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Birth Day: A Pediatrician Explores the Science, the History, and the Wonder of Childbirth Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 24, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (March 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345502868
  • ASIN: B004JZWM4O
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,572,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. California pediatrician Sloan has helped deliver more than 3,000 babies, and he marvelously captures the precarious nature of childbirth—both its joys and its anxieties—while treating readers to an informal and captivating history of the medical practices surrounding birth in America. Sloan shares his first bumbled attempts at delivering babies as an intern, which leads him into reflect on why doctors persist in having women lie down to give birth when standing or squatting are better physical postures for it. Sloan ranges surely and splendidly over epidurals, cesarean births, premature birth and neonatal nurseries, as well as the state of an infant's five senses at birth. For example, he points out that the fetus not only smells the foods its mother eats, it remembers them after birth and tends to like what it remembers. Sloan counsels that women cannot prepare for labor, because events change rapidly during the process. He advises women to surround themselves with the people they love: unlike other labor pain relievers she may choose, their benefits will last the rest of her life. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

What boosts Sloan’s book above other pediatrician memoirs is his Captain Kangaroo–like humor and compassion. Indeed, his decision to become a pediatrician sprang from one of his med-student obstetrics experiences. After failing to recognize a breach birth and misidentifying the baby’s bottom as its head, he was advised, “If you can’t tell a baby’s head from its ass, maybe you’re in the wrong business.” After attending roughly 3,000 births, however, and tending the medical needs of countless other children and their moms, he seems outstandingly suited to his specialty. The topics he discusses were born, if you will, out of his own experience, professional and personal, so in talking about them, he combines anecdotes and overviews of the various aspects of fetal development and birthing. Hence, we learn that Queen Victoria is the patron mother of anesthetic medication for the pain of childbirth and that Aristotle advocated plunging newborns into a cold stream to “harden” them. With its crisp and upbeat tone, Sloan’s book is good company for parents experienced and prospective alike. --Donna Chavez

More About the Author

I have been a pediatrician for almost 30 years, during which time I have had to convince people that I am neither a) Dick Van Dyke, who played Dr. Mark Sloan on Diagnosis Murder in the 1990s, nor b) Eric Dane, who currently plays a sleazy plastic surgeon version of Dr. Mark Sloan on Grey's Anatomy. I don't know what it is about my name and TV doctors...

I live in Santa Rosa, California, about an hour north of San Francisco, among the redwoods, cows and vineyards. Elisabeth and I have been married for 24 years, and we have two teengers, who continue to provide me with a wealth of hands-on pediatric experience...

My writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune (including an essay about lessons I learned while falling out of moving cars as a kid), the San Francisco Chronicle, and Notre Dame Magazine, among other publications. "Birth Day: A Pediatrician Explores the Science, the History and the Wonder of Childbirth" is my first book.

Birth Day is partly a memoir of my professional career and my experiences as a dad, and partly an exploration of the fascinating story of how humans came to give birth the way we do. There's a lot of humor in it as well.

Birth Day has gotten a large number of great reviews - from The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly (a starred review), The New England Journal of Medicine, and Fit Pregnancy Magazine (5 stars), among many others. I'm getting very nice reader responses as well, which I love to receive. It's great to hear from readers!

I hope you enjoy Birth Day!

Mark Sloan MD

My author website and contact info:
marksloanmd.com


Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Great fun to learn so much while reading a well written book.
Dorothy Blake
Sloan weaves real-life examples with amazingly detailed historical information in a way that's part history lesson, part first-hand experience -- and all fascinating.
E. D.
A friend recommended this book when we told him we were expecting.
Sami Assaf

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Kern on April 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From beginning to end, Birth Day is jam-packed with information about childbirth and a baby's first day of life. Dr. Mark Sloan skillfully combines scientific knowledge and medical history with personal anecdote to make for an informative and entertaining read. Be prepared to learn quirky facts about why and when women began to lie down to give birth, what a fetus senses inside the womb, and what it's like to enter a world of bright lights and giddy chatter, to useful information about C-sections and epidurals. Birth Day is must reading for all pregnant women and fathers-to-be as well as for women like myself who have given birth to two children but who had only rudimentary knowledge of childbearing. Time spent with Dr. Sloan is like having another obstetrician and pediatrician there to answer many of the questions your doctor doesn't have time for. Birth Day is full of wit, tender stories and wisdom. Do not give birth without it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By ica on July 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm only half-way through this book but already need to give it 5 stars. It's a wonderful book full of facts, history and tips for labor/delivery. I especially enjoy the historical facts like the story of the origins of having women labor on their backs. Amazing stuff. This is a great book for any expectant mother or anyone interested in the birthing history and process. Two thumbs up!!!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. K. Mitros on July 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Of the half dozen baby/birth books I've read since I got pregnant, this was by far the best written. Dr. Sloan had me (and my husband) laughing every couple of pages. Filled with both insightful anecdotes and careful historical research, it's an informative and very fun read. Unlike most pregnancy/birth/baby books, it's downright hard to put down. It's also the single book that best educated me on what I might expect of a hospital birth and on the origins of today's hospital culture. There are plenty of books out there by "natural" birth advocates to describe birth at home or in a hippie commune, but a relative scarcity of hospital birth stories. Through his anecdotes, Dr. Sloan finally answered the questions I had as a first-time mom.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Moira G. Feingold on June 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fascinating, highly readable and not too technical book about pregnancy and how babies develop before birth. Highly recommended for parents-to-be and anyone who wants to know more about how we all began life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sami Assaf on January 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A friend recommended this book when we told him we were expecting. No comments or summaries, just "read it". We looked it up. A book about childbirth by a male pediatrician. No thanks. I wasn't interested in more anecdotal fluff about the wonders of childbirth. My husband decided to check out the preview chapter one evening, and that's all it took to get us hooked.

Yes, there are anecdotal stories that are often hilarious, but the book is filled with a wonderful history of child birth, surveying practices from all regions of the world. The author paints vivid pictures of the days of "Twilight Sleep" and the rise of the natural birth movement. Beyond that, he incorporates actual facts and data from peer-reviewed medical journals citing the benefits of doulas (I hadn't even heard the term before) and surveying the "good enough" pain relief options available to women outside the US (or in one of five hospitals nationally).

This well-written, well-researched book doesn't come across as having a strong agenda, neither pro-medicine nor pro-home birth, but rather gives a complete picture allowing a woman to make her own decisions. We both learned a great deal about our upcoming adventure, and I actually feel a lot better for it. I highly recommend this book to every expectant mom and dad, to every OB, midwife and doula, and to anyone else fascinated by the progress of medicine in the past century.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E. D. on May 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Let me admit a bias before I even start... We are extremely lucky to have Mark Sloan as our pediatrician. So when a friend told me she was expecting, I immediately recommended him and then remembered that he'd recently written a book. I thought it would make a good gift and serve as an introduction to the kind of doctor he is. I found the book on Amazon, got it a day later (thank you Amazon Prime!) and honestly, after skimming it, my husband and I fought over who got to read it first. We rarely read the same books, but this one has blown both of us away.
Sloan weaves real-life examples with amazingly detailed historical information in a way that's part history lesson, part first-hand experience -- and all fascinating.
While nothing can actually prepare you for childbirth, Birth Day provides first-time parents with a solid foundation and historical context that will make them feel a little less lonely and lost; and any parent will think (as I have), "Boy, I wish I'd known that before!"
It doesn't "dumb down" anything and Sloan's genuine humor adds moments of levity as well tender remembrances that will drive any hormone-laden mom-to-be to tears. From all the amazing magic that happens in a woman's body to help the pregnancy and labor move along, to the medical advances that we rely on, to the transformation of fetus to infant, there's a wealth of information here.
We've found our "go to" gift for expecting parents. Thanks Dr. Sloan!
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