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The Complete Book of Pregnancy & Childbirth [Paperback]

Sheila Kitzinger , Marcia May
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 13.26
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Book Description

Dec 2003
This new edition of The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth has been extensively revised to reflect scientific advances and cultural trends. Here, candidly and reasonably presented, is all the information expectant parents need to make their own decisions about everything--from which tests to allow to how to handle pain to where to give birth. 300 photos, drawings & diagrams.

Frequently Bought Together

The Complete Book of Pregnancy & Childbirth + Rediscovering Birth + Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
Price For All Three: 32.33

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 4 Sub edition (Dec 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375710477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375710476
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 18.3 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 200,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sheila Kitzinger M.B.E, M.Litt is a social anthropologist of birth and author of 24 books published internationally, most on the emotional journey through this major life experience. At Oxford in the 50s she discovered that the social anthropology of that time was almost entirely about men. She decided she would do research to discover what was important in women's lives, and focused on pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.
Her five children were all born at home. She lectures widely in different countries and has learned from mothers and midwives in the USA and Canada, the Caribbean, Eastern and Western Europe, Israel, Australia and New Zealand, Latin America, South Africa and Japan, and from women in prison and those who have had a traumatic birth experience.
Her recent books include The New Experience of Childbirth, Understanding Your Crying Baby, Politics of Birth, Birth Crisis and the updated classic The New Pregnancy and Childbirth: Choices and Challenges.
Her website is www.sheilakitzinger.com

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have for mums-to-be! 17 Feb 2009
By S. May
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was recommended this book by my doula and found it so helpful to read in preparation for the birth of my first baby. It takes you through every step of pregnancy and labour, as well as the first few days after birth, giving detailed information including pain relief, the actual process of natural labour, C-sections, possible problems, the whole schebang! I found the detail informative yet not overwhelming, and a useful book to refer back to time and again, yet easy to read from cover to cover.

Reading this book gave me the confidence to realise and understand that my body was created for this, it took some of the fear away as a first time mum-to-be as I gained a greater understanding of what to expect, and helped me approach my birth with a very positive frame of mind. It also focuses on how powerful mental preparation can be for labour and how connected our mental and physical beings are and what a difference positivity can make, and I have to say that this was certainly the case when I came to having my baby. I would highly recommend this book to mums-to-be.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pregnancy massage 11 Nov 2013
Good book, full of pictures and loads of information. Looks a bit old, maybe a upgrade should be ok. Delivery took a few days
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  89 reviews
132 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! All first-time mothers should have it! 26 Mar 2000
By Christine Hartman - Published on Amazon.com
I just don't understand all these reviews that says that Ms. Kitzinger hates men and doctors! I found nothing in her book hateful! She may be a tad pro-natural birth, but probably only because she had natural births herself. Honestly, I thought she was VERY unbiased. She presents all of your different options for location of birth, pain medication versus natural methods, waterbirth, etc., in a pretty neutral manner. And some of the things that she says about doctor's visits is VERY TRUE, such as the woman feeling like she's on the birth mill. I feel that way at regular doctor's appointments sometimes when I sit for 45 minutes and the doctor sees me for a hasty five minutes. Who doesn't feel like they are on a medical assembly line when this happens?
She also talks to you like you are a competent adult capable of making informed decisions instead of a drooling idiot, unlike SOME pregnancy and birth books (What to Expect When You're Expecting comes to mind.)
Oh, and by the way, for that reviewer down there who thinks that waterbirth is backwards and New-Agey and uncommon; I think you would be surprised to learn how many women from all walks of life are now choosing this method of birth. It's not just for hippies in tye-dyed clothing, like you seem to think it is. And it is very safe.
First-time mothers, if you want to know all your options and weigh the pros and cons of each choice you will have to make regarding pregnancy and birth, GET THIS BOOK. Also try Dr. Sears "The Birth Book". Pregnancy and birth are not diseases, and you ARE competent enough to make your own choices regarding them.
Enjoy your pregnancy and the birth of your baby!
69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate pregnancy and childbirth confidence booster 11 Mar 2005
By M. H Shamp - Published on Amazon.com
Seven years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, I came upon The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth with no particular expectations - I read it because I planned to read every pregnancy book I could get my hands on. Eventually I read twenty some pregnancy books, and I came to the realization that Ms Kitzinger's book is the best one.

I liked every book I read; they were all well written and informative, including What to Expect When You're Expecting, which some people don't seem to like. However, Ms Kitzinger's book stood out because her attitude came through the tone of the book. It is an attitude of respect, encouragement, and assurance. It made me feel good about being a woman, about being pregnant, and about giving birth. The entire tone of the book makes me think that childbirth is an awe-inspiring process to be enjoyed, not a painful ordeal to be dreaded.

I read the book 3 times during my first pregnancy; it felt like going to the best pregnancy counselor in the world. I was so comfortable reading it, it was like listening to a best friend, or a beloved grandmother who is full of wisdom and experience, but still thinks you are an intelligent young woman capable of making your own choice. (For this reason, I always think of Ms Kitzinger as "Sheila", but I don't call her that here out of respect.)

All the encouragement is done between the lines. Ms Kitzinger never throws trite lines around: "Birth is wonderful! You can do it!" And yet, she gets her message across beautifully. Ms Kitzinger is one of the few people I've encountered who is gifted at confidence-instilling. When I first realized the quality of this book, I read it carefully again, not only to solidify my pregnancy knowledge, but also to imitate this method of encouragement. I am a math teacher, and I wanted to use her method in my field - propaganda such as "Algebra is fun! You can do it!" hasn't been very effective. I've been somewhat successful, because one person said to me, "You are so warm and encouraging!" I never told her where I got it.

Another reviewer here said Ms Kitzinger is so much against hospital birth that it made her feel bad being a pregnant diabetic. There is a gross misunderstanding here; neither Ms Kitzinger, nor any other birth book I've ever read, make anybody feel bad about going to the hospital to have a baby, especially not when the pregnancy is high risk. Ms Kitzinger's exact statement is, "It is wise to consider hospital care if you have diabetes or a heart or kidney condition." (p.38) If you are in the high risk group, you need this book even more because you are facing far worse worries and fears than average.

In her book, Ms Kitzinger makes everybody feels good: if you are married, single, lesbian, or surrogate, she has a passage covering your needs, both physical and psychological. She goes in detail how to have a good relationship with your OB and an enjoyable hospital birth, or to use a birth center, or a midwife at home. She describes the various benefits and risks of different approaches, always making you feel that she is on your side and supportive of your choice, whatever it might be.

Besides her wonderfully warm approach, Ms Kitzinger's book has more important information and research results than any other birth book I've seen. That alone makes her book the best. She talks about things that can go wrong, such as miscarriages or baby deaths, with such compassion that I was never made to be excessively worried.

I felt so good about childbirth after reading her book that I decided to have my first baby at home, without a midwife. (Ms Kitzinger does NOT advocate or mention this option; it's all my idea.) I was in labor for 4 hours, my plumber husband caught the baby, and I needed no stitches afterwards. I had my second baby similarly after a one hour labor. Compare that to my mother, who labored 16 hours in the hospital and recited the painful details to me the whole time I was growing up.

You might think that I was just lucky. I was. I was lucky that Ms Kitzinger decided to write this book and I happened to bump into it. It enabled me to enjoy the most wonderful and glorious experience of my life. Get Ms Kitzinger's book and read it; you have the right, you have the privilege.

(Note: email me if you want to know the details of my unassisted births. But order Ms Kitzinger's book first!)
142 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing pro-birth book 19 Sep 2001
By Girl on the go! - Published on Amazon.com
There are two kind of women out there: Those who want a traditional doctor who will "take care of everything for them" along with a traditional hospital birth with lots of medication options and an episiotomy, and those who want something more personal--who want their own body to do the work, who want help from experienced women and who want an intimate, memorable experience they can share with their partner. This is a book for the second type of woman. Those who are a little more, ahem, "traditional" should get "What to Expect When You're Expecting" (a book that I happen to think treats women like morons). "The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth" is an amazing, amazing book. It is so pro-family--talking about the importance of including husbands and even other family members if you should so choose. I am baffled by the anti-man comments in another review...this book is so incredibly pro-husband! In fact, it is my own husband's favorite pregnancy book. I'm also baffled by the criticism of waterbirth. Yes, the book does touch on waterbirth, which may sound strange to a middle-American, but is a very popular option in New York, San Francisco, Austin, Los Angeles, Seattle and other modern American cities--as well as a popular option in England, Canada, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Australia, etc. That said, the book also objectively--Kintzinger does no bashing--discusses hospital-style procedures such as forcep deliver, episiotomy, epidurals, etc. Kitzinger is a big believer in having supportive, experienced, compassionate people around you, which is why she is such a fan of midwives, but she also discusses how to find such support in the hopsital among nurses and doctors.She even has pictures of a woman giving birth in a hospital using physical positions other than the flat-on-the-back position we all associate with hopsitals. As for the alcohol criticism, it's true. Kitzinger does say alcohol is okay in very small amounts. Before you get all hot and bothered, it's important to remember that Kitzinger is a European, a Brit. Having had personal, direct experience with French midwives, I know that not every country shares America's belief that women need completely abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. Most European midwives and doctors do say small amounts of alcohol are safe once you're past the first trimester. (In fact, I was told by a French doctor to have one two three glasses of red wine each week to "strengthen my blood" and "raise my iron levels." So go figure.) As for alcohol units, an earlier reviewer's translation isn't quite correct: In Britain a unit isn't an entire glass of wine, bottle of beer, etc. It's more akin to a half-filled small wine glass...what would only be a few ounces. Something to think about before everyone starts witch hunting! It's important to remember that not everyone wants the kind of hopsital births their American mothers had--and to appreciate that there are terrific options out there for us all. This book is a godsend for those of us who prefer options!
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully informative and pro-woman, pro-child 11 Oct 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I've read a lot of books about childbirth while preparing to give birth, and I got this one because my midwife specifically recommended I read "anything" by Sheila Kitzinger. Of all the books I've read, this one ranks as one of my two favorites.
I like the author's attitude about birth: it is a natural, normal physiological process in the overwhelming majority of cases, and should be treated as such.
The pros and cons of drugs and other interventions are also presented, and while Ms. Kitzinger is undoubtedly pro-natural, I really would not say she is anti-doctor (as some have claimed). She is anti-routine-intervention, and anti-unecessary-intervention, but otherwise I feel that she's simply presenting facts for readers to consider.
As the only way to make an intelligent, informed decision about your body and your experience of birth is to be informed, I feel this book goes a very long way toward providing necessary and helpful information to women and their partners.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best 23 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I recntly attended a baby shower with three generations of woman who each have had several children. After talking with them and many elderly women in my community about pregnancy and childbirth, I feel incredibly luck to have this book available to me and other women in my generation. It was only a short itme ago when these women had no books to read about this subject and if they were lucky they had a pamflet giving the most juvenile and conservative information. During my own pregancy just one year ago I found this book to be the most helpful and validating to my own opinions.
I have read many books regarding getting pregnant like Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I have read books about being pregnant such as What to Expect When You are Expcting, The Complete Book to Pregnancy and Childbirth, and Your Pregnancy Week by Week.I of course have also read many books about parenting ranging from Dr.Sears Baby Book, Penelope Leach's Your Baby and Child to the Baby wise series and What to Expect the First Year and Toddler Years. All these books have valid points and intersting ideas. To be educated and well informed you need to read all sides, views and ideas!
Shelia does a wonderful job giving a well rounded scope of information pulling from all resources available. As an anthropologist or even if she were a doctor she gave us a knowledgable and well designed book reagring such a wonderful experience as preganacy and childbirth! I found it to always be my favorite general information book during my pregnancy.
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