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Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds Paperback – March 16, 2011
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About the Author
Cynthia Gabriel is a medical anthropologist, mother of three, and a doula who has attended nearly 100 births. She trains doulas, parents-to-be, childbirth educators, midwives, nurses, and hospital administrators on how to have natural childbirths in hospital settings. With a PhD from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Post-Doctorate Fellowship from the University of Michigan, she also conducts research on stress during pregnancy among African American women. She previously served as Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Center for the Childbearing Year. Gabriel is also the founder of Growing Together, a Life Learning Center, which offers psychotherapy and life coaching services in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she resides.
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Top customer reviews
I found this book to be a much more pleasurable read than many other pregnancy books. It is well written and to the point - not repetitive, overly touchy-feel, or dumbed-down. I really hope I can use what I learned from this book to achieve a natural hospital birth!
The book goes into some detail about many of the common medical practices and interventions – more so than the typical birth books like “What to Expect” and “The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.” Those are good resources, but cover very little on the hospital birth experience and the cascade of interventions that too many mothers face (and are sometimes pressured into).
The book helps the mom determine what kind of birth experience she wants, and how to create an effective birth plan that will be (hopefully) respected by caregivers. There is also a list of common interventions, the pros and cons for each, and steps to take to avoid the interventions.
One of the most helpful parts of the book is the section on the actual birth process in detail – what it feels like, what to expect, the stages, comfort measures, etc. This is great for the first-time mom, and helpful for the mom who has had medicated births in the past but is trying for natural birth this time.
I think this is a great resource for birth partners, too – especially the section on the actual birth process. The author makes it clear that the birth partner should have a deep understanding of the birth plan – when mom is in the middle of a contraction or concentrating through hard labor, she may not be able to effectively communicate. Birth partners are essential in making sure the laboring mother’s wishes are respected. The book includes scripts that birth partners can use when interacting with caregivers on mom’s behalf.
Overall, this is an excellent resource for all pregnant moms. So many women recount that their birth experience was disappointing or even traumatic. This book provides great information on how to make your birth experience an empowering and positive one.
OTHER BOOKS FROM MY PERSONAL READING LIST:
Childbirth Without Fear (Grantly Dick-Read): First written in the 1950’s, this is still the go-to book on natural birth practices and how to avoid fear and pain. Not an easy read, but extremely empowering – especially for women who might doubt their own abilities to birth healthy babies. Dick-Read has so many positive messages for moms. Again, even if you are planning on an epidural or other medicated birth, you will still benefit from this book.
HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method (Marie F. Mongan): Another natural-based birth book, but oh-so-helpful. HypnoBirthing teaches deep meditation methods that can help control not only pain, but also fear and anxiety. Even with an epidural (and especially during a c-section), many moms experience anxiety during the birth process. Hypnobirthing can really help!
Survivor Moms: Women’s Stories of Birthing, Mothering and Healing after Sexual Abuse (M. Sperlick, J. Seng): A great resource for moms who are also survivors of sexual trauma (or any PTSD survivor). Includes narratives from other survivor moms and addresses issues that they face.
- A good, well-organized explanation of what the stages of labor feel like and how to handle them
- Breakdowns on the kinds of interventions hospitals offer and how to help avoid them. A great primer on how to advocate for yourself in that setting. (Or for your partner... If there's one birth book to make your husband read, it's this one!)
- Covers a lot of things you wouldn't think to ask about. For example, after reading this I had a lengthy conversation with my midwife about what would happen if my water broke before contractions started.
-Doesn't waste too much time arguing for the benefits of natural birth, because it assumes you've already made that call, but it's not an anti-epidural guilt trip either.
I do wish the book did a better job on some issues related to VBAC, as I'm sure VBACs make up a big chunk of the readership. The author pretty much writes off continuous fetal monitoring as dooming your natural birth efforts, but CFM is non-negotiable for VBACs in a lot of hospitals. But yes, it is possible to manage pain without drugs even when you're tethered in a 3-foot radius to a bed (I didn't want to leave my bed the whole time!)
On the whole though, this book is well worth reading if a natural birth in a hospital setting is what you want. You can do it!