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Making informed decisions on childbirth: One scientist’s international perspective Kindle Edition
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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.
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.
Vantiers states outright that the reader should not believe what she says just because she says it, but cites her information extensively so that the reader can delve deeper. Her exploration of birth practices is indeed an international perspective, as well as a historical one. The author hasn’t just examined currently maternity care, but how we came to use the technology we have, whether it is (or has ever been) researched, or is appropriately utilized. Where the safety and efficacy of certain routine technologies is in question, she makes sure to point out that it is the /routine/ use that is in question, but that used appropriately we can be thankful that the technologies exist.
There was some very non-evidence-based opinion on the consequences of early interference in the breastfeeding relationship, but other than that, most of the information is well-paced and well-sourced.
Overall, this is a great addition to the lending library of a birth professional, or a worthwhile purchase for expectant parents.
I received a free kindle copy of the book in return for my honest review.
HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator
Author of Mother’s Intention: How Belief Shapes Birth
Mother's Intention: How Belief Shapes Birth
I have read quite a few books on childbirth and birthing practices, and I must say that this is one of the most thoroughly researched books I've read. While the author appears to be very much a proponent of natural, normal, physiological birth, her perspective is very soundly backed by research (including data as recent as 2015). There are times when it appears the author suggests, albeit indirectly, that things could have had different (in her opinion "better") outcomes had the parents asked more questions/ done more research, however, I feel the overall message that is sent is a positive one encouraging parents to enter into the birth arena with a healthy dose of skepticism, personal responsibility, and a spirit of collaboration with health care professionals.