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

4.9 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, March 24, 2009
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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

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (March 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345502868
  • ASIN: B004JZWM4O
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,052,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
This book was great! I've been wanting to read it for a while and am glad I finally finished it. I gave it 4/5 stars because it took me quite a while to finish it, not because it was long, but because the information and writing got a little dry for me in the middle of the book. I actually put it down for a week, tried again, put it down a little while longer, then picked it back up to finish it. The last few chapters were very interesting for me because they had to do with the actual baby just after birth.

When I first started reading this book I thought the author reminded me a little of Mary Roach and her non-fiction books. Sloan's writing style is very personal, as if he's sitting next to you and talking to you, and can be quite funny at times.

The mix of personal experiences and researched information was quite interesting and fulfilling for me. Also, there is a section of references in the back of the book listed by chapter and page number if the reader is interested in looking up any of the information.

I actually dog-eared (which I never do) a couple of the pages for future reference when I (hopefully) have children. The information was all very useful and interesting.

I recently read "Birth Plans for Dummies" and found that Sloan's book, while information and historical, somewhat imitated the Dummies book in that Sloan wrote information about natural vs C-section births, having others in the room, and even the first few moments and days. Sloan's historical information about C-sections and epidurals was very interesting. Even the section about who would be in the room with the mother and the research about fathers.

I would recommend this book for anyone who may have a baby in the future and is interested in the history of giving birth, to doctors and nurses who work with pregnant women and babies, and anyone else simply interested in babies.
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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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