Feb 19, 2011

Birth Day

A Pediatrician Explores the Science, the History, and the Wonder of Childbirth
by Mark Sloan

I think this is my favorite yet of all the baby/pregnancy books I've read so far this year. Pediatrician and father Mark Sloan examines the miracle of birth in all its myriad ways. There are so many subjects covered in his book, and they were all relevant and fascinating. Drawing on his personal experiences helping deliver babies, on the event of watching his own child being born, on medical studies and historical events, he delves into everything from how childbirth is managed to what the baby itself is experiencing. Some of the topics include: the role of fathers has changed throughout the centuries, how attitudes towards birth have changed through the centuries, methods of pain management, the infant's abilities right after being born, why we have evolved to need so much assistance giving birth (all other primates manage quite fine by themselves), and how newborn health is assessed. Of course, being written by a doctor who worked in a hospital there are quite a few alarming stories of births that go wrong, and lots of details that might tell you more than you ever wanted to know- but for the most part it's a very positive book. It also manages to be un-biased; even when discussing issues that can be controversial like circumcision, alternative birthing options, invasive procedures, the rise of cesarean sections, etc. he always presents the pros and cons quite fairly, leaving the reader to draw her own conclusions. I learned so much that I had never even wondered about before! Like how exactly a baby transitions from living in a dark, aquatic environment to suddenly breathing air and circulating its own blood, or what all those funny reflexes babies have are actually for. Birth Day is on the whole an intriguing, informative and wonderful book, not without plenty of humor as well.

Rating: 4/5 ........ 370 pages, 2009

more opinions at:
Enjoy Birth
Mari Reads


Jenny said...

Sounds interesting! I know if I ever have kids I will become obsessed with reading every disaster-birth story in the world, just so I can feel prepared for whatever happens. :p I'd be interested to hear what Sloan has to say about circumcision -- it's become a big issue lately, whereas for most of my life I never gave it a single thought.

Jeane said...

The circumcision issue took up an entire chapter. I found it quite interesting, as I'd never given it much though myself (not having any sons, or even brothers...) I had no idea there were men who wanted the foreskin restored, for example, or felt violated by having been circumcised as a babe.