Book Review: Birthing From Within

Birthing From Within

I’ll be honest, I never really understood Birthing from Within.  I’d seen it recommended a million times over as the number-one-must-read-book-on-natural-childbirth, so it was actually the first one I checked out after I got my positive pregnancy test.

Then I opened it up and…I didn’t get it.  It was very focused on visualization of the birth.  My hopes for the birth, my vision of what it would feel like emotionally, that kind of thing.  It had activities in each chapter that required me to draw pictures of what I felt about birth and that is so not me it’s not even funny.

I was that kid in daycare who, during arts and crafts time, did the bare minimum creative output required so I could go back to reading books or pretending to be a horse running through the field (don’t laugh, it was actually a lot of fun, and since I didn’t have a real horse it was the best I could do).  I don’t really do drawing, my stick figures are so grotesque my four year old niece once remarked that she was proud of my good effort but that my drawing looked nothing like a human being.

For this book to expect me to express myself through drawing was laughable to begin with.  But then it took it a step further by asking me to sit and spend time contemplating what my hopes for the birth were, and imagine how I might feel.  How I visualized birth.

I’d never had a baby before, so for me to try to sit down and figure out how it might make me feel was completely unrealistic.  I have a fantastic imagination, but this was pushing it.  There’s no way I could have ever imagined reaching a point in my labor where time ceased to exist, where the gap between contractions would stretch for years, where I would cease to exist completely while the contraction hit me like a lightning strike.  I had no way of conceptualizing the incredible feeling of pushing Aidan’s head out, when it felt like I was literally giving birth to a planet.

As a childbirth newb, I was looking for boots-on-the-ground information about what labor would be like, what to expect, how to prepare.  This book was asking me to get in touch with the emotions surrounding birth, but I didn’t have any yet so I didn’t find it particularly helpful.

I discussed the book with one of my midwives once, and she nodded and said the book seemed most helpful to moms who had already had babies and were maybe recovering from a traumatic first birth experience.  This makes sense to me.  If my first birth had been traumatic, I could easily see wanting to sift through those emotions before embarking on my next labor adventure.

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Birthing From Within

  1. I haven’t read it, but I flipped through it at the bookstore and it looked weird to me. I didn’t have a traumatic first birth, but I did have some emotions to sift through and I really don’t think personally that drawing pictures would have helped me. Maybe that works for some women though? I know I’ve talked to plenty of women online who are dealing with emotions from births where they had unnecessary interventions pushed on them, or an “unnecesarean”, or were treated poorly by doctors or nurses. I don’t see how drawing pictures would help, but whatever works I guess!

    P.S. Oh, the pretending to be a horse thing! I totally remember that. Do you remember when you turned 12 (or… 11?) and decided for a day that you were too old to play with the rest of us kids, so you left us and ran around in the field like a (very grown up) horse during recess? That still cracks me up! :D

  2. -Kelly O., Some people express themselves through drawing, and I think this would be very helpful to them. I guess you and I just aren’t those kinds of people. Oh man, I don’t remember that particular episode, but what are old friends for if not to remind you of the embarrassing crap you did when you were younger? ;)

  3. Thanks for the “antirecommendation.” I was looking into some books for natural childbirth (just to educate myself and be informed to make the decision)(even though we just got engaged and aren’t going to try until after the wedding)(yay for being type a!) and dear Amazon kept recommending this one.

    My biggest worry is that I can read all I want about childbirth and still not be prepared for how I personally will respond to the experience. I don’t want to be disappointed in myself if I end up caving and asking for drugs.

  4. -Txtingmrdarcy, CONGRATULATIONS ON GETTING ENGAGED!!!!! So happy for you, chica! The thing with natural childbirth is, you have to really love it. It has to be something you feel deep down is right for you, your husband, and your baby. If you’re committed to it, and it just feels right to you, you’ll do whatever it takes to see it through.

    A great book I read, which I’m going to review next, was written by a midwife and she wrote something that really encouraged me when I was preparing to get pregnant. She said that in all her 40 years of catching babies, and all the thousands of births she’d attended, she had never had to take a mom to the hospital because of unmanageable pain.

    That said, I know myself well enough to know that when my back’s to a wall, and I have no other options, I’m capable of extraordinary things. If there’s an out, though, I will sometimes take that out. That’s a large part of the reason I chose to have Aidan at a free-standing birth center. There were absolutely no pain meds at that facility whatsoever, so I knew that getting an epidural was never even an option. Knowing that an epidural wasn’t even an option gave me the focus I needed to really rock natural childbirth.

    As for knowing how you personally will respond to childbirth, that’s an easy one: You won’t know until you’re there. But your body will tell you exactly what it needs, and you’ll just be along for the ride until you reach that awesome haze of endorphins and couldn’t think about anything even if you wanted to :)

  5. On the other side, I was exceedingly happy to finally get my epidural on Saturday. Being in hard labor when they don’t have a birth or operating room available for you is a BITCH!

  6. -Blanche, Dude, laboring in a hallway sounds awful. I doubt I would have been comfortable enough to do natural childbirth if I’d been in a hallway either ;)

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