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."