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Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor's Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices [Paperback]

Sarah Buckley , Ina May Gaskin
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 2 2008
An authoritative guide to natural childbirth and postpartum parenting options from an MD who home-birthed her own four children.

Sarah Buckley might be called a third-wave natural birth advocate. A doctor and a mother, she approaches the question of how a woman and baby might have the most fulfilling birth experience with respect for the wisdom of both medical science and the human body. Using current medical and epidemiological research plus women's experiences (including her own), she demonstrates that what she calls "undisturbed birth" is almost always healthier and safer than high-technology approaches to birth. Her wise counsel on issues like breastfeeding and sleeping during postpartum helps extend the gentle birth experience into a gentle parenting relationship.

Frequently Bought Together

Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor's Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices + Ina May's Guide to Childbirth: Updated With New Material + Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation
Price For All Three: CDN$ 49.08

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Product Description

About the Author

SARAH BUCKLEY, MD, is an internationally known authority on natural birthing and parenting choices. She has published numerous articles in Mothering magazine and Midwifery Today. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.


How long did it take you to write this book?Around ten years since I wrote the first material, and around 9 months to rewrite and put it all together.What was the hardest thing about writing a book?Combining it with looking after 4 children When did you know you were a writer?When I was 10, I told my class teacher I wanted to be an author! Favorite childhood book?I was a precocious reader, I read Jane Eyre at age 10 and loved Wuthering Heights.If you had to boil your book’s message down to one sentence, what would it be? Trust your body, trust your baby, follow your instincts What are you working on now? A commissioned report on the hormonal orchestration of labor If you had a superpower, what would it be? Sorting things out on every level, which includes a special talent for removing embedded hair ties from Barbie hair. 

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
By Lamb
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an incredible book for someone who is seriously thinking about their birth options. It is not a sit down and read endless warm and fuzzy or even traumatic birth stories of other women. We have been told over and over each one is a unique experience and so this book speaks of the science behind what is happening. It is written so you can understand where you are able to effect the outcome of your unique experience and where you might not have much say at all. I loved it (being a person who wants to know more about anything I am interested in) and my husband was very happy to listen to me as I shared my new knowledge with him. Now, it is not just a science book, it is written for the truly curious who thirst for more knowledge but it is not cold and there are the stories of her births contained within it as well to make it more personal. To sum it up, a very enriching in knowledge rather than just stories of other women's experiences make this my go to book for my first pregnancy. I will recommend it to any patient of mine who is seeking more information about their bodies and how they work.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Informative Book Nov. 23 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found the book to be a bit of a hard read. Sort of textbook like. I found all the references to studies and statistics a little distracting. That said there is a lot of great information in the book about hospital births and procedures.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 23 2014
By Lisa
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great book, so much information.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read but VERY well worth it Jan. 15 2011
By Megan
For those mothers-to-be that are looking for some evidence based, current, unbiased literature to help them decide or offer support regarding hard decisions about (what will be) the most important event in your life to date. TOO often people go forth with child birth assuming that your body will be able to do it without preparation and that the standards implemented in hospitals are the best for baby and mom. When in reality these practices are often outdated, misguided and have the interest of the doctors/hospitals/healthcare business in mind rather than mom, baby and their relationship.
Dr Buckley (MD) provides detailed information in a well laid out manner that examines pros, cons and alternatives to popular topics such as home births vs birthing centre vs hospitals, epidurals, pain medications during labour, monitoring practices, vitamin K injections, cesareans, breastfeeding, co-sleeping etc.
Some of the information can be a "heavy read" but even a lay person can tease themselves thru the information at hand and take from it what they will. She also includes her own personal experiences which to me gave the remaining scientific content an even greater meaning as she is obviously a very caring mother and doctor who can speak/write from a great deal of clinical and personal experience.
It was very useful to my family during my pregnancy and i will highly recommend it to my friends, family and patients going forward.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
138 of 164 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just a Little Too "Out There" for Most Readers Jan. 7 2009
By Mama Bee - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Let me start out by saying that I really appreciate Sarah Buckley and the work she's done. I have read some of her articles in various places and was SUPER excited to get this book.

Also, I am a proponent of natural birth and mothering. I have given birth at home (on purpose!), am tandem nursing my infant and toddler, practice sleep sharing via Family Bed, etc., so I was definitely coming to this book with an open, even eager, mind.

That being said, by the time I had read through the author's 4 birth stories, the story of her son's placenta and the narrative of her breastfeeding experiences (all of which are included scattered throughout the book, highlighted in gray), I knew this wasn't the book I was hoping for.

While much of the information Sarah shares in this book is well-researched, informative, and enlightening, there is too much sort of mystical, magical, spiritualism present, as well as an advocacy of practices that are so unconventional as to be considered "fringe", for it to be an all-purpose guide to natural birth and mothering.

I think most readers looking for a basic guide to natural childbirth will be turned off by some a the more bizarre, New-Agey stuff in this book, and might therefor conclude that something like natural birth or homebirth is only for a "certain type" of person, one who draws large pastel mandalas in preparation for birth and during pregnancy uses "Brazilian rhythms and hip swirls to spiral [an] ambivalent baby deeper into [one's] pelvis."

While I respect Ms. Buckley's decisions regarding her own births, I can't help but feel that someone reading about her decision to give birth without outside assistance and to forgo any prenatal medical care, including blood pressure tests, might not feel too confident about the advice given in this book. Maybe I'm just not "there" yet, but I can't quite head into pregnancy and birth "[trusting] my body and my baby to tell me, through feelings, dreams, and impulses, what was needed." (Of course, it helps that both the author and her husband are M.D.'s, which made the footling breech birth of their baby with a non-pulsating cord somewhat less dangerous.)

I appreciated Sarah's description of all the wonderful things her son's placenta did for him while he was in utero. However, keeping the placenta attached to the baby after birth (tucked into a velvet bag and taken out regularly to be dried and salted) until it fell off naturally (so-called "lotus birth") is, well... gross.

All in all, there are some great parts to this book - I especially love the chapter on "Love, Attachment and Your Baby's Brain" and on safe sleep-sharing. And while a certain select population of pregnant women and mothers will find everything in this book to be up their alley, I can't help but think that most will find it too "out there" to be helpful. I certainly can't see myself loaning it out to pregnant friends the way I have with Henci Goer's "The Thinking Woman's Guide to Better Birth." I would say try that one instead, or even the Sear's "Birth Book."
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Childbirth Book Jan. 24 2009
By BNA - Published on
I love this book. It is my favorite childbirth book for many reasons. I love the fact that it is a collection of articles which makes it super easy to read. Dr. Buckley's wisdom is priceless. I am a childbirth educator and doula and I recommend this book to all of my students and clients. In my opinion there is no better childbirth book! She opens you to a new way of thinking. I know I began to question things that are considered standard in maternity care and made different choices than I would have without the knowledge gained through her book. Her insight into the hormones in labor and breastfeeding is profound! I use her book when I teach my classes and draw on it for doula clients as well as my own pregnancies. It goes beyond childbirth into breastfeeding and parenting as well. You learn on many different levels. Thank you Dr. Buckley a hundred times over for finally getting this amazing book published in the USA so more women can benefit from the wisdom it contains!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authoritative, truthful, compassionate Oct. 7 2009
By Robin Grille, psychologist, author - Published on
I love Sarah Buckley's book! It accomplishes a rare feat: combining a compassionate voice with the weighty authority that a practising doctor and meticulous researcher can bring to her subject. Sarah's book is a treasure-trove. For anyone who cares about the critical formative period of child development from conception to early childhood, it delves beyond the sentimental to provide a formidable data-base, as practical as it is touching and inspiring.

As a father I found Sarah's book brilliant and a pleasure to read.
As a psychologist in private practice, parent-educator and author, her book has been one of my most valued and oft-quoted resources.

I doubt that anyone who reads Sarah's book could ever again choose a hospital birth with obstetric intervention (unless there are clear medical complications). Reading left me feeling angry that the many psychological and medical risks presented by today's obstetric excesses have been so heavily downplayed by the industry. Why weren't we told? On the other hand, Sarah has presented clear neurological and endocrinological evidence of the blissful beginnings that natural and gentle birth, and gentle parenting, can bring about. Her book paves the way to a far more loving world.

The great gift of Buckley's book is that she relieves parents of a century of needless and baseless iatrogenic fears: fear of pregnancy, fear of birth, fear of babies, fear of the body. The reward is a font of natural, undisturbed hormonal bliss; for mothers, newborns, and even for fathers. Buckely's extraordinary book midwives the birth of a new, healthier, and more loving culture.

Robin Grille, psychologist, author
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best pregnancy/childbirth books Jan. 26 2009
By Brenda Stone - Published on
I have loaned this book to many people with different backgrounds and beliefs - doctors, account executives, homesteaders, home birthers, hospital birthers - and all have thoroughly enjoyed the book and found something helpful and useful. For me personally, this is a valuable resource because it does give a different and totally valid viewpoint than the standard American medicalized pregnancy/birth.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, powerful, profound, painstakingly researched: GBGM is my FAVORITE book on birthing Dec 13 2012
By Only Sometimes Clever - Published on
I felt the need to chime in my support for this book. I'm a semi-crunchy mother of five -- many things I have learned and chosen in my mothering would be highly supported by the attachment parenting camp, and quite a few simply would not. I am also a committed, practicing Christian. I've had five, all-natural, unmedicated hospital births, and am planning a home birth for my sixth -- not because I've had rotten hospital experiences, but rather because I have learned a bit more with each birth and am convinced that the best way to ensure that this, likely my last birth, is absolutely peaceful and perfect is to have my child at home. It is becoming increasingly difficult within hospital culture, even with a fabulous, naturally-minded care provider to have a truly natural hospital birth.

I particularly appreciate Dr. Buckley's book because she, like myself, is both fully spiritual AND fully science-minded. I respect the fact that Dr. Buckley lays out her spiritually-based opinion and experience and then BACKS IT UP with hard science. There are a solid SIXTY PAGES of end notes. One chapter alone has 294 end notes!! This is, by far, the best-researched birthing book I've ever read, and I have read dozens.

In fact, of those dozens of books I've read, many start to sound the same after a very short while. Many other books on birthing rely heavily on the same stories, the same research, and similar experiences. This was the first book I've read on birthing in a very long time that had NEW, PROFOUND, and RELEVANT information about birthing and mothering. It is a unique and powerful book on many levels.

Instead of being a how-to on birthing, it's more of a "why" book. Why choose one practice over another? Why are ultrasounds possibly harmful? Why are narcotics during birth so potentially harmful, both in the short-term and long-term health of mother and baby? Why is the use of Pitocin so destructive to the natural hormonal processes of birth? Dr. Buckley doesn't just tell readers what to do, she tells us, very clearly, why one choice is helpful (even necessary!) and why another choice is likely harmful. In addition to that, she gives personal anecdotes about her own experiences with birthing and mothering that further support her empirical research, and show a mother how those scientific facts can play out in a very spiritually profound way.

It's pretty clear that the author is a practicing Zen Buddhist. I'm not. However, I find that my discoveries have matched the doctor's experience: The radical experience of a natural birth is the perfect marriage of mind/body/science WITH our spiritual/deep/intangible side. I found it pretty easy to make the shift, mentally, when the author talks about the soul of her child flying down from the stars into me visualizing, instead, the soul of my child being lovingly created by God my Father, and being deposited into the growing life of my baby, in utero. And so on. If the "language" of Dr. Buckley's spiritual voice doesn't fit with your own, feel free to substitute your own beliefs in the places where yours doesn't match up with hers!

There is no ONE perfect book on any topic. Like any book, you chew the meat, and throw out the bones. If there is a story in the book that doesn't click with you, it doesn't negate the hundreds -- or even thousands -- of other bits of useful, profound information. It's the mark of a strong mind that can consider something, hold it in one's thoughts, sift it, and then say, "That particular part is not for me," without throwing out the rest of the book or giving it only two stars. So, if that's what you need to do when reading this book, please do so, but still PLEASE READ THE BOOK.

So, to sum up, my stance is that you don't have to be completely aligned with Dr. Buckley's spiritual beliefs, birthing practices, or mothering practices in order to benefit mightily from this unique and powerful book.
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