by William and Martha Sears
At the time I read this book (seven years ago) it seemed very complete and informative to me. The Birth Book covers such topics as how to prepare yourself for birth, both pyhsically and mentally, how to research all your options, how to manage pain during birth, and what the birthing experience might actually be like. It includes lots of medical information as well as first-hand accounts of many different mothers' experiences. Well-illustrated, too. There are quite a few drawbacks, though, which actually make me hesitate to recommend it. First, it's been seventeen years since this book went into print. A lot has probably changed in that time and I'm sure there is better, more up-to-date information out there. Secondly, the authors lean very heavily towards natural childbirth. When I was expecting my first child, I was very interested in natural childbirth and so appreciated reading about doulas, water births, midwives, having your baby at home, etc. However it turns out that going au natural was not the best choice I could have made. The Sears' methods for "managing pain" didn't work for me at all. Theirs is not the only book I read on natural childbirth, nor did I avoid books about traditional hospital methods, so I'm not blaming the book for my expectations. But I do feel that it helped encourage my hopes of doing it all-natural and heightened my uneasiness with interventions and medications. So my suggestion is- if you're a very strong woman and know for sure you want a natural birth, this book is useful. If you're uncertain about it or a first-time mother, be sure you read some other opinions. The Birth Book is really biased in favor of home births (and other alternatives) and rather negative towards hospitals and doctors. Take it all with a grain of salt.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 269 pages, 1994