Wednesday, April 15, 2009


While I wait to ask my postpartum friend to give me the okay on a post regarding the birth of her week-old baby, I am going to give a list of things you all sent me that were very helpful.

For whatever reason, most people responded to my request for input via e-mail, which is totally fine. But I was thinking that, since there were quite a few great suggestions, it would be good to post them on my Blog for anyone who is interested in being a birth helper or preparing for her own birth.

First of all, here's a list of books I checked out at the library last month to brush up and re-educate myself about the birth process and things a laboring woman may encounter:

  • The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth, by Martha and William Sears

I Love this book. If I were to recommend a book to someone who had time to read one and only one (usually first-timers who don't realize just how important it is to make preparation for labor a priority--I know. I was one of these first timers!), this would be the book. I own this book, but was letting my prego friend borrow it, so I picked up a copy at the library for my own reference.

  • Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, by Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg

Ditto the above about owning/lending. This is the second book I would recommend if a woman wanted to work toward a natural birth. ("Natural" in this book means no medication and judicious use of medical intervention).

  • The Birth Partner: Everything You Need to Know to Help a Woman Through Childbirth, by Penny Simkin

This was one of the books recommended by both doulas who weighed in. I was not able to find the other one: Mothering the Mother (or The Doula Book) by Klaus, Kennell and Klaus.

I did find this book helpful, though it is definitely from a different perspective than the one I've come to respect most. It seems to be more Lamazish than I care for. Lots of talk about breathing patterns. My opinion is that deep, abdominal breathing is the best breathing for all parts of labor. It facilitates relaxation, since it requires relaxation of the abdominal muscles, and it prevents hyperventilation and assures plenty of oxygen gets to the baby and to the uterus, preventing rapid muscle fatigue.

Aside from the numerous references to breathing patterns, I found it a helpful enough book that I may purchase it in the future. But since I did not read it in its entirety, I do not yet have a good overview of it.

  • The Expectant Parent's Guide to Preventing a Cesarean Section, by Carl Jones

This may seem an odd book choice to the casual birther, but the fact is that in the U.S., with a cesarean rate of 31.8%, most cesareans are avoidable (Notice I didn't say "unnecessary." This is because by the time they are done, they have often become necessary, but usually the necessary c-section was caused by medical intervention or a lack of other options that could have been tried hours, days or months before.)

Since my friend had chosen an OB as her provider, and since her particular OB was not on call 24/7 for her, and since the only thing I knew about this OB was that she was "nice," I wanted to be prepared for whatever may ensue once we entered the hospital. Of course, the most obvious tactic was to wait as long as possible to go to the hospital. Check.

Even though this book is old (1991), it was very helpful and by far the book I spent the most time perusing. (I did not read any of these books in their entirety last month.) It is set up well, giving an overview of indications for cesarean, then ways to prevent those indications. And though it is old, much of what was being done in 1991 is still being done today--only more (25% cesarean rate back then). I would recommend this book to any pregnant woman with time on her hands (Ha!) and any woman who has had a previous c-section and expects to have more children, and most of all, to any woman who is or aspires to be a labor helper. (I just noticed that this book is apparently not widely available, but if one can get her hands on it, it would be worth the read.)

Okay, I think I'll stop with the book list and pick up again with the list of suggestions next post.

1 comment:

  1. Another great list!

    Though, I am surprised about your take on Simkin's book. I have read it three times cover to cover. my copy's spine is broken, pages dog-eared, and highlighted through-out. I never noticed too much focus on contrived breathing patterns. Now I wan to break it back out and look some more.

    If I haven't already told you, congratulations on attending this birth. I'm sure it will be the first of many for you. :-)