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on 3 April 2001
Before reading this book, I had not even considered possibilities other than giving birth in a hospital- it has been so indoctrinated into me! Having discussed with my husband, we are both now very keen on having a home birth, the way we want it, not with lots of unnecessary medical interventions.
Contrary to what other reviewers have said, the book does not recommend 'third world' births for everyone- it just says that in low risk pregnancies you are actually safer at home as there is less chance of infection.
Read this book- even if you aren't pregnant!
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on 28 January 2001
A must for any woman, especially a pregnant one. Designed to give you the confidence in your body to break ranks and give birth without all the medical intervention that has become the norm. Shelia Kitzinger is a heroine of mine, she has pioneered amazing work on behalf of pregnant women and is a well respected authority on pregnancy and birth. After reading this book, I really started to question the way that most western pregnant women allow themselves to be herded into a hospital to give birth, which rarely ends with the mother feeling it was a good experience. She has inspired me to look at all the alternatives for my next birth and to challenge the usual medical practice that is inflicted on modern pregnant women.
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on 12 July 2003
I have to disagree with Ros Ellis' review above in particular her assertion that birth in it's natural state is a dangerous affair. Yes, in the UK women did die in the early part of the last century and yes, in Africa, there is a higher rate of infant and maternal mortality. However, the reason for this is NOT to do with increased use in obstetrics, rather lack of hygience, sanitation, education, good nutrition and education and countless other factors (liek the fact that in the west, we tend to abort babies with congenital defects who would otherwise die shortly after birth). To draw a link between decrease in death in the UK with the increase in medical intervention is to make a quantum leap of the imagination.
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on 10 July 2012
Sheila Kitzinger is a must-read for all mothers-to-be; I firmly believe that her New Experience of Childbirth was one of the main reasons that the birth of my daughter was such a very special occasion - she changed my mindset and for the better.

Rediscovering Birth is an anthropological exploration of birth through history and around the globe. A fascinating read, it had me hooked from start to finish. There is a wistfulness throughout, at how much we have lost in our Westernised birth practises - how much wisdom, female solidarity and support has fallen by the wayside. And a sadness too, that so many societies look to the West in the belief that we somehow do things better. One can only hope that future generations in the cultures discussed, don't have to look to this book to see how their families used to birth.

I do feel though, that the book gives little credit for the times that modern birth practises truly are life saving. In 2000, 529000 women died during pregnancy or shortly after birth (United Nations) - only 1% of these deaths happened in industrialised countries. We MUST learn from other cultures; there is so much we have lost and so much we can gain, to truly empower women during birth. But we should also retain a a little gratitude for a system that, for all its flaws, does indeed save lives.
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on 12 June 2012
An absolutely fantastic book! It is crammed full of facts and information about pregnancy and childbirth in all different cultures all around the World. The writer is obviously extremely knowledgable and her writing style is easy to read and understand making a lot of information easily digestable!
It amazes me how much our own culture has changed over such a short time and how this completely influences childbirth and raising a child.
A great book that I will definitely be re-reading!
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on 28 August 2013
I read this prior to the birth of my second baby and found it to be full of wisdom and insight of the culture of women's birth around the globe. It does not really offer practical advice per se, however, the wisdom of ages, and the knowledge that women have been birthing with other womens help is very empowering and I found I thought about these cultures during contractions. It made me feel connected to the human race, and this was valuable as I was isolated in my little hospital room. The thought that billions of women birthed their children with no medical safety net made me feel safer with all those machines around me. However, it underlined the loss of joy and magic and togetherness and spirituality that birth has become in the west. Women used to really support each other in birth, and now we seem to think schedules are more important and getting our figure back and getting back to a routine or to work is necessary. When really birth and the time immediately afterwards is so important for bonding and resting and loving your baby and revelling in any love the mother has around her for support.
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on 11 December 2011
Sheila Kitzinger's perspective as a social anthropologist is a refreshing direction from which to approach birth in our society. She places what we do now in a world context and this is fascinating. This is a very readable book that really opens your eyes to things that we take for granted in our society.
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on 8 April 2014
Kitzinger is obviously inspired by work of authors such as Grantly-Read or Odent and her account offers an insight on natural birth seen in modern light. A good, interesting book on the topic, commendable to health practitioners, pregnancy yoga teachers and mothers.
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on 9 August 2013
Interesting to look at other cultures but it was quite against a 'western' hospital birth which is not helpful if that is what you have to have!! In saying that, it does normalise the process of birth and make it a little less terrifying.
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on 13 July 2012
this book looks at how pregnancy, labour and birth is perceived in different cultures and eras. it is definately an interesting read that makes you think about why birthing is so different in all countries.
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