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Birth Day: A Pediatrician Explores the Science, the History, and the Wonder of Childbirth Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 24, 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, March 24, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. California pediatrician Sloan has helped deliver more than 3,000 babies, and he marvelously captures the precarious nature of childbirth—both its joys and its anxieties—while treating readers to an informal and captivating history of the medical practices surrounding birth in America. Sloan shares his first bumbled attempts at delivering babies as an intern, which leads him into reflect on why doctors persist in having women lie down to give birth when standing or squatting are better physical postures for it. Sloan ranges surely and splendidly over epidurals, cesarean births, premature birth and neonatal nurseries, as well as the state of an infant's five senses at birth. For example, he points out that the fetus not only smells the foods its mother eats, it remembers them after birth and tends to like what it remembers. Sloan counsels that women cannot prepare for labor, because events change rapidly during the process. He advises women to surround themselves with the people they love: unlike other labor pain relievers she may choose, their benefits will last the rest of her life. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

What boosts Sloan’s book above other pediatrician memoirs is his Captain Kangaroo–like humor and compassion. Indeed, his decision to become a pediatrician sprang from one of his med-student obstetrics experiences. After failing to recognize a breach birth and misidentifying the baby’s bottom as its head, he was advised, “If you can’t tell a baby’s head from its ass, maybe you’re in the wrong business.” After attending roughly 3,000 births, however, and tending the medical needs of countless other children and their moms, he seems outstandingly suited to his specialty. The topics he discusses were born, if you will, out of his own experience, professional and personal, so in talking about them, he combines anecdotes and overviews of the various aspects of fetal development and birthing. Hence, we learn that Queen Victoria is the patron mother of anesthetic medication for the pain of childbirth and that Aristotle advocated plunging newborns into a cold stream to “harden” them. With its crisp and upbeat tone, Sloan’s book is good company for parents experienced and prospective alike. --Donna Chavez
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (March 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345502868
  • ASIN: B004JZWM4O
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,115,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Elizabeth Kern on April 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From beginning to end, Birth Day is jam-packed with information about childbirth and a baby's first day of life. Dr. Mark Sloan skillfully combines scientific knowledge and medical history with personal anecdote to make for an informative and entertaining read. Be prepared to learn quirky facts about why and when women began to lie down to give birth, what a fetus senses inside the womb, and what it's like to enter a world of bright lights and giddy chatter, to useful information about C-sections and epidurals. Birth Day is must reading for all pregnant women and fathers-to-be as well as for women like myself who have given birth to two children but who had only rudimentary knowledge of childbearing. Time spent with Dr. Sloan is like having another obstetrician and pediatrician there to answer many of the questions your doctor doesn't have time for. Birth Day is full of wit, tender stories and wisdom. Do not give birth without it!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was engrossed in this book and learned so much. This was my favorite of my pregnancy related reading, and I will now be buying this book to share with friends who are expecting. Sloan has such an engaging, personal approach that weaves his own professional and family experiences along with well-researched scientific and historical information about birth culture. I gave a copy book as a Christmas gift to my mother, a nurse trained in the 1960s, and she wished she had access to it years ago.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book when I first found out that I was pregnant based on its reviews. The reviews don't disappoint! I have 3 months to go and am actually re-reading this book since I enjoyed it so much. It is humorous, informative and well-researched. I loved learning about how delivery has changed throughout the years and scientific explanations about how the fetus grows and develops to survive life outside of the womb. Dr. Sloan's stories about his first experiences watching and assisting during labor and delivery had me laughing out loud. I'd recommend this book to anyone expecting a baby and anyone in the medical profession. I recently purchased a second copy to give to my Lamaze instructor.
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By ica on July 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm only half-way through this book but already need to give it 5 stars. It's a wonderful book full of facts, history and tips for labor/delivery. I especially enjoy the historical facts like the story of the origins of having women labor on their backs. Amazing stuff. This is a great book for any expectant mother or anyone interested in the birthing history and process. Two thumbs up!!!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Of the half dozen baby/birth books I've read since I got pregnant, this was by far the best written. Dr. Sloan had me (and my husband) laughing every couple of pages. Filled with both insightful anecdotes and careful historical research, it's an informative and very fun read. Unlike most pregnancy/birth/baby books, it's downright hard to put down. It's also the single book that best educated me on what I might expect of a hospital birth and on the origins of today's hospital culture. There are plenty of books out there by "natural" birth advocates to describe birth at home or in a hippie commune, but a relative scarcity of hospital birth stories. Through his anecdotes, Dr. Sloan finally answered the questions I had as a first-time mom.
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Format: Paperback
What made this book at times difficult for me, a historian, to read were unexamined assumptions about historical shifts in childbearing practices. For example, Mark writes that US colonists viewed midwives, given their "mysterious potions," with "intense suspicion." Village governments, in fact, employed midwives and they were often well-respected authorities in the community. When they were viewed with suspicion, it was because of their significant power and knowledge, not because of "potions." In addition Sloan argues that the shift to hospital-based birthing was inevitable. Given that the shift to hospital-based childbearing was accompanied by an increase in maternal mortality given higher rates of infection, one wonders how natural and inevitable a change it was. Studies from the time also showed midwives to have as good if not better outcomes in terms of mortality/morbidity as doctors. This book leaves one with little sense of the historical underpinnings of a system of maternity care with exorbitant costs and poor outcomes, when compared to the rest of the developed world.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As someone who enjoys reading nonfiction, history, sociology, etc. I enjoyed the writing style of this book. It was a quick and easy read and covered aspects of birth, culture, and infant development that I had not considered or heard about before.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Part wonderful memoir by a warm-hearted pediatrician, but a really informationally rich discussion of birth, and the many decisions new parents will make about delivery plans. This has become my favorite gift for new parents--but should be given before delivery.
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