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Birth Without Fear: The Judgment-Free Guide to Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  406 ratings  ·  53 reviews
An inclusive, non-judgmental, and empowering guide to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum life that puts mothersfirst, offering straightforward guidance on all the options and issues that matter most to them (and their partners) when preparing for a baby.

In Birth Without Fear, January Harshe--founder of the global online community Birth Without Fear--delivers an honest,
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Hachette Books
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  406 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Stefanie Bevins
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
I really and truly loved this book by January Harshe. I am currently in my 3rd trimester with my 1st child and there are so many unknowns, so many pieces of advice or you HAVE to do this. I love that in Birth Without Fear, January plants the seed of variations of normal. There is no one thing that is normal while pregnant, giving birth or postpartum. It is all variations of normal and that is okay. Making sure mama is healthy is a key point too because if you are not practicing self care, how ca ...more
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is such a great book and I definitely recommend it to anyone who is thinking about getting pregnant or is currently pregnant. I am currently TTC and have been reading a lot of different books. I tend to gravitate towards a more natural approach to pregnancy and labor & delivery. However, as I have yet to experience either of these, some of the natural approach books can be a bit intimidating on certain aspects. But, I really didn't like some of the "traditional" pregnancy books because some ...more
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A really compassionate, holistic look at pregnancy, birth and postpartum. This is the “all-in-one” book I didn’t know I was looking for! Not everything resonated for me in this moment, but it’s one I’m sure I’ll be revisiting as we go through the postpartum process.
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Meh. I think this is a great book for someone before they are pregnant, but it’s not the practical information I’m looking for. There is very little practical medical information and it’s mostly about self-care and trusting your body- which is great, but I need science and the whys and hows. Also my fear around birth is about both my baby and I surviving, not whether or not I’m in control. I don’t really understand this notion that this is the one medical experience you should have control of- y ...more
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: health-stuff
It’s so hard to review this because January Harshe writes in a very down-to-earth, gentle, and uplifting way. She reassures that there are many “variations of normal” in the childbirth and postpartum experiences, and that’s OK. She advocates for trusting your body and your intuition and refusing to compare yourself with the “Instagram perfect” mothers.

However, her message was, in addition to being repetitive, incomplete. Yes, there are variations in normal experiences; yes, it’s important to ac
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Heading into the third trimester and starting to prepare for Baby’s birth.
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
I thought the content was repetitive and mostly fluff.
Jessica Alexander
Aug 04, 2020 rated it did not like it
Ok not the book for me. This was more a self-help book for pregnant people than actually informational. I think she wrote "I love you" at least 15 times. All about self-care, variations on normal, doing your best without comparing to others, etc.

I think the bit about talking to your care-provider and communicating what you actually want during labor and delivery was helpful, in the sense that a good pep talk is helpful. I also liked the birth plan template for hospital births at the end, basica
Feb 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
Such a terribly misleading title. I grabbed this book in my quest to absorb as much information possible in order to help my wife throughout her pregnancy. I expected guidance from a fact based science/biological standpoint, but there was none of that here. It’s an over the top defensive bashing of the modern medical system from top to bottom.

The book reeks of the authors insecurity from speaking to friends and family to simple doctors office visits and through birth. The redundant use of, “...
Alyssa W
I really liked the tone and supportive feel of this book - but it just seemed like a lot of affirmation, a lot of repetition, and not a lot of support for partners. Despite having a "Partner" section of every chapter, they all seemed to boil down to "You're not pregnant, pregnant person deserves your unconditional support." I don't believe that's healthy at all. There are also several references to her website for more information... then, upon going to the website, I got lost and couldn't find ...more
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best Book for the First Time Mom!
Reading this helped me understand more of what questions and problems most mothers feel when getting ready to give birth. My current job right now is newborn photography and I love talking to moms about their experiances being moms. I got curious when I saw the title because common sense dictates it is scary to give birth.
When I read through the intro I felt that this woman who after going through scary births found confindence to have her latest baby at home. F
What I liked most about this book was that it definitely emphasizes the 'do not beat yourself up over your personal choices' aspect of all things related to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Harshe is VERY clear in trying to be supportive and empathetic, and clearly wants her readers to be able to feel comfortable enough with their own needs that they can advocate for themselves, make the decisions that are right for themselves, and in turn have a healthy experience that benefits both them and t ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it liked it
This is one of those books where, if you can read it with a grain of salt, there are a lot of great takeaways. The author is very focused on self-care, communication, support, and judgement-free birth experiences... All of which (I assume) are very important when it comes to labor, delivery, and postpartum. This book is called "Birth" Without Fear, but more than 1/3 of the book is all about postpartum care, mental health, self-care, and recovery, which I found incredibly encouraging. My only dis ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
January has been a huge inspiration to me and this book is confirmation of how powerful and wise she is - and a reminder to all of us that we are too! I saw someone mention in another review something about the author and God and I actually laughed out loud about it, it was that absurd. If you’re trying to make this book or the author into anything other than supportive mom care the clearly, this book and space she holds and provides is not for you. It IS for you if you’re accepting, openminded ...more
Bekah Sanborn
May 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I like most of the book so far (I’m about halfway). However, the miscarriage/infertility section left a bad taste in my mouth. First off, it includes almost nothing about infertility. Second, she refers to her second miscarriage as a “missed miscarriage”, which is false. A missed miscarriage is when the baby has died/stopped growing, but there are no signs of a miscarriage yet. I have had a missed miscarriage in which my baby died, but I still felt pregnant and didn’t know the baby had died unti ...more
Caroline Randolph
Apr 20, 2020 rated it liked it
This book was okay. I wish I had picked a different one to read during my pregnancy because there’s no real information about birth provided. The entire book is basically, “you can do it”, “I love you”, “don’t have fear.” I’m not the kind of person that needs to hear these things or be told that I must advocate for myself – I already advocate for myself. If you’re someone that struggles to speak up for yourself in regards to your health and provider’s choices then it may be a good book for you. ...more
Taylor McGinnis
Nov 11, 2019 rated it liked it
While I wanted with all of my heart to thoroughly enjoy this book, unfortunately, I only like about 1/3 of it. I didn’t like how miscarriage was basically a short fragment of the book and it felt rushed through. The section on preparation the third trimester seemed to have a negative spin to me. I did, however, love her postpartum section, all of the self-love she recommended, and the first few chapters. While I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone, I do know a few people who I would recomme ...more
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
To be fair, I only read the postpartum section of this book as my daughter came just over 3 weeks early and I didn’t have time to start it before then 🙂 That being said, I did enjoy reading that section and gaining some insight to what the next few days, weeks, months, years might bring. I appreciated the part at the end of each chapter written for partners on the chapter’s topic. Should we get pregnant again I’ll probably attempt to read the whole book.
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baby
Everyone bringing a baby into their life should read this book. Given that Harshe has 6 kids and has had at home birth I was afraid it was going to be hand-wavy and crystals but she and her partner offer practical advice and support to all types of parents, both new and those with older kids. She's realistic about the challenges of both birth and postpartum. She's encouraging and generous and I know has other digital resources that I've not yet explored.
Aug 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Pretty much exactly what I expected having followed January Harshe on social media. The postpartum half was amazing- 4 stars- but I found the half on birth.... a little vague, maybe? There was a lot on having the birth that you need and changing caregivers if they didn't follow evidence based practice, but not much evidence based info. The sample birth plans were nice, but no explanation on what the options presented in the plans really were or why you'd choose them.
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: momming
This was like, 10% more anti-medical establishment than I wanted it to be. It's nothing outlandish, and the author clearly just wants every pregnant person to have the best birth experience possible, wherever and however it happens. There is a lot of talk about "holding space" for various emotions. It's very much an "I'm okay, you're okay" vibe and I ended up feeling more soothed by that than I expected to be.
Stephanie Renner
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Nope, not for me. If you need someone to "hold space" for you and to tell you to love yourself, this is the book for you.

What I was looking for was some actual information. What you get is A LOT of feelings. Over and over again. Want to feel like your child's birth will scar and lead you down a postpartum journey that last the rest of your life? Great, this is it!

Two stars because the birth plans did have some information I found useful to actual ask my doctor about.
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a really well written and motivating book! It wasn't as scientifically backed as a lot of birth books that I have read, but instead had more feel good, you can do it, vibes. I do think that there are definitely times where you cannot just will things to work out how you want and medical intervention is necessary. However, if you need the extra motivation and want a fun read than this book is great!
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book isn’t super informative, but it is very empowering! January’s continued reminders that we as women are ok and we are loved made me feel a lot less alone in my myriad of pre-baby fears! I also loved her emphasis on being prepared and having a voice in your birth experience. This was a super comforting hug right when I needed it!
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book really helped me. I had preeclampsia with my first and was having trouble deciding our birth plan for number two. This book helped me think through my options and feel validated in my feelings and choices. You can even just read the parts that are most relevant to you and pass over the rest.
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It was able to give me information that i needed/wanted written in an incredibly supportive way. As someone with anxiety; The concrete resources January provided are indispensable. I also enjoyed the sections written for the birth partner as they gave another excellent (and supportive) perspective. 10/10 would recommend to any couple expecting.
Jill Stewart
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a must add to your Pregnancy and Birth reading list. In true January fashion she offers support for all variations of normal. It’s just a book of solidarity for Women with a filter of love. January is what we need in this space of pregnancy and postpartum, letting us know that in times it’s ok to not be ok.
Brittany Anne
Jun 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Some chapters had really good advice, but the overall tone of this wasn’t really what I was looking for. If you are looking for someone to hold space for you while journeying thru pregnancy and postpartum, this is the book for you!
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I found this book very empowering and is helping me make more informed decisions regarding pregnancy, labor and birth, and postpartum. I am also following Birth Without Fear and January Harshe on Instagram, which I have found to be inspirational.
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My favorite pregnancy and birth book I’ve read so far. Very inclusive, non-judgmental and informative. Won’t take the place of a class or research into specific topics (and not as scientific as Expecting Better) but definitely empowering and calming.
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