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Book Review: Birthing from Within.

Book Review: Birthing from Within by Pam England, CNM, MA & Rob Horowitz, PHD Partera Press, 1998

Perhaps the best way to introduce Birthing from Within is to describe the illustration on the front cover of the book. An unclothed, pregnant woman sits comfortably on a mat in an empty, underground room. She gazes at the light beaming through the hole at the top of the wall. The only way out of the room is for her to climb the ladder placed in front of her--a ladder that stretches up and out of the hole. The illustration prompts the reader's thoughts. "What is she thinking?" "What will the journey up the ladder be like for her?" "Why is she alone?" Here the authors begin to weave the theme that women already "know" a lot about birthing. Our job as educators is to help them to discover and validate that knowledge.

Stemming from the concept that women in labor are not connected to the "outward basics" they are typically taught in birth class, authors Pam England CNM, MA, and Rob Horowitz, PHD, focus instead on the spiritual and emotional experience of birth. They see the need for a woman to tap into that area of herself that will help her to climb the ladder of childbearing--for no one can do it for her.

As ALACE teachers, we begin our series of classes by discussing cultural and personal beliefs and how they affect what a woman "brings into" her birth experience. Birthing from Within complements this philosophy throughout by detailing many creative activities that teachers may use to identify and address these issues. This book introduces a new and fresh venue of examining the mind, heart, and psyche of a birthing couple--birth art. This includes drawing, painting, working with clay, and making a belly cast! Aside from being fun and relaxing, the authors find that this type of expression helps reveal the secret hopes and dark fears of a woman, and in the end, "infuses her with new strength and confidence." Because of how nicely the philosophies dovetail, an ALACE teacher would find it relatively easy to incorporate some of the creative activities outlined in the book into her classes. Don't feel like you have to be a Picasso to facilitate birth art! Many of the drawings displayed in the book are--let's say--raw, but they are also fascinating and insightful.

If you are looking for a book with rigid outlines for mechanically imparting childbirth technique, don't bother to read Birthing from Within. Pam England, instead, encourages us to be "midwives" to the parent's discovery process, identifying needs and preparing mothers to give birth-in-awareness. We have the privilege of unlocking a woman's heart and helping her discover the belongings inside that will effect her birth experience.

The practical side of me was delighted to find the extensive amount of new (as well as tried and true) suggestions for relieving pain in labor. Also, the authors feel that childbirth preparation is parent preparation, and do an excellent job of tying the two together. Appendices A-E furnish worksheets and cut-out reminder cards for pregnant couples. And the title of Chapter 37 is "Don't Give Birth Without a Doula!".

UPCOMING REVIEWS: Hypnobirthing[R], A Celebration of Life by Marie Mongan; Vicki Lanky's Welcoming Your Second Baby and A New Baby at Koko Bear's House; and Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child, by Katie Allison Granju.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Pestlin, Karen
Publication:Special Delivery
Article Type:Book Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 1999
Words:572
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