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

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  901 ratings  ·  108 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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Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  901 ratings  ·  108 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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
Brianna Pickens
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a huge believer in gentle birth and parenting, this book helped me to better understand the benefits of it. It goes into depth on how crucial it is for the well-being of the child to be raised in a gentle way. This book will help me in my parenting journey and my career in the future as I help to guide parents through which choices they should make for themselves and their children.
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.
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. ...more
Jessica Tiderman
I have read this book through twice now. I love it! So much knowledge to gain.
Gwen Davis-Barrios
There are lots of good things about this book, and overall I would recommend it. In my opinion, the best takeaway from it is one of reassuring birthing people that their bodies are usually capable and that birth is safe, and that parenting instincts are worthy and should be listened to. I found evidence-based answers to many of my questions and learned about new things that I want to study more about, and I appreciate the author’s assertion that parents should take this and all birth/parenting a ...more
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was ok
I think the best summary I can is “written by a doctor”.

While there were helpful parts I felt bogged down pretty quickly by all of the statistics and studies analyzed for every topic. As a result it took me awhile to read and ended up just slogging and powering through at the end, skipping over big chunks.

It seems geared more towards women who are considering standard hospital birth vs incorporating some elements of natural birth into their experience, and that’s not a description of me. I’ve
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: birth-motherhood
This is definitely a book written for a certain kind of birthing person as the writer clearly has her own agenda and biases, that said, some parts of the book I found personally helpful and comforting. In Germany, the areas of prenatal care feels at war with itself over care ideologies (high intervention obsetricians vs homeopathic-obsessed midwives) so it was important for me to read to a book by an Australian doctor that brought together ancient birth wisdom and current medical practices. The ...more
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
Natalija O'Connell
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Informative for first time mum's or even mums who felt like their birth was traumatic. Gives you alot of Australian specific information / guidance about your rights, the holistic and natural way to birth, and how we as parents can nurture our kids from utero in a gentle and compassionate way. I'd recommend this to anyone trying to convince, currently pregnant or has a young child. Ideally suitable for someone trying to convince or pregnant to get the most out of it. ...more
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: womens-health
I really struggled to get through this one. For me personally, the contrast between scientific research and fluffy spiritual language was a bit much, making it hard for me to trust the author either way. Due to the language used, I also think that this book would be more suitable for birth professionals rather than mothers.
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.
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.
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very educative and informative. Every fact is based on studies. Some parts of texts are repeated as the book partly consists of published texts. Still it's worth reading and the chance is big that you will learn something new. Definitely recommend. ...more
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.
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lots and lots of citations, and also very natural, touchy feely. An interesting combination
Dewanna C
Very informative and a must read for birthworkers or anyone looking to learn more about instinctive practices in childbirth and early parenting.
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. ...more
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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

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