Gentle Birth Choices

by Barbara Harper

Here\’s another book I read back when I was pregnant. Gentle Birth Choices, written by an RN, is a fairly in-depth guide of alternatives to giving birth in a hospital. It starts off by giving a history of childbirth practices in America, particularly focusing on how it became the norm for women to give birth in hospitals, and explaining why some common preconceptions about hospital births are not necessarily true. Then Harper describes the history and roles of midwives, how birth can be a natural, non-medicated process, and goes into detail about giving birth in water. There\’s a section on the \”mind-body\” connection during childbirth, and some of the information here took me by surprise (like that some women find childbirth to be almost an erotic experience- this idea was very foreign to me!) The book wraps up with a section all about planning your birth, complete with suggested questions to ask a hospital, doctor or midwife in order to help you make decisions. Gentle Birth Choices feels well-researched, quoting from medical journals, research studies, national statistics, etc. It really made me think about what all the different options were, and can be a helpful resource in choosing how you and your child will experience birth. It\’s easy to read, informative, and illustrated with lovely photographs.

Rating: 4/5                      302 pages, 1994

More opinions at:
Birth at Home in Arizona
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2 Responses

  1. I was always scared to give birth outside of a hospital, after I almost bled out after having my first baby. I did however read up on what was available here at the time, and i decided to go as natural as possible. So I am very proud to say I had no drugs or painkillers at all while having my three children. But the last one again (4 years ago), I bled again, so I was happy to be in the hospital. We are fairly progressive here, so we can have midwives, we can have drug-free births, or we can be doped up to the gills – it is up to the woman most times, her choice, here in Ottawa. I would pick up this book though, and will, when my younger sisters are ready to have their children, it sounds really good for introducing them to the concept that there are different ways to have children. thanks for the review, Jeane!

  2. It made me very nervous, too. I had a great doula, but ended up at the hospital anyways due to minor complications. They were very understanding there, though- and respected my wishes to not be medicated- although by the time it was over I almost wished I\’d had an epidural.

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