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Making informed decisions on childbirth: One scientist’s international perspective Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
It was so refreshing to read science based evidence and genuine passion regarding the ever-growing trend of medical intervention in pregnancy and labour.
In light of continually increasing cesarian rates in developed countries, this book proves a valuable resource for anyone looking to further their knowledge in a more natural process, as opposed to an overly managed alternative.
I hope it opens women to realise their options, and to have the knowledge, and courage, to arm themselves for birth in an environment, where unnecessary intervention is rife, and the risks of such as often dismissed by the medical professionals we should be able to trust the most.
I found the two case studies very refreshing and honest. Vantiers tells the birth stories of two of her friends (one that ended in forceps and birth trauma and another that ended in a “happy” C-section) and then goes about assessing what could have been done differently by hospital staff as well as parents. The answer is always the same: better information will lead to better hospital policy and better options and decisions. For the parents, the answer is slightly more complicated. Being informed (and having the tools and courage to speak up) definitely has an influence over the way mothers give birth. But Vantiers also acknowledges that you cannot will your birth to go as you want, no matter how informed you are. You have no control over nature, and control over your medical care is “limited” by your environment and the policies in place. “Limited”, but certainly not “non-existing”! This book explains very nicely how to exert that “limited” influence to the fullest.
I will be recommending this book to anyone who is pregnant. In think it will be helpful to those expecting parents who are committed to a natural childbirth (who might sometimes close their eyes to the dangers of childbirth) as well as to those who have infinite trust in the medical system and their doctor (because, as the author writes: “doctors are only human, and two heads are better than one”).
As a scientist with advanced degrees in geology, oceanography, and geophysics, Vantiers is clearly an intelligent woman quite capable of exploring the academic research on the topics of pregnancy and birth. She has experience in both Europe and North America (she studied at the University of Texas at Austin, married a man from Canada, and gave birth in the UK and in her home country of Belgium), making her perspective on the cultural aspects of pregnancy and birth informative and quite fascinating.
Women generally enjoy sharing their birth stories, and the author, Sophie Vantiers, shares her pregnancy experiences and birth stories of her two sons throughout the book. The author’s personal experiences and opinions permeate each chapter, which helps the rather straightforward scientific discussion feel both warmer and applicable to the lived experience of pregnancy and birth.
Vantiers also shares narratives of two friends who had extremely different birth experiences, helping readers put a name and story to the types of hospital care and situations you might expect to encounter. The essential advice is this: You will encounter myriads of choices that affect both you and your baby. Knowledge is power. Be informed and be prepared.
The book gives solid academic evidence that should guide an expecting mother and her partner make informed decisions on topics such as ultrasound; internal exams during full-term pregnancy and during labor; Group B Strep infection; premature rupture of membranes (PROM); induction; epidurals; and C-sections. Vantiers shares useful information on doulas, how to avoid unnecessary interventions, and assertiveness training to make sure that your wishes are understood and respected.
The majority of this information was not new to me as I’ve read extensively on the topic of natural, holistic care during pregnancy and labor, my decisions influenced by influential authors and midwives such as Ina May Gaskin. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed reading these chapters, and learned from them.
The following chapters of this book discuss the third stage of labor and newborn care. This is where I learned the most from Vantiers’ work. I was educated that the common practice of male newborn circumcision is a cultural phenomenon not practiced in Europe. I loved reading that breastfeeding can provide pain relief for a newborn; a quote rang true to my lived experience: “Breastfeeding your baby or even just holding him close to your breasts (if you are breastfeeding) can reduce his pain. No wonder infants are happier when they are held and carried by their mother.” Additionally, the pages on practicing skin-to-skin care (SSC) were compelling and fascinating, and if I ever am required to have a C-section in subsequent pregnancies, I know to push for immediate SSC after delivery. It is that essential.
In sum, I recommend this book to both mothers newly exploring the topic of natural pregnancy and labor as well as those more seasoned and familiar with the topic. In fact, this would be a good book to encourage every pregnant woman to read at least once, and I believe we’d see improved pregnancy and newborn outcomes in the United States if that were to happen.
I recently heard in a podcast hosted by Chris Kresser (Chriskresser.com) that it takes around 15 years for the results of academic research to influence practice in the doctor’s office. That fact is alarming and points to the sincere need for women to read this book. Vantiers provides and carefully explains up-to-the-minute scientific evidence that you can read and understand. Use this quality evidence to make informed decisions. Take control of your care during the most critical and empowering experience of a woman’s life: pregnancy and birth.
*In full disclosure, I received a free Kindle copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was thrilled for this opportunity.
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