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4.3 out of 5 stars
Silent Knife: Cesarean Prevention and Vaginal Birth after Cesarean (VBAC)
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
In my ever-so humble opinion, this is the best book available on the safety of Cesarean surgery (C/s) versus Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). It's absolutely chock-full of statistics, painful and victorious anecdotes, witty analogies and wise suggestions for having a better birth through VBAC. It is my bible as I plan a Home Birth After Cesarean (HBAC) with a Direct-Entry Midwife (DEM). It's nearly impossible to find a good book about VBAC that does not employ scare tactics, worship obstetrics or at the very least denounce HBAC as an unsafe option for most women (Believe me, I know- I've read them all!) This book has been extremely useful in helping me to fully explore & express my anger & sadness over my iatrogenic (physician-caused) C/s. It can be a difficult read for C/s survivors, especially those of us who may feel that our surgeries were unnecessary or could have been prevented, but it is well worth the emotional upheaval to get through this book and come out on the other side better informed about the reality of C/s than most OBs. I highly recommend this book to anyone involved in birthing- but especially to pregnant women hoping to avoid a C/s & those who are considering an elective C/s or elective repeat C/s.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I can see why this book has become the VBAC bible. The authors are brimming with passion and information. Yes, they are angry... and they have every right to be! They meticulously go over studies and statistics; they tell their own stories and the stories of other women who have undergone cesarean section; they address both the physical and mental/emotional/intellectual impacts of cesarean section and vaginal deliveries.. they leave nothing out.
They obviously advocate VBAC, and they should, as it is almost always the safer alternative. They may be telling you something you don't want to hear, but it is something you MUST hear.
They are outspoken, unafraid, and passionate about the safety and health of birthing women everywhere. This book is fabulous.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
Silent Knife has so much to offer every pregnant woman not only those wanting VBAC. It contains a lot of information that is useful to every pregnant woman especially first time mothers. Reading this book will give you the confidence to insist and instill in your OB that you know what is best and what is not for you and your baby. From conception to birth, it will help you to prioritize what is important to you and your birth experience - from having siblings present at the birth to refusing "routine" procedures such as no food or drink during labor and mandatory IV's. It's a great wake up call to all women that they have the right to choose the birth they want. Don't let the title fool you. It's not for VBACs only.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
This book is about healing wounds and preventing new ones. If you love your baby and you trust your judgement, please read this book. The most dangerous form of birth is a cesarean section, yet everyday babies and mothers are needlessly subjected to this invasive and painful procedure. Countless studies and FACTS are contained in this book writen by women for women.
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39 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
I had been avoiding this book for years, having seen it at the library numerous times and feeling superstitious that reading it would cause me to have a cesarean section! Also, I felt like I "knew it all" when it came to the subject of how hospital interventions lead to unnecessary cesareans. I have taught childbirth education in the past and have had two unmedicated, vaginal births in a hospital environment. Now, I am so grateful I did read it. I tried to read it fairly quickly because I was so eager for the information; yet at the same time, each page offers such a wealth of insight--it requires time and patience. The book offers so many gifts.
I had many myths blown open. First of all, the words "uterine rupture" did indeed once summon visions of a belly literally exploding during labor, causing instant death to the woman and fetus. Now I know that that never happens. I also hadn't thought much about the pain women--at least some women--experience upon having an unnecessary cesarean section. My mother had had one and never referred to anything but gratitude that her obstetrician had saved her life and mine. Also, the one cesarean I was involved with--my one client as a doula who had one--was more disturbing to me and the father of the baby than the mother herself. We all knew it had been unnecessary, but for whatever reason, at least at the time, the mother felt very secure with the experience and did for the first few weeks postpartum.
As I read the words of pain, and then, victory, of so many women affected by this epidemic (which, unfortunately, has hardly changed since this book was written and has actually gotten worse) I experienced a new sense of compassion and understanding about why the VBAC movement is so necessary and powerful and why these doctors need to be stopped! I reluctantly acknowledge that the ultimate power lies in the consumer (it's much more exciting to imagine each of those OB-GYNs getting arbitrary episiotomies). I fear now that women scarcely think twice about the possibility of a c-section. Women have become so accustomed to the possibility that their bodies are unable to birth. It's very depressing. Frankly, it's mostly depressing for the dear little children who are born medicated and without the proper physiological and psychological benefits of a healthy vaginal birth.
What inspired me was the frank, bold way these authors were willing to tackle interventions. Some of them are obsolete now (actually, just one--the shaving) and forceps have largely given way to the vacuum extractor which was just coming into use back when this book was written. Yet all of the information holds true. One thing I fear is that doctors and nurses have become quite skilled at paying all the right lip service to our desires to birth naturally, yet have no true conviction or knowledge regarding a natural experience. Time and time again, I have experienced, both with myself and with my clients, that doctors and nurses know how to reassure us they will not intervene unnecessarily. Yet, they stand by with a knife (or scissors, or internal monitor probes, or any number of gadgets). More than ninety percent of laboring women in America have their vaginas sliced open with scissors! Why is this accepted as okay?!? (For whatever reason, it's not okay for women to get circumcised in certain countries, but here, they can get their vaginas cut up and sewn back together and that's all right. Geez.)

The only area I feel slight disagreement with is the use of the term "purebirth" over "natural birth". I wholeheartedly agree that the definition of "natural birth" has become subject to a lot of unnatural definitions. But I feel it's important to reclaim the term as something that happens in nature, as animals birth, free of fear and free of meddling "assistance."
Currently, my hubby and I are expecting our third baby. We are planning a home birth and this book was very affirming of our choice. I'm so excited to have this little person. I hope women will begin to collectively awaken to the power of birth and the joy that results from being in the process, conscious and aware. It's so incredible.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
After my child was born via a very traumatic cesarean I ached to find more info about VBAC than the few statistics online. I read several books about VBAC, each informed me in their own way but I still felt like I wasn't being told the WHOLE story. Loaded with statistics, personal experience and an impassioned drive to inform these authors have compiled a book that taught me more in the first chapter than I learned in any other book I had read. It validated my feelings of grief, betrayal and anger but more so it left me feeling like I, myself, had done the research in that I felt TRULY informed. I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend this to EVERY pregnant woman, every woman contemplating a pregnancy and to every physician. Personally, I think this book should be mandatory reading for every med school student. A++++++!
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
I got a hold of this book on ebay after a recommendation from other C-section mothers. They were disappointed by their C-section and wanted all the knowledge they could find to help them avoid a repeat section. This book is a teriffic source for parents wanting to birth naturally. It gives perfect reasons for it's anti-medical establishment stance, and lots of encouragement.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
In reading the other reviews for this book, it is obvious that the content of Silent Knife can be polarizing. There are some who will find the tone too strident and the message too extreme. I happened to read this book and Open Season about 6 weeks before I delivered my second child. It cause me to do a 180 degree turn - fire my MD and switch to a midwife delivery. Six years later, I can say that this was one of the best decisions I have ever made!! My daughter's birth experience was so positive and the strength I gain from the experience nourishes me daily.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book was an incredible wake-up call lambasting the common yet unrecognized brutality in modern obstetrics and bringing to light the knowledge which lies within every woman about giving birth the way nature intended. The way our bodies were designed to. Silent Knife is filled with shocking facts, statistics both dumbfounding and empowering, and chapter after chapter of information on healing from traumatic birth experiences, confidence building in preparation for VBACs, facts about VBAC, and hundreds of personal stories from women all over the country who have had success with vaginal birth after cesareans. This book was so enlightening and answered so many questions. I cried, laughed, raged, and was calmed by its many facets. Silent Knife is not for anybody looking for an easy way out, but is for women and men who know - or even suspect -there is a better way for childbirth to progress for themselves and their babies. Should be required reading for every obstetrician and for every pregnant woman.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is extremely helpful in setting guidelines, establishing facts drawn from medical research, and offering the best of support to women contemplating VBAC. It is a must-read!
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