When I was pregnant I got two books, What to Expect When You Are Expecting and The Hipmama Survival Guide. While I hated WTE, I loved Hipmama, but was still unfulfilled. Both are such extremes and apparently I am dead in the center, ok left of center, but still.
Now Our Bodies Ourselves Pregnancy and Birth is more my pace.
I'll admit that I did not read each word in this book, but I feel that I did my due diligence. What OBOS's pregnancy book is is a book that combines the best of hipmama granola with honest medical advise. Yes, OBOS spends a lot of time talking about midwives and what an optimal birth would look like, but I never got the feeling that it was guilting me into having the "perfect" birth.
The tone is set at the very beginning on page 9:
When used appropriately, maternity care inerventions such as artifical inductions or labor, episiotomies, epidurals, and cesarean sections can improve health outcomes and even save lives. Yet far too often, these interventions are used routinely on healthy women who are at low risk for medical complications, despite clear scientific evidence that they are unnecessary, ineffective, and/or can cause harm."
Yes, it sounds contradictory and confusing - it is. Being pregnant & giving birth have so many 'what ifs' that is really is confusing and sometimes goes against all that you or your hippie midwife would normally do.
On pages 196-197, there is a brilliant chart on how far you want to go with medication during labor.
What this means: I want no medication, even for a cesarean delivery. (An impossible extreme.)
Your partner, doula, nurse, or caregiver can help you by: Helping you gain a realistic understanding of risks and benefits of pain medications.
Even at -7 "I have a very strong desire for a natural birth, for personal gratification along with the benefits to my baby and my labor. I will be disappointed if I use medication." they suggest you plan for using medication. As someone who fell into -7, I never really planned on using medication. I left that decision up to my husband in the delivery room really. Perhaps if we had discussed it more, I wouldn't still be beating myself up over having meds.
My favorite part of the book also on page 9. It is a short list of questions to guide you in making informed choices. This chart is reminding you that this pregnancy is happening not to you, but that you are pregnant, you are in charge, you have agency, so act like it. Looking back on a pretty darn good pregnancy experience despite gestational diabetes, if my midwife had told me to eat seaweed each day, I would have. When you're pregnant that guilt of being pregnant consumes you and you rarely question your medical team's directives.
The book is in nice sections that allow you to read some, skip others, and save sections for later. The most touching section is on loss of a pregnancy or child as well as the section on prenatal testing and making a decision to continue or terminate the pregnancy.
Obviously, I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to get pregnant or newly pregnant. While it does have an excellent section on breast feeding, I'd suggest La Leche's book instead of OBOS if all you want is breastfeeding in. Perhaps La Leche's book will be for next week...
I received this book from Our Bodies Ourselves themselves! Considering that I don't plan on getting preggers anytime soon (knock on wood everyone!) I am offering my copy up.
So if you don't mind that your copy is signed "To Veronica"
Deadline for entry is Tuesday, August 19, 2008.
You can purchase a copy at your local indie bookstore, Powell's, or Amazon. Please note...the Powell's and Amazon links benefit OBOS.