Confident Birth is an attractive book with a well-argued premise that empowering women with confidence in their own bodies and a good understanding of what happens during birth is a deeply positive move. Heli asks why we should be so afraid of childbirth, when maternity care has never been better; perhaps a quick dip into Birth & Sex would provide some insight: Kitzinger points out that we may have medically safer outcomes, but the psychological experience of contemporary childbirth may be something to fear. Heli focuses on the modern expectation of painless instant gratification in a consumer society, and explores the role of pain in labour, to help women develop tools and strategies for listening to their bodies and making positive decisions.
The first section of the book explores our attitude to pain and childbirth, with some exercises for the pregnant women, and short birth stories to illustrate her points. The second section offers four tools for coping with pain in labour, and the third section offers useful guidelines for the support person.
Confident Birth is aimed at the pregnant woman who wishes to prepare herself for a positive experience of birth. It uses language of empowerment and trust in the body and the instincts. It skirts the mystical, and while occasionally idealising labour (for example, describing it as “something to deepen our emotional intelligence” p.19), Heli does not demonise intervention. The gentle, encouraging tone makes it highly suitable for expectant parents; there is a good clear description of what labour is actually like, including physical and emotional sensations, and what the woman might need at different stages. It would also make an excellent handbook for a birth doula.
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