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Giving Birth Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Examining midwife-attended childbirth in contemporary America, Taylor approaches the subject as both a creative journalistic investigator (her articles have appeared in Premiere, Rolling Stone, and Every Baby) and a consumer of the system she reports on (while writing the book, she became pregnant and gave birth). The result is a delightfully readable blend of scholarship, expos‚, and storytelling that is likely to become a classic. An important aspect of this book is Taylor's exploration of the economic and social factors that keep maternity healthcare locked into costly structural problems, block consumer access to appropriate care, and threaten the profession of midwifery. Peggy Vincent's Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife also addresses these issues and comes to similar conclusions. However, since Vincent writes from the perspective of a single midwife, her book offers primarily personal recollection rather than research and investigation and is thus narrower in scope though no less worthy. Taylor's book is essential reading for prospective parents and anyone interested in maternity care or the politics of contemporary healthcare systems. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. Noemie Maxwell, King Cty. Lib. Syst., Issaquah, WA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Catherine Taylor has written for Premiere, Rolling Stone, and Every Baby. Educated at Cornell, Oxford, and Duke universities, she has taught at the University of New Mexico, and is currently the editor of The Harwood Review, a literary magazine based in New Mexico. She is the mother of two, both of whom were born with the assistant of midwives.


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Trade (August 6, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399527885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399527883
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,638,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you are part of the 99% of American women who choose to give birth in a hospital, attended by a physician, because you think that is the safest way to go, this book may well change your mind, or at least get you thinking about the possible benefits of a more natural, midwife-attended delivery. The author is decidedly pro-midwife; she weaves numerous statistics and stories into the text that underscore the decline of healthy delivery commensurate with the "medicalization" of delivery. For example, the US has the highest rate of hospital/medical deliveries but ranks 22nd in the world in maternal health / infant mortality -- well behind other countries, primarily western European, where home delivery and birth center deliveries are much more common. Other surprises -- according to the author, the World Health Organization recommends home deliveries and birthing center deliveries over hospital deliveries. The rates of C-sections and episiotomies are much, much lower for midwife-attended deliveries. Midwifes generally treat childbirth as something the female body is fully capable of doing on its own, rather than as a medical condition or disability to be treated. And the midwifes interviewed for the book seem to be very respectful of their clients -- assisting the client in her own birth experience rather than making the birth something the midwife choreographs & directs. The author writes about the history of childbirth & delivery and the practice of midwifery, interviews numerous midwifes, and even participates in home births attended by midwifes. At the same time, she discusses her own pregnancy (that is progressing while she is conducting the research for the book) and she trains to become a doula, or birth assistant.Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm a practicing homebirth midwife, so went right to the 'homebirth' chapter, thinking, "I'll just read this one chapter and then go the beginning of the book and read it 'properly'".
Well, I just kept on reading-did not put the book down! Read to the end and then started at the beginning and read thru to where I started in the middle! Loved the insight, the attention to detail, introduced accurate statistical information in a way that didn't make my brain glaze over and included all the other issues that face a pregnant woman today. Catherine Taylor covers a lot of the concerns, real and fleeting, that most woman have, but never really get to verbalize or talk to anyone about, or at least anyone with unbiased answers! This book helps balance all the fear-mongering, mis-communications and half-truths that surround birthing, will change your presective on how birth is now and what is truly possible; for yourself and in the 'bigger picture'.
Get a copy for yourself and one to give away-you'll grin and nod throughout the whole book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ms. Taylor,

I was one month along in my first pregnancy and, without much real thought, I bought your book "Giving Birth." I think I liked the tasteful cover and that it didn't seem to be a dry catalog of what to expect during pregnancy.

I read your book twice during my pregnancy, and it completely changed the way I approached my medical care and how I wanted to give birth. Before reading "Giving Birth," I had just assumed that I would trust the doctor and do whatever he said while I was in the hospital. I naively trusted his and the hospital's authority. But because your writing style is so vivid and thoughtful, I learned a tremendous amount about labor and delivery (going far beyond the mechanics of the process) without even realizing it. I feel like I entered the larger conversation about how best to give birth, and that I acquired a real voice of my own.

My doctor wanted me to shut up and let him do what he thought was best. I switched providers at 37 weeks after realizing that I couldn't just wish him into being the doctor I wanted. (He patted my head at one point and told me that I couldn't possibly know what labor was going to be like, so I shouldn't even plan on trying for an unmedicated birth.) Through a series of comedy of errors with my insurance provider, and the fact that I went into labor at 38 weeks, I wasn't able to switch to the birthing center in time. My original doctor still caught the baby. But I did everything else as I had hoped, with no medical interventions and the majority of my labor at home. (I gave birth thirty minutes after my arrival.)

I gave birth almost six months ago and I have always thought I should find a way to write and thank you. As cheesy as it sounds, your book truly changed my life!

I had a wonderful recovery and I honestly can't wait to give birth again.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Finally a book that tells the truth about what really happens when a woman has her baby in the hospital with a certified nurse-midwife, CNM. Ivy-league-educated author Catherine Taylor, writes about her own experience as a nurse-midwifery patient as well as stories of many births she attended as an observer or doula.
What is most amazing about the stories of birth that are retold is the author's realization that the certified nurse-midwives that the pregnant women trust are agents of the medical institutions. In story after story, the CNM patients are mislead about what to expect of their birth experiences.
Taylor shadowed a number of CNM's during their usual workdays at their hospitals. The CNM care frequently mirrored physician-nurse care as busy CNMs left their clients in very active labor. Claims one CNM, "We try to compensate by having a nurse attend them." Yet while a number of CNMs expressed a longing to be more actively involved with the women they care for, none actually provided the women with hands-on, continuous care during their labors and births. Taylor points out hospital-based CNMs frequently provide inadequate midwifery care, failing to provide even a modicum of "human presence" which is a core competency of the ACNM (American College of Nurse Midwives).
In birth story after birth story the reader is made aware of the inability of the CNM to prepare women for a drug-free, empowering birth. Woman after woman believed the slick hospital promotions that shows the beaming new mom and dad holding their little one with the ever-present staff hovering nearby. The rude reality is that for most of the women, this was a fantasy.
The midwifery clients were unprepared for the pain of labor and what to do about it.
Read more ›
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