Emma Mills, Louise Taylor. Independently Published, 2018. 162 pages. £7.99 (pbk). ISBN: 978-1723806346
Everything about this book is unique, from its beautiful illustration on the cover to the notion of a collection of birth stories that are not instructional, but a full celebration of birth, which show that labour and birth can be a happy and indeed enjoyable experience. I have not read anything that shows, to the extent that this book does, the birth journey in such a natural and positive light.
The book comprises of 28 different birth stories from women who gave birth with the midwifery led unit of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board in Wales. This book is dedicated to the women whose stories are in the book, their children, the families who support them and the midwives and nurses who care for them. This is very much who the book is also aimed at. The authors, Mills and Taylor, state that the book was written to try to redress the balance of negative, often horror stories that women hear when they are expecting, particularly from the press and social media. To that end they have more than achieved their goal in the publication of this book.
Quite honestly, I devoured this book in an afternoon! However, the format is ideal to dip in and out of at your leisure as each story stands alone as well as part of the collective. Each of the book’s chapters are named according to the children whose birth story they relate to, eg Marnie, Evie, Oliver etc, and they are written in the mother’s own words. This really conveys the full emotion of birth and makes it feel like you know each of the women in turn. It is almost as if you are having a friendly natter with a group of women over coffee which makes the book incredibly accessible.
Overall, I felt very much buoyed to see a book such as this available in today’s climate of negativity around childbirth. So often the focus is on pain, pain relief and safety when discussing labour and birth; in Your birth, that takes a backseat. The book focuses instead on the relationship between the women and the midwife, the impact of being informed and feeling secure regardless of what is happening. Most importantly it shows that the process of giving birth is not all about the end result of a baby but also about the woman giving birth, how she feels and what she is experiencing in order to bring this new life into the world. The stories show that the whole, natural process of birth can be an enjoyable, exhilarating experience for women and allows women to be open about enjoying their birth.
The fact this book is only £7.99 is an added bonus. I would endorse it to anyone who is pregnant and interested in birth or who works in a caring capacity as there is so much to take from it. I will certainly be buying this book for all my expectant friends and family in the future to reassure them that birth is more peaceful and pleasant than TV dramas make it out to be. I certainly hope that the follow-up book, previewed at the end, sets a precedent and can start to redress the balance and over time help bring the rates of tocophobia and pregnancy anxiety back down.
Reviewed by Sandra Georgina Moffat, MA History, currently first year MA Midwifery, Napier University.
© MIDIRS 2019.
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