ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO MAKE WISE DECISIONS ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY AND THE BIRTH OF YOUR CHILD -- FROM THE EDITORS OF THE CLASSIC "BIBLE OF WOMEN'S HEALTH"
Pregnancy and birth are as ordinary and extraordinary as breathing, thinking, or loving. But as soon as you announce you're expecting, you may be bombarded with advice from every angle -- well-meaning friends, relatives, medical professionals, even strangers want to weigh in on what you should or shouldn't do, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed by their conflicting recommendations.
Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth will help you sort fact from fiction, giving you the most accurate research, up-to-date information, and the firsthand experiences of numerous women who have been exactly where you are today. You'll get the tools you need to take care of yourself and your baby during and after your pregnancy, from tips on eating well during pregnancy to strategies for coping with stress and depression. Learn everything you need to know about:
CHOOSING A GOOD HEALTH CARE PROVIDER
SELECTING A PLACE OF BIRTH
UNDERSTANDING PRENATAL TESTING
COPING WITH LABOR PAIN
SPEEDING YOUR PHYSICAL RECOVERY
ADJUSTING TO LIFE AS A NEW MOTHER
OUR BODIES, OURSELVES: PREGNANCY AND BIRTH IS AN ESSENTIAL RESOURCE FOR WOMEN THAT WILL GUIDE YOU THROUGH THE MANY DECISIONS AHEAD.
The Boston Women's Health Book Collective, producer of Our Bodies, Ourselves, has created a separate, superlative guide focusing on pregnancy and birth. It includes current information on making health-care decisions (e.g., choosing a provider and a birth setting), nutrition, labor and delivery, Cesarean birth, recovery, feeding an infant, and life as a new mother. It also addresses special situations such as prenatal testing and pregnancy loss. As with all of the books in this series, a group of contributors made up of health-care providers, academics, and mothers prepared the articles. The information goes beyond the usual pregnancy self-help material by placing childbearing and parenting within a psychosocial and political context. Quotations from women documenting their experiences add depth, and final chapters on advocating for better maternity care and for mothers and families provide both resources and a call for action. A resource guide offers information about books, web sites, and organizations for mothers. This is an excellent book for public and consumer health library collections; highly recommended. [See the collection development article on pregnancy on p. 54.--Ed.]--Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland P.L. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 03, 2008
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Excerpt from Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth by Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Approaching Birth with Confidence
Congratulations! As a pregnant woman planning to bring a new life into this world, you are embarking on an amazing journey.
Pregnancy and birth are as ordinary and extraordinary as breathing, thinking, or loving. Whether you are pregnant for the first time or are already a mother, pregnancy will call on your creativity, flexibility, endurance, and humor. You will face many choices that will affect your pregnancy, birth experience, and life as a new mother. As you consider your options, you'll want to learn as much as you can about your developing pregnancy and various childbirth practices and think about the experiences you hope to have. What kind of care do you want to receive during pregnancy? Where do you wish to give birth? Who would you like to be with you when you are in labor?
Most pregnant women are bombarded with advice from well-meaning friends, relatives, and even strangers. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what you should or shouldn't do, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed by their conflicting recommendations.
This book will help you sort fact from fiction. By drawing on the most accurate research, the personal experiences of many individual women, and the advice of midwives, physicians, and other health care providers, it will give you the information you need to make wise decisions and approach birth with confidence.
CLIMATE OF CONFIDENCE, CLIMATE OF DOUBT
Pregnancy and birth are normal, healthy processes for most women, the vast majority of whom have healthy pregnancies and babies. But when was the last time you saw a newspaper article titled "3.5 Million American Women Had Normal Labors and Healthy Babies This Year" or a TV episode that showed a healthy woman giving birth to a healthy newborn, without a sense of emergency or a heroic rescue?
The media's preference for portraying emergency situations, and doctors saving babies, sends the message that birth is fraught with danger. Other factors, including the way doctors are trained, financial incentives in the health care system, and a rushed, risk-averse society, also contribute to the popular perception that childbirth is an unbearably painful, risky process to be "managed" in a hospital with the use of many tests, drugs, and procedures. In such an environment, the high-tech medical care that is essential for a small proportion of women and babies has become the norm for almost everyone.
Some advocates for childbearing women describe this as a "climate of doubt" that increases women's anxiety and fear. In contrast, a climate of confidence focuses on our bodies' capacity to give birth. Such a climate reinforces women's strengths and abilities and minimizes fear. Some of the factors that nourish a climate of confidence include high-quality prenatal care; healthy food and time to rest and exercise; a safe work and home environment; childbearing leave; clear, accurate information about pregnancy and birth; encouragement, love, and support from those close to you; and skilled and compassionate health care providers. As your pregnancy develops, do what you can to seek out such resources.
When I found out I was pregnant, my blood pressure was a little on the high side. But I had a great doctor who helped me take care of myself and my baby. She knew all the details of my personal problems -- being unmarried, and with a partner who had an addiction problem -- and she treated me with nothing but respect. I think it made all the difference in having a healthy baby. In spite of my difficult circumstances and the stress, I actually had a very good pregnancy and had a lot of love and support.
My husband loved my pregnancy. He'd want to play jazz to my belly and sing to my belly. He'd rub cream on the stretch marks and tell the baby the play-by-play of the baseball game. He and our cat both seemed more protective of me and I felt very loved by my little family of two.
QUESTIONING HIGH-TECH BIRTH
The path to motherhood involves navigating through a health care system that can be complex and sometimes intimidating. While some aspects of maternity care are shaped by economic, social, and political forces that are beyond our individual control, there are things you can do to increase your chances of having a healthy and satisfying pregnancy, birth, and early postpartum period. The following chapters provide advice, support, and resources to guide you as you learn about your pregnancy, seek prenatal care, and face decisions about the kind of birth you want.
As you make these decisions, it's important to understand that some elements of the care most women receive during pregnancy and childbirth are not based on the most reliable research on what is safe and effective. Some high-tech procedures are overused in the United States, while other practices that have been shown to improve birth outcomes are not offered widely.