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Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds Paperback – March 17, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 229 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Cynthia Gabriel is a medical anthropologist, mother of three, and a doula who has attended nearly 100 births. With a PhD from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Post-Doctorate Fellowship from the University of Michigan, Gabriel's research focuses on stress during pregnancy among African American women. She served as Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Center for the Childbearing Year, and runs women's and parents' support groups. Gabriel is also the founder of Growing Together, a Life Learning Center that offers psychotherapy and life coaching services in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she resides.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Common Press; 1 edition (March 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558327185
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558327184
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had high hopes for this book after seeing all of the positive reviews, but as I read this book I went from feeling a little disappointed to being almost angry at the book by the end. I am a birth doula and I bought this book in hopes of picking up some ideas to help my clients who want/have to have hospital births and still want natural births. I didn't get that at all- and I would even go so far as to recommend that the mommas NOT read this book. I'll try to use some quotes from this book to illustrate what I didn't like.

The first thing I took issue with is the overall tone of this book. Basically it says that in order to get a natural birth in a hospital you just have to stand your ground, tell the doctors that you want a natural birth, and keep asking for "one more hour". This may work well if the staff really is pushing for interventions based on scheduling, doctor preference, etc (as does happen unfortunately), but what about situations where there really is a medical need? This book does not discuss what questions you should ask. Yes, asking for more time (if not an emergency) is good, but what about asking for alternatives, asking about risks of continuing without the intervention, risks of getting the intervention, etc? This book really gave a sense of it's 'us vs. them' in a hospital. Sometimes complications arise, and the most empowering thing the family can do is to make sure they ask the right questions, get what information they need, and make a decision that is right for them (whether or not that is the staff's recommendation) NOT just ask for more time.

I really disliked the line talking about c-sections being "the ultimate manifestation that other people are in control of birth".
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Format: Paperback
Where to begin?? I have one child and am expecting another in a few months. My first labor and delivery was not natural by any means. It was a very typical American hospital birth with plenty of intervention. I didn't find the experience particularly empowering at all. When I found out I was pregnant this time, I started considering the idea of a natural birth. I really didn't think I could do it. My OB said things like "just be flexible, you might change your mind" and "you don't have to be a hero." I doubted my ability to do it without drugs!

Funny that once I picked up this book, I saw Cynthia Gabriel mentioning some of these exact comments I got from my OB as a sign that one's provider was not open or supportive of natural birth. As I read the book, I became more empowered and confident that I could in fact have a natural labor and delivery. And as I was re-reading the book in my 7th month of pregnancy, I decided that I wouldn't have it any other way and set out to change providers and hospitals (at 32 weeks!). I also was able to craft a one-page birth plan by using Gabriel's anecdotes, examples, and suggestions about birth plans. I feel confident that even if I didn't switch providers, I could have the birth I want in any typical hospital.

My husband (a first-time dad) also read the book and found it helpful. He's the type who would go to a birthing class if I dragged him, but not feel comfortable asking questions. He learned a lot from this book, as did I, and it made him also feel empowered in helping and supporting me in my decision!

Love love love this book! I don't know what else I can say to express just how instrumental this book has been for me. I am due in 7 weeks and feeling ready for the challenge. That in itself is a rowsing endorsement, considering only a few weeks ago I wasn't sure I could do it. I highly encourage you to get this book if you are even considering a natural hospital birth!
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Format: Paperback
As an L&D nurse, turned doula, turned CNM-to-be, I was skeptical about this book to say the least. I've worked in some of the most medicalized environments you can find in the childbirth world, and I know first-hand all the tricks the hospital staff will use to accomplish their goals while potentially robbing the mother of her own. The terms "natural", "hospital", and "childbirth" don't belong in the same sentence with what I've seen in my experiences over the past 8 years. I'm not sure what I expected this book to be, but I'll say I was so very pleasantly surprised. As I begin my midwifery training, I'll say for full disclosure's sake, I want to work as far away from a hospital (theoretically, not physically) as I can. However, this book is a great tool for women who do still desire to give birth in a hospital but without unnecessary medical interventions. Granted, once you set foot in a hospital, there is a decent risk that things might be done to you that you don't want, but this book gives you specific things to do and say to try to avoid them. It gives the proper level of education needed in order to be prepared for the journey that lies ahead in natural childbirth, while not talking over the head of someone who is most likely not medically-trained or well-versed in medical lingo. Procedures and medications are defined and explained simply but thoroughly, along with reasons they might be necessary and times when they clearly are not. I am the first to recommend mothers look into their options of birthing in an out-of-hospital birth center or at home, but for women who continue to desire a hospital birth, this is definitely the book for you.
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