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Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor's Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  562 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
An authoritative guide to natural childbirth and postpartum parenting options from an MD who home-birthed her own four children.

Sarah Buckley might be called a third-wave natural birth advocate. A doctor and a mother, she approaches the question of how a woman and baby might have the most fulfilling birth experience with respect for the wisdom of both medical science and t
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 2nd 2008 by Celestial Arts (first published 2005)
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Some aspects of this book were brilliant - I found the explanations of hormones and body chemistry to be incredibly interesting.
Having even a rudimentary understanding of how our bodies are intelligently designed to facilitate birth made me feel much more comfortable with my decision to attempt a completely natural birth. This alone made the book worth reading to me.

I did find that there were sections that were a bit repetitive throughout the book. I also felt a bit disconnected from some of her
Jessica Woodbury
Aug 15, 2012 Jessica Woodbury rated it really liked it
Parts of this book I loved, and other parts I did not like or connect with. What I loved about this book is that the grand majority of it presents the research surrounding childbirth and many of the common interventions used in childbirth. I really appreciated the way the author did so, as many of the other books I read would say something as truth when perhaps there was research on it, but there was no citing of or attachment to that research. This drove me absolutely nuts, as I then didn't und ...more
Sep 18, 2008 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I did not like this book.

There were a lot of opinions that were put forth as fact. Cutting the cord is comparable to amputation? Ultrasound broils soft tissues? Maybe, but it certainly wasn't proved here. I felt some of Sarah's arguments actually proved the opposite.

Also, the book was arranged in such a way as to repeat a good deal from chapter to chapter while introducing stray sentences of new information here and there. This made efficient reading and note taking very difficult. I didn't want
Mar 06, 2010 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Some very interesting statistics, although this is no balanced view. If you agree with the author to start with, then you'll love the many, many non-U.S. based studies cited.

But, if you don't already agree with her, I don't find this a compelling argument.
Feb 27, 2017 Bucket rated it really liked it
This was good food for thought. There are some areas where there's new research and it could use an update, but overall I appreciated the focus on evidence-based practice.

The author shared all sides of the research and freely admitted she has biases but I was still struck by how obviously biased her choice of when to emphasize the tininess of a risk was. If she was talking about a medical intervention (like antibiotics for Group B strep during delivery), she'd simply state the risk that antibio
Carmen Cabrer
Jan 19, 2017 Carmen Cabrer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great resource for expecting moms.

After being in this career patch for the past 26 years, my opinion is that this book will help empower many moms to be, covering all the important topics in a simple way.
Dec 21, 2016 Alicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
good scientific info, but tough to read as a layman but I still liked having the data. my favorite parts were her personal birth stories.
Oct 11, 2016 Erin rated it really liked it
Shelves: baby-parenting
Give Sarah Buckley some credit--she's both an MD and a woo-woo hippie practitioner (and I say that with affection, as I'm a woo-woo hippie myself) and you don't often see that in one medical professional. Her book is incredibly well-cited and researched, and then she has stories about the home births of her babies and having a lotus birth (where the placenta stays attached until the umbilical cord dries up and falls off on its own. The ENTIRE placenta. They keep it in a little bag next to the ba ...more
Sep 14, 2016 Joanna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Where the author sticks with physiological descriptions--like the chapter on all the hormones at play during labor--she's helpful and interesting. But the info is biased and often emotional (and I say this as someone who is super biased toward views like hers). Ok to skim, but definitely not a pregnancy Bible.
Nov 11, 2014 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pregnancy, parenting
In short, if you're interested in natural birth practices, this book is a great source of information, reassurance and confirmation. But if you're not, then you'll probably react quite strongly (or as I've noticed, even defensively) against the bias of this book.

Personally, I took a lot from Buckley. I felt that I was already pretty read-up on natural parenting but I still found this book to be very informative, providing hundreds of references and studies to support her (and I suppose, my own)
There are some things I loved about this book. It's got good, detailed summaries of what current research shows about the 'hormone cocktail' of labor, about appropriate management of the third stage of labor (dealing with the placenta), and about the neuroscience of attachment in early infancy. I "knew" this stuff from reading about it on-line and in the press - but it's very useful to have it all laid out (and official looking.)

Sometimes, though, hearing all the "evidence" about any subject, ev
Mar 16, 2008 Beatrix rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women who are pregnant or trying to conceive
This was one of my two favourite pregnancy and birth books, read in the lead-up to the beautiful natural birth of my son last year. Buckley's professional experience as a general practitioner and personal experience as a homebirthing/freebirthing mother of four combine to make this book unique. This book is packed full of information about "routine" interventions which should help any mother-to-be to make truly informed decisions about pregnancy and birth care, whichever careprovider she chooses ...more
May 26, 2010 Emmy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book for doulas and mothers, with a broad overview of risks and benefits of things we take for granted in our childbirthing culture. I was already a natural birth advocate before reading this, and feel scientifically reinforced now. Attachment parenting seems pretty straight forward, although I learned about ways in which my sister and i were reared during infants which were misguided, such as letting us 'cry it out." apparently the reason babies stop crying is because they become so stress ...more
Jun 11, 2012 Angela rated it liked it
I liked the second part of the book better (Gentle Mothering). The first part was about Gentle Birth, and a lot of it is repetitive of other stuff I've already read (I guess that's when you know you have overdone the birthing books). I agree with some of her philosophies, but others are a little too much for me. I don't intend to have a lotus birth, even though I do want to delay cord clamping, and I do intend to breast feed, but probably only for a year, not seven (or even four). I am still som ...more
This is overdue at the library and I'm only halfway through. I'm not engrossed enough to renew it and keep reading.

The opening is pretty interesting - very New Age granola-ish birth and pregnancy stories. Then Buckley dives into various medical interventions at birth, which is good - it's nice to get a doctor's perspective that is both expert and pro-natural birth - but not very compelling. If I had more time with the book, I'd probably be willing to pick through it some more ... it cites many u
Nov 07, 2010 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This pregnancy's reread - I definitely skimmed more this time, having already made many of the decisions that she provides great information about. But still helpful - particularly in reminding me about the incredible way that a woman's body is created in order to birth a baby (particularly the exquisitely timed hormonal cascade that culminates in delivery).

This book was instrumental in the choices that Nik and I made regarding my pregnancy and how and where Eliana was born. I wou
Izarra Varela
A quick read that I finished last night, this book is another great resource for all you need to know about pregnancy and birth. The author spends a good chunk of time explaining hormonal levels as they relate to (and aid in) the birthing process, and why invasive procedures—notably epidurals, Pitocin and cesarean section—interrupt this delicate system. I did find the book to be a little mushy at parts—particularly where the author vividly describes her four children’s birth stories in intensely ...more
Sep 22, 2009 langa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting, pregnancy
NJA: take a look at this title and the typo. i thought you of all people could appreciate it!

just started reading this and already love it. i actually have the newer 2009 edition of this book called Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor's Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices. the 2009 edition has a forward by Ina May Gaskin. what's so interesting about this book is that the author is a MD but chose to have homebirths for all 4 of her own children. there are few MDs t
Courtney Handermann
Love this book! She discusses a lot of the medical options surrounding birth, from prenatal tests to labor medications to peri/postnatal care. The best thing is that she cites a lot of good research. It's very hard to tell sometimes whether the things people are telling you about birth choices are true or not -- there is so much emotion involved. It's nice to be able to see where she is getting her conclusions from! Because of that, this is one of the most helpful books I've read on pregnancy &a ...more
Apr 06, 2009 Venus rated it it was ok
Before anyone asks, let me clarify -- no, I'm not pregnant, but I am fascinated by the topic (for one day), especially after reading "Birth." I picked up this book as an alternative to the medicalized history recounted in Birth. I wanted to read and enjoy a contemporary accounting of natural childbirth. This was not the right book for that purpose. I really wanted to like this book, but after reading the first fifty pages and scanning the rest, I found it to be surprisingly ahistorical and negat ...more
Nov 11, 2014 Isabel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very practical guide to natural birth and gentle mothering. Written under the perspective of a M.D. and mother of four. Some of the aspects depicted are too medical for my needs, but very instructive and well reasoned.
I have found the reading of this book useful as a guide not a standard book that you will read from page one.
There is a very complete index at the end where to find all the subjects held. So you can go back and forth depending on whatever you need to consult at the mome
Dec 02, 2012 Jennifer rated it liked it
I've read better books. The author presents as being research based, and yes she references many articles, but the book was very biased. I prefer it when authors present both sides or at least go through benefits, risks etc. it's to easy to form an opinion and find research to support that and that seems to be what the author has done. Even if most of what she author recommends is what I hope will be my birth exeriece, the approach she takes is to hokey new wave for me. This book presents the ki ...more
Jun 29, 2010 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I keep coming across some crazy books on this whole labor and delivery thing. This one actually "strongly recommends against" getting any ultrasounds. An epidural is okay, but ultrasound, heaven forbid. The only reason I gave it 2 stars instead of one is because there was some good information on things like gestational diabetes and post term inductions. Otherwise, weird. She says that giving birth and having sex are pretty much the same thing, since they involve a lot of the same hormones. ...more
Nov 28, 2011 Robyn rated it liked it
This was hard to rate. I might have given it two stars, but it did have really good information. The writing was strange--at some points, the author takes us on a New-Age journey, and at others she sounds just like physician she is, giving us risks of epidurals, ultrasounds, etc.

I must admit that I didn't read the second half of the book--the part on gentle mothering. I feel pretty satisfied with my own method of caring for babies...and it does not include breastfeeding until my children are sev
Jan 20, 2012 Kim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pregnancy, baby
I had a hard time relating to this author, who seemed to encourage risky and unsafe birthing behavior by sharing her own home birth stories, at least one with no one besides her family present. Her assertation that her children remembered their births also made me suspicious. She does include some good information about the risks of inducement, ceasareans and other interventions. But, all-in-all, I found her a little over-the-top and too New-Agey to be for-real.
Grace Salzer
Feb 05, 2010 Grace Salzer rated it really liked it
Very in-depth look at natural birth. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and wish the author could be at the birth of our baby girl! If you'd like to know all the ins and outs of labour & delivery, the way it was supposed to be, i.e. no interventions, then this book will provide that for you. She also explains all the hormones that are released and when, which provide natural pain killers/highs to get you through each stage.
It was very interesting!
Jun 21, 2011 Jasmyn rated it it was ok
Sarah Buckley is a little too natural for me...I liked some of the chapters about hormones and emotions and how that affects childbirth and your experience. And I liked reading her stories about the births of her 4 children...except that they were CRAZY! I don't know...she was just a little too earthy for me.

I don't believe in nursing your children til they're 4 or co-sleeping with them. Nope. But, if you're into that sort of thing, read this book! :)
Nov 10, 2012 Margo rated it really liked it
One of the best pregnancy / birth / parenting books I've read in awhile. Got it out from the library on recommendation from someone else with a naturally-minded parenting philosophy, but was impressed at how well researched and scientifically backed up all the chapters were, including the controversial ones. To some extent, the book was preaching to the choir (at least with me) but I enjoyed it all the same.
Rebecca Shelton
Apr 25, 2015 Rebecca Shelton rated it it was amazing
Great resource for any expecting woman. Her language is a little flowery at times, but she also gives you facts and resources to make your labor and birth as easy as possible for you and your baby. As someone who is trying to have a natural birth after cesarean, I appreciated her viewpoint and sensitivity to those who haven't had previous natural birth experiences. She does an excellent job empowering women to make their own choices and listen to their bodies. Absolutely loved it!
Aug 20, 2012 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mommy-baby-books
Easily one of the best birthing and parenting books I've read because it includes the essentials with all the research. It is a bit wordy and technical which makes it a long read. I can see how it can intimidate some new mothers. It is a great mix between the research of The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth and the imagery/intuition of Birthing From Within that adds the element of Attachment Parenting which is needed in a birth book. I loved it!
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Sarah J Buckley is a trained GP/family physician, an internationally-acclaimed writer on gentle choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting, and mother to Emma, Zoe, Jacob and Maia, all born gently at home, 1990 to 2000.

Sarah's writing critiques current practices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting from a scientific as well as a personal viewpoint. She encourages us to be fully informed in our decis
More about Sarah J. Buckley...

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“When a nursing mother encounters infectious agents in her gut and lung—the main routes of human infection—the antibodies that she forms will travel to her breasts and will be transferred to the baby via breast milk, giving specific protection against infections that the baby is, or will soon be, exposed to. A breastfed infant receives a relatively high dose of maternal antibodies: up to 1 gram per day via breast milk, compared to a total of 2.5 grams produced daily in the body of an average adult.” 0 likes
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