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StorkNet's Bookshelf
Gentle Birth Choices
A Guide to Making Informed Decisions About Birthing Centers,
Birth Attendants, Water Birth, Home Birth and Hospital Birth

by Barbara Harper, R.N.

In Gentle Birth Choices, Barbara Harper discusses the most miraculous, transformational and mysterious event of our lives, and teaches us how to put the control of this event back into our own hands. We are taken through the history of the medicalization of childbirth, a very enlightening discovery! She dispels many medical myths and shares studies that show why, with normal pregnancies, the hospital is not necessarily "the safest place to have a baby." "The countries," she says, "with the lowest mortality and morbidity rates are those countries where midwifery is an integral part of obstetric care and where home birth is commonly practiced." Barbara explains just what a gentle birth is, how it respects the role of the mother, and that she knows how to birth her child in her own time and in her own way, trusting her instincts and intuition. The experience is peaceful and empowering.

Gentle births take place in homes, birthing centers and in some hospitals that are now creating an atmosphere that responds to the needs and desires of today's women and their families. Barbara takes us through the ingredients that help make up what is considered a gentle birth: preparation, reassuring environment, freedom to move about, quiet, low light, the first breath, the first caresses and more.

Another chapter, devoted to water birth, explains the human alliance with water. We have been bathing in it, baptizing in it, swimming in it and we soak in it to ease discomfort. It stands to reason that water would be soothing during labor. But did you know that water offers a familiar comfort for the infant after the stress of birth? It reassures the child and allows his bodily systems time to organize. During birth, babies often open their eyes, move in all directions and use their limbs. While in labor, a woman relaxing in water is able to change positions with ease; sensory stimulation is reduced; the comfort of water reduces fear and anxiety. We all know that mother and child are intricately linked, so the ease the mother feels in the water is transferred to the infant. Water also imparts elasticity on the tissues of the perineum, reducing the incidence and severity of tearing and the need for episiotomies. Together, mother and infant take comfort in the quietude and relaxation that water births offer.

Gentle Birth Choices also discusses water births in other countries. We are offered a list of FAQs and a chapter devoted to preparation. Affirmations and visualizations are part of a chapter about the mind-body connection. Many beautiful black and white photos are included which capture the essence of gentle birth with great care and warmth. This book truly enlightens, educates, empowers and prepares women for the most glorious and natural event they can experience. StorkNet highly recommends this book for women who are making decisions about their upcoming birth.

Barbara Harper also offers videos for those who would like to witness a gentle birth before making this decision. Visit her website and please let her know that you are from StorkNet! Be sure to stop by and read her interview with StorkNet members.

Book review by Nancy Eggleston

To Purchase:
   • Gentle Birth Choices at Amazon.com
   • Gentle Birth Choices at Amazon UK
   • Gentle Birth Choices at Amazon Canada

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