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Unassisted Childbirth Paperback – January 1, 1994

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 151 pages
  • Publisher: Bergin & Garvey Paperback (January 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0897893778
  • ISBN-13: 978-0897893770
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #955,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“This book did not threaten me as a midwife. Instead, it opened my eyes to the need to defend and protect the natural birth process in as noninterventive a way as is safely possible.”–Midwifery Today

“Although I am personally an advocate of planned, midwife-attended home birth, I also believe that we must make conceptual and legal room in the technocracy for those women who choose to fully claim their power as birth-givers by going it alone. This is a very brave book and Laura Kaplan Shanley is a remarkable and courageous woman.”–Robbie Davis-Floyd, Ph.D. author of Birth as an American Rite of Passage

“Laura Kaplan Shanley is not crazy: she had no other choice than either to give birth with her own hormones in complete privacy, or to be delivered by white coat experts.”–Michel Odent, M.D. Primal Health Research Center, London

“Unassisted Childbirth is more than a practical guide. It is an inspiration for every parent regardless of whether they plan to give birth at home, childbearing center, or in the hospital. It inspires confidence and creates the positive attitude toward birth that reduces the fear and pain of labor.”–Carl Jones, C.C.E. author of Mind Over Labor and The Expectant Parent's Guide to Preventing a Cesarean Section

Book Description

Contrary to popular opinion, prior to the advent of the modern-day hospital, women and babies in healthy tribal cultures rarely died in childbirth. Women in tribal cultures often had such a relaxed attitude about birth that some of them actually gave birth while sleeping. All told, Americans spend $80 billion a year on childbirth. Could it be much of this medical intervention is actually unnecessary?

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Laura Kaplan Shanley is an author, freelance writer, speaker, and childbirth consultant widely recognized as one of the leading voices in the natural-birth movement. Her expertise is frequently sought out by television and movie production companies, as well as media outlets around the globe. Her published work includes articles for an array of news outlets. Laura maintains a website dedicated to natural childbirth at www.unassistedchildbirth.com.

Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book for all expectant mothers!
Julie A. Semmens
Our son was born unassisted and Laura Shanley's book helped point me down the path to such a beautiful, gentle experience for my family.
Sarah Martin
I recommend this book to every woman whether she chooses home birth or hospital birth.
teresa curlin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Lydia Musher on June 24, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are several things you need to know if you're considering buying this book:

1. Ms. Shanley has become an unofficial spokesperson for Unassisted Childbirth (UC is homebirth without midwifery care). So if you're considering one, it is worth reading the book despite the points I'm about to make.

2. As a previous poster indicated, Ms. Shanley's book is not a handbook. It is more of an argument for UC, a nice collection of data and quotations to support UC, a recounting of her experiences in life leading up to and including her five UCs, and a recounting of other people's wonderful UC stories. This part is good and I wish the book had stopped here. But of course, she couldn't leave well enough alone.

3. The remainder of the book, about half of the book presents Ms. Shanley's cognitive view of the world: that you can control your body with your mind. For example, she practices (or practiced) "mental birth control," which I can only assume is the practice of willing oneself not to become pregnant. It's not her ideas that I find objectionable: it's the rationale she uses.

Most of her ideas come from a life philosophy she and her husband formulated. Many, many pages are devoted to recounting the philosophy of a series of books entitled Seth Speaks (and related titles) by Jane Roberts. Seth is Ms. Robert's alter ego in the multiple-personality-disorder sense. Ms. Roberts devoted five books to Seth's outpourings of philosophy.

The fact that Ms. Shanley's life philosophy derives largely from the ramblings of a multiple personality who does not use the word "but" - combined with the fact that her husband "willed himself" to lactate - gives the book a decidedly looney feel.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Mary Siever on August 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
I first read Unassisted Childbirth before my first was born. I had already decided we were going to UC, but I wasn't totally committed. Although I don't agree with all of Laura's spiritual/religious beliefs, they did not detract (for me) from the ultimate message of the book, which is that UC is a viable choice and the key is trusting yourself and God. She does not denigrate those who don't choose UC, but shows that it is a respectful decision for those who so decide. We have had two beautiful, planned, unassisted births and look forward to many more. This book was the clincher for me. It brought me to the ultimate peace and tranquility I needed to proceed with our decision. I have never turned back and I thank Laura for sharing her journey and stories and thoughts with us. She has brought unassisted birth to the forefront of birthing choices and I believe the world is better for it.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Corinna L. Burt on April 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
I was looking for more of a how-to book on UC. For example, how to cut and tie the cord, how to take care of minor complications (read: variations of normal) that may occur, and how to stabilize more serious conditions, such as a newborn who doesn't breathe right away. Instead it was mostly stories and perspectives. There was a chapter on the dangers of medical intervention, but it was way too short.
Nowhere in the book does it say that UC or homebirth is for every woman, or that medical intervention is never necessary. In other countries (with better infant and maternal mortality rates) homebirths are 33% of all births; in the U.S. they are 1%. I believe homebirth can be for most women. If a woman is comfortable with UC, it's probably because it's right for her. I was born by planned UC in the late 70s; I grew up thinking that was how all babies were born. I decided to have my first child in the hospital, out of ignorance and fear, and I am planning an attended homebirth for my second, with midwives who have agreed to be hands-off.
Shanley mentions one important thing - medical intervention cannot save all babies. Some are just not going to live. In the case of her UC birth where the baby died, it was later determined that he would not have survived even if born in the hospital. If he didn't have a chance of living very long after birth, the best thing was probably for him to have been born peacefully at home.
So, the book was fairly good, but I actually got a lot more out of the website.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By "shaneanddcherry6" on February 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ladies, ignore the inflated prices on the used and "collectible" copies, and buy it directly from the author on her website for $19.95 ([...] She'll even sign it for you; she did mine...
Thanks again Laura....just had my second Unassisted Birth 9 weeks ago!
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Judie C. McMath on February 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
I am a Certified Childbirth Educator, and I wholeheartedly support and endorse Unassisted Childbirth by Laura Kaplan Shanley. In this country, we tend to worship the medical model as if it is the only viable alternative. Speaking as a health care professional, a former labor support person, and a person who has experienced a home birth, I cannot tell you the number of times I have observed complications caused by the medical handling of birth and prenatal care. Yes, fetal deaths happen at home, but even more of them happen in hospitals. If you take 100 home births and 100 hospital births and look at how many end up with complications or death, you will find in every case that home births have fewer complications than hospital births. The fact that someone had a baby die at home should not dissuade them from taking charge of their own health and having the birth they want next time. Does every person who ever had someone die in the hospital stop going to the hospital for good? But that's what some people would have us do with home birth. Laura makes good sense, and she has been there. Even SHE did have a baby die after giving birth at home, but her doctors told her that the baby would have died anyway even if it had given birth at the hospital. You see, medicine is not the answer to everything.
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