Book Review: The Positive Birth Book, by Milli Hill
This is an interesting and extremely thorough manual for birth, written by Positive Birth Movement founder Milli Hill, whose passion for improving childbirth shines out of every page.
The obvious comparison is with ‘How to Grow a Baby and Push It Out,’ being published around the same time and for a similar audience. But The Positive Birth Book is much less yummy mummy guidebook and more thinking woman’s handbook, with comprehensive chapters looking in depth at the decisions to make during pregnancy, the experience of labour, different kinds of support, ways of working with pain, and a lot less shopping.
Hill takes a strong evidence-based position, referring extensively to NICE guidelines, and with contributions from other very respectable authorities including Birthrights’ Rebecca Schiller and ABM Chair Emma Pickett. Usually I skip through the personal anecdotes, but they have been used really effectively in this book, breaking up an otherwise non-stop march of densely factual information.
A particular strength of The Positive Birth Book is the chapter describing what labour is “really like.” A tricky subject to cover, given all the possible individual experiences, and inevitably it’s a long chapter with some idiosyncratic but accurate descriptions. Hill goes on to argue the case for writing a birth plan, and she’s right that the process involves some engagement with the subject rather than washing one’s hands of any involvement in what might unfold. This is a difficult case to make, knowing that so many women struggle to come to terms with disappointment and grief when birth doesn’t meet their expectations. There is a good case for providing information and some decision-making strategies, which this book also does. A cute ‘visual birth plan’ tool is also offered.
A final chapter provides a taster of post-birth existence, touching on the fourth trimester concept, some basic but happily accurate information about breastfeeding, and postnatal feelings and changes. Here Hill signposts rather than going into much detail, since this would go beyond the remit of this already very detailed book.
I know that much inspiration and information for The Positive Birth Book was crowd-sourced, and the results have been articulately curated by Milli Hill into a really wonderful resource for pregnant women who are keen to do their research and take ownership of their birth experience.
[Disclaimer: I was sent a free review copy of The Positive Birth Book. You can get it from Pinter & Martin, with a 10% discount if you use the code SPROGCAST at the checkout.]