Your Best Birth – Book Review

your-best-birthYour Best Birth: Know All Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices, and Take Back the Birth Experience by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein

Normally I avoid books by television personalities, so it is probably for the best that I didn’t notice Ricki Lake’s name on this book when I first requested it from the publisher.  Although I had heard of her documentary, made with the co-author of this book, “The Business of Being Born,” I didn’t actually realize it was hers.  Then the book arrived, I saw the name of a talk show host on the cover, and I put it off for awhile.

I very much wish I hadn’t done that, “Your Best Birth” was absolutely fantastic.  Ricki and Abby have done a lot of research into birth in America and around the world, and it shows.  As the title clearly states, Ricki and Abby are in favor of as natural a birth as possible and they are completely up front about this.  There is absolutely no attempt to hide their agenda and engage in scare tactics.

One of the things that I most appreciated about “Your Best Birth” is that the real agenda was not to push natural birth, but to get women informed about their choices in childbirth and what options there are other than traditional hospital birth, as well as the pros and cons of various procedures.  Far from denigrating things like induced labor and epidurals, Abby and Ricki listed the benefits and risks of these procedures, listing times when these would be valid or beneficial treatments and times when they are not necessarily in the best interest of mother and child.  They recognized the need for women to make their own decisions, and were never negative about women who make different choice than they would themselves.  In addition, they seemed to cover every birth and labor (as far as I can tell, since I will be giving birth for the first time in the next month or two).  Following are the chapter headings, so you can see the breadth of what they cover:

  1. Not Your Mama’s Birth Plan
  2. Your Best Birth Place
  3. Obstetricians: Finding Dr. Right
  4. Midwives: Not Just For Hippies Anymore
  5. Doulas: Labor’s Love
  6. The Guest List: Birth as a Private Party
  7. For Sexual Abuse Survivors, a Healing
  8. Epidurals: You Haven’t Got Time for the Pain
  9. Inductions and Pitocin; Let’s Get This Party Started
  10. Electronic Monitors: Reading Between the Lines
  11. Episiotomies, Vacuums, and Forceps: The (Un)Kindest Cut
  12. Cesarean Sections and VBAC: To C or Not to C
  13. Loving Your Labor
  14. Bonding With Baby

My only real problem with this book is that it wasn’t published 9 months ago when I was just thinking about getting pregnant.  I might have done more research to choose a hospital with a lower C-section rate (ours is 40%, above the national average of 31%, although my obstetrician’s practice has a lower average than that).  I also would have known the questions to ask my health care provider and hospital so that I can have the sort of birth I want – in fact, I’d know what on earth my options even are, as not too many of my friends have had babies yet.  However, even knowing that it is likely that my birth at this hospital may not be what I would now consider my ideal after having learned all my options, this book still calmed many of my anxieties about labor, just by fully explaining what would be happening and what choices I have.

I would highly recommend this book to pregnant women, those thinking of becoming pregnant, and partners of pregnant women.  At the very least, it is a great start to thinking about how you want your birth to be, instead of simply going with the flow at the hospital.  And even if it is too late to incorporate some of Abby and Ricki’s ideas into your birth plan, you can still come away from this book feeling empowered (in a totally non-cheesy way) and confident about giving birth.  I may be giving this as gifts to pregnant friends in the future.

Buy this book on Amazon.

9 comments to Your Best Birth – Book Review

  • I know what I’m going to give as a gift the next time one of my friends or relatives are pregnant. This sounds great.

    Beth F’s last blog post..Monthly Wrap Up: April 2009

  • Kathy

    Sounds like a great book. I think one of the worst things about being pregnant was being subjected to everyone’s horror stories about labor and delivery. I’m not sure why people do that because everyone’s birth experience is different.

  • I watched The Business of Being Born and thought it was so interesting (and amazing)…there is so much stuff we don’t know! I would imagine that the book is similar in how it talks about how many hospitals and doctors (maybe not intentionally) have almost taken birthing away from women and have convinced them that they don’t know how to do it and therefore can’t do it! Hearing the women who went through natural deliveries was inspiring as they felt that they value their bodies that that they could do anything, rather than the other way around, which I think a lot of modern women feel.

    Sarah’s last blog post..Orange and Blue

    • I haven’t watched The Business of Being Born yet, but I imagine that they are quite similar. I think this is sort of like the action plan that came out of the documentary. You should definitely buy (or borrow from me) this book when you’re ready for it, I loved all the lists and such.

  • MJ

    I knew about the documentary film, but I did not know about the book. I wish I had. I myself have about four months left before baby girl arrives.

    MJ’s last blog post..FIRST: New York Debut by Melody Carlson

  • Have you read Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth? She is the queen of America’s midwives, basically, and about half the book is nothing but really positive stories of women having natural births. My sister gave me her copy when we decided to start trying – I had been so nervous about giving birth and this book just made me so happy about what a positive experience it could be.

    (Of course, a year later and I’m not pregnant, but that’s a whole other story.)

    Lorin’s last blog post..Advertising Joan Didion in 1970

  • Great Review! I am actually giving away 5 copies of this book right now at my blog.

    Cher’s last blog post..”Your Best Birth” Book Review & Giveaway – 5 Winners! (Ends 6/2) US/Canada only

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