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The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,960 ratings  ·  365 reviews
As an intelligent woman, you are probably used to learning as much as you can before making major decisions. But when it comes to one of the most important decisions of your life--how you will give birth—it is hard to gather accurate, unbiased information. Surprisingly, much of the research does not support common medical opinion and practice.

Birth activist Henci Goer give
Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 1st 1999 by TarcherPerigee (first published 1999)
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Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pregnancy-babies
This book was so helpful! While Goer clearly states her bias for "natural" childbirth in the introduction (in a very nice, straightforward way), as someone who hasn't ruled out an epidural, I didn't find this book in the least bit alarmist or slanted. In fact, if I was convinced by the end of the book that the fewer medical interventions the better, it was only because of Goer's meticulous research, which appears both in a bulleted summary at the end of each chapter and in a long annotated bibli ...more
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
History: I had a birth where with some minor interventions. Preparing for my second birth, I'm striving to be intervention-free (again), so I'm reading in order to remind myself, rather than taking a birthing class again.

This book isn't for 'thinking' women. It tells you exactly what you should think, and if you don't believe hospitals/doctors are Teh Evil, then you are clearly wrong. I was looking for something more balanced, that takes into account the fact that hospitals/doctors can have a pl
Jul 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
The main point the author seems to make is that women who don't know their options end up not having any. The author admits to being biased in her interpretation of research, as she is an advocate of natural birth. However, many in the mainstream United States' medical community tend to also be biased (albeit in the opposite direction) when they inform of the risks/benefits of various birthing options. So become an educated parent, not relying on any one source's statements--this book is just a ...more
Mar 30, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: NO PREGNANT WOMAN EVER!!!
HORRIBLE! Please stay away from this book by all means, as it grossly exaggerates the risks of routine medical interventions during hospital birth while it downplays the dangers of real emergencies like hemorrhaging and shoulder dystocia in a home birth setting: "[...]things that go wrong in labor tend to go wrong slowly[...]" and "(The most common) unpredictable emergencies can be resolved or stabilized for hospital transport by a skilled pair of hands and readily portable medication and equipm ...more
Jun 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who will have a baby
The reason this book only gets 3 stars is not because I didn't think it was helpful, but because the subtitle states that it is an "unbiased" view. However, the author is completely biased, and I got the feeling that she believes if you deliver in the hospital you have a high chance of your baby dying, or at least of having a c-section. However, 3 per 10,000 versus 4 per 10,000 is not really a "higher" risk in my opinion. She had lots of research, and I actually agree with most of her arguments ...more
Jenna Jenks
Nov 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any woman who is currently pregnant or who has questions about her birth experience.
The Thinking Woman's Guide is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to prepare oneself for the choices involved in childbirth. Many women may not realize the draw backs to common birth practices, but this book goes through both pros and cons as well as how to make sure that if you do choose certain interventions that they are done in a way that encourages the fewest possible negatives. An important read for anyone who wants a say in their birth experience or anyone who questions what happened.
Feb 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Okay, I read this book after reading Pushed. I am pregnant for the second time and am trying to educate myself on childbirth options. This book was informative and thorough, with plenty of sources cited to back up the author's opinions. I did gain some valuable insight into how many unnecessary interventions are entrenched in our current hospital labor and delivery wards, and how difficult it can be to avoid such interventions. It's even encouraged me to decline when offered a routine induction, ...more
Sep 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
A thorough if biased book that describes how obstetricians are prone to treat pregnancy and labor as an illness rather than a natural process through medical techniques such as artificial induction, episiotomies, and cesarean births. The fundamental premise is that doctors often over-diagnose or overtreat women (primarily to cover their own liability) without much evidence to show this treatment has a positive effect, and Goer backs up her point of view with multiple references and summaries of ...more
Nov 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This was supposed to be a "thinking woman's" guide, so I expected all the information to be presented in a clear way and not be slanted. Instead, this book was so anti anything hospital and all interventions that it was annoying to read. It didn't list facts like I expected, but just kept repeating in each chapter how bad the thing they were talking about was. I wanted pros and cons, situations to expect if that particular medical intervention was required, etc. I didn't want to be preached at b ...more
Ethan G
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth" By Henci Goer is a very funomonal and educatunul Guide for women who are expectig!! I would very much recumend this book to anyone who is a women that is planing on having a babay! I read this book because it is inspyering to my grandma who is planing on having a babay, She is 67 yers old and here babay is due on April 20th, I loved reeding this book to her! it was also an emotunul rollur coastur fur me because my mom died 3 months before i was born ...more
Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is incredibly informative and helpful. The author is openly biased towards natural child birth, but she supports her case with unbiased and meticulous research (which she documents and references thoroughly).

I believe every woman who is pregnant or might someday become pregnant should read this book. Too often in our culture we accept the current obstetrical practices without informing ourselves of the benefits AND the risks, as documented by evidence-based research. This book can hel
Mar 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any expecting parents
Recommended to Mary by: my sister
I loved this book! For me, it was not so much a life-changing eye-opener as I assume it could be for people never exposed to homebirth and so on, but more an affirmation of many of the ideas that I have felt intuitively in my pregnancy. It was nice to have some scientific back-up though since I often feel like a counter-culture hippy with what I guess were extreme views since they didn't seem shared by many people I know. I will say I did learn a lot though. For example, I knew I didn't want an ...more
Oct 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: procreating, 2010
This book was meticulously well-researched. Despite being ten years old, it is incredibly relevant and important for anyone thinking about having a baby to read. There are more supporting articles and back-up data in here than any other birth-themed book I've come across, allowing one to really delve into specific subjects if they wish. I especially appreciate the alternative means the author establishes are available before jumping to a traditional intervention. The path to having a baby is not ...more
Feb 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Ah, the politics of childbirth. There is a lot of good information here, and I largely agree with the author, but found her aggressive polemics to be a turn-off at times. If you are looking for an indictment of the "obstetrical mindframe," this is your book. This book does a more-than-adequate job of telling you what you don't want when it comes to childbirth. But if you are looking for helpful hints on how to manage labor naturally (that is, what you do want), look elsewhere (specifically, you ...more
Grace Salzer
Jan 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Simple to read book regarding the facts of modern day childbirth. It's not directed by the author's opinion, rather, it's based on extensive research into the processes, reasonings and outcomes of each type of birth (homebirth, midwife assisted, hospital).

It really is so ridiculous that with all the statistics and actual cases of obstetric failure, we are still lead to believe it is best to give birth in a hospital.
Kate Frantz
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Can't argue with facts. Would love to read an updated edition with current statistics! Here's to informed mamas!
May 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Loved this book! Totally convinced me to forgo a medicalized birth and do it as natural as possible!
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
First, this book is exceptionally researched, and in the back of the book (taking up over one hundred pages!), you can find literature summaries, a bibliography, charts, and an index. It was very impressive. I enjoyed that while she admitted a few times in the book that she obviously has her own opinion, the vast majority of the book is merely a retelling of the intensive research she has conducted.

And while some books will only list pros to medical interventions at childbirth and others will li
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Two parts informative. One part scary!
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer because his book seemed to be very well-regarded, and for good reason. Goer does a great job of laying out the findings of a whole lot of research in a way that's easily readable and accessible to someone without a medical background.

She does have a strong bias towards natural birth, as she explains in the introduction. I appreciate that she acknowledges her biases and she is honest about them with the reader.

Despite her bias, ho
Darius Murretti
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Before I begin Id like to recomemnd this very imporatnt artcile for all pergnant mother's
Now my review :
I read The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer because his book seemed to be very well-regarded, and for good reason. Goer does a great job of laying out the findings of a whole lot of research in a way that's easily readable and accessible to someone without a medical background.

She does have a strong bias towards natural birth, as
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book!

I am a birth doula and this is one of my required reading books for certification. When it came in the mail I was a tad hesitant because it looked like a textbook with many many many references with over 20 pages of references at the end. But I loved studying in college and one night just dove in, and I am very glad I did!

Henci Goer has an obvious bias against OBGYN's, and she is not shy about her point of view. The nice thing is she talks about it in the beginning of
Beth Dillon
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked Goer's format in that she does a mini summary/ overview, goes into what each procedure actually entails, then gives pros and cons as well as a brief review of medical research (from the 1990s). In addition, almost half the book is her further explaining research results and statements on any given topic as well as an extensive bibliography at the back. And while it's true that she is not without bias - what is so fascinating to me is how time and time again, she uses research to d ...more
Esther Yeap-Sim
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
The author has a biased perspective that leans strongly toward natural birth procedures sans medical aid, as much as it is possible. And even though she tries to present her arguments objectively, the choice of language is colored with a disdain for anything "unnatural", i.e. the likes of C-sections, epidurals, and any sort of medical intervention. Halfway through the book, I started feeling like the author is strongly advocating for doulas / midwives over obstetricians. But i was looking for a ...more
Kyla Denae
Dec 01, 2018 rated it liked it
this book was interesting. while she starts out saying she's unbiased, it's clearly untrue. fortunately, my biases tend to agree with hers, so that didn't really bother me. she also offers some good, balanced information about things that aren't often talked about in medical contexts--for instance, epidurals, and repeat c-sections. these things are often presented as if they carry no independent risk or potential side-effects, and are therefore always the best decisions. nothing, however, is wit ...more
Aug 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Good research, presentation of potential benefits and risks of different medical interventions, and how to minimize risks. Since the book was written in 1999, it would be interesting to see how the research has evolved. I’m glad I read this book, but it’s disappointing that the author was either unwilling or unable to provide a balanced perspective. She often portrays obstetricians and hospitals as the enemy of laboring women who operate with their own biases and self-interests, but I know this ...more
Jan 25, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is now almost 20 years old and largely based on maternity care in North America, particularly the United States. It is not however as out of date as it should be, partly due to various reverses in health care systems. It retains a whiff of the didactic tone so common to US work on birth, progressive or otherwise but the work has integrity providing the evidence base at some length.

I particularly liked the section on talking with medical professionals and identifying whether they are co
Mar 03, 2018 rated it liked it
This book seems great. I really enjoyed the opening chapter on obstetric management vs midwifery model of care and how the author, a medical writer, childbirth educator and doula, openly shares her beliefs regarding what defines good obstetrical care so that we know "where" she's writing from. But as I got reading the first chapter on the cesarean epidemic, some data seemed outdated to me, and I realized that the book is from 1999, and there doesn't seem to be a more recent edition. Hence the av ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very well written, easy to read. It takes all interventions step by step with pros and cons. Recommended reading for anyone who wants to have a baby.
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I appreciated that the author didnt just reference her supporting material but included it in the appendices.
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Pregnant or nursing women should not read erotica 2 2 Sep 30, 2018 11:48AM  
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