When I was nearing the end of my first pregnancy, I picked up a book one day that my mom recommended called Spiritual Midwifery. It was the first time I'd read any book that Ina May Gaskin published, and I was hooked from the start. Reading the stories of those women's natural births was empowering; it quelled my anxiety while also raising my belief that I could give birth without medical pain relief.
I must admit that although it was quite helpful to me, Spiritual Midwifery also served as a frequent means for laughter in those last few months before I gave birth the first time. Women often referred to their contractions as orgasmic "rushes" and more times than not had a Maya Rudolphesque hairy armpit showing in their photos--that is when they weren't completely nude.
Gaskin's participants in births on The Farm spoke of heavy petting, make-out sessions, and nipple stimulation. I had trouble identifying with them, and they held an almost mythical status in my mind as the superheroes of birth. It seemed to me there wasn't a source for natural birth stories that included ordinary women who were like me, wary of (but willing to use) the hospital system and while wanting to birth without drugs, not necessarily seeking a hairy, orgasmic birth.
I'm happy to say that there's a new birth story book in town!
Natural Birth Stories is a collection of modern stories of natural birth. The ebook was gathered and edited by Shannon Brown, author of the simple living blog GrowingSlower. I will recommend this book to all of my doula clients. Shannon is a real champion of women who desire a natural birth, which by her definition is a birth that takes place without augmentation, intervention, or pain relieving drugs.
In the introduction to the book, Shannon writes that all women have the right to make informed and supported decisions about their own labors. Her view is that there is "tremendous power in a positive natural birth story," and I quite agree with her. Like me, she writes with some expertise, having given birth naturally twice herself, and moreover, having done so at home (n.b.: you can read more about her natural births here and about mine here and here). The book reads like a well-informed girlfriend who shares the facts with you in a relatable and friendly manner.
My critique of the chapters Shannon wrote is that I believe data should be accompanied by direct citations, i.e. footnotes or endnotes within the text, so that readers can consult those original sources for further reading. By including a list of sources only at the end of the entire book, her chapters are an op-ed instead of the evidence-based review of relevant data that I believe she was aiming to write.
All told, Natural Birth Stories is a great book that I wholeheartedly recommend to pregnant women considering a natural birth. It would also make a fantastic gift if you aren't sure what to get a friend or relative for her baby shower. And this week, you can enter to win it in a Rafflecopter giveaway I'm hosting!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
You can also buy her book, Natural Birth Stories, at a 20% discount using the coupon code: HOMEBIRTH (through November 23rd).