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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I went from being terrified to feeling empowered
I have always been really scared of the birthing process. After reading this book, I felt much more empowered and confident about the whole process. Now I am really looking forward to it and feel like I understand so much more about how our bodies naturally can help us through birthing. This book sparked my interest and now I have learned a lot more about natural,...
Published on July 10 2003

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational, Informative, but fell short for me
When I was pregnant with my first child I read, believd, and greatly enjoyed this book. I felt so prepared for my home birth attended by a midwife, and was so sure everything would work out....
To make a long story short, everything doesn't always work out great with home birth like the beautiful stories tell. I had to transfer to the hospital, and had a miserable...
Published on Oct. 19 2002 by Rachel E. Watkins


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I went from being terrified to feeling empowered, July 10 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Gentle Birth Choices (Paperback)
I have always been really scared of the birthing process. After reading this book, I felt much more empowered and confident about the whole process. Now I am really looking forward to it and feel like I understand so much more about how our bodies naturally can help us through birthing. This book sparked my interest and now I have learned a lot more about natural, drug-free birthing options. I am excited instead of scared. As with anything, we still need to make our own personal decisions about how we want to do things, but I really feel like reading this book opened me up to many options that I wasn't aware of or hadn't considered. It amazes me how many people go through being pregnant and birthing with a very limited view of how it "should be done". When I was reading the book, there were so many times where I thought, "yeah, that makes a lot of sense", even though I had never thought about it myself.
I highly recommend this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for every expecting parent!!!, Oct. 30 2002
By 
Jennifer A. McFarland "jnnfmcfrl" (Poconos PA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gentle Birth Choices (Paperback)
This is an excellent book. The pictures are gorgeous, as usual Suzanne Arms has done terrific photography, and the descriptions of childbirth are pretty acurate. I must state though that every woman's experience of childbirth will be her own and be different so just because someone's childbirth was one way as described in this book it does not mean it will happen the same way for you. Technocratic birth is still the norm throughout the country and it is important to read books like this to prepare yourself should you be considering a hospital birth. The writer has obviously had a bad experience in the hospital, but many people have and I admire her wanting to share her experience as a warning to others. In my last hospital birth in 1999 I too was subjected to many of the interventions I did not want, for the third and final time I gave birth in the hospital. Never again. I wish I had read this back in 1995 before I had my first son and maybe things would have been different. Hospitals are for sick people, not pregnant women who are low risk. Also, someone else who reviewed here made some mention of a baby having an umbilical cord wrapped around its neck as a reason for c-sec, but that is not necessarily true. It is a small matter to unwrap a cord from around an infants neck as it is being born...I know as this happened with my son at his birth at home this past spring. If I had been in the hospital...would they have cut me open? Who knows?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the read, keep an open mind, Dec 25 2001
By 
Jennifer Nunemacher (Nederland, CO United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gentle Birth Choices (Paperback)
I would like to say that first of all, I agree with the previous reader from Austin (who rated this book a 1 out of 5 stars) only in that the author definitely has a strong bias against the medical establishment. The bias is so severe it does at times appear as a chip on her shoulder and she is so against modern medicine that she argues against any involvement with doctors at all. And I also agree that her choice of pictures/illustrations do seem overly dated given the publication date. (I actually had no idea that it was published as recently as 1994. I definitely perceived a 1970s feel.)
Given that, I would still say that the basic points of her information are worth considering. A natural birth is natural. In the normal situation of birth, the body is able to handle the huge amounts of stress that it experiences. And a woman's mind CAN be capable of cooperating with the body. The author also gives anecdotal evidence that the mind is also capable of working against the body. Basically, a natural birth is a whole experience and all components of the woman must work together to get the most out of such a tremendous experience. Her body, mind, emotions, and social support system must work in agreement and any conflict may cause problems or delays.
I read this book earlier this year after resolving to start a family. I read it a full 9 months before I actually became pregnant. At first, I was very convinced that natural birth is the only way. But after 9 months of contemplation, I now believe natural birth is the best way, but not the only way. Perfectly normal and happy families are created through less natural processes. And I still have another 8 months to dwell on my own choice for the birth of my first child.
So my goal is to start from an ideal birth plan that is natural, but safe, and then I can determine where I am willing to accept changes. After all a healthy baby and a healthy mom is what is ultimately important, right? Sure it may be better for my baby to be born drug free. And it may be better for me to nurse my newborn immediately and upon demand the whole time I am in the hospital so that we may bond as soon as possible. But it is also better if I never eat cheetos or pizza, and I can live with myself if I indulge in that occasionally.
So here's my bottom line. If you're considering a natural birth method and want some stories and a varied picture of what types of options are available, definitely read this book. But read it with some salt (as several other reviewers have said). Be critical and objective of all that you read. Likewise, be just as critical and objective of what your OB and doctors tell you. Be an informed medical consumer and I think you will be happy with a healthy baby, however she arrives. Good luck!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Will help you make pro-active decisions about your birth, July 14 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Gentle Birth Choices (Paperback)
This is absolutely a lovely book. When I first became pregnant, I assumed that when it came time to birth to my baby, I would check into a hospital, get my epidural, and have my baby. However, as the months past and I began to appreciate the tiny individual inside me, I started to get curious about the entire process of child-bearing and birth. This particular book is slightly biased against American Obstetrics, but with good reason. I would advise all pregnant women to read this book, whether this is your 1st pregnancy or your 5th: but do read it with a grain of salt. Our medical establishment, for the most part, is interested in what's best for us and our babies. But this book can help those of us who haven't experienced birth, or had an unsatisfying birth experience previously, to educate ourselves on the birth process in order to make informed, sound decisions about what birthing method is best for us and our babies. I strongly recommend purchasing this book with the accompanying video-the video is excellent: informative and high-quality. It shows several different women actually birthing their babies. The way those babies (free from the sedative effects of narcotic or epidural anesthesia) respond to their parents and the others around them immediately after birth will awe you!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational, Informative, but fell short for me, Oct. 19 2002
This review is from: Gentle Birth Choices (Paperback)
When I was pregnant with my first child I read, believd, and greatly enjoyed this book. I felt so prepared for my home birth attended by a midwife, and was so sure everything would work out....
To make a long story short, everything doesn't always work out great with home birth like the beautiful stories tell. I had to transfer to the hospital, and had a miserable birth experience with my first child. After reading this book I was so built up for a wonderful experience. I still had a healthy baby, and no major complications.
I think this is a good book to read, if taken with a grain of salt. A home birth would be a wonderfull thing, as would a birth center, or an OB who was behind natural birth(the choices which are given the most credit). Unfourtunatly, in practice there are people who have difficulties with birthing, and I feel this book failed to address that, and went overboard on the 'woman-power'/have faith in your body/you can do it aspect. If you choose a home birth, this can be a wonderfull thing to do. But it is best to have a back up plan, just in case.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really comprehensive, July 6 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Gentle Birth Choices (Paperback)
If you don't like the "normal" childbirth paradigm, then this book offers a good review of some other options. It especially covers water births and has good information on the advantages of water births.
However, the sections that talk about common obstetrical practices are very poorly written. They are exageratted, and undocumented, and don't take into account anything that doesn't support the focus of the book.
Overall I enjoyed reading it, and recommend it for women who want more choices in childbirth. But I also recommend that you read other books as well. If you only have time for one book, don't read this one. Read "The Thinking Womans Guide to a Better Birth" by Henci Goer.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag, April 21 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Gentle Birth Choices (Paperback)
I wanted to give this book one star for my immediate reactions to it. I opened to the page where she discusses how harmful the narcotics given during childbirth for pain can be to the baby. I have a unique situation - I have a medical condition that has required pain management throughout my pregnancy (with narcotics prescribed by my specialist, with full support of my OB & Midwife). I will also have a planned c-section for medical reasons. So this book, rec'd as a gift, is not a good one for someone in my position with medical issues.
I have done a lot of research and consulted with a number of health care professionals who have assured me that the medications I am taking will not harm by baby. Do I know for certain? No. Were these decisions undertaken lightly? No. But, given my situation and the best available medical information, these were the choices and recommendations I have followed. These are choices not at all supported by this book. This is not a book for women who require medical management and intervention in order to be able to have a baby in the first place.
As a previous reviewer noted, there is also some misinformation in the book. The hospital where I will deliver has 27% of deliveries attended by midwives (and they deliver about 10,000 babies a year!). Rooming-in is encouraged, even for c-sections. On my tour, there were 4 babies in the nursery on a full floor (so maybe 25+ babies were with their mommies). I can look up c-section, episiotomy and epidural rates for every hospital in my state, and they are lower than what she quotes in her book (although they do vary by setting).
Another important factor for me is that my health care team consists of both a midwife and an OB, and my wonderful midwife has done almost all my prenatal care even though I will have a c-section. (My OB will perform that). I do think there are ways to have a more empowering experience, even if you need (or want) a more medicalized one. One would not know that from this book. It is hard to find non-judgemental materials for someone needing a c-section, and this book is no exception. Fortunately, my health care providers, partner, family and friends are very supportive!
I also think a woman who opts for pain relief (such as narcotics or epidural) could read this book and feel herself a failure as a woman for choosing that.
On the positive, I do think this book is an excellent resource for information about water birth, water labor, and non-drug labor and delivery. If that is your interest, I think you will find a lot of very useful information in this book. I give it 5 stars for that information.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gentle Birth Choices - Video, April 20 2000
By 
kim greenlee (Ft. Collins, CO) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gentle Birth Choices Set (Paperback)
As a doula, I have not only watched and enjoyed this video, but also shared it with many of my clients. It gives a wonderful view of several different types of births, helping the future parent make educated decisions about the type of birth they want. It also is very realistic in terms of what to expect during labor. I look forward to reading the book after enjoying the video for so long!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for somethings,, May 8 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Gentle Birth Choices (Paperback)
but don't read this if you are only going to read one book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Educators and Parents Benefit from Gentle Birth Choices, March 28 2000
This review is from: Gentle Birth Choices Set (Paperback)
Gentle Birth Choices is an excellent book for all expectant parents, regardless of their birthing intentions (i.e. birth center, home birth, hospital birth, natural birth or water birth). Moreover, childbirth educators of any affiliation will benefit from the information covered in the text and on video.
Gentle Birth Choices is riveting, yet powerful. Barbara Harper guides the reader through a history of birth and birthing procedures, dispels the myths perpetuated by the medical establishment and presents alternatives to hospital birth. However, for those who are unable to birth outside of a hospital, Ms. Harper provides guidance so that the reader may obtain the best, "gentle" birth possible. The book benefits expectant parents in that it presents them with options, some of which they may have not previously considered. Moreover, childbirth educators will not only find the book informative for teaching purposes, but also useful for influencing the medical establishment in a tactful manner.
Like the book, the video is an asset for both expectant parents and educators. Whether you have never seen a birth before or have witnessed thousands, the births contained in the video tape are absolutely beautiful and refreshing, relaxing yet empowering. After watching the video you will want to share it with everyone you know!
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend both book and video! In fact, I've already gone one further -- I purchased it for my cousin who is expecting in April.
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Gentle Birth Choices Set
Gentle Birth Choices Set by Barbara Harper (Paperback - Jan. 1 2001)
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