Best Birth Book Review

I just finished reading Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake (yes, you read that right) and Abby Epstein. I originally wanted to read this book because I wanted to know more about my birth options – both traditional (i.e., methods typically used in a hospital setting) and natural. The tag-line, “Know all your options, discover the natural choices, and take back the birth experience”, sure sounded promising.

Although I think this book did cover all the bases the tag-line suggests (from obstetricians to midwives/doulas, from C-sections to fully natural birth, from hospital births to home births, and everything in between), it was far too biased for my liking. Even though the authors repeated statements that implied any decision is the right decision as long as the mother (or couple) knows all the options, it definitely gave the impression that natural birth is the way to go for everyone.

The authors tended to use scare tactics and statistics – not referenced in the text (although there is a list of references in the back) – to help push women toward the natural birth methods. Now, I do understand why they are doing this. After all, most of the information out there is biased the other way (against midwives, natural/home births, etc.), but I was hoping they wouldn’t stoop to the same tactics.

What I was hoping for was to read positive birth stories that encompassed all types of births. That, if a woman made an educated decision, the birth would be be a good experience (no matter what methods she decided to use). Most of the book did not meet my expectations in this regard. However, I did enjoy the last section (Take Back Your Birth), as it seemed more in line with what I was hoping for.

I do think the overall idea of this book is a good one, but I think it could have been done with a more positive outlook, using less scare tactics, and have properly cited references. I’d rate this book 2.5 out of 5, but I would recommend it as a starting place for women who really want to know about their birth options.


Comments on: "Best Birth Book Review" (4)

  1. Alyssa–

    I just finished “Orgasmic Birth,” and I highly recommend it. One of the authors (a midwife) even talks about how she had to transfer to the hospital and get an epi with one of her births. It was an excellent read!

    On the other hand, the documentary by the same name was not nearly as good. It had information that totally contradicted the book.


  2. I think it would be a good idea to find out exactly what types of options your hospital/birthing center are amenable to, before you spend time on a birthing plan.

    The reason I am saying this is that I had my two children in two different states. The birth experiences could not have been more different. While nominally I was encouraged to have a birth plan both times, the first time around nobody could care less about what I wanted. I was strapped to monitors and virtually immobile the entire time (nearly 24 hours). The second time around, in the state where I am now, I had no plans, as I was expecting it's all bull and nobody would listen; I was surprised at how accommodating they were (or would have been, if I actually had specific requests).

    I think keep it simple: try for a natural birth if you are so inclined. If not, or if you try but it it doesn't progress, do whatever you need to do to make sure you and the baby are OK. Everything else is unimportant or bullshit. (For instance, I had epidural with my 1st one — I cannot tell you how many moms rolled their eyes at me for not having been “tough enough” and done it without the meds!)


  3. Sorry you didn't really like the book. I really liked Ina May's guide to childbirth- but I was reading it solely to get psyched up for natural birth so I wasn't looking for a book which talked about both sides:)


  4. Liz – thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to check it out!

    GMP – the hospital I'll be going to has a virtual tour you can take, so DH and I have watched that. We also have a midwife (not an OB), so she will work with us at the hospital to have the birth we want. Luckily things are a bit better up here in Canada than they are in the States regarding these situations.

    Ash – I was also looking to get psyched up for a natural birth, but I found their hugely negative views on anything BUT natural really turned me off of the book. I might look at Ina May's book too.


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