Beverley Turner’s Happy Birth Book was originally conceived as a handbook for people attending her high-end antenatal courses, and covers a huge range of topics in alphabetical order, so that readers may dip in or look up the thing they’re interested in. Hitting the same market at the same time as Clemmie Hooper (and with a matching cover image) and Milli Hill, Turner’s book lands somewhere between the two, closer in tone to Hooper, but in content to Hill. All three focus on active birth, but while Clemmie digresses into shopping lists, Milli and Bev are both encouraging women to get informed and assert their rights in the birthplace.
The Happy Birth Book is good for instructive diagrams, pithy descriptions (she’s especially good on labour), and a few moments of truly gritty realism which made me laugh out loud. There is a lot of ‘Bev’ and therefore a lot of opinion, and rather too much alternative therapy for my personal taste. I wasn’t too impressed by the breastfeeding information, which tends to give the impression that babies can be fed on a regular timetable, that mothers should eat well to maintain a good milk supply, and that breasts need time to fill up between feeds, none of which is scientifically accurate.
The A-Z approach doesn’t feel to me like the most intuitive way to organise the subject matter, and certainly going from skincare to stillbirth to stretch marks is a bit of a bumpy ride. On the other hand, it does make it – as intended – a book you can dip in and out of, and have to hand for extra information as needed. With its cheery, direct tone, it’s a good alternative for readers who might find the more comprehensive Positive Birth Book a bit too dense, and definitely more empowering than most of the mainstream birth books out there.
[Disclaimer: I was sent a free review copy by the author, and also had a lovely chat with her for the July episode of Sprogcast]