This book is so great I literally read it twice. I finished the book and just flipped it right back to the first chapter and starting reading it again. I checked the book out from the library but I’m even thinking about buying it because it is that good. I want Mr. Handsome to read it to so he can help me keep its principles during my labor.
Let me back up: a lot of books about labor talk about listening to your body and doing what comes natural. They talk about moving around to facilitate labor and encourage you not to be embarrassed about assuming (for lack of a better work) “primitive” positions for delivery, such as squatting. They talk about labor in a very touchy-feely way which really, is all fine and good, you should listen to your body, but it gives a sort of flighty vibe to the whole thing.
This book is not like the others. For one, it is very much grounded in science (I like science). Ms. Balaskas proves that labor is much more easy if you move around and assist your body during contractions rather than lying back on a table as in most hospital labors. Did you know that the uterus actually tips forward during a contraction? So if you’re lying on your back the muscle has to work even harder to do what it has to do. But if you’re upright you can bend yourself forward a bit and help yourself out. You can even slow down your labor a bit if needed by coming all the way forward, like an all-fours position.
Science is in delivery, too. Ms. Balaskas clearly shows how the bones and muscles of the pelvis just open right up when you’re upright or bending over. But if you’re lying on your back the sactococcygeal joint slips the coccyx (science talk!) forward, narrowing the pelvic opening (the bones push together creating less space for baby to pass through).
This info about helpful positioning for labor and delivery is enough to make this book great. But wait – there’s more!
Like Choosing Waterbirth, there are whole chapters devoted to yoga and breathing exercises for pregnancy (one chapter for each). I felt like the poses in this book were a bit more basic than in Choosing Waterbirth, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. They’re perfect for later on in pregnancy when you don’t feel like contorting your body too much at all. Nice and simple. (To be fair, I don’t have Choosing Waterbirth at my side for a direct comparison. I’ve already returned it to the library.)
I love when I book has a chapter about the three stages of labor and delivery because I learn something from every explanation. This one is quite extensive and one of the main reasons why I chose to read the whole book all over again. Not only does it contain insights about what is happening to you and the baby during each stage, it reiterates helpful positions based on stage and situation (like squatting to help move the baby down and open the cervix if things are moving slowly).
There’s a small section about pain-reducing drugs but it isn’t scary – some books present this information in a way that you sort of think they almost want to scare you out of using it. (Hey! Who’s Having This Baby Anyway? was kind of like that. Although it was a very thorough account of each drug and its pros and cons.) This book is more like, “here are the drugs that are available, but you won’t need them because you’ll be such an awesome active birther.” I like that it’s pumping me up for success rather than scaring me into success.
I could go on and on about the things I love about this book, really. There’s a chapter on waterbirth that is great so I can’t wait to read Ms. Balaskas’ next book, The Waterbirth Book.
If you can’t tell, I highly recommend this book. It’s for sure in my top three pregnancy books that I’ve read so far, it’s actually probably number one. Read it!