Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Slightly Long Book Review!

I'd like to start the week off with a book review on my current favorite. It is an inspiring and informative book that I believe every woman should read. It has given me such insight on pregnancy and birth! I already knew what I wanted, but reading this really helped me to become strong in my decision and, I believe, has armed me with the knowledge I need to succeed. What is this amazing book? 

"Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" By: Ina May Gaskin

I'll give you a bit of history, Ina May is one of the leading midwives in our country. She has brought many women back to the basics of birth. She is the founder of a place called "The Farm". This is a whole community of people who live as naturally as possible, but they are known for their amazing birthing center. So thorough is their knowledge and so wonderful is the experience of birthing at The Farm, many women travel from all over the country to birth there. Although I will not pretend to be quite the hippy Ina May is, I value her knowledge and appreciate the truth that she speaks so openly.

Now, on to the book!

The first section is several birth stories. The purpose of this is to show us that birth does not have to be like what you see on TV. There doesn't need to be panic or fear, even intense or unbearable pain. She wanted us to know that we can have a peaceful, beautiful and low pain birthing experience. All of them are real women, real situations from all walks of life. I found all of these to be so inspiring and reassuring. Some of them did not start with good past birth experiences; they talk about unpleasant things that happened to them while receiving care from an OBGYN at a hospital, there are others that have had wonderful experiences from the beginning. Despite how all of their stories began, they all ended with them embracing their bodies ability to birth on it's own, without the help of the constant interventions you find yourself receiving at a hospital or with an OB. They tell you why they came to choose natural med free birthing vs medicated intervention filled birthing.Ina May describes this part of the book with these words:

" It almost goes without saying that the birth stories told in Part 1 differ from those of most American women. Overall, the stories are too positive; there is too much talk of joy, ecstasy, and fulfillment. These stories do not describe the usual proportions of forceps, vacuum extractor, or cesarean deliveries that are representative of these interventions." Ina May Gaskin~

The second section is more informative. She mentions that the women who have given birth with the midwives at The Farm Midwifery Center (FMC) had a 2% rate of interventions (cesarean, vacuum and forceps...) vs above 30% for those who birthed in a hospital with an OB (The national ceserean rate is over 30% in the US, it is supposed to be between 10-15%). The rest of section 2 is an explanation for why that is and how you can prevent unnecessary interventions happening to you.

She begins by talking about the "mind/body connection". One of the things that has resounded with me and helped to change my view of labor is when she talks about contractions. She talks about our interpretation of pain, and how our mind set can affect how we feel and how it affects us. The idea being, if you go in with the preconceived notion that this is going to be the most painful thing you've ever experienced, than most likely it will be. Not to say that labor is not hard, intense and painful. Just that maybe that pain is different than what we have seen on TV. Maybe it is not unbearable. This part is not just about pain, but also about your ability to have a quicker and easier birth.

The next bit is about what happens to your body during labor. What hormones your body is producing, why they are important, and the steps your uterus and cervix are taking to bring that baby into this world. This is a relatively short chapter that just talks about the basics of birth.

There are so many wonderful elements to this book, I want to right a review on every chapter...I suppose I shouldn't do that, this might get unbearably long... Soo, I'll just put the rest into a nutshell.

She talks about the sphincter law vs the law of the three P's. Ina May says :

" According to the Law of the Three Ps, if a woman;s labor doesn't produce a baby in the time allotted, it is her fault: She grew too big a baby, has too small a vagina or too weak a uterus. According to Sphincter Law, labors that don't result in a normal birth after a "reasonable" amount of time are often slowed or stalled because of lack of privacy, fear, and stimulation of the wrong part of the laboring woman's brain"

She goes into that much more than I am going to, but I assure you, it is worth reading! The chapter on prenatal care and what is truly important. What causes the now common complications during pregnancy and how to prevent them.  Something that women are becoming more aware of is the use of different birthing positions. why they are necessary and how they can make your labor and birth that much easier. She has a chapter on this that is quite interesting and talks about birthing history.

As if the wealth of knowledge she has already packed into this book were not already sufficient; she goes on to talk about what makes certain interventions necessary and how often they are necessary vs how often they are given. I know this is getting a bit long, but I would like to stress how vital the information in this part of the book is. I consider myself to be well informed already, and found that the information regarding certain risks that we have come to believe are "common" are maybe not so common or have become so because women and providers alike have forgotten what we are capable of. She talks about going into labor, about what your amazing capabilities are as a woman and about the healing time after. There is also a chapter on choosing a health care provider...

All in all, this is the most helpful and explanatory book on natural birthing that I have ever read. It is logical, it is simple and it is truth. I know that I have not given birth yet, but reading this has strengthened my belief that my body knows what it's doing. I believe that because I have selected a provider that has that very same belief that I have a much lower chance of having any complications. I believe that I will be able to discern between an impatient provider vs a true problem, if one arises. I am no longer frightened of the "pain" but prepared for the hard work ahead of me. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is pregnant, or ever hopes to be in the future.

I hope you have enjoyed my rather lengthy and winded review!

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