Review: Natural Hospital Birth (2nd edition) – the best of both worlds

Natural Hospital Birth (2nd Edition) – The Best of Both Worlds released on Amazon on 17th May 2018 and is available in Paperback or Kindle Edition. It’s written by Cynthia Gabriel, and here’s the blurb:

Many mothers-to-be find themselves torn between choosing a natural childbirth with minimal medical intervention, and the peace of mind offered by instant access to life-saving technology that only a hospital can provide. Cynthia Gabriel, a doula who has attended hundreds of births and who advises hospitals on how to facilitate low-intervention childbirths, knows that new moms can have both. In this fully updated edition of her popular and pioneering book Natural Hospital Birth, Gabriel gives moms, as well as partners and even medical personnel, concise and reassuring guidance on how to have as natural a birth as possible in a hospital setting.

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I advocate parents-to-be fully exploring every possible option when it comes to childbirth. Some people prefer to know less detail and trust in the medical professionals advice, but I’ll be honest, I’d rather feel informed and be part of the decision making process. Sometimes there’s simply no time to research or even get a second opinion, so I’m the type of person who wants to research and understand things to feel in control of the situation.

Giving birth is often a situation where women feel out of control. In fact, it’s being out of control that can add to serious anxiety, and contribute to post natal mental health problems. A big part of this book is helping women be in control of their birth by understanding the situation and being able to make decisions informatively.

Natural Hospital Birth (2nd Edition) is written by Cynthia Gabriel who is a doula. Her aim is to give guidance on how parents can experience as natural a birth as possible in a hospital setting, but allows for the fact that things can and do need medical intervention, which parents should be kept informed about and still allowed to make some decisions where possible. Approaching medical professionals can be daunting, especially when not all of them are interested in your opinion and some of them are honestly, unsupportive. Cynthia gives us tips on how to approach healthcare professionals, how to formulate a birth plan and to share that information with them. As a doula Cynthia has witnessed women fighting for the birth they want, and I experienced this myself, with my obstetrician being very unsupportive of my wishes and ultra clinical with his approach.

We get a rundown of medical procedures and medications that can be used and how to avoid them if you’re trying to, but doesn’t cover up the harsh reality that sometimes things don’t go according to plan and you also need to be flexible and realize from the start that the plan may go a different way. Being prepared for that can diminish the trauma and keep you feeling in control and understanding what’s happening to your body. It’s worth noting that this book is written in the USA and that some USA procedures and policies can differ slightly from the UK, but on the whole I found this very accurate and relevant to British readers as well. If anything, I’d say the birth plan is even more relevant, as this is something that my community midwife barely touched on and I wish I’d been more assertive about.

I read this book after giving birth. I write on my blog about pregnancy and parenting so I love to read and share things that I think will be useful to other parents, even though I won’t be having any more children. I wish that I’d read it before birth as I think it would have been very helpful to me. As someone who had quite a traumatic birth experience, with pre-eclampsyia, an induction and then an emergency c-section, a lot of different terminology and medication was thrown around. I didn’t feel like I understood what was happening to me whilst it was happening and I strongly believe that this contributed to my post natal mental health diagnosis. In exploring the things that happened to me afterwards, I now understand a lot clearer each step of the way and in hindsight, would make some different decisions.

I hope that this book helps to educate and help women to speak to healthcare professionals and ultimately, to have a positive birth experience even if things don’t go to plan. Five stars from me!

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