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The Basic Needs of a Woman in Labour

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In her book, midwife Ruth Ehrhardt very simply explores, as the title suggests, how the basic needs of labouring women can be met. It takes into consideration the subtle effect environmental factors have on labour and what those attending births need to be aware of. Drawing on the work of Michel Odent, it focuses quite plainly on the physiology of labour, childbirth and postpartum. This book is aimed at pregnant mothers as well as those attending births, whether in the capacity as caregiver (doctor, midwife, doula) or partner.

To bring together what is important in such a small number of pages is a feat. I hope that, on the five continents, all pregnant women, midwives, doulas, doctors, etc. will take the time to assimilate the contents of this chef d’oeuvre: it will be a turning point in the history of childbirth and therefore in the history of mankind. - Michel Odent

32 pages, Paperback

First published July 24, 2015

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About the author

Ruth Ehrhardt

13 books21 followers
I am a Certified Professional Midwife (NARM), a doula (WOMBS (ZA) / Paramanadoula (UK)), and a Helping Babies Breathe facilitator and trainer.
Originally born in Switzerland, I moved to South Africa with my South African born mother and younger sister when I was eight years old and have lived there ever since. My mother Carol, bought a protea flower farm an hour outside of Ceres ( a small town, approximately 2 1/2 hours from Cape Town) and accidentally ‘fell’ into catching the babies of the local farm labourers who called for her because she had ‘healing hands.’ My mother was the midwife for my first birth.
The mother of four home birthed children, I trained as a WOMBS doula with Irene Bourquin in 2009.
I completed the Paramana doula course with Dr. Michel Odent and doula Lilliana Lammers in London in 2010 and studied Advanced Midwifery with Ina May Gaskin, Pamela Hunt and the Farm Midwives in 2011.
With colleague Lana Petersen, I started Home Birth South Africa in 2010, a web data base for those seeking information and advice on home birth in South Africa. Together, we also run the Cape Town Home Birth Gatherings, a quarterly gathering for those seeking information and support on home birth in Cape Town, South Africa.
I am the author of The Basic Needs of a Woman in Labour, a book based on the work of Dr. Michel Odent and which explores the hormone oxytocin and the environmental factors that effect it. It has been translated into a variety of languages.
I currently work with Caitlyn Collins in the Circle of Elephants Midwifery Care practice attending births at homes in Cape Town and surrounds.
I live in Cape Town, South Africa.

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5 stars
58 (65%)
4 stars
19 (21%)
3 stars
8 (9%)
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Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews
Profile Image for Briar's Reviews.
1,894 reviews518 followers
January 22, 2017
Book Review
Book Title: The Basic Needs of a Woman In Labour
Book Author: Ruth Ehrhardt

Introduction: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
Perhaps what makes this book the most interesting on all of my shelves is that it came from South Africa, but that doesn't sound to exciting...does it? What if I told you it took seven months to make it to my home? And that I couldn't stop wondering about the magnificent trip this little book had made across the globe?! Maybe it's not as exciting to the readers as this excitable reviewer, but it made my heart jump a little just thinking about the adventure this book took around the world. In short, I'm super jealous of this teenie tiny book.

I have not given birth, nor have I watched someone (in live action, not as a film) give birth. So, this book seemed out of my territory of knowledge, yet I agreed with it at the same time. Ruth Ehrhardt discusses Dr. Michel Ordent's theories regarding childbirth and she goes quite in-depth in such a little book!

One of the first pages of this book discusses women needing a calm, dimly-lit, comfortable and private area. To me, that makes sense. Childbirth is such a beautiful phenomenon and somehow it has been made into a business. When giving birth, who would want a million people yelling and directing orders, saying words you wouldn't understand and giving you disruptive and concerning looks? Childbirth can be incredibly scary, and doctors and nurses do not always help in these situations. With the tremendous pain and opportunity for something to go wrong, a comfortable environment seems best - at least in my opinion.

I also agreed with her thought that words matter. As a population, we tend to use words in the negative atmosphere. Everything is bad and we complain about anything! It's important to remember that your choice in words can affect your overall well being - so while being pregnant, positivity counts! Life will always have it's troubles and not everything will be beautiful an smell of roses, but we can try to make the best of every situation! Assisting and caring for pregnant women - even if it's just with a positive thought - can make a big difference! You don't need to work on hands and feet to care for your pregnant friend on facebook, but positive thoughts and comments will help outweigh those negative ones if we all band together! It is better to assist with a small, happy comment than cause a world full of anxiety for a mother already facing her other worries in the world.

Ruth also discusses how childbirth is like sleep - something that can often happen when it's least expected! I loved this little simile, because it's so obvious and true yet I've never related the two together! While both can be forced in some situations, they have very similar concepts. We can make both easy or hard, depending on the situation.

Another concept that blew my mind is about oxytocin and how it can relate to women's labouring slowing down. The hormone that revolves around love can disappear when she feels uncomfortable..And somehow, all the building blocks and puzzles pieces fit in my mind - these questions regarding how women can have their labour slow down when they hit the hospital makes sense! With such a simple concept...

The book continues to discuss a general birth plan and how birth takes place (without all the gory details) and how important it is for the mother to be comfortable and for the mother and baby to bond. In a few pages, such a beautiful and obvious experience is discussed. As I have said, I have never given birth but I agree with every word in this novel. It makes so much sense (at least in my mind). While every woman is different and not everyone will totally agree with everything in this book, I feel like most people will understand or be able to see it from the perspective of someone they know.

Overall, this book was beautiful and insightful. I felt like I learned a lot even though this book is so small.

Five out of five stars! I would give it six if possible! I believe all women who gave birth, will give birth or are just interested in how the body works should read this! And some men too, that might give them a couple hints about how the process happens.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Samantha.
58 reviews
January 22, 2018
A serviceable summary of most modern birth guides. My problem with it, as with most modern birth guides, is that it is very prescriptive. The example birth plan includes ‘listen to my baby’s heartbeat as little as possible’. Yes, to some women this may disturb them, but to the majority, knowing their baby is well makes them feel safe and reassured. And after the birth - ‘no one should talk’ ‘no one should take photos’. How does a partner admiring their beautiful new baby with the mother in any way ruin the oxytocin levels? Or taking photos? Both can be peaceful, loving, bonding activities, and telling women they mustn’t do them is ridiculous. The ‘one size fits all’ approach is really inadequate.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ruth Ehrhardt.
Author 13 books21 followers
July 12, 2016
Of course I think it is fabulous - I wrote it! But I did read it again for the first time the other day and I thought, "Wow! This is pretty good! I wish there were something simple like this lying around when I was pregnant."Something which did not cloud the facts or get in the way of me being pregnant and birthing my babies. And that is why I wrote it, I wanted to be able to give a simple gift to all pregnant women out there, and to those caring for them...to remind them that actually it can all be quite simple.
Profile Image for Chloe.
2 reviews1 follower
October 13, 2016

I would highly recommend to any woman expecting a baby. It takes 15 minutes to read, and the information is concise, logical, and inspiring. It has filled me with confidence for my imminent labour! I am so glad I found it!
12 reviews
May 13, 2020
Short but fabulous book for any expecting mom preparing to labour. Will recommend to all my clients.
Profile Image for Tamryn Sherriffs.
1 review1 follower
October 27, 2017

It started my journey of research and preparation for birthing my baby.

The simple, concise contents has given me tremendous confidence in myself ahead of my labour.

I’m a week before my due date and have made sure all my basic needs will be met, and look forward to my magical experience.
2 reviews
February 17, 2020
Truly insightful

When reading this book, I felt a primal connection with all that was written and knew in my heart this is how it’s meant to be. Love should bring babies into the world x
Profile Image for Hollie.
16 reviews2 followers
February 7, 2020
Not evidenced based. No research to back up any of the suggestions.
Profile Image for Kelli Pizarro.
Author 7 books19 followers
November 12, 2019
Short and informative

This book is an easy 30 minute read packed with nuggets of information. Perfect for parents to be or birth assistants.
1 review
July 9, 2020
Beautiful, warm and concise little book. Resonated with my soul and makes me look forward to the birth of my 3rd baby with much joy.
14 reviews17 followers
June 7, 2023
This books prices simplicity is an art form. It is a quick, quick, easy read that doesn’t go into details but is still informative and enjoyable. Professionals will find its message humbling or rejuvenating. Mother will find it advocates for their needs and states them in a way that can be simply communicated to others. I think it is most critical that the family of expectant mothers read this book. It tells you what to do to best assist the woman you love. I will definitely start gifting it to everyone I know who will be in the position of needing to meet the the basic needs of a woman in labor.
9 reviews
October 14, 2022
Calm & Reassuring for an expectant mother

As a mother-to-be, I am grateful to have found someone in the medical profession who is not only on the same page as me but at the forefront of leading women to a happier and more positive birth experience!
By educating women and those birth partners/attendees, I believe the chances of a zero-intervention birth process are very high. As I am preparing for a home delivery, my aim is for this and after reading this booklet, I feel vastly more confident in my preparations for a positive labour experience. Thank you Ruth!
Profile Image for Alexandra.
179 reviews2 followers
January 9, 2022
I was searching for a book written by Michel Odent, and I accidentally found this little gem. Such a sweet book, it calmed me just by reading it, and it makes absolutely sense. All the suggestions are so aligned with our nature, with our bodies, without excluding modern medicine. It's just that birth is such a unique "condition", that medicine needs to adapt to the needs of the mother and not the other way around.
Profile Image for Nom On Books.
108 reviews
October 30, 2022
This book is exceedingly short but also crazy informative about Labour and how current medical practices aren't in line with what birthing people actually need at times. I did not need to be converted to the natural is best camp but this gave some quick and important pointers that are also covered in hypnobirthing courses and some great guidance to birth partners. I would definitely reccomend this to anyone pregnant as a foundation for learning but also if it's the only book you read.
June 10, 2023
This book was recommended to me by a fellow birth keeper to add to my bookshelf, and all I can say is wow! What a small, but absolutely mighty little guide. This book will absolutely be on my suggested readings for clients - especially those seeking to birth outside the hospital.

This guide is not just great for a mother in preparation of labour, but for anyone who plans on attending a woman while she labours.

Thank you, Ruth!
Profile Image for Summer Hurst.
127 reviews3 followers
May 23, 2020
Basic needs

Very interesting. As I read such data for writing information at this time, especially historical, there is good information here
4 reviews
September 10, 2019
Great book. Very inspiring and warm.

Very short summer that might help you to look differently at giving birth. I am pregnant and still in the process of deciding where to give birth and this book gave me a good perspective on what kind of birth I want.
Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews

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