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Heart & Hands: A Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy & Birth
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Heart & Hands: A Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy & Birth

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  914 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
A midwife's guide to pregnancy and birth which shows compassionate sensitivity to women's needs in pregnancy and childbirth.
Paperback, 312 pages
Published November 1st 2004 by Celestial Arts (first published 1981)
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Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The terrible labor and delivery of my first child was dismal, due to the barbaric idiocy of the obstetric teaching and methods in this country. Take a woman who's in labor, lay her on her back, occluding the femoral artery and cutting off blood flow. Stop labor by using gravity against her body. Inject useless and costly medications, shove a large needle into her spinal cord, then cut her open and pull out the child with forceps. what fun. I chose a midwife for the birth of our second child, and ...more
Aug 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: birth junkies, doulas, midwifery students
Recommended to Megan by: A midwife friend, among others
I first read this book when I was trying to decide whether to stay a doula, become a nurse-midwife and work in hospitals, or become a licensed midwife and work at home births. I also wanted to read it as an information junkie planning my first homebirth. It fit the bill for all of the above. This is a fantastic book for anyone considering midwifery, or simply interested in it. Anyone planning a homebirth who likes to know lots of details, including scary scenarios and what the midwife would do i ...more
Sep 07, 2014 added it
Shelves: midwifery
It didn’t take long for this book to rivet my attention. On the very first page, Elizabeth Davis frankly stated that “twenty-nine countries lose fewer babies than we do”. This was kind of a shock to me, an American who has grown up soaked in the pervasive proud nationalism of feelings like “I’m an American” and “Made in America”.
Why are our rates so shocking? What are we doing wrong? Well, for one thing, our recent history of banning midwives and moving birth from a natural event that takes pla
Massanutten Regional Library
Savannah, Shenandoah patron, August 2017, 4 stars:

The authority on out-of-hospital birth, this reader-friendly book is concise and balanced.
Kim Woodard
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: midwifery
One of my all-time favorites! Another of the first midwifery books I ever read ♥
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Davis' "Heart and Hands: A Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy and Birth" is a very thorough introduction to the practice of midwifery written in a very accessible style. The book is useful to those considering midwifery as a career, Doulas and other professionals who want an understanding of the midwife model of practice and expectant parents who want a complete understanding of normal childbirth, what to do during pregnancy to enhance a healthy birth, complications and remedies and knowing ...more
Jun 21, 2012 rated it liked it
I bought this text book purely because someone online said it talked about determining
dilation by looking at a line going up a woman's bum. Since I don't do my own cervical
checks, and I found them to be the most painful part of my labor with my son, that
seemed like pretty important information everyone should know about. Other than that I don't have much to say about the book. It is the only text book on
midwifery I've ever read so I have nothing to compare it to. It was boring to me as most
Aug 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This book is the heart and soul of midwifery care. Not only is there comprehensive coverage of normal pregnancy, labor and birth care with loads of information on handling complications but the book carries with it the spirit and philosophy of being a midwife or utilizing midwifery care. Highly recommended for anyone working as a birth professional, or parents looking for an alternative viewpoint to common pregnancy and birth concerns. Highly valuable especially for anyone considering a homebirt ...more
Jul 24, 2007 marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: women interested in midwifery
Shelves: maternal-health
i screened this book. it is primarily targeted at women interested in midwifery, not women interested in exploring the midwife option for their upcoming delivery. that said, it would be a good guide for what to expect if one did decide she wanted a midwife, and would provide some useful information were one indecisive about such a choice, though the book makes no attempt to be an objective source of the various alternatives for giving birth. indeed, it seems to take a fairly anti-medicine, rathe ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
I adored this book. I see and feel midwifery in my future, but for now this book confirmed that supporting women in pregnancy and childbirth is my calling. This book has prepared me and inspired me on my path to becoming a doula.

If I were reading it while pregnant I think it would have caused more anxiety than necessary when it comes to complications and emergencies. I love the way Ina May Gaskin's books ease those fears instead of create any sort of anxieties, and I felt that this was missing
Molly Westerman
An extremely readable and inviting overview of the profession of midwifery and of parents' and midwives' experiences of pregnancy & birth. I'd recommend it to doulas looking for more in-depth information than the standard pregnancy/birth guides offer, to people considering midwifery as a life path, and to pregnant folks who want to understand the finer details of their prenatal, birth, & postpartum care (but not to those who don't want to hear about what might go wrong).

There's a more de
Tiff Miller
Being my first ever midwifery text, I am glad for Elizabeth Davis' writing style. It flowed so well, affirmed so much I have already learned during my apprenticeship, and expanded my knowledge on even the most basic of topics. I think it's the perfect first book for anyone contemplating whether midwifery could be their calling.

I think it had a good, logical flow, with excellent supplementary charts throughout, as well as a few basic "case study" style stories to illustrate concepts outlined more
Alli Lawrence
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
A great introductory text for anyone interested in midwifery or maternal health. I enjoyed the chapters on the physiology of the stages of birth and found it easy to read even with limited knowledge on the subject. The authors opinions are clearly visible but I found them to be much more moderate than I originally would have expected. The book focuses on out of hospital birth but I think it is also relevant to other settings.
Kerry Wendt
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is written for people who want to be midwives, so I'm not its intended audience. However, it's quite useful for exposure to a genuine midwifery model of pregnancy and birth, and especially for the technical information given from a midwifery rather than a medical perspective. There are chapters about establishing a practice and so on, which wasn't of much use to me -- but the book's still well worth it.
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent resource for out-of-hospital births. Accessibly written, addressed to the lay public, and in a friendly approachable tone, this is just a really great book. It focuses more on pregnancy than on labor and birth per se, but it has lots of solid information that's been pared down from textbooks so that most people can read it and not be bored stiff. For a book on pregnancy, Davis does an excellent job. (For books on birth, see some of the others on this list.)
Jul 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Kristen
Shelves: did-not-finish
I did not finish this book, but only because I am not a midwife (definitely in a different life!). However, I did skim through it and read sections I thought were interesting. As a pregnant woman that has already given birth, I loved the different perspective. I also loved how the book including homeopathy! Overall, I'd recommend this to anyone interested in birth.
Leslie Abla
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in natural childbirth
Recommended to Leslie by: friend
Excellent book! Discusses every problem you might encounter & the way a midwife would deal with those problems. This is a great book for those who are wanting to avoid the common medical interventions performed by OBGYNs in hospitals. Read in advance, before childbirth, so you know if what they are doing is really medically necessary.
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved. This. Book. I'm not a midwife and I don't plan to become one, but this is a great book if you want to get a deeper education in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care. I learned so much about the mechanics of birth, the human pelvis, and various complications and how they should be dealt with. I appreciated how this book did not have a bias towards hetero relationships, very neutral.
May 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was a concise, but loving and personal, active view of the role of the midwife. I'm interested in maybe studying nursing and midwifery, and this book was a real treasure trove of stories, personal accounts, basic need-to-knows, and empowerment for women, their families, and their midwives. If you're interested in learning about midwifery, I'd recommend this as a great first step! :-)
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the very best midwifery overviews I have read. The perfect beginning midwifery textbook and continuing reference. Also, she has some great lists in the book -- supplies lists, charts, maternal worksheets...
Highly recommended for students or the parent who likes to get a clear picture of midwifery process.
Aug 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Been reading this book and using it as a study guide for my midwifery studies...would recommend it to anyone who wants a good overview of what midwifery care is all about. AND what a natural pregnancy/labor and birth can be like!
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i really just skim-read this book, but overall, really enjoyed it...more detailed information for midwives, but definitely helpful in digging into the nitty-gritty of midwifery...looking forward to this process!
Katherine Parker
Feb 25, 2011 is currently reading it
Only just got this and flipped through it idly. First impressions: easy to read, suitable for doula, student midwife, midwife, expectant parents who want in depth knowledge about prenatal care. The illustrations are very well done and a good complement to the photographs of laboring women.
This is a very good guide for midwifery students preparing to practice, but it is not so good for mothers-to-be in search of a guide to pregnancy. For example, fetal development is condensed down to a single page.
Apr 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
A great resource for those considering midwifery, doulas, birth supporters, and parents. Although due to the thorough explanations of possible complications, may cause undue anxiety in expectant parents that are prone to worry.
Taylor Brown
Mar 08, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was an interesting read. There are a few parts that aren't true or go against other medical information, but otherwise it was mostly correct. The authors bias does color the book quite a bit as well, unfortunately.
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Anyone interested in natural childbirth and pregnancy should look through this book. It's geared towards midwives but anyone can use it.
Apr 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Fairly helpful.
Aijun Molloy
Mar 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
recommended for anyone pregnant or wanting more birth info!!!
made me realize...
hey i can be a midwife.
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“Concern with labor’s length began in hospital, where a prompt turnover of beds was of practical and financial concern. Next came practitioner impatience: doctors with overbusy schedules or better things to do than wait around for women to give birth wanted to define how long was too long.” 0 likes
“Occasionally, you may have the confusing case of a mother who appears to be in active labor, with contractions coming every five minutes, lasting up to a minute. But after a few hours, contractions taper off, and internal exam reveals her to be only 2 or 3 cm dilated. Women who are strongly athletic or highly intellectual by nature tend to this pattern, based on the inability (at least at this juncture) to let go and cross into the active phase. Uterine inertia often results, with a meal and some sleep the best solution. Labor will soon start up again—and dilation may take place quite quickly.” 0 likes
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