The Essential Homebirth Guide: For Families Planning or Considering Birthing at Home
Publication date: February 12, 2013
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
So, you’re interested in having a home birth. Now what?
This easy-to-read book of homebirth FAQs endeavors to “open your range of experience and exposure, so that when you make decisions regarding where and how to birth, you will be making truly informed ones.” Though the target audience is obviously women who have at least some intention of birthing at home, its scope is wide enough to be a good resource for any pregnant mother, covering a range of topics from common pregnancy concerns to the pros and cons of having a home birth after c-section (HBAC).
My children were both born at home, and I would have LOVED to have a resource like this when working through the planning stages of my home birth. Though most of the book is organized in a question-answer format, it’s generously sprinkled with real women’s stories of their pregnancies and births, which serve as encouragement and inspiration to the reader. It is written in readable language and de-mystifies a lot of the birth jargon a new mom might run into.
I loved the inclusion of Bruce Schneier’s five paradigms of risk perception, as well as the BRAINS decision-making acronym — both great tools for weighing out the pros and cons of many pregnancy and birth-related decisions. I also appreciated the inclusion of “The Big Ten” — ten common issues which women often have questions about relating to their pregnancy and birth, including Rh factor, group B strep, and gestational diabetes. The issues in this section are dealt with in a way that presents the facts, and doesn’t try to either scare the reader, nor downplay her concerns. These are important issues that any pregnant woman should be informed about, regardless of where she will be birthing. The appendices also included valuable information, such as a checklist of questions to ask during a midwife interview (something I could have used while pregnant with my first!) and further reading for the homebirth family. The photos included in this book were tasteful and modest, giving no one any reason to squirm while reading it, but picturing birth as a beautiful, joyful experience.
Some generalizations or assumptions were made that may not be necessarily true in all situations and may give the reader a false idea. For instance, in describing the “ring of fire,” which — according to the authors “only lasts through the next contraction, when the head is fully out.” Maybe I had big-headed kids, but in my experience, it was definitely more than just one contraction’s worth of pain! Also, having used the Hypnobabies home study program myself, I was surprised at the suggestion that it should be paired with other childbirth education classes — something that the program explicitly discouraged by the program, because of the negative, fear-invoking terminology that is often used in childbirth classes.
Some of the narrator’s language was rather informal, a times even a bit tongue-in-cheek, which is some readers may appreciate, but others may find to distract or detract from the well-researched and professional content.
Overall, I’m very grateful that this book is being published, and thank the publisher for providing me with a review copy. I will definitely be passing on information about this book to others interested in homebirthing, as it is one of the best homebirth-specific guides I’ve seen on the market, and a valuable resource.