Book Review: The Big Book of Birth

Review of The Big Book of Birth

Full disclosure: I know Erica Lyon, author of The Big Book of Birth, personally. She taught the newborn care class I took before the birth of my older son, and the sibling preparation class we took before the birth of my younger son. I know her to be a funny, sympathetic, and super-knowledgable woman.

Which is why it's no surprise to me that The Big Book of Birth is such a stellar book. Seriously, this is the book I've been wishing for years had been written about birth. I wish I'd been able to read it before I had my first, and you can bet that this is the book I'll be recommending here on Ask Moxie and giving to all my pregnant friends as a shower gift. Here's what I love about it:

It's unbiased. Erica covers all the current options for birth--location, pain management, interventions. She gives positives and negatives of each option (including some stuff I'd never heard of) and includes stories from women who experienced the things she discusses.

It's practical. She acknowledges that birth doesn't go the way we plan, so we need to be informed so we can make the best decisions possible within the available options. And no judgments about what options you choose.

It's inclusive. This is the only book about birth that I've seen that gives both practical and emotional tips for both the mother and the partner. It's not just a pat on the head for the partner, but a real resource. The sections on counterpressure/massage during labor alone are worth the price of the book. And it's all written in an accessible (but not patronizing) way.

It's smart. I haven't read any other analysis of the increase in the number of c-sections performed in the US that looks at so many different factors and--surprise!--doesn't lay it all at the feet of ignorant women or money-grubbing doctors. She's really looked at the total landscape of health care, the birth industry, societal attitudes, and women's choices and illusions of choice to do an analysis that ultimately helps the reader prioritize a number of different factors.

It's encouraging. Rather than scaring you about how dangerous birth is or patronizing you about how easy it is, Erica emphasizes that it's hard and long and can be scary, but you can do it and the baby will come out one way or another. I mean, you know it, but reading it throughout the book really helps it sink in that this is a job you can and will do.

Of all these positives of the book, the one I think is most important is the lack of bias. Anyone who's read two books from the pregnancy/birth/parenting section knows that everyone's pushing an agenda. It would be silly to say that Erica has no agenda--she does. It's just that her agenda is to make sure every woman is as well-informed as possible to make the choices that are right for her and her baby (and partner, if any) within her own circumstances. And that's an agenda I wish more birth professionals would embrace.

If you haven't had your baby yet, I highly recommend buying this book. And I found it interesting even after having given birth to two babies.