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Your Best Birth – Book Review

Posted Mar 30 2011 2:00pm

I finished reading  Your Best Birth: Know All Your Options by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein.  I mostly really loved the book.  (I will put the only drawback I found at the end.)  Through most of the book I was thinking, this is exactly what I would say if I wrote a birth book!

I love that it is not a book about “natural childbirth” rather it is focusing on educating yourself on your options and choose what is best for YOU.  That is my own personal point of view as a childbirth educator and mom.  There are a lot of choices out there for birth.  This book gives a great overview of many choices and the pros and cons in a very easy to read format.

I previously recommend  The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth and probably still will.  But it is definitely geared towards natural childbirth and more technical, so I think most mainstream moms wouldn’t read it.  I think most moms would enjoy reading Your Best Birth: Know All Your Options .  I want to buy a copy and give to every pregnant woman I know early in their pregnancy!  The sooner you figure out what you want for your birth, the sooner you can see if your care provider is a good match for you.

Here are some of my favorite quotes and my thoughts about them.

Why bother learning about birth?  You can’t predict what will happen!

“Even though you can’t predict, you can prepare.  You can get to know your body, understand your fears, strengths and values and get familiar with how the medical world might react to all of that and all of you.  This book is an attempt to put in your hands all of what we didn’t know when we started to consider the births of our children so that you can give your life with your baby a good start by arranging the best birth possible.”

YES!  So true, you can’t predict what your birth is going to be like, but you can prepare to have the best birth possible.  I think this book does that.

What is a Best Birth?

“…we feel that the true mark of a “best birth” is when the mother is respected, informed, and treated as a participant in every decision about her pregnancy, labor, and delivery.  We have observed that when doctors and midwives treat mothers as active participants in their own childbirths, the mothers always feel empowered, no matter whether their births are natural or surgical.”

YES!  Again a mom may have an elective cesarean be her best birth, after researching her options and making a choice to do so.  If she chooses to have an elective cesarean because her OB scared her into it, it will not be empowering.  It is the same type of birth, but very different experience for the mom.

Choosing Care Providers

“If your prospective caregiver makes you feel uncomfortable, difficult, or stupid sitting in the office, just project forward to how those same feelings will affect you on the day your child is born.”

YES!  Choose your Care Provider wisely!  This can not be overstated.  Also, even if they make you feel comfortable, you still need to know where they stand on certain issues.  If they induce most of their patients at 38 weeks, that will be setting yourself up for an induction.  ASK questions and listen to the answers and notice how you feel when they are answering them.

Childbirth Classes

“…there is no other area in our lives where we would so easily give over the decision making.  “Many peoples spend more time researching the stroller than they do trying to understand the physicality and the emotional-loadedness of getting a baby out of their bodies,” she said.  And a good birth class might actually change your mind about some of the things you didn’t consider.”

YES!  This is so true and so sad.  So many moms don’t take the time to learn about birth.  They say, “I will go to the hospital and they will know what to do.”   This is crazy to me, the hospital knows how to give institutionalize, one size fits all care.  So yes, they will know what to do, but it may not be what is best for you or your baby.  Also dealing with your emotions and fears before your birth will help so much during your birth!

“Look for classes that limit enrollment to no more than ten couples and take up fifteen total hours of class time.  Erica believes that’s the minimum time necessary to educate couples in all their choices as well as coach them in some effective coping techniques.  “Massage is a tool; privacy is a tool; vocalizing, breath work is a tool; visualization is a tool.  This is why I don’t believe there is a method.  It’s like telling people there is a method for sex.”

YES!  I like that they earlier said, “don’t take hospital based classes.”  An independent childbirth class is the best place to learn about all your options.  Smaller class sizes are better for more individualized instruction.  Also I agree there is no “method” to give birth.  I teach Hypnobabies , but in the class I am teaching many tools and with their practice at home they are reinforcing those tools.  Then during their birth they have a huge bag of tools to pick and choose from!

What I didn’t like.

As a Hypnobabies instructor I was happy to see hypnosis for childbirth mentioned.  Moms have different choices when choosing which method to use.  Each program offers different tools and information.

From the book, “Some midwives and doulas feel that moms who study HypnoBirthing may derive benefits from taking the course but are often disappointed when they start to experience pain during their labors.  These midwives and doulas warn clients not to harbor a false expectation that their births will be painless and then feel discouraged when they are not.”

This is a concern for many midwives and doulas that have only seen HypnoBirthing births.

I wish that they had shared information about Hypnobabies , which is a very different program. Hypnobabies has medical grade hypnosis (same depth used in dental surgery), 6 post hypnotic cues, and 10 hypnosis scripts on CD to listen to with 3 just for your birthing day.  The tools with Hypnobabies are so powerful along with complete childbirth information. I hate to see moms and care providers lump all hypnosis for childbirth methods together.

As the Hypnobabies Yahoo Group Moderator I read many birth stories where mom is completely comfortable for her birth!  I have gathered over 200 here and continue to put new ones on the Hypnobabies Blog .

Overall Great Book!

So overall, I think this is a great book for expecting moms to read.  Just remember if you are interested in hypnosis for childbirth, look at all your options !

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