I loved this book. If I were still teaching a series of natural childbirth classes, I would up my fee by $10.00 to provide each pregnant woman a copy. I know that not all students are readers, but this book is short (122 pages), has plenty of white space, and is written in a friendly, “girlfriend-like,” irreverent, and often funny style. Most importantly, Lauren Rauseo has nailed what it takes to have a medication-free birth in a hospital today. And she does it without scaring the reader to death. The heart of the book comes from her own birth stories which she does not share until the very end of the book. But throughout the book, she shares snippets of her experiences as well as stories and quotes from other mothers who have achieved drug-free births in hospitals.
Ms. Rauseo began her pregnancy under the care of an OB/Gyn and up until about 20 weeks, was somewhat interested in natural childbirth, but “reserved the right to change her mind at any time.” That changed when she was given a copy of Ricki Lake’s, The Business of Being Born, by an acquaintance. Inspired by the movie, she read dozens of books and articles about natural childbirth and became “hooked.” She researched home birth and birth centers, summarizing what she learned in her book. Ultimately she decided that, for her, a hospital birth felt best. She does make it clear that having a home or birth center birth gives the pregnant woman the best chance of having a natural birth. Ms. Rauseo emphasizes that, until after the baby is born, it is not too late to change either birth locations or care providers. She provides the reader guidelines and sample questions to ask when interviewing a care provider and choosing a hospital.
Along with choosing a new care provider (a midwifery practice that included two OB/Gyns) and place of birth, the critical factors that enabled Ms. Rauseo to achieve a drug-free birth were her partner who knew her well enough to say, “No,” when she asked for the epidural, and her doula who provided support to both her and her partner. She also stresses that if you want a drug-free birth, you have to be 100% committed and convinced that you can do it. Turning off the Discovery Channel, listening only to positive birth stories, good childbirth classes, and birth affirmations helped Ms. Rauseo to get there.
I don’t want to describe any more of the book, because I want you to read it for yourself. Ms. Rauseo has chapters on birth plans, dealing with the pain of labor, letting go of the fear, and becoming an advocate for your baby.
Ms. Rauseo is a print designer, not any type of birth professional. Her language and use of slang terms may be off-putting to some older and/or more conservative readers, but is a large part of what makes this book so much fun to read. She definitely did her homework on many topics, providing footnotes with references to popular medical (e.g. Mayo), and childbirth (e.g. Lamaze’s Science and Sensibility blog) and some medical research articles. There are a few points that I disagree with her about such as whether a forceps birth is more dangerous than cesarean surgery (ACOG is encouraging medical schools and residency programs to teach young doctors the safe use of forceps in appropriate cases to bring down the primary cesarean rate); and whether slouching too much during pregnancy increases the risk that the baby is in an unfavorable position during labor (give the pregnant woman a break – the baby changes positions throughout labor); but all in all, I give this book 5 stars (as did all 8 reviewers on Amazon as of June 28, 2014).
I sent the book to a young friend of mine who is pregnant with her first baby and plans to have a natural birth. Three of her friends are due the same week. One is planning a home birth, another a birth with a doula, and the third a birth with an epidural. I’m not sure if the one who is already planning an epidural will read the book, but I can’t wait to hear what the other three think. I’ll let you know.