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.