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Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor's Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices Paperback – December 2, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

An authoritative guide to natural childbirth and postpartum parenting options from an MD who home-birthed her own four children. * Speaks to a new generation of parents who are concerned about the medicalization of childbirth and want current and science-based info about alternatives.

About the Author

SARAH BUCKLEY, MD, is an internationally known authority on natural birthing and parenting choices. She has published numerous articles in Mothering magazine and Midwifery Today. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.


How long did it take you to write this book?
Around ten years since I wrote the first material, and around 9 months to rewrite and put it all together.

What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
Combining it with looking after 4 children

When did you know you were a writer?
When I was 10, I told my class teacher I wanted to be an author!

Favorite childhood book?
I was a precocious reader, I read Jane Eyre at age 10 and loved Wuthering Heights.

If you had to boil your book’s message down to one sentence, what would it be?
Trust your body, trust your baby, follow your instincts

What are you working on now?
A commissioned report on the hormonal orchestration of labor

If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Sorting things out on every level, which includes a special talent for removing embedded hair ties from Barbie hair.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Celestial Arts; 1 edition (December 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587613220
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587613227
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sarah is a family physician (GP), mother of four homeborn children and currently full-time writer on pregnancy, birth and parenting.

Sarah has lectured on these topics since 1995 to parents and professionals in Australia, US, Canada, New Zealand and, in May 2011 in UK, Italy and Switzerland. Her articles have been published internationally, including in Mothering magazine (US), MIDIRS Midwifery Digest (UK), Wellbeing magazine (Australia), Natural Parenting (Aus) Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (US) and The Compleat Mother (Canada).

Sarah is author of the bestselling book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, initially published in Australia in 2005, with a new international edition published by Celestial Arts/Random House in the US in 2009. She has also contributed to numerous books including: Midwifery Best Practice Volumes 4 and 6 (2004, 2009) ; Mothering Your Nursing Toddler (2000): Pregnancy and Childbirth Secrets (2007): The Wild Feminine (2008) and Essential Midwifery Practice: Intrapartum Care (2010).

Sarah's work critiques current practices in pregnancy, birth and parenting from the widest possible perspectives, including scientific, evolutionary, psychological and personal. Her special interests include:
* Safety of ultrasound
* Prenatal testing for Down syndrome
* Ecstatic hormones of labour and birth
* Impact of epidurals, induction and cesarean on mother and baby
* Cord clamping and cord blood banking
* Science of mother-baby attachment
* Benefits of breastfeeding and long-term breastfeeding
* Safety of co-sleeping

Sarah encourages us all to be well informed, to listen to our hearts and instincts, and to take our rightful place as the real experts in our bodies, our babies and our families.

She lives on 2 1/2 acres in the semi-rural outskirts of Brisbane, Australia with her family, 2 dogs and 7 chickens.

You can read more about Sarah, including her books and articles, at her website www,

"Sarah Buckley is precious, because she is bilingual. She can speak the language of a mother who gave birth to her four children at home. She can also speak like a medical doctor. By intermingling the language of the heart and scientific language she is driving the history of childbirth towards a radical and inspiring new direction." --Michel Odent, MD, surgeon, author, and natural birth pioneer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By BNA on January 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
I love this book. It is my favorite childbirth book for many reasons. I love the fact that it is a collection of articles which makes it super easy to read. Dr. Buckley's wisdom is priceless. I am a childbirth educator and doula and I recommend this book to all of my students and clients. In my opinion there is no better childbirth book! She opens you to a new way of thinking. I know I began to question things that are considered standard in maternity care and made different choices than I would have without the knowledge gained through her book. Her insight into the hormones in labor and breastfeeding is profound! I use her book when I teach my classes and draw on it for doula clients as well as my own pregnancies. It goes beyond childbirth into breastfeeding and parenting as well. You learn on many different levels. Thank you Dr. Buckley a hundred times over for finally getting this amazing book published in the USA so more women can benefit from the wisdom it contains!
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154 of 185 people found the following review helpful By Mama Bee on January 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me start out by saying that I really appreciate Sarah Buckley and the work she's done. I have read some of her articles in various places and was SUPER excited to get this book.

Also, I am a proponent of natural birth and mothering. I have given birth at home (on purpose!), am tandem nursing my infant and toddler, practice sleep sharing via Family Bed, etc., so I was definitely coming to this book with an open, even eager, mind.

That being said, by the time I had read through the author's 4 birth stories, the story of her son's placenta and the narrative of her breastfeeding experiences (all of which are included scattered throughout the book, highlighted in gray), I knew this wasn't the book I was hoping for.

While much of the information Sarah shares in this book is well-researched, informative, and enlightening, there is too much sort of mystical, magical, spiritualism present, as well as an advocacy of practices that are so unconventional as to be considered "fringe", for it to be an all-purpose guide to natural birth and mothering.

I think most readers looking for a basic guide to natural childbirth will be turned off by some a the more bizarre, New-Agey stuff in this book, and might therefor conclude that something like natural birth or homebirth is only for a "certain type" of person, one who draws large pastel mandalas in preparation for birth and during pregnancy uses "Brazilian rhythms and hip swirls to spiral [an] ambivalent baby deeper into [one's] pelvis."

While I respect Ms.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robin Grille, psychologist, author on October 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
I love Sarah Buckley's book! It accomplishes a rare feat: combining a compassionate voice with the weighty authority that a practising doctor and meticulous researcher can bring to her subject. Sarah's book is a treasure-trove. For anyone who cares about the critical formative period of child development from conception to early childhood, it delves beyond the sentimental to provide a formidable data-base, as practical as it is touching and inspiring.

As a father I found Sarah's book brilliant and a pleasure to read.
As a psychologist in private practice, parent-educator and author, her book has been one of my most valued and oft-quoted resources.

I doubt that anyone who reads Sarah's book could ever again choose a hospital birth with obstetric intervention (unless there are clear medical complications). Reading left me feeling angry that the many psychological and medical risks presented by today's obstetric excesses have been so heavily downplayed by the industry. Why weren't we told? On the other hand, Sarah has presented clear neurological and endocrinological evidence of the blissful beginnings that natural and gentle birth, and gentle parenting, can bring about. Her book paves the way to a far more loving world.

The great gift of Buckley's book is that she relieves parents of a century of needless and baseless iatrogenic fears: fear of pregnancy, fear of birth, fear of babies, fear of the body. The reward is a font of natural, undisturbed hormonal bliss; for mothers, newborns, and even for fathers. Buckely's extraordinary book midwives the birth of a new, healthier, and more loving culture.

Robin Grille, psychologist, author
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Format: Paperback
I felt the need to chime in my support for this book. I'm a semi-crunchy mother of five -- many things I have learned and chosen in my mothering would be highly supported by the attachment parenting camp, and quite a few simply would not. I am also a committed, practicing Christian. I've had five, all-natural, unmedicated hospital births, and am planning a home birth for my sixth -- not because I've had rotten hospital experiences, but rather because I have learned a bit more with each birth and am convinced that the best way to ensure that this, likely my last birth, is absolutely peaceful and perfect is to have my child at home. It is becoming increasingly difficult within hospital culture, even with a fabulous, naturally-minded care provider to have a truly natural hospital birth.

I particularly appreciate Dr. Buckley's book because she, like myself, is both fully spiritual AND fully science-minded. I respect the fact that Dr. Buckley lays out her spiritually-based opinion and experience and then BACKS IT UP with hard science. There are a solid SIXTY PAGES of end notes. One chapter alone has 294 end notes!! This is, by far, the best-researched birthing book I've ever read, and I have read dozens.

In fact, of those dozens of books I've read, many start to sound the same after a very short while. Many other books on birthing rely heavily on the same stories, the same research, and similar experiences. This was the first book I've read on birthing in a very long time that had NEW, PROFOUND, and RELEVANT information about birthing and mothering. It is a unique and powerful book on many levels.

Instead of being a how-to on birthing, it's more of a "why" book. Why choose one practice over another? Why are ultrasounds possibly harmful?
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