuses on the postpartum period, including immediate postpartum care, skin-to-skin mother-baby contact, breast-feeding, and newborn medications (eye ointment and Vitamin K) and screenings (initial heel-stick and others). The authors discuss postpartum depression and how to get help for it. Happily, they note the postpartum depression is rare in homebirthing mothers, but it does occur, so it’s important to be on the look out for it. They are careful to distinguish between normal “baby blues” and PPD. In this chapter, they mention placental medicine, including encapsulation, as one option that families may use to combat PPD.
The final chapter includes, in the tradition of Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery and Guide to Childbirth, eight birth stories from mothers with different homebirth experiences. There is a note of realism and a diversity of experience represented in the stories. The mothers express themselves honestly, often with a great sense of joy and triumph, but they don’t over-idealize their experience. Only one says she had a pain-free birth, and none mention an experience of orgasmic birth. Perhaps these are the sorts of stories that connect to most American women’s experiences of childbirth, even at home, today.

 

I recommend this book wholeheartedly to expectant parents, childbirth educators, and midwives. Doulas looking to add to their resources for families should pick this book up immediately. In my opinion, it is the best book for American families on midwifery care and preparing to birth at home available today.
Jane E. Drichta, CPM and Jodilyn Owen, CPM, The Essential Homebirth Guide (New York: Gallery Books, 2013). 379 pp. $12.68 Amazon Paperback / $10.38 Kindle.