The Doula Guide to Birth has something for everyone, the lesbian couple, grandparents, women birthing with disabilities, moms who will be placing their baby for adoption... and some fantastic book recommendations. I loved the focus on pushing "with your body's own rhythm." It reminded me that pushing is often left out of the birth plan. As a VBAC mom I definitely approved of the VBAC section. I also loved the practical stuff, some of my favorites are below:
- How to have a frank conversation with your provider about doulas
- When to really go to the hospital (moving beyond the 311 rule)
- Twelve alternatives to a vaginal exam (another topic that gets fantastic and much needed coverage)
- What to do when your water breaks (finally, a mainstream childbirth book that questions the 24 hour rule!)
- Real talk about birth plans (i.e., just because it is in the plan doesn't mean it will happen)
If I had to change one thing about this book, it would be the section on walking epidurals. While I agree that moms absolutely should know about the position changes possible with an epidural and be supported by hospital staff so that they can squat, etc. with an epidural, I have yet to meet a mom who has actually had a walking epidural. Perhaps if more moms would discuss this option with their care provider before the birth (as the authors suggest) "walking" epidurals would become more prevalent. An advanced training class for doulas (and hospital staff!) that fully covers supporting mom through position changes with an epidural would also be helpful. I would have liked to see more focus on the risks of epidurals but as Ananda Lowe pointed out in an email conversation, there are plenty of books that cover that topic. None-the-less, I might have included a form similar to this Epidural Agreement in the Appendix. And after reading this book, I would definitely pick up a copy of Henci Goer's The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth.
I would also put in a word of caution regarding the use of night nurses or overnight nannies so that you can get some sleep. I am not a breast-feeding expert but I do know that the pump doesn't work for everyone and that the use of a night nurse could potentially affect milk supply. As an alternative, I might also suggest bringing baby to bed or, as the authors do suggest, hiring a post-partum doula (or other help) so that you can sleep when baby sleeps. The BIGGER discussion is how can our culture be more supportive of new moms (paid maternity leave perhaps so that moms don't have to worry as much about night sleep the first month, ok, I digress, that is another post).