May 12, 2009

Book Review: Your Best Birth

I have always enjoyed reading, and since I started working in OB, I have read numerous books about pregnancy, childbirth and midwives. Recently, I read Your Best Birth: Know All Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices and Take Back the Birth Experience by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein. I love books that empower women and encourage them to take control over their births and this book does that. They encourage women to really think about what they would like for the birth of their baby. There are many choices for women when they deliver, like continuous vs intermittent monitoring, epidural or not, delivery at home, at a birth center or in the hospital. Women should know that they can and should question their doctor. Not every labor follows the same timetable and just because a baby is measuring "big" does not mean a vaginal delivery isn't an option. I remember one mom, pregnant with her 3 baby, scheduled for a primary c-section because the baby was "big" Now, she had delivered her first two vaginally with no problems. She ended up going into labor on her own and delivered her baby before the doctor had a chance to get there - and she didn't tear at all! She had said that she wondered why she needed a c-section but figured "doctor knows best". Childbirth has gotten further and further away from the natural event that it is and seems now it is more a medical problem that needs managed. The equipment designed for the high-risk pregnancy are now used routinely. There are personal stories where the moms talk about what they liked and wished they had done differently about their birth. Every aspect of childbirth and post-partum is covered in this book and I think this is an excellent resource for expectant women. Their suggestions will help to sort out all the different options so that each woman can decide what is right for them. They even have a list of questions to consider when coming up with a birth plan. When you do write a birth plan, it is imperative that you talk to your doctor about it. The tone of the book is like you are having a conversation with the authors and it is an enjoyable read. The personal stories add a nice touch and they also provide descriptions of alternative pain relief, such as hypnobirthing, and the Bradley method.

I must say, as a hospital trained L&D nurse and a mom who had an epidural and 2 c-sections, there were times I was a bit offended. The descriptions of a typical hospital experience was very cold and I would be a bit intimidated if I were reading about this as a first time mom who planned to deliver in a hospital. Most doctors and nurses really do have the best intentions at providing the mom with safe and compassionate care and want moms to have a great birth experience. The ultimate outcome is healthy mom/healthy baby. It is very biased toward medication free births and home birth and they are very up front about that, and they do recognize that that may not be for every woman. For the expectant mom, it is a great book for suggestions on how to prepare for your birth, but not medical advice. Overall, it was a very enjoyable and informative book for the expectant mama.

7 comments:

Surrounded By Boys said...

Great review - I am surprised you liked it, considering your line of work. I believe Ricki Lake had both her kids at home, so of course she would be biased that way.
I do feel that the rate of c-sections has gotten out of control these days and the risks are definitely down-played. I have a friend who wanted a natural birth but at the last minute was talked into a c-section because the baby was "too big." (She ended up being only 8 lbs.) I think a lot of dr's are practicing "defensive medicine" these days, too, and just want to do whatever makes a lawsuit least likely. Can't blame them for that, but it's time for women to really explore their options and take control of their birth experience.

Fertilized said...

Thank you for the review!

Joy said...

Thumbs-up! Can't wait to read it. Pregnant with #3 and had 2 hospital births (with epidurals). I admire homebirths but I'm a hospital woman. With any book it sounds like this one is one you read to glean a few jewels, not necessarily take it all as what one should most definitely do. Thanks!

pinky said...

I hate books that are biased towards a NCB. I think all women deserve respect while they birth. Be it a planned C-section or a NCB at home. I also hate the guilting that goes on. I have seen it at the bedside where one woman felt she "failed" because she wanted an epidural. Actually it is more than one woman.

A maternity nurse just a few hours ago asked me, "Pinky have you noticed more vag deliverys lately?" I told her I think the pendulum is starting to swing the other way.

THAT GIRL said...

I agree with Pinky... I hate that women are guilted to go natural... I think all information should be available and women should be free to make their own choices and not feel like a failure if they choose something different.

I do respect home birth, I do respect drug free deliveries... but I also advocate for an "alive" baby, and if their are risks involved, then whatever it takes to get an "alive" baby, that is the ultimate good outcome. Even if that means a "not-so-ideal" birthing experience.

Good review!

Nurse Lochia said...

I agree completely that women should never be made to feel like they "failed" if they take meds, get an epidural, or have an elective c-section. I'm very supportive of what women want to do...as long as they aren't putting their life or their baby's life at risk.

Alethea said...

Thanks for the review, I look forward to reading the book. I am concerned about one little thing you mentioned in your review. As a fellow LD nurse who is passionate about patient choice I believe it is important to recognize that the "ultimate outcome is healthy mom/healthy baby" is not the only goal for all to many women/families. There are many women who feel robbed of thier integrety, power and autonomy by many of the routine practices that those of us who work in the hospital dont think twice about. Childbirth is a rite of passage and should be honored as such. I agree that most birth professionals want what is "best" for moms and babies, but we must remember that the US medical system is a paternalistic system and what a particular nurse, doctor or midwife thinks is "best" for a patient may not be in their best interest. I avoid ever saying that at the end of the day what is most important is a healthy mom and healthy baby. Many moms who have birth experiences that would seem normal to us are very emotionally traumatized by their experiences. We often can not see emotional trauma, but it doesn't make for a healthy mom.