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Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: The Wisdom and Science of Gentle Choices in Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  767 ratings  ·  97 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
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Published January 28th 2005 by One Moon Press (first published 2005)
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3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  767 ratings  ·  97 reviews

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Adrianne Mathiowetz
Lots of people LOVE this book, including literally all of my favorite childbirth educators, both personal (my own midwives, doula teachers, Bradley Method instructor, etc) and general (Ina May Gaskin wrote the intro, and many other books I enjoy reference and highly recommend it). Personally, I managed to both agree with everything written here and also be highly annoyed by it.

Buckley is a longtime MD herself, which is a great opportunity to educate people on how seemingly emotional decisions ha
Jan 09, 2015 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Emma Sedlak
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mothering
I read this book in a few days because it was due back to the library and I couldn’t renew it again (nothing like someone else having a hold on a book to make you read through it at top speed!). I didn’t read it word for word, since most of the content was comprised of studies and statistics in support of concepts I already know of. But I got a lot of value from the book as a whole, especially in the checklists at the end of each chapters to summarise learnings and suggestions.

Thanks for remind
Sep 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Bethany B.
Aug 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Worth the read, but skipped over her birth stories because they were pretty far out there... Her chapter on hormones is excellent and should be read by moms and dads alike. Her footnoting is superb. Loved what she said about birth, had a really hard time swallowing what she said about mothering (also, noticed a severe drop in backing up her facts and opinions).
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
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: birth
Mixed feelings about this one.

Many chapters were great - provided valuable information and insights and Dr Buckley generously shares very personal experiences from her family.

Some sections are a bit preachy. On a few occasions I did start to wonder about what studies there might be supporting an opposing view to the one being presented.

A few things that were too radical or extreme for me (e.g. keeping baby and placenta attached until umbilical cord naturally comes away (apparently usually 3-7
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, parenting
Too kooky for my taste (par ex.: Buckley decides to let her fourth baby tell her, via dreams, what she needs and avoids any medical attention and then delivers a footling breech baby at home with no attendants but her husband and children), but I liked many of her perspectives overall. Not necessarily a book I’d recommend; most of it comes across with that weird judgmental tone that ekes out of so many hippies.
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
I like parts of this book a lot, like the details about the hormones during labor. They were unique from other things I've read and seemed factual and well researched. I had to skip chapters about her home births and the dangers of ultrasounds. This woman is a doctor and delivered her fourth baby breech in the bathtub with no attendants--not something I can relate to or desire for baby's birth. Also I try to steer clear of anything that comes off as "oh god how could you do this to your baby" in ...more
Jan 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
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.
Mar 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jessica Tiderman
I have read this book through twice now. I love it! So much knowledge to gain.
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
There is a lot of excellent information in this book, both from her own experiences (personal and professional) and from the many years of research she has done. She is very spiritual in the way she approaches birth, and it (for me) was a turn off in the initial part of the book since I am looking for more of a hard evidence based resource. However, I did appreciate her perspective and I am glad that I spent the time to read the entirety of this book. It's a great resource for any stage of pregn ...more
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
So thankful for the explanation of all birthing options presented in this book. I am amazed at how our womanly bodies were designed to give birth and that it is possible to tap into the innate processes that aid us in birth.
I absolutely loved this book and wished I read it during my pregnancy. A great book on natural birth and pregnancy, looking at things in a very evidence-based way. Should be required reading for all pregnant women instead of that insipid "What to expect." Fascinating and informative read.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Good, but no information I didn’t already get from Common Sense Preganancy and Birthing from Within. Also written in somewhat dry/clinical style. On a positive note, it was great to read a book written my an M.D that ascribes to the midwife model.
Chelsea Jewell
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a quick read and full of incredible knowledge for a great beginning of conscious motherhood.
May 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health
Way too hippie for me. Skipping scans and blood tests, homeopathy, acupuncture, and put a garlic in your vagina... not for me.
However the last chapters, about gentle mothering were fine.
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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 rated it it was ok
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.
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 29, 2016 added it
Shelves: advanced
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
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
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)
May 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 21, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Izarra Moore
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 rated it really liked it
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
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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
“Nocebo effect” refers to the unintended negative effect of a medical diagnosis or treatment. It is particularly relevant to maternity care, because the mother’s emotional well-being is so often neglected, as we have discussed. Michel Odent comments, “The nocebo effect is inherent in conventional prenatal care, which is constantly focusing on potential problems. Every visit is an opportunity to be reminded of all the risks associated with pregnancy and delivery.”12” 0 likes
“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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