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Gentle Birth Choices

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  833 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Birth as every woman would like it to be

• Recommended by Lamaze International as one of the top ten books for pregnant women and their families

• Includes a 45-minute DVD of six live gentle births

• More than 32,000 copies sold of the original edition

New parents are faced with a myriad of choices about pregnancy, labor, and birth. In Gentle Birth Choices Barbara Harper, ren
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 9th 2005 by Healing Arts Press (first published October 1st 1991)
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Nov 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: baby-books
This textbook-sized book had quite a bit of information. I skipped the section on VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) because it does not apply to me. The DVD that came with it showed water births that took place in the 1980s or something. It is not needed if you have read the book.


Ingredients for a Gentle Birth
-reassuring environment
-freedom to move
-low light (darkness, candles, firelight)

A joint UK study on health technologies released in 2000 stated that after over a year of evalu
Vesper Stamper
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childbirth, women
This book put me on the path to choosing exactly what I wanted for my first birth. Too often, I hear women say "Well, I'll just go with the hospital and whatever the doctor says for the first birth, and see how it goes, and choose what I want for the next one", not realizing that the first birth sets the course for every subsequent one. My kids were born gently at home in the environment _I_ chose.
Morgan Stell
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I liked this one way more. Left me feeling confident about giving birth!
Jul 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Maybe it's just because I've encountered a bazillion books lately on this type of subject, but I found myself bored/unimpressed by this read overall. It seemed a bit propoganda-ish at times in the emotion-charged writing style. I did like the way it is formatted like a reference book however, which meant I could easily find the topics I was interested in and then skip the sections/chapters I didn't feel inclined to read. One more interesting note: this book comes with a dvd attached, and there w ...more
Rae Hittinger
Oct 04, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: women and men
The book has a lot of interesting and informative facts for women. It details the struggle between midwives and ob/gyn folk in the U.S. The author claims to be empowering women- but really only gives details about midwives. I wish she detailed more about when to make sure a doctor is present. The book is a bit biased, and doesn't really empower women in terms of knowing when to see an ob/gyn (beyond saying that all midwives will bring in a doctor when necessary) in the rare cases that it is nece ...more
Katherine Stephanis
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. A bit of decent info, but holy crap but it is hippie-dippy. Not good hippie either, but new age, psychic, touchy feeling creepy hippie. Also the author needs to learn the difference between 'sensual' and 'sensuous,' because she was (I hope!) using the latter in place of the former unintentionally, causing some really creepy innuendo.
Sep 02, 2010 rated it liked it
This is one of several required books I'm reading in order to become a certified birth doula.
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A lot of the information in this book was not new to me due to how much I have already read, but it would be new to the average American person. I like that the book is indexed, making it very easy for you to read what is significant for you. I also liked rereading what I had already learned, because it strengthens the new position I am taking, to hear the same information reported by a completely different source.

If you read the book before watching the DVD, there is no new information on the
Mercy Mn
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A lot of useful info and beautifully written.
Aug 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: pregnancy-baby
*I don't know why you can't do half stars... I would prefer this to be 3 1/2*

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. As with any of the Natural Childbirth Movement Books, there were graphic pictures of women laboring, even pictures post birth where mom and baby bare all. The other typical thing in this book is the "New Agey"-ness of it. Even though this was written by a professing Christan, I still found the new agey-ness to be a part of it, and less Christ-centered, though she acknowledges Chri
Eva Seyler
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
All I can say is... wow. I've been really perturbed already from my varied reading (both pro- and con-hospital) about the way hospitals handle things (while realising, of course, that not every hospital birth is ALL bad, and that there are situations that legitimately require hospital births and c-sections).

Sometimes I think the author is a bit over the top and does come across with the idea that hospitals are evil incarnate, but the point remains that to birth at home is the safer, healthier w
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very good book on alternative birth choices, if now a bit outdated, and although there is a long list of good references at the end, I would have liked to see some of the text cited in more formal ways. (And I'd still say Ina May's book was the most useful and best-written on the subject that I've read so far.) The chapter on water birth seems especially useful for people that choose that route. The DVD included here was repackaged with a "new" intro, but the original footage is very old--from ...more
Oct 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: expecting parents
I cannot think of a better book to prepare for childbirth. In planning my own natural childbirth, this book did not leave my side for nine months. For the expecting parent who desires a "gentle" birth, this is a great resource, or for anyone who may not be aware of the process of gentle birth. The book is definitely biased, I wont lie. The author has a certain outlook on childbirth, and she does not waiver.

The book does focus heavily on water birth, but is filled with a lot of great info regardi
Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
I wouldn't put this at the top of my list for childbirth resources. Summary: Being born is stressful for baby. Make it less stressful by avoiding drugs and giving birth in a warm, quiet, dimly lit environment.

In an ideal world, we would recognize that most mothers have their baby’s best interests at heart. Rather than setting things up in an oppositional context (mom’s desires vs. baby’s needs), we would view childbirth through the lens of the loving mother and educate mothers to give birth in
Apr 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I got this from the library when I knew I was going to get to attend the birth of my sister's third baby, and even as someone who doesn't plan on having kids, I found it interesting and inspirational. Parts of it were too much for me (chanting pagan prayers while laboring? I have no right to judge...and still I do...) but I think it's so important for helping to normalize childbirth (and what are considered in our culture to be "fringe" choices) in a medical system that tends to treat it like a ...more
Mar 23, 2011 rated it liked it
This book contradicts itself a lot. It basically tries to make you feel incredibly guilty if you don't want a no-drugs, no doctors, vaginal birth. Yet a lot of the reasons behind it come off hypocritical and ridiculous. When the author dedicates the book to her daughter then points out it's despite her cesarean, I basically lost all respect for her. The book is very informative, but like I said, isn't very kind to those of us who enjoy labor drugs and don't feel like failures for having our babi ...more
Jul 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Pros: Lots of information for birth that plays defense, not offense.

Cons: The writers in the gentle birth movement remind me of pro-abortion activists. Why? Pushy rhetoric that uses "choice" as a buzzword. Both groups demand that women should "stand up for their right to choose" rather than blindly following the dictates of the establishment. But they don't really want women to choose; they want them to change sides.
Aug 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
a very good resource! harper gives a concise view of the transition / movement from medicalized birthing practices to choices centered around the view that pregnancy / birthing is a natural phenomenon. she stresses that procedures and treatments can be avoided in most cases by faith in the natural process, trained midwives, supporting family members, and relaxation techniques. the accompanying dvd is also a great asset to harper's story.
4.5 stars - I really loved this book. It's an excellent reference for information on waterbirth and it gives a lot of excellent information on the benefits of a gentle birth for mothers and babies. It has a good resource section in the back of questions to ask a provider and/or hospital, how to write a birth plan, and people to contact about doulas, birthing tubs, etc. Overall one of the better birth books I've read.
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book! Upon reading Chapter 1, I teared up. It was beautiful. This book is all about reclaiming birth for the mom and the baby and the family. It talks about how birth has become a medical process, but birth has been natural from the beginning, so there are things we can do to create a natural environment, even within a hospital setting. I was very glad to have this book as a resource, and I feel confident that I can make a good Birth Plan for my upcoming birth in April!
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
Overall, I liked Ina May's Guide to Childbirth better, but I still enjoyed and learned from it. It emphasized similar points and had a lot of useful information about waterbirths that Ina May did not talk about. It definitely inspired me to try for a waterbirth (without being unrealistically insistant :) ) There were some historical sections that were a bit boring, but maybe it was just my frame of mind while reading it. I would definitely recommend it to others!
Apr 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. It certainly put into perspective the way we birthe in America. Solidifies my current choice in occupation. My wish is that every pregnant woman would have the opportunity to read this book so that she could make a more informed choice on how and where to give birth.
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childbirth
I didn't all of this as I had many books on the subject but I did like the DVD that came with it. It showed footage of 6 different births which was most informative and helpful to demonstrate the information found within the book. I like the book's headings and how they share their information. Don't get too hung up on the b&w photos - the information is good.
Jan 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: birth
The topics covered: Ingredients of a Gentle Birth, Medicalization of Birth, Medical Myths, Gentle Revolution (led by consumers), Midwifery, Water Birth, Mind-Body Connection, and Birth Plans (with explanation of options). I did like the book. I especially like the visualizations in the Mind-Body Connection part.
Mar 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
It started out good but lost my interest towards the end. I did, however, love the video (so I gave the book four stars because of the video). The book (or video)is not recommended for those who cannot handle pictures of naked pregnant women. And you have respect anyone who does all this woman has done to help babies have a gentle birth.
Laura P.
Nov 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this book back in 2009 and I honestly don't remember much of it. I know at the time that I was glad to read it, but in my opinion the best natural childbirth book is Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.
Dec 11, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: natural birthers
Needs to be updated as far as current statistics go, but definitely worth reading. Has lots of great info for supporting natural birth options, including the safety of each option. Very encouraging for anyone considering an alternative birth environment.
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was an eye opener (there's more than one way to deliver?!) and an inspiration. Perfect for pregnant or soon to be pregnant women wanting to have a more warm, nurturing and peaceful birth for their baby.
Feb 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Mainly focuses on the option of water birth, which was not available to us. However, there is still quite a bit of information about other birth options, and I thought it was worthwhile to help decide what kind of birth would be right for me.
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
well resourced book, loved her worldview on both conception and birth. expert in field of waterbirth. has a little bit of mind body stuff that is good with a grain of salt. check out the resource pages.
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“If a woman is physically active during labor, her baby is constantly repositioning in the womb, readjusting and descending, preparing for the birth. Requiring a woman to be in bed during any part of her labor and decreasing her ability to move increases the need for interventions.” 0 likes
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