Most helpful critical review
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An unrealistic view of birth
on 3 May 2013
This book is very much along the lines of the NCT school of thought; basically the theory that almost every birth can be a natural and enjoyable birth providing you go into it with the right mindset and remain calm and relaxed about it, and that in the pursuit of this you should surround yourself with positive birth stories and experiences. Let me explain what happened to us:
We had a birth plan based on everything we learned from this book and from NCT; we were going to start out in the birth centre, try the water and progress to pain relief if necessary. 3 days after the due date the baby stopped moving. We went straight to hospital and my wife was hooked up to a monitor. Everything was fine but they said that the change in movement that day was concerning and that they should speed things up. She was induced quickly and had her waters broken. The baby had done a poo inside her, which potentially was the reason he had not being moving (although it could have been something else). From there on in everything was incredibly medical; she was permanently monitored and we had every intervention going and ended up delivering in theatre with a suction cup and a threatened emergency C-section. He was whisked away to have any meconium suctioned away from his face in case he should inhale it into his lungs.
Now then, what is the problem with this book? In short, it completely failed to prepare us for the actual birth we had, and we ended up finding the entire thing terrifying because it was so far removed from the way we thought it should have happened, and yet in the grand scheme of things it was a fairly normal birth in this day and age, and we feel completely necessary to ensure the safety of our baby. The theory of the book is that almost any birth can be perfect if you approach it in the right way, refuse interventions and have it at home. The medical profession are simply getting in the way of natural birth and taking away a mothers right to birth her baby her way. BUT, what nobody seems to mention is that before birth became medical a very very large proportion of births ended in the death of the baby, the mother or both. The medical process is there to try and avoid this happening, and most of the time things are totally out of your control, as it was for us when he pood in the waters. We did NCT with 8 couples and not a single one of us had anything resembling a natural birth, and most were worse than our experience. It is true that you need to stay calm no matter what happens, but it is very important that you understand the reality of birth and are able to come to terms with it and not be scared of it at the same time. It is no use wrapping yourself in cotton wool and believing that you are going to naturally birth a baby into a pool with candles and new age music. This *might* happen and being relaxed and mentally prepared may well make it more likely, but it equally might not happen and this book implies that that is your fault, because you weren't relaxed enough, which is not necessarily true at all.
Nothing can prepare you for birth, but after having been through it I now believe this book is not the right way to try.