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Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds Paperback – Mar 17 2011

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  • Ina May's Guide to Childbirth: Updated With New Material
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Common Press (March 17 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558327185
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558327184
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #100,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Cynthia Gabriel is a medical anthropologist, mother of three, and a doula who has attended nearly 100 births. With a PhD from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Post-Doctorate Fellowship from the University of Michigan, Gabriel's research focuses on stress during pregnancy among African American women. She served as Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Center for the Childbearing Year, and runs women's and parents' support groups. Gabriel is also the founder of Growing Together, a Life Learning Center that offers psychotherapy and life coaching services in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she resides.


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a labour doula, this is the book I most highly recommend to my clients.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nice combination of research and implications from a human perspective
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa32a3624) out of 5 stars 230 reviews
568 of 626 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa32ab1bc) out of 5 stars Extremely disappointed Jan. 4 2012
By heatherhammy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had high hopes for this book after seeing all of the positive reviews, but as I read this book I went from feeling a little disappointed to being almost angry at the book by the end. I am a birth doula and I bought this book in hopes of picking up some ideas to help my clients who want/have to have hospital births and still want natural births. I didn't get that at all- and I would even go so far as to recommend that the mommas NOT read this book. I'll try to use some quotes from this book to illustrate what I didn't like.

The first thing I took issue with is the overall tone of this book. Basically it says that in order to get a natural birth in a hospital you just have to stand your ground, tell the doctors that you want a natural birth, and keep asking for "one more hour". This may work well if the staff really is pushing for interventions based on scheduling, doctor preference, etc (as does happen unfortunately), but what about situations where there really is a medical need? This book does not discuss what questions you should ask. Yes, asking for more time (if not an emergency) is good, but what about asking for alternatives, asking about risks of continuing without the intervention, risks of getting the intervention, etc? This book really gave a sense of it's 'us vs. them' in a hospital. Sometimes complications arise, and the most empowering thing the family can do is to make sure they ask the right questions, get what information they need, and make a decision that is right for them (whether or not that is the staff's recommendation) NOT just ask for more time.

I really disliked the line talking about c-sections being "the ultimate manifestation that other people are in control of birth". True, C-sections are over-used and *can* leave a woman feeling like she no longer has control. But this line implies that it's inevitable that a women has lost control as soon as she has a c-section.

The author downplays all possible complications of labor. Again, I think that most (not all) caregivers have lost the trust in women's bodies to do what is best, but sometimes complications do occur. Just pushing for a natural birth regardless of what happens is not necessarily a good idea. For instance, the author recommends that if your water breaks prior to labor beginning that you "don't look at the clock" so that you can't tell the nurses what time your water broke. And that you have to be careful because the doctors might use the words "possible life-threatening infection". Yes, there is a risk of infection after your water breaks. No, it's not a reason to start induction immediately, but this book really gives you the sense that there are no risks.

The author talks about pushing in labor and how "some women push for a few moments, others for twelve hours." Pushing for 12 hours? Really?

The author describes internal fetal monitoring as "using an electrode that is literally screwed into the baby's scalp". The electrode goes a couple millimeters into the skin on the baby's head. Important for the woman to know, but not nearly as bad as the author suggests.

Talking about risks of epidurals: that they can cause "intense headaches that can last for days or even weeks (these are relatively common)" These headaches occur about 1% of the time, and are less likely with epidurals than spinal- not exactly "common". Again- I'm not saying moms don't need to know the risks and this low risk may be enough that she doesn't want an epidural, but phrasing it the way the author did is rather misleading.

The only reason this book got 2 stars instead of 1 is the last chapter- it goes over each of the interventions and strategies (besides just asking for more time) to avoid them. It's actually pretty decent.

I was really disappointed with this book and I don't think it's enough to prepare a mom for a natural hospital birth. Maybe other people got a different sense than I did, but I really feel like this book leaves you feeling that you are against the staff and that they are just there to push you into things you don't want.
94 of 100 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa32ab408) out of 5 stars hesitant to commit to natural birth? read this book! June 8 2011
By I love a bargain! - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Where to begin?? I have one child and am expecting another in a few months. My first labor and delivery was not natural by any means. It was a very typical American hospital birth with plenty of intervention. I didn't find the experience particularly empowering at all. When I found out I was pregnant this time, I started considering the idea of a natural birth. I really didn't think I could do it. My OB said things like "just be flexible, you might change your mind" and "you don't have to be a hero." I doubted my ability to do it without drugs!

Funny that once I picked up this book, I saw Cynthia Gabriel mentioning some of these exact comments I got from my OB as a sign that one's provider was not open or supportive of natural birth. As I read the book, I became more empowered and confident that I could in fact have a natural labor and delivery. And as I was re-reading the book in my 7th month of pregnancy, I decided that I wouldn't have it any other way and set out to change providers and hospitals (at 32 weeks!). I also was able to craft a one-page birth plan by using Gabriel's anecdotes, examples, and suggestions about birth plans. I feel confident that even if I didn't switch providers, I could have the birth I want in any typical hospital.

My husband (a first-time dad) also read the book and found it helpful. He's the type who would go to a birthing class if I dragged him, but not feel comfortable asking questions. He learned a lot from this book, as did I, and it made him also feel empowered in helping and supporting me in my decision!

Love love love this book! I don't know what else I can say to express just how instrumental this book has been for me. I am due in 7 weeks and feeling ready for the challenge. That in itself is a rowsing endorsement, considering only a few weeks ago I wasn't sure I could do it. I highly encourage you to get this book if you are even considering a natural hospital birth!
52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa32ab648) out of 5 stars Best chance to have exactly what the title describes - read this book! Dec 13 2011
By CNMreviewer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As an L&D nurse, turned doula, turned CNM-to-be, I was skeptical about this book to say the least. I've worked in some of the most medicalized environments you can find in the childbirth world, and I know first-hand all the tricks the hospital staff will use to accomplish their goals while potentially robbing the mother of her own. The terms "natural", "hospital", and "childbirth" don't belong in the same sentence with what I've seen in my experiences over the past 8 years. I'm not sure what I expected this book to be, but I'll say I was so very pleasantly surprised. As I begin my midwifery training, I'll say for full disclosure's sake, I want to work as far away from a hospital (theoretically, not physically) as I can. However, this book is a great tool for women who do still desire to give birth in a hospital but without unnecessary medical interventions. Granted, once you set foot in a hospital, there is a decent risk that things might be done to you that you don't want, but this book gives you specific things to do and say to try to avoid them. It gives the proper level of education needed in order to be prepared for the journey that lies ahead in natural childbirth, while not talking over the head of someone who is most likely not medically-trained or well-versed in medical lingo. Procedures and medications are defined and explained simply but thoroughly, along with reasons they might be necessary and times when they clearly are not. I am the first to recommend mothers look into their options of birthing in an out-of-hospital birth center or at home, but for women who continue to desire a hospital birth, this is definitely the book for you.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa32ab8c4) out of 5 stars Very helpful book, I highly recommend it Jan. 10 2012
By autumn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book helped us prepare for our natural birth at the hospital, which happens to be the "high risk" hospital for our area, so the staff are very familiar with interventions, but not as comfortable with natural births, because they don't see many of them. We had to use this hospital because of insurance reasons, so I knew I had my work cut out for me because there was NO way I was letting someone stick a needle in my back (I'm not a fan of needles). Helpful tidbit not in the book: Bring your birth plan in with you, don't leave it in your bag in the car when you are contracting/staggering into the hospital at midnight.

The advice to ask for time was very helpful for my husband. I work health care so I'm used to schedules and routines, but normal childbirth doesn't follow some pre-determined schedule. For those wondering about asking for time in an emergency, when staff is stressed/worried it becomes pretty clear. They will tell you if it is truly an emergency situation, especially if you have made your natural/minimal intervention preferences known. As a patient you have the right to refuse any procedures, but people are intimidated by staff so this reminder gives you a chance to think. The book was helpful with coming up with strategies to plan for different scenarios, including a c-section if it became necessary.

We were very lucky and our daughter's birth was just what I planned. The resident who delivered my daughter had never seen someone push instinctively without coaching (nobody counting to 10). As amazing as it was to become a mother, we also taught the resident things about childbirth he would have never known.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa32ab75c) out of 5 stars Forever Grateful for Giving me the Birth I Wished For... Oct. 18 2011
By Deborah J. Fairman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wish I had read this book prior to my first two deliveries - the idea of an unmedicated birth seemed almost crazy to me at one point in my life - I dismissively thought 'why would someone WANT all that pain?'. I went full speed ahead, young and uninformed into my first pregnancy/delivery. Even as they scheduled my appointment to come in for pitocin two weeks prior to my due date "because baby is too big", I didn't question the system or the doctors providing my care. They were the doctors and if they said the baby was 'too big', I believed them. That day my baby was born, but not because I gave birth to her, I felt like a bystander in the process. Four months of screaming and unexplained 'colic' led me to question whether two additional weeks in the tummy would have made for a less turbulent entry into the world.

Then, I had baby #2 and 'tried' for an unmedicated birth, but was still not informed enough. I knew I didn't want a repeat of my first experience, but I failed to do the research to truly find out how to accomplish that goal. I got to 8 centimeters when the hospital staff basically said, "it's now or never" and I accepted the epidural. Again, I felt something was missing.

Thankfully, I read this amazing book which gave me the roadmap I needed to overcome the culture of fear that I hadn't realized until pregnancy #3 was so prevalent. This book helped me achieve the natural birth I'd wanted and I will be forever grateful to the author for empowering me to take a leap of faith and believe in myself. My child, my husband and I experienced what birth was meant to be. I love to give it as a gift to my expectant mother friends who even hint at wanting to try a natural birth!


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